Welcome to my new photographic home. I've wanted a New Thing for a while now, and this is it.
My career stands astride two very different eras in photography. What began for me in the placental alchemical gloom of darkrooms, the whir of enlarger fans, the cascade of water washing over silver halide prints, has, with the revelatory chime of a computer booting up, evolved into the blue under-lit glow of distributed LCDs, the whir of RAID cooling fans, and the cascade of message notifications from social media. I've gone from single shoots that required cases of film and entire garbage cans of Polaroid peelings, to being able to store my entire body of work in my pocket. From twenty leather-bound portfolios ready to Fedex overnight around the world, to booking major ad campaigns with nothing more than web portfolios and email attachments.
But let's leave the sentimentality to my young assistants, who yearn for the authenticity with which they view the Old Days (the 90s.) I shed no tears for the fading analog era. I'm old enough to well remember it, but young enough to embrace its replacement. The King is dead. Long live the King. I've always been an early adopter of tools when they're ready to serve my needs, from Photoshop 1.0 to early drum scanners and digital cameras. I participated in the first American exhibition of phonecam art, in 2003. A year later I launched The Daily Siege on Nerve.com and became the world's highest paid photoblogger (according to the publisher, somewhat angrily, during negotiations.) In 2005, years before Kickstarter or Instagram, I used a photo blog called Operation Eden to publish first-person narrative journalism accounts from Hurricane Katrina, and to raise money for my family and their community. If a new tool presents itself that lets me make art that makes change, I'll use it.
The Now and The Future: Always On
So what is this new tool? Well, at its most basic level it's my portfolio. You'll find here collected the largest assemblage of my commercial work in one spot to date, much of it online for the first time. In the coming weeks I'll be adding more personal and art work as well. Shortly thereafter I'll be launching, for the first time in my career, a Shop, which will make available not just originals and editions, but far more varied and personal products, as well as conceptual experiments (I'm quite excited for that part.)
No, but what is this new tool? Yes, yes. This is my Art Magazine. I use that set of words carefully, because other options don't quite fit it. "Blog" is too general. "Journal" might have worked were it not for its diaristic overtones. "Sketchbook" is too casual. No, I like "Art Magazine" because it has intention and clarity and aspires to something substantive (see aforementioned Shop.) I'm calling it Always On, because every post will be "on" a single thing. A body of work thing. A process thing. An inspiration thing. Long form essays, with photos, about all the things my work touches on, or aspires to.
If The Daily Siege was a diaristic account of my personal life, and Operation Eden was an account of my family's struggles during Katrina, then Always On will be my in-depth thoughts on art process, and how it fits into my personal life, and commercial and artistic practice.
But it's more interactive than a magazine. I already have Instagram for mobile snapshots, and Twitter for brief thoughts or links, and Tumblr for ephemeral daily photos. So why this photo blog? I'm excited about this part as well: I'll be using those things to act as a focus group for this thing. Using a complicated set of algorithms collectively known as "my gut," I'll be assessing interest in the work I post on social media, based on retweets, reblogs, and likes. Periodically I'll be taking the content my followers have "up-voted" via those other social platforms, and I'll explode it in more depth here. The stories behind the scenes, the inspiration behind the aesthetic, the cultural references implicit in the creation, and special editions for the Shop tied to each post. So my followers can, in effect, vote for some of what I will post here, using their own social media accounts to let me know what they'd like to hear more of, or collect, or both.
So, welcome to my new thing. I'm excited for it. Thank you in advance for helping me keep it Always On.