Politics of Running (Not) That Successful Photography Blog

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Amnesia, X-Pro2 & XF 35mm F1.4, ACROS film simulation.

It has been five years since Kasia and I started this endeavour, not that we are into wearing stupid hats and celebrating our pre-school math skills. It is more about thinking out loud and sharing our incoherent thoughts. It is not a secret that running a photography blog taught us valuable lessons about today’s state of photography and about our own photographic well- or not that well-being.

It all started because of few of my insane friends probably got confused and threw out the idea of me sharing my work and writings online. With my usual lack of thought, logic and sanity I agreed. Unfortunately, and to my great surprise, this decision of spending my valuable time on writing and sharing our imagery has been fully supported by my incredible and up-to-this-point logical wife, Kasia.

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Non-colour Autumn, X-Pro2, XF 35mm F1.4, ACROS.

The problem is that once we started we couldn’t stop. Since the early days the idea that actually writing about the art of seeing could be of interest in this gear-centric, Photoshop-loving and Disney-like-photo-admiring world was beyond us. I was wrong and for the first time in my life I am actually happy about that.

It turned out that many of you think like us – that photography is all about seeing, that it is worth paying attention to composition and light and your subject. It is perfectly fine to have doubts and go through periods of confusion and visual dizziness. It is normal to try new things, find new subjects and try new genres. In fact, it feels good to break your own mould and start anew from time to time.

And this is exactly where politics comes in. No, I am sorry, Trump supporters, I am not going to “go low.” Apologies also to Hillary supporters – I am not going to “go high” either. I just like standing firm on the ground with my camera. But seriously, sometimes I think that running a photography blog has a lot of to do with politics.

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The Reader, X-Pro2, XF 35mm F1.4, ACROS

Over the years you reach your “electorate.” And yes, for some reason many of you liked our imagery and writings – ghost towns, landscapes, travel, along with a few unspecified visuals from time to time. Then, we added street photography or as I call it “travels around the city.” Over the years our interests have evolved. Imagery that we shot a few years ago stopped satisfying us – blame it on our moody and ever-evolving visual taste.

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Peter, X-Pro2, XF 14mm F2.8, ACROS.

We realized that there is price to pay for these visual indiscretions. Some of you who followed us over the years have probably left. I know that some hard-core landscape, sunrise/sunset fans went somewhere else. There were some posts that even unnerved the street-photography crowd. And many of those who keep asking, “Why are my photos not as sharp?” and “How can I do that in Photoshop?” or even “Why are you shooting with Fuji if their files look horrible in LR?” probably flagged us persona non grata.

We get it and accept it. From the blog’s early days we knew that “popular,” would never be associated with this URL. It is not that we haven’t figured out how to get there. If we only published one more gear review, discussed sharpening the X-Trans files every few weeks or published those sunrise/sunset photos of Lake Louise in the Canadian Rockies we would get more likes, shares and comments. All we have to do is to repeat this formula over and over again along with some occasional moments of uninspiring inspirational quotes. That would be lovely, wouldn’t it?

But lovely and beautiful doesn’t usually go along with creative, reimagined, risky, bold, personal and true. Therefore, we will keep evolving, changing, exploring and going into dark places and we are fully prepared to pay the price.

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Stairs, X-Pro & XF 35mm F1.4, ACROS.

What we do promise is that this blog will continue to evolve and present you with new, much bolder (read controversial) but honest (read no-filter) writing. Yes, you got it right! If there is one thing that holds back the art of seeing it is the lack of honest, genuine and image-centred dialogue about imagery shared on the Internet. There is some amazing work out there but there is also a lot of very poorly done imagery. I know I should stay positive but in my view there is nothing more positive that honest discussion. That’s how we all grow.

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Atrium Vista, X-Pro2, XF 35mm F1.4, ACROS

This space will be filled with new imagery unlike any you have ever seen before. Multiple projects that we are working on should (eventually) find their way here. We will also discuss failed seeing – the one we never share on this blog but the one that we learn from.

There is more. For those of you who would like to read, see, learn and be more engaged, you will have a chance to join our new educational and travel, subscription-based website where you will find much, much more than here. Also, for the first time we will be able to meet in person during our upcoming travel photography workshops. Together, we will visit the truly remarkable places in North America and create brilliant imagery. Stay tuned for more info.

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Lastly we would like to thank each of you for visiting these pages, for finding a few minutes to write to us, to comment on the posts and to provide us with feedback. We really appreciate it.

We would also like to thank our fellow photographers (many of them “X”), who are not afraid to venture to new places, take risks and exchange ideas with us. We learn a lot from you.

We value your time and visual wit; therefore, this blog will continue to remain ad-free. If there is one thing that will never change it’s our dedication to the art of seeing. Simplicity In Seeing, indeed.

The imagery in this post comes from numerous projects, all shot with the X-series cameras and lenses.

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Into The Night, Fujifilm X100S, Classic Chrome.

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The Room, Fujifilm X100S, Classic Chrome.

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From our “Park Near-By” series, X-Pro2, XF 35mm F1.4, Velvia.

 

2016 © Kasia & Olaf Sztaba Photography. All rights reserved.

 

41 thoughts on “Politics of Running (Not) That Successful Photography Blog

  1. Hello Kasia & Olaf, sometimes just following the recommendations of people can take you to unexpected places. That’s how I ended up here. I just ran through your portfolio and a few articles and it love your street photography work. Specially in color. Very inspiring, not only the photographs but also your blog.
    Have a nice week
    Jeff

  2. I have subscribed to quite a few blogs, and your’s is one of the few that I have kept. I love your style, and your evolving eye. Even if street isn’t really my type of photography – I love your view, which makes me think about the way I look at things as well. andI love your take on new Fuji gear as well, honest opinions with out all the techy-speak. Thank so much, and keep up the good work.
    From a fellow X-shooter.😉

  3. I don’t like all of your work, but I respect the way you run this blog. There are too many blogs with boring reviews, sunsets, naked woman and so on photography.

  4. Thank you both. I really enjoy the variety in your work, and particularly your black & white street-type photos. They bring to mind free-form jazz music! The openness, explorative approach and freedom from set forms and rules. Very inspiring.
    Gareth

  5. I enjoy your blog! Though sometimes the images – especially the BW street images are awful (my opinion only) I do enjoy reading, and perusing many of your posts!
    Thank you for being there.

  6. What has kept me coming back to your blog since I found it a couple of years ago it that you are, like myself, omnivores when it comes to subjects. The light and form are what’s important. As for gear, the original X100 is still my camera of choice. Thanks for the blog and keep the interesting images coming.
    Peter

    • Peter,

      I have been thinking for a while about my visual explorations. Where I am headed? With your “the light and form” comment, you clarified a lot for me.
      Thank you so much.

      Olaf

      • Olaf,
        You’re welcome. I find those two facets of photography encompass a lot and leave much room for exploration, alone and in combination.
        Peter

  7. It was such a breath of fresh air to read ‘But lovely and beautiful doesn’t usually go along with creative, reimagined, risky, bold, personal and true.’ Good on you both for taking the route you’re on. Keep pushing the envelope and producing those stunning images.

  8. I have a blog and I don’t anticipate earning any money from it. I post almost every day. I post about topics that are near and dear to me so I enjoy the act of sharing my interests with others. As a former teacher, I enjoy presenting knowledge and some interesting insights. Photography is one of my interests, but I am an opportunistic photographer. I don’t necessarily wake up early to catch a sunrise or to stay out late to catch a sunset. If I encounter a subject of interest, I take the picture. If it is good, I share.

    I hardly ever get a comment yet I see that many people visit my blog on a daily basis. Many visitors are from foreign countries and I like to see what is of interest to them; so that is OK!

    I don’t blog about politics, religion, etc. and I try to keep most of my posts positive. It is there for others to take or leave as they see fit. If I can bring a smile to someone or provide a topic of interest, I am glad to do it. I am hoping to contribute to the greater good in some very small way.

    I am sure you are leaving a footprint for others to find and isn’t that reward enough? Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    J. Ross – http://jbrish.com/

  9. I look forward to your future endeavours/travels/blogs. I have saved all of your posts (for future perusal) since discovering your site in April last year, so a big ‘thank you’ for all of your time and effort that goes into ‘olafphotoblog’, it’s much appreciated.

    Roger C (fellow X-Pro1/2 shooter)

  10. Good for you. Anyone who can press a button or use a phone these days, can pretty much call themselves photographers. There is so much imagery out there discerning quality can be tricky.. but not on your site. Well done and thanks.

  11. Your wanderings from vision to vision sometimes confuse me, but occasionally I can glimpse a single Vision that covers them all. Such a vision (let’s drop the capital V) isn’t and can’t be static. There are so many, many ways to see the world and trying out many of them, when combined with your eye and your talent, makes me think hard about what I see and what photos I try to make. That makes you an artist and a teacher. And me a follower and a student.

    Must add that your photo “The Reader” to me is a masterpiece.

  12. Thanks for this blog, I find it useful, visually interesting and thoughtful. I was drawn in by your landscapes, then the B&W stories and but I especially like your color street work, like an amalgam of Fred Herzog, Saul Leiter and Alex Webb. Keep exploring. Your insights into all things Fuji are added value. My family and friends are still coming to grips with my project shooting in-camera double exposures at an old steam generating plant after years of landscape event and travel photography.

  13. Thank you for your blog, I always read it and study the photography. I realize this is time consuming so Thank you again. Jim Blankenberg

  14. However you want to label your work, I check it out at least a couple of times a day, the labels don’t bother me. It’s a continuing influence. Hope it’s not too much of a drag. It’s made me better, albeit my family appreciates the more mundane aspects and derides my attempt to break out of their comfort zone based on the inspirations that I get here.🙂 Love’m anyway, life’s like that. I just try to enjoy the slices I get.

    Best Regards,
    Roger

  15. Love it! So true… Sometimes I asked myself why I do this. Who cares, albeit it’s Disneyesque? Who looks if it’s not HDR? If not glossy high fashion? Still, I continue to do it, continue to learn from people like you and a bunch of Xs photog. Thanks for sharing.
    Michel

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