Ten years of Conscientious



Ten years ago, I started to compile this website. I suppose I could write a little bit about the past ten years, or a little bit about the next ten years (quo vado?), but I am not very interested in those options. I want to say this, though (and that’s about all I’m going to say about this website): I’m very happy about what this site has turned into. I never had any plan other than creating a site where one could conveniently find a large collection of (mostly) contemporary photography. That I’ve done, and I’ve added other content, in the form of writing and interviews. (more)

I didn’t foresee the Huffingtonpostization of the web, which has turned online publishing into, let’s face it, a travesty (with its combination of recycled links and its refusal to pay for the production of quality content). I didn’t foresee the explosion of PR, which has turned the web into the kind of environment email was said to be in years ago, with 90% or so of everything being spam (it’s funny, a little later 90% of the web traffic was said to be pornography - I wonder whether there ever was any truth behind those claims). But the Huffingtonpostization and the PR Inferno are just consequences of what we have at our disposal, and that’s fine. We can bitch and moan about it as much as we want, but that doesn’t change anything.

Speaking about bitching and moaning, we can also do the same about how photography is so boring or predictable or academic or whatever (add your favourite complaint here). I do think that collectively, photographers are currently suffering from a curious lack of artistic ambition. But that aside, photography still is tremendously interesting (just imagine how interesting it would be if more people took greater risks…).

What seems to be happening right now is that not only can you see everything that has been produced, but you will pretty much see everything that has been produced. There just is so much photography online, and of course that makes it seem as if there was a problem: After all, unless you’re lacking any sense of taste, by its very nature most of what you’ll encounter will be not what you like. So regardless of what it is you like, it seems as if there was a flood of junk out there.

What’s the point of bemoaning the fact that the cornucopia of photography online isn’t customized to satisfy your personal desires, isn’t customized to cater to your whims? No, really, how dare you, internet!

As much as I am tired of, say, photographic one-liners that seem to be so overly abundant right now (“These are photographs of the rare cacti my grandfather collected. I’m interested in how these photographs speak of memory.”1), I’d rather see so much stuff I don’t like (plus the things that I do like) than live in a world where all I see is what conforms to my current taste. What an incredibly boring and tedious world that would be, a world that would never give me a chance to move beyond that which I currently enjoy!

So I’m not going to use this ten year anniversary as an opportunity to bitch and moan about the state of photography. Photography is dead. Photography is not dead. Whatever.

I do sense, however, that there appears to be a growing discontent with photography online. It’s hard to put it into words. It does include complaints about there being too much photography online, but there is a lot more. Needless to say, I don’t have any solutions for whatever problems there might be.

But it’s really just up to us, to each one of us individually, to try to fix whatever we think the problem(s) might be. Ten years ago, looking for photography online was a tremendous pain in the neck, which had me start this website. It sometimes doesn’t take much to contribute to some change; and if I may add that, little contributions, done every day, easily add up in all kinds of ways.

Photography on the internet is not being handed down to us by powers beyond our control. Instead, it is being created by each and every one of us, one photograph (or article) at a time. I’m looking forward to ten more years of that.

1 I tried to make something up that I have not seen online, ever. Now if for some odd reason you are a photographer who did this very project please don’t email. I didn’t mean to single you out.