Feb 28·edited Feb 28Liked by Andy Adams

Hi Andy. I agree with you. Printing your photography is like listening to vinyl records, it’s a ritual that requires you to slowdown and focus on the task at hand. Every record has an album cover/art, you have to play the record very carefully and take a look to the album, read the lyrics, take a look to the credits. Sometimes wondering, who’s playing this song? Who write it? Hey, hear that bassline…

In my case I ended up deleting Twitter. Maybe is how my brain works but it was very easy to end up reading any kind of nonsense discussion or subjects in the “For You” tab. It’s a time consuming app for me with a very low engagement (now that hey have the views as evidence). Facebook I use it occasionally to sell some gear at the marketplace. I keep Instagram and Tumblr as my main only social media now.

I think Substack is part of that internet old school that still works, meaning blogs, writing, articles an mail… mostly because you need a pause to read.

Adding one last thought: I think focusing again is not about going far away into the mountains without any signal or wifi… I think mostly requires discipline. I don’t have more notifications in my phone but the essential. We need to remember how we used cellphones ten years ago (or so), when the most important thing was receiving phone calls, getting your email and your SMS. Maybe some books, forums and or blogs. That’s it, not so long time ago internet was a place where we used to be in control.

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Another solid read with great points, Thank you Andy

I am assuming you mean "can looking at prints being an act of resistance", right? And the resistance is to the 2.5 second page or image view the average person spends on social media?

Don McKenna is correct. You need time to best view a good photograph, especially images with multiple and fine details that are all part of the story of the image. I remember when I first saw Julie Blackmon's prints on the walls at Robert Mann in NYC, they were amazing. The largest sizes worked best. I bought her book which is nice, books always have that intimate experience with images especially since you can sequence images, but her book experience doesn't come close to seeing her prints. But Andy, you are also correct when you have written about the benefits of being able to share images on-line. Without the internet I would miss so many great photographers and it is the best way in today's world to share images. I remember sending out so many packages of slides and CV's in the mail, the process took forever.

I hope I'm not going in the wrong direction here, but you could really take the conversation of how to view images so much farther; and I think it would have value since there are so many people today who became photographers primarily viewing images in digital form. The experience of seeing prints is different than the digital view "like and swipe". I wish everyone interested in photography could have experienced MFA Boston's Howard Greenberg exhibition when they acquired his collection. Most the images were iconic, but the most awesome part of the experience was seeing the print quality and taking time to examine it. The 1924 portrait of Gloria Swanson, by Edward Steichen is one of the most beautiful prints I have ever seen. It takes the experience to another level. I could go on with so many other examples of work I have seen but I am sure you get the point. Maybe I am coming back to your reason for starting Flak Photo with this, viewing digital images is okay but we need to do it in the right way. Take time with an image, view it larger, and come back to it several times to really experience it. I think that is one of your goals and I know for me I am focusing on my portfolios on my websites way more than I am trying to post images to Instagram.

Thanks again Andy

If anyone is interested here is the link to my blog post on the Greenberg Exhibition at the MFA:


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Hi Andy. Lovely post. Lots to think about. I’m jealous of your downtime.

It’s this time of year that I yearn to sit out these last few weeks before spring. Perhaps in some isolated rural location, void of any connection outside of the stray radio wave.

I’d pack a few essentials, an axe and of course a camera. I never feel more focused than when chopping wood.

Maybe that’s what we need to reset the datum. Before returning, mind fresh and concentration honed.

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Hi Andy! Lovely post - I recently discovered your Substack while browsing. I used to follow your account on Instagram and I've been really enjoying your posts here.

It's funny that the focus of this post is on attention because it's been on my mind a lot lately and a huge reason for why I'm on Substack more and more. I've become very frustrated by my waning attention and ability to engage and be present and I know that Instagram is a major culprit. It's gotten to the point where I seem to just mindlessly scroll through my feed, being stimulated by the random flashes of colour but my eyes are too glazed over to really focus.

But it shouldn't be like this and I miss being sharper. While I agree with you that Instagram can have merit for viewing art, for me it's become too toxic, and so I've had to step away from it. I'm trying to spend more time engaging with the real world now, and when I am online, I'm focusing on platforms like Substack, where the content is a bit longer form, to retrain my brain to be able to focus for longer. Ironically, me distancing myself from Instagram has happened in tandem with me picking up my cameras for the first time in years and it's been a really wonderful experience. Since 2020, I'd been only documenting things with my phone as I was at a low point with my photography and I think the rat race of Instagram was instrumental in that creating that nadir. But now I feel free and I'm actually enjoying the art and craft of photography again.

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Great post. I am guilty of doing all the things, all the time, then seeing a call for volunteers and answering yes. It’s like every moment is filled with doing instead of being. Photography was a great escape in ye olde days of Instagram and I miss it. Lens flare and city shots were all the rage. I once did over 100 takes to get a single shot for a photo series.

Winter used to be when I was most inspired. The powder white snow, stark landscape, dripping icicles, and silence drew me out for photo sessions in the forest.

I like the shift that’s happening now, though. I’m finding the good in all seasons and taking time to be still for a shot. No email, no meetings, just focusing on a moment. I have done all my photography on my phone but I do have a soft spot for old prints. I recently found some that are over 40 years old in my storage space. There’s something about the way the photo paper ages and the saved snap of a singular moment that cannot be repeated. Pure magic.

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Thanks for this Andy. As someone who has lived and breathed digital imagery for a long time I'd like to start thinking about printing images. I got into photography as a way of seeing places up close and the images themselves are sort of secondary for me. Currently working on a post about deep time and the instant - taking pictures of a boulder left on the hill above where I live in the last glacial period. Interesting to think about how it took millions of years to form and the image of it - 1/100th of a second.

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I savored each image and word. I relate to so much. I, too, took time away to think and find peace. I wasn't able to write for a long time. It's good to know other people, like you, are slowing down and focusing.

So many things in life are rushing us to move fast. Slowing down and experiencing life is important.

The photographs here are exceptionally beautiful.

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Following Barthes’ Camera Lucida, there are two kinds of attention while watching photographs: “studium” and “punctum”

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Great post, thank you. Another of the beautiful and unfathomable paradoxes within photography, perhaps. I agree that there’s nothing like a physical print to convey craftsmanship and a sense of satisfaction from having created something tangible with permanence. Nicer to view, own, touch, make, save.

To contrast extreme ends of the scale, I recently volunteered at one of the UK’s largest photography festivals. Spending 8 hours looking at the same gallery wall (and helping visitors) was an experience - finding a new depth and meaning in the displayed works so far removed from what any quick Instagram scroll, or cursory gallery viewing, could ever convey.

But I also remember marvelling at a medium format transparency on a lightbox, its jewel like beauty, backlit nature and small size having more in common with the social media image on some levels?

As Abelardo said in the comments, printing makes everyone - photographer and viewer - slow down. Not just mindful *doing* of photography, also mindful *viewing* of photography is where we find so many unexpected rewards. If printing more images makes us all do that, then bring it on.

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Wonderful post. I teach and write about film and am often talking to my students about the need to see things on a big screen. What you've written here is reminding me of how much pleasure I used to find in looking at photographs and owning photography books--something that has really fallen by the wayside for me. I am going to try to go back to looking at photos in this way to cultivate more attention and intention. I also agree with another commenter who mentioned vinyl. It feels like a medium that makes intentional listening more possible.

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Thanks for this post Andy. The Lopez quote--gorgeous. Definitely resonates for me too as I learn (relearn over and over) how to resist (or at least enter into a conscious and more equitable relationship with) the crushing demands of this attention economy. Now, with no baking business always propelling me towards max efficiency, trends, one upmanship, and insta-cleverness, I am baking the recipes of craftswomen I admire, paying attention and feeling them in my body as I do so. Staying curious about the recipe as narrative, cultural history and somatic experience vs jumping ahead to how I’d “improve” it or stage it on social for fast consumption. Here’s to paying attention! Here’s to The Savor!

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Mar 15Liked by Andy Adams

Lots of ideas I've been rolling around in my head here, Andy. One of the only reasons that I make photos is that I enjoy the process of walking with a camera; it's an excuse to pay attention to seeing.

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Mar 1Liked by Andy Adams

Interesting post and comments. Thanks to all. Life is often shaped by the negative spaces, the things we decide not to do. Viewing action from that perspective can often help in these frenetic times.

With respect to print, a tutor of mine once said “I try to start each day with a photo book. It’s both inspiring and better than starting the day reading the news.”. I tried this and it really does change the tone of the day.

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Hi Andy,

Another great article and a LOT to digest. While we (I am pretty confident I can generalize here) all love our electronics and the direct connections these provide (this response being an example 😀), we are often “being lived” by them instead of being in control: Pavlovian reactions to the beep of a new IG message or the ding of an email received.

Taking time to sit back, relax, and enjoy the flight are usually far in between, and sometimes even frowned upon.

That is one of the reasons I like to create photos: it forces me to slow down, observe, and be more intentional (“even” with a digital camera!)

It is also one of the reasons I like photo books: the tangible prints invite to study, observe, ponder. I agree with Dan Romens that we control the pace of scrolling through IG, but I think it is the nature if the beast to scroll quick, add a “like” (or not) and move on to the next piece of eye candy. Books (and single prints) are different!!!

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts! I now need to go back, re-read, and do some relaxed thinking.

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Hey Andy 👋🏽 good to hear from you. For a brief moment I made a stop in time to reflect on how much I miss the daily reflection and meditation with my camera..

This leads me straight to Ryszard Kapuscinski’s quote:

“We do not really know what draws a human being out into the world. Is it curiosity? A hunger for experience? An addiction to wonderment? The man who ceases to be astonished is hollow, possessed of an extinguished heart. If he believes that everything has already happened, that he has seen it all, then something most precious has died within him—the delight in life.”

I re-read it regularly to not miss what’s in front of me. To not let it fade away as yet another gray encounter of the day (which is a funny way to phrase it as I shoot in black and white).

Your newsletter reminded me of the time to reconnect, how I miss that and the wonderment of the simplicities. Thank you.

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Feb 28Liked by Andy Adams

Lovely post. Thank you.

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