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 🙂
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 😉 ) 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 🙂 🙂
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 😉 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 😉 You can send your gems to pascal dot jappy at gmail dot com.
Please log in again. The login page will open in a new tab. After logging in you can close it and return to this page.