#848. (Easter) Monday Post (22 April 2019) – Thank you! (we don’t say it often enough) & update on the ChiKi challenge

#848. (Easter) Monday Post (22 April 2019) – Thank you! (we don’t say it often enough) & update on the ChiKi challenge

I started DearSusan 8 years ago, before vlogging and becoming a YouTube star was all the rage because a tiny book (On Photography, by Susan – The Susan – Sontag) had given me the shock necessary to lift my photography out of a tourist rut and into a deeply satisfying creative hobby, something I wanted to share with others. This was the first post and this was the first photograph published.

 
 

Back then, I was alone. A couple of friends sent a few pictures each but the collaborative streak soon fizzled out. Until it picked up again. Philippe, then Paul, joined the ranks in DS’s infancy and helped shape the website is has become. One with no commercial goal but shared values and a common desire for a real editorial line. And the occasional non PC content, because PC is the death of all that is good and green ๐Ÿ™‚

 

New contributors came and went, some stuck around, some left and are active on other websites. All of this helped shape DS. The posts, and the comments. The thousands and thousands of comments that come in every year.

 

Without all that I doubt I would have kept going strong when my workload exploded to pay for my children’s tuition or when technical issues showed up, or when boredom set in, or when video made the reading world an anomaly.

 
 

And it’s not just the blog. It also shaped me, my vision, my gear. You don’t read feedback from millions of viewers (at least the percentage that leaves feedback ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) without learning tremendously along the way. I’ve always tried to give honest opinions about locations, techniques and gear, tried to help others learn what information I found difficult to find for myself. But the mechanics of learning sure are Newtonian in nature, and the reaction has been tremendous for my personal progress and inspiration.

 

And gear. I fondly remember my excitement when the A7r was announced, the depressing first images by early users, the first images we were able to share with one another online. And, years later, when Ming told me to hold a new purchase because something was going to shake the market just a few months later. He was referring to the X1D but couldn’t tell me, because of the secrecy of the project. It was Ming and you guys, who’d used the camera before me, who convinced me to let go and buy one. It wouldn’t have happened without you ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

 
 

I was deeply moved recently when Beth Hart, one of the greatest singers alive and an extraordinary woman, expressed her gratitude for experiencing a sort of stroke that almost cost her her life. Having had a difficult start to life, she had fallen into addiction and had blamed all of her previous serious health incidents on drugs. But the last one happened after 6 years of being off them, and helped discover a condition that can be treated. This changed her life forever and I don’t think I know anyone as constantly grateful to others as she genuinely seems to be, in all her shows.

 

Well, it’s Easter Monday, not Thanksgiving, but I’m grateful for you guys and gals. When fed and safe, man’s greatest need is community. And you’ve been a tremendous one. As the recipient of many comments and many private emails, I’ve been witness to your personal ups and downs. Family issues, health issues, accidents, professionnal low points, economical struggles, politics-related trouble, creative slumps. And there are many more I never hear about. It’s part of being a human and never gets easier.

 
 

But you’re always there, you always come back, giving your feedback, sharing your expertise and experience, sticking your neck out in challenges, volunteering information … I don’t see that happening on many other websites and want you all to know that it means a lot to me (also that we are always happy to talk, should you want or need to).

 

I’m grateful for content overload as well. Anyone visiting DS is here for a reason. There’s so much choice out there that no one ever engages with a smallish site like ours by accident ๐Ÿ˜‰ You chose to be here, taking time out of your lives to read and respond to our words and images, and to contribute your own.

 
 

Philippe was right in his comment about the fire in Notre-Dame. We take too many things for granted. We don’t show our appreciation often enough. So I want to say thank you while I can. Tomorrow, Trump and Zuckerberg might finally succeed in unplugging the free Internet. I might get hit by a truck, blown up by some misguided zealot or abducted by alien vloggers. The rising tide of populism might tear us apart because of borders that owe 99.9% of their existence to pure chance. Tomorrow is never certain.

 

So, good people whom I’ve met or never met, will meet or never will meet, whatever your view on chocolate bunnies, view on religion, view on politics, view on camera brands, Thank You for being there, and have a great Easter. Hope to talk soon.

 

=/=

 

Also, quick update on Philippe’s ChiKi challenge. We’ll be publishing results at the end of the month, so you still have a few days left to submit your photographs (and texts, if you wish). As a reminder, the challenge is to create (or find) photographs that convey the energy of a place.

 
 

If that sounds too new agey, let me explain. Sometimes, you’re in a place and feel excited and happy. Sometimes a place makes you feel depressed, or stressed out, or sad. There are cities where you feel alive and vibrant (Perth, WA, does that to me) and others where you feel you’d be ill before long. If you’ve ever read Lovecraft, you can relate to the feeling of great uneasiness. Philippe’s challenge is this : convey the feeling, the vibe of a place, in a photograph. Not easy. What would be the fun in that ๐Ÿ˜‰ You can send your gems to pascal dot jappy at gmail dot com.

 
 
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32 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Kristian Wannebo April 22, 2019

    Pascal,
    thanks for the link to
    Carole Cadwalladr’s research
    and TED talk!
    Important stuff!
    – – –

    > “Thereโ€™s so much choice out there that no one ever engages with a smallish site like ours by accident.”

    True enough, and one of the problems with the i-net.

    It’s like a huge library after an internal cyclone, all the books torn apart and lying in heaps.

    Only the best search engines help.
    Sadly Google almost has a monopoly and on top of that tries to put us in search bubbles. Shutting off as much as possible of their info gathering helps a little.

    I dream of an international payment system with negligible transaction costs for paying small amounts for “pay per read” of articles and even smaller for “pay per search”.

    Then we might get better content free from dependence on advertising and perhaps competition among search engines.
    Perhaps…
    – – –

    I came here by accident. ๐Ÿ˜‰ .

    It started with a camera search.
    ( Gear, always gear…)
    I considered the first Sony RX100 and the Fuji XF1 (1912), and found a good review of the XF1 by Ming Thein which decided me.
    And I had found a trove, his site.
    Some three years ago he mentioned a webinar with DearSusan,

    and I got stuck here too… ๐Ÿ™‚ , ๐Ÿ™‚ .
    So, thank you, Pascal, and your colleagues, for keeping up DearSusan!

    • Avatar
      pascaljappy April 22, 2019

      Hi Kristian, I remember that webinar. It was interesting to do with Ming. He’s really a great guy and, if we’d had more participants, we’d have done a longer series. Maybe one day. But it’s already great that it did bring you to DS. That’s how the world works most interestingly, in small touches that bring people together.

      I would love an independant micro-pay service for search and access. Sadly, Facebook is doing that right now, so we can be sure any independant initiative will be crushed. A new model is need to uproot those monopolies now and it’s not on the horizon just yet. We’ll have to be patient.

      Thank you for your comments and your various contributions, Kristian. Talk soon ๐Ÿ™‚
      Pascal

  2. Avatar
    Anthony Vidler April 22, 2019

    Dear “Dear Susan,”
    Since we are obviously in the moment for thanks. While I have not replied over the years I have been reading your posts, I just wish to say that I have been entirely absorbed by the discussions among you, for their technical interest, but more by their aesthetic debates. I am a Leica fetishist (but recently having sprung for the Panasonic S1R to use my TL lenses) with occasional forays into Sonyland. British, but resident in New York for much of my working life, and with a foothold in Paris (maybe to be disturbed by the terrible Brexit), I am an architect and historian taking the predictable pictures of buildings and cities for teaching purposes. Just to say, then, thanks for your years of discussions and postings.
    Tony

    Anthony Vidler
    Professor of Architecture, The Cooper Union, New York
    Visiting Professor of Architecture, Yale University

    • Avatar
      pascaljappy April 22, 2019

      Dear Tony, thank you for the very interesting reply. I am sure there are many other fascinating people reading this site and others. It’s OK not to reply, it’s a free world, for now, and the whole point of the Internet is an on demand relationship with content. Simply, we are always super excited to meet a new person and a new story whenever that happens. Wonderful to meet you, however virtually.

      Small world. My daughter is studying architecture at a school called AA in London. She visited New York and Yale and The Coopers Union, a couple of months ago and is quite interested in doing her Masters there in a few years. You two might meet ๐Ÿ™‚

      A small group of DS contributors will meet in Paris early June. If you’re around, it would be great to have coffee together. And I’ll be in London in late September, maybe earlier.

      What’s the Panasonic camera like? On paper, it looked absolutely wonderful. Does it hold its promise?

      All the best, and thank you again.
      Pascal

      • Avatar
        Anthony Vidler April 26, 2019

        Hi Pascal — An interesting coincidence — I will be at the AA (Ive taught there for years each year) the second week in June and would be happy to speak to your daughter about both Yale and the Cooper Union (I teach at both schools and was the dean of Cooper for twelve). You may give her my e-mail if you like.
        And I will be in Paris in June from the 1st to the 6th, and then from the 14th on. I would be happy to meet for coffee.
        Im still learning the Lumix but it seems to promise a lot more than I can get out of it at the moment! Illlet you know if I manage to master it!
        All best wishes
        Tony

        • Avatar
          pascaljappy April 26, 2019

          Hi Tony, vey interesting indeed. Thank you, I will write to you privately about the dates.

          I’d be very interested in your views on the camera once you feel comfortable with it? It was very tempting and I would probably have bought one if an unexpected offer for something else hadn’t turned up shortly before. I’d also love to see your photographs of buildings. Architects have a different eye (which makes me sooo jealous ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

          All best wishes, Pascal

  3. Avatar
    Lad Sessions April 22, 2019

    Pascal,

    Expressing gratitude seems hard for many, but it is vital for a good life. I return your thanks with thanks of my own, for you and for your marvelous creation. This is my favorite photographic site, both for the wonderful photos and for the often insightful patter. I learn much, not necessarily about gear but vitally about the reasons for having gear. Thank you, thank you! (BTW, I find gratitude goes perfectly well with Easter!)

    Lad

    • Avatar
      pascaljappy April 22, 2019

      Hi Lad, indeed it is essential for a good life. Psychological research now seems to point to contentment and gratitude as two of the most powerful levers for well-being. And both have deeper spiritual roots, for those who are interested in such matters.

      Thank you for the kind words. I hope we continue to prove a worthwhile hub for a wonderful community in the years to come.

      All the best,
      Pascal

  4. Avatar
    jean pierre (pete) guaron April 22, 2019

    Well, that’s different. A potted history of a period before my membership of this august group was even born. Photos to kill & die for. Shots I instantly recognise, like the atrium at the Petit Palais and Napoleon’s Tomb. And I adore the bougainvilleas through the opaque glass window!
    And since this is a game of “show and tell”, I have to say that Ming Thein’s blog and Dear Susan are my two favourite photography sites.
    Looking forward to many happy years sharing more postings!
    PS – sorry I forgot to post you an Easter egg.

    • Avatar
      pascaljappy April 23, 2019

      Thanks so much, Pete. The Easter egg will have to wait another year ๐Ÿ˜‰

  5. Avatar
    Kristian Wannebo April 22, 2019

    ( Somewhat OT )

    Pascal,
    thanks again for linking to Carole Cadwalladr’s TED talk (through The Guardian’s article).
    https://www.ted.com/talks/carole_cadwalladr_facebook_s_role_in_brexit_and_the_threat_to_democracy/up-next#t-903287

    I just listened to her:
    An exceptionally well worded strong accusation directly at the leading figures behind Facebook, for having allowed it to be used illegally with false propaganda in the Brexit referendum – and so breaking democracy!

    Highly recommended!

    • Avatar
      pascaljappy April 22, 2019

      Indeed, and I wish I could help her. Currently thinking about how to. Paul sent the article to me initially.

    • Avatar
      John Wilson April 22, 2019

      One definite way we can help tame Facebook is to vote with our feet. I punted them out of my life and slammed the door some months ago and frankly don’t miss it. Their sole aim is grow to the point where they become the overwhelming force in the social media space with no competitors. Security and content monitoring get’s lots of lip service when there’s a disaster of some kind that throws the spotlight on them but nothing material ever happens; the misuse and abuse of the platform continues apace and Zuckerberg pockets another billion.

      • Avatar
        pascaljappy April 23, 2019

        Exactly. My account is still active because some of my clients insist on advertising on Facebook and I need some access to the platform, but never use it myself. All companies strive to grow, but this herding of human minds has to stop. There’s not an aspect ofi t that isn’t harmful.

      • Avatar
        Johannes Hรผttner April 23, 2019

        That is the only way to go.
        I have deleted my personal facebook account 5 years ago and recently also deleted my business page. I was intrigued by their personalized advertising options for small businesses but in the end I just didnโ€™t want to be part of their Empire (not wanting to finance Darth Zuckerโ€˜s Death Star).

    • Avatar
      Kristian Wannebo April 27, 2019

      I just heard a fairly good discussion on the problems with social media and elections on the BBC World service:

      “Is social media killing elections?”
      https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/w3csydcr

  6. Avatar
    John Wilson April 22, 2019

    Bon Jour Pascal. It’s still early morning out here on the “fault line” on the west coast (aka the wet coast) of Canada. It’s going to be a rainy day, but then we do have a “rain forest” to maintain for the next time the sun shines.

    We do tend to take much for granted … Too Much … but that’s human nature. We complain about the rain when it rains and the shortage of water when it doesn’t rain. We assume that places like Dear Susan will always be there with little thought or gratitude for the time, effort and commitment required to keep it up and running. So Thank You to my friend Bob Hansen for recommending this site to me and Thank You, Thank You, Thank You for donating all the sweat and commitment to have made this such a delightful place to spend time. AND Thank You with much gratitude to all of you who take the time to contribute images and comments … friends and kindred spirits all.

    And I just got some ideas for the ChiKi challenge …

    Cheers

    • Avatar
      pascaljappy April 23, 2019

      Bonjour John, what a wondeful comment. Thank you so much.

      No, nothing is permanent. Thankfully, nature abhores a vaccuum. If we stopped publication, someone else would undoubtedly take our place. DS is very dispensible. But the community that gathers here to discuss ideas openly, however small compared to the vastness of disinformation happening in the major league, that’s indispensible. So yeah, thatks to all who are a part of it, vocal or silent.

      Have a great day (just got your ChiKi submissions, btw ๐Ÿ™‚ )

  7. Avatar
    Steve Mallett April 22, 2019

    Pascal, I’ve much to thank DS for since Paul first nudged me into the orbit of this wonderful site. I’ve learnt heaps; technical, artistic, cultural and as a result my experience of photography has been enriched. Possibly my photography has even improved too!

    As for Carole Cadwalladr, I’ve been following her investigations from the start and as I said to Paul this morning, she’s a proper journalist. (My son insisted we watch the TED talk yesterday.) To stand up in the inner sanctum and call these guys out took enormous courage and I applaud her. She has taken all kinds of abuse in the last couple off years, including from pundits on the BBC who should really know better (Andrew Neil) but has kept on relentlessly digging. So far our political and legal institutions have not taken a blind bit of notice bar the predictable wringing of hands. Still as long as we can have free apps on our phones we won’t even notice our democracy has left the building.

    • Avatar
      pascaljappy April 23, 2019

      Hi Steve, all of this fills my heart with balloons ๐Ÿ™‚ The discussions are great but it’s all made even better if they actually help.

      Carole Cadwalladr is extremely brave. She’s like a whistleblower denouncing an invisible government. It may seem dramatic to say it like this, but an underground war is taking place and it all reminds me of The Matrix more and more, although The Matrix has drawn a nice picture by making our captors machines … Those billionnaires would turn us into batteries to power their superyachts. We need people like her and we need to act, not just watch …

  8. Avatar
    NMc April 23, 2019

    Pascal and all the DS-ers
    The gratitude you expressed for readers is returned twice fold. Thanks for putting this out when the options for media content feel like they are getting are getting less and less each year. This is one of the last places left on the internet where comments are worth reading, and coming back to see additional responses.
    Thanks Noel

  9. Avatar
    Pascal Ravach April 23, 2019

    Thanks, Pascal
    As quite some others, it seems, I just read Ming Theinโ€™s blog and Dear Susan, with a few exceptions from time to time.
    Two sites ran by people who *think* and *feel*… rare and precious ๐Ÿ™‚
    Thanks for the discovery of Beth Hart… music is my main activity, but I never had the joy of discovering her…
    When I was young, I had that “Leonardo da Vinci” ideal of an “universal” man with knowledge in all directions. Of course even attaining a billionth of it is vain, but we can at least keep our curiosity the same as when we were toddlers… so please keep digressing ๐Ÿ™‚

    Also, thanks for the update on Philippeโ€™s ChiKi challenge… at first I didn’t get it completely

    • Avatar
      pascaljappy April 23, 2019

      Thank you Pascal. Being placed in the same basket as Ming is great news. He’s both talented, generous and interesting. And the association with Robin Wong makes the website even richer.

      Aah, Beth Hart. Listening to her has opened up many other avenues to me, musically. Less famous female artists such as Kaz Hawkins, Larkin Poe, Samantha Fish. The problem with all these ladies is that I can’t get any work done, listening to their talent ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Cheers

  10. Avatar
    Pascal April 23, 2019

    Dear Pascal,
    Thank you for an honest and moving post.
    We are all here for a reason and hopefully at least for some to make a difference in other people’s lives (preferably positive ^^).
    Yes, Dear Susan makes a difference, I have now become a regular and avid reader and not because of blood ties…
    Yes your unconventional, no PC approach is very much appreciated by many as the number of comments shows.
    Yes, please, keep up the good work, we need you.

    Thank you and happy belated Easter!!

    • Avatar
      pascaljappy April 23, 2019

      Thank you Pascal. Yes, our main reason to be here should to make a (positive) difference. There’s enough of us around to do it in extremely varied ways and I just hope DS has its occasional beneficial impacts ๐Ÿ™‚ Have a great day.

  11. Avatar
    Nancee Rostad April 25, 2019

    Dear Pascal,
    Thank you for your post (with lovely images) reminding us to be thankful. Firstly, Iโ€™d like to thank Paul for asking me to share my Wabi-Sabi images on Dear Susan. His encouragement and generous support helped me find the warm and inspiring Dear Susan blog and its group of contributors (otherwise known as: friends that Iโ€™ve yet to meet)
    Thank you, Pascal for being so wonderfully welcoming and generous in your comments about my photography. Itโ€™s so rare to find a site like Dear Susan where there are no snarky comments or unwarranted criticisms of the contributors and their art. The atmosphere feels very safe here, and Iโ€™m so grateful for that.
    Nancee

    • Avatar
      pascaljappy April 25, 2019

      Dear Nancee, thank you very much for the kind words and for making DS a better place with your wonderful spirit and photographs. It’s a real shame that you haven’t found more safe places around the web. I’m sure they’re there but it’s very true that most photographic websites are home to plenty of trolling and other lowly attitudes. Which baffles me, considering this is supposed to be a creative and freeing hobbby …

      I look forward to more interactions and, hopefully, to meeting you one day. All the best.

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