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Some New Year's reflections on writing this newsletter
Happy New Year, friends!
I’m thinking about you tonight, and I hope you might share a few words of input with me when you have time. More on that at the end of this post. I’m in that New Year state of mind, reflecting on the past year and thinking about what’s ahead. I know some of you can relate, so I hope you don’t mind some rambling thoughts. Getting on Substack was the best thing to happen to me in 2022, and I wanted to share my experience with you.
Consider this my FlakPhoto State of the Union.
I finally took the plunge and rebooted this thing last September. Honestly, it feels great. I've been writing the newsletter for four months, and I'm having a blast. Social media had gotten dull and rote, and I needed a creative shot in the arm. It turns out that email — this old workhorse — was just the ticket. Funny, right? Everything old is new again! I'm feeling inspired for the first time in a long time. I’m so grateful that you decided to come along and join me on this ride.
As of this writing, more than 20k people subscribe to FlakPhoto Digest — that’s very encouraging. I would love for more photographers to hear about this project. Please share this link with them if you like what I’m doing here.
FlakPhoto Digest is a reader-supported publication. The best way to make this work sustainable is with a paid subscription.
I have to say; I never expected people to sign on for paid subscriptions to my newsletter. I've been doing the FlakPhoto thing for nearly twenty years, and I've never charged a dime. So why start now? Multiple colleagues insisted that people wanted to support FlakPhoto and that if I made it easy for them to give some money to evolve and grow the project, they would do it. I was skeptical, but I figured I'd give it a shot. Some writers put their archives behind a paywall, but that's not right for me. I don't want to paywall my work, and I'm committed to keeping FlakPhoto free. But every little bit helps.
FlakPhoto has always been a public media project, and I want everybody to see it, so I'm keeping subscription fees intentionally low. You can support FlakPhoto for $5/month. That's cheaper than a whisky drink! 🥃
More than 200 of you signed on as paid subscribers last year, and I sincerely appreciate your support. It genuinely moves me when readers upgrade to a paid subscription because it means that the work I’m doing here is meaningful to them, and that’s a real incentive for me. Quite literally, your paid subscriptions help me evolve the newsletter and power other aspects of the FlakPhoto project. I’m especially excited about a new audio project I'm developing with Evan Roberts. We'll launch this in 2023. I can't wait to share these photography stories with you!
You might recall I launched this newsletter with mixed feelings about how social media was devouring my photoland experience and wondering if it would be good for me, in the long run, to keep my habit going on these channels. I tried convincing myself that logging off was an option, but I realized that was not the answer.
A newsletter can complement a photo-sharing app and a Facebook discussion group. The channels are interconnected. It's not Either/Or — it's Either/And. They form a cultural constellation. An online ecosystem. They work together.
All of this is obvious stuff. Duh! But it's taken me a while to see things clearly. And I lost my focus a bit last year. There are so many distractions in this social media moment that it's challenging to know where to channel one's energies. I know you can relate. Like it or not, people want to use social media to look at pictures, share ideas, and talk with each other. And logging off entirely would mean missing out on opportunities for conversation, creativity, connection, and community.
For better or worse, I’m sticking with Facebook and Instagram. Twitter too. I even decided to reboot the old FlakPhoto Facebook page! What can I say? I love showing pictures and talking about them with people online. These platforms give me a place to share that passion daily.
On that note, I listened to Paddy Johnson’s Art Problems podcast today. Paddy talked with William Powhida about the future of social media for artists and imagemakers, and I appreciated their conversation. You might too:
Before I go, I want your feedback on the newsletter. I would appreciate it if you had time to answer any of these questions. You can reply directly to this email.
What would you like me to write about this year? By default, this newsletter is a one-way broadcast. I want to hear from you! Please let me know if there are specific topics you’d like me to cover here in 2023.
What questions do you have for me? My email is always open, and I love to hear from you. If I can share knowledge or round up a post from others in the community that would answer your questions, I'll do it. I may make this a recurring feature.
Do you have any advice? I’m always open to your feedback. Please let me know if you have thoughts on how I can make this newsletter better.
Thanks in advance for sharing your thoughts — I appreciate it.
Last call: I'm still looking for Winter Pictures, so please drop me a line if you've made seasonal images like this. You can read more about my inspiration in my previous post. Thanks, Darren Clark, for sharing this one with me!