Creating A Photograph-A-Day Blog: A Visual Diary For The World To See
On October 2, 1950, Peanuts premiered in seven newspapers, ultimately reaching 2600 with a readership of 355 million in 75 countries. My office is filled with Snoopy memorabilia, including a birthday card that Mr. Schulz sent me many years ago. We can learn a lot about creativity from a man who sat down and faced a blank sheet of paper every day for 50 years and had to come up with a new idea.
Last year I tried a picture-a-day project and was surprised how difficult it was, but also found that it was a great way to stimulate creativity. In 2013, I’ll begin a similar project, this time using Tumblr (www.tumblr.com) because it’s free and the simplest way I know to create a photoblog. To get you inspired, I’ve rounded up four different photo-a-day blogs to show the diverse ways these talented photographers created their sites and blogs. Give it a try because it forces you to think—every day—about making new photographs. And the best way to improve your skills is to practice, practice, practice.
One way to approach a photograph-a-day project is to treat the self-assignment as a visual diary. To accomplish that goal, Scott Shephard has a WordPress blog using the Modularity theme from Graph Paper Press. Shephard teaches digital photography at Lake Area Technical Institute in Watertown, South Dakota, and uses his technical expertise to capture the world around him. In addition to daily pix, he’s collected topic-specific images into five galleries that are listed at the bottom of the page covering themes such as HDR, iPhone, nature, travel, and South Dakota.
I enjoyed Shephard’s HDR images because his technique is not heavy-handed but grounded in realism while still maintaining that “HDR” look. Shephard provides informative, if brief, caption details, most of which are about where the images were made but occasionally he includes technical details. These galleries also provide a way for visitors to comment on images. Anyone attempting a similar venture like this will always find that the feedback is rewarding as well as motivating.
The template’s format lets Shephard offer links to some of his other images that are collected via 500pix (www.500px.com) and Flickr (www.flickr.com) so be sure to check out these venues as well. “A Photo A Day by Scott Shephard” is a fun place to visit not only to see his wonderful photographs but also to inspire you, through his example, to keep shooting.
Woody Campbell’s picture-a-day blog is powered by WordPress using a hybrid format that mixes diary images with photographs not necessarily related to that day’s activity. The many striking images are displayed in a large size and his template allows you to double-click to isolate and enlarge a particular photograph to examine it in detail. You’ll want to do that because it’s the details that enhance Campbell’s spectacular compositions and dazzling use of color as in “Warren Connecticut” (May 25). He’s equally at home working in monochrome and some of his architectural images such as “Cathedral” (May 15) are simply stunning, with this one containing information on not only how the photograph was made but going so far as to show the camera that made it—a Leica M9.
His urban images, often in toned black and white, have a Cartier-Bresson feel to them, while his color nature photographs reflect a completely different aesthetic, showing, as only a blog like this can, that no photographer is monolithic in their creativity. Pop into Biography to see one of the most interesting and well-illustrated “About Me” pages on the web. Written with wit and illustrated with Campbell’s charming images, it’s everything an online bio should be and contains a wistful image made in Luxembourg that looks as if it had been made 60 years ago but has a freshness that says it was captured yesterday. Woody Campbell is not a pro photographer—he works in the legal profession—but his images embrace the true meaning of the word “amateur” because he makes his photographs for the love of the medium and that shows throughout the blog.
I’ve featured Sean Crane’s photography once before, but his “Photo of the Day” blog will amaze and delight anyone interested in nature and wildlife photography. It’s a WordPress blog powered by one of Photocrati’s themes. Crane posts a new image each day with a brief description; it’s not a photo journal but more like a “greatest hits” way of displaying a new and different photograph every day. On my last visit, I was treated to a clever image of a Cape hare. Most of us have seen bunnies—I have a few that hop around Daisy Hill most days—but this is your classic Watership Down rabbit Crane photographed in Kenya with style and élan. I also enjoyed his image of a Western grey kangaroo captured in Flinders Ranges National Park in (where else?) Australia.
I love giraffes—there’s something about the inelegant gracefulness of their walk that I enjoy—and Crane’s image of two giraffes crossing the river, each looking in different directions, in Kenya’s Masai Mara is delightful. These images are more than just pictures of animals. Crane catches these critters not only in their natural setting but also when the lighting is perfect for his impeccable compositions. The bottom of the page contains a pop-up Archives menu that lets you search by month and a Categories menu that lets you search by the country where the images were made. Sean Crane lets you subscribe to his “Photo of the Day” blog by entering your e-mail address and if you love beautifully crafted nature photography, I suggest that you sign up.
Ken Spencer’s photo-a-day blog uses Blogger, a free service originally created by Pyra Labs and later bought by Google. Spencer uses a diary-type approach featuring relatively small images that you can double-click to see larger versions, along with informative text. This is a wide-ranging blog including photographs such as the Transit of Venus (across the sun) that occurred earlier this year to photographs of his shoes! His starlit image of the great kiva of Casa Rinconada (June 1) is a beautifully evocative image that because of his sheer technical skill is transcendent on many levels. Since I am in an astronomical frame of mind, don’t miss Spencer’s “Venus Over the Pueblo” (May 31) for a nighttime view of Chaco Canyon from a completely different perspective.
Comments are enabled on the blog, so you can have a dialogue with the photographer because in all my visits, his sometimes lengthy caption information—not always about photography—is worth a read. Even a brief visit to his blog clearly demonstrates that Spencer is a terrific photographer with the gift of combining technical skill with a powerful aesthetic that lets him see traditional subject matter in a new and wonderful way. Be sure to visit Ken Spencer’s website (www.ken-spencer.com) for a look at the total breadth of his work or purchase some of his images via a companion blog entitled “Buy This Photograph” (http://buythisphotograph.blogspot.com).