Some thoughts on the Interwebs

One of the best things about blogging is the ability to see where your readers are coming from.  Place the Google Analytics code in your site somewhere and the next thing you know, you’ve got more data and statistics than you know what to do with.  Much of it is technical or specific, and frankly beyond my interest.  But seeing how people are getting here – that is interesting.

I found Life and Learning Through the Lens, Darwin Wiggett’s blog, last night using that track-back feature.  Darwin is a landscape/nature photographer up in Canada, where he produces some fantastic images.  Needless to say, perusing his blog is inspirational, although it does make me long for some more dramatic geography than I have locally.

What’s even better is the way he presents his images.  His blog isn’t part of his professional website, you won’t find products or pricing there.  Instead, it’s a place entirely in keeping with the name – a presentation of how one photographer views and interacts with his world through the lens.  He shares what he learns, what inspires him, and in doing so passes that along to other like-minded artists.

If I didn’t have the track-back feature installed, if I didn’t care to look and see how my visitors were finding me, I would never have found Darwin Wiggett.  Let’s face it, it’s one thing to me Joe McNally and have people find you – when you’re repeatedly published in National Geographic, people will find you.  But what about the others out there who are just as good, but who have yet to step up onto that same pedestal of notoriety?  If it wasn’t for this network between blogs and forums and internet interactions, we would never discover most of them.  Which is a shame.

We should be seeking each other out.  If we’re serious about photography, if we’re serious about wanting to expand our talents and grow as artists, then it is essential that we study the work of our predecessors & contemporaries, of those who have achieved fame and success & those who are still struggling for it.  We need to immerse ourselves in the work of others; it is where we find the elements to sustain us.

Each night after dinner, when I’m finally able to lounge around the computer for a little while, I go through the same ritual; I pull up sites of other photographers.  I check in with Moose, Joe, and Paul to see what they’ve done.  I read the forums at FredMiranda to keep in touch with the vibe there.  I pull up Flickr and see what’s been added to the groups I follow.

Yes, to some extent it’s soothing, looking at pretty images at the end of the day.  But it’s also much more than that – it’s a critique, a review.  I identify images I like and then determine why I like them.  I study technique that I’d like to emulate.  I make notes and bookmark images that I want to return to in the future.

We cannot forever be university students, sitting in the room while our classmates hang still-damp prints on the wall for us to critique.  No matter how much we loved those days, they pass and we land on our own, no longer grouped with the like-minded by the virtue of course choices.  So we must do the next best thing – right now, that is the internet.  We can still attain that classroom experience and we can still make those connections with others.

And we should.

Brent Pennington is a freelance photographer and the driving force behind The Roving Photographer. When he\’s not working with portraiture or promotional clients, he’s usually in the field, hiking, or kayaking in pursuit of nature and wildlife shots.

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