The Aughts in Pictures : a Few of My Favorite Photography Things

BlogHer Original Post

The first decade of the 21st century was amazing in many ways and alarming in others, but in photography it was arguably more exciting than ever. I mean, it may have been exciting in a different way from the time when photography was invented (thank you, Daguerre and Niepce, for giving me a hobby, seriously) but pretty cool all the same. 

The digital revolution and the constant, nearly overwhelming development of cameras both still and moving and the still-astounding-to-me ability to share images globally with the touch of a button marked this ten-year span of time. I'm not the earliest sort of adopter when it comes to anything really. I'm usually comfortably aware of what's going on just a little bit after it starts, the ultimate beta tester, I guess. So in that spirit I'm going to highlight some ways in which photography made this decade more interesting, creatively fulfilling, and yes, in my case, much, much more expensive, but it was totally worth it, I swear.

Perhaps you'll see yourself in one or more of these ideas. 

Building a personal digital history. I was hanging out with a friend yesterday talking about New Year's Eve, and honestly could not remember what I did. "I know," I said. "Flickr will tell me." 

And indeed my Flickr stream did remind me that it was a sad time, a rough night just two days before my grandmother died, when I blew off a few invitations and stayed home by myself, quietly, pre-emptively grieving. I have one screen shot of the television. 

2009

It was all I could muster. And because I have Flickr I know where I was, and that's important to me. My sets document my holidays, vacations, milestones and friendships in the greatest way since I started my account five years ago. I back everything up in other ways, but the beauty of this community is that I can go back and follow the images of my life like the conversation and the visual timeline they have become. 

Speaking of conversations, photos build a community. I've already talked about Flickr, but this truly was where I got my start. Now, every day, the Web is inundated with photos. So many images, it's amazing. And what I believe it has done is to support the building of not only a photo community, but a potentially globally community. There are people whose lives I know primarily, or only in photos. I can keep in touch with my friends near and (more interestingly) far, and in real time, through their photos. I think it's great. 

For instance? I met Erika two years ago at BlogHer San Francisco. She lives in California. Today, I learned she had bangs. And they're cute. And she did it herself!

Life-altering? Maybe not. But it's pretty cool, and it's just one of the million things that make up our daily lives that make these new at-a-distance friendships possible. I love it. Love it a lot. 

Building an international historical archive. I will always remember where I was for most moments of September 11, 2001, and that is in my house, watching the news, with the late Peter Jennings guiding me through the experience in what I believe is one of the best examples of courageous broadcast journalism in history. The images are seared into my brain. Photos from all three crashes and the devastation of New York City and the Pentagon will never go away. Because of the power of digital imaging, I have them. 

More recently, events like the election and Inauguration of Barack Obama are documented intensely in photographs. We can look back and see like no generation before what people saw when historically-relevant events occurred. We can see them while they're happening. 

Building skills. The increasing access of reasonably affordable digital equipment pleases me and has literally put the capacity for higher-end shooting into more hands. That said, I believe you can take incredible photos with a pinhole camera, and nothing much brought me more pleasure in image-making in this last year of the decade than the .99 ShakeItPhoto app for my iPhone. 

I love to see people gravitate to photography. I love it when people care enough to learn what ISO means and what kind of shutter speed does what, but I'm equally pleased when my mom just learns how to turn the camera on that I got her for the holiday. Photography is one of those things that should just be fun. Sometimes it's challenging for me, but it's never not fun. 

Oh hey, Genie Gratto, a BlogHer CE? I love her 365 project. You can feel how much she loves taking pictures when you see her images. At least I can. I hope she does it again this year. 

Building a BlogHer archive. I know, I know. I can't help it. BlogHer has been an instrumental part of my life and my development as a photographer in the last five years of this decade, so it bears mentioning. The site itself and the conferences are such important forces in amplifying the voice of women online, and one of the greatest things about it, in my opinion, is the incredible number and quality of the photos the community itself produces.

The BlogHer masthead itself is comprised of photos submitted by members of the BlogHer community. 

And where else but Flickr will I live in infamy with Lisa Stone in a Cheeseburgher hat? 

Nowhere, friends. Nowhere. 

My favorite things about the decade in pictures are completely subjective, of course. I'm sure you you have yours and I hope you'll tell me. And because I can, here are some people who, whether they knew it or not, caused me to keep reaching for whatever this is I do everyday. They're not strangers to these pages, for the most part, but what they do is more than worth a year-end nod. Here's to them. 

Chookooloonks. My colleague and friend at BlogHer and beyond, who took a chance and worked late into the night (this I know) to take her words and pictures where it is that they very much need to go. 

Stephanie Roberts, Little Purple Cow Productions. Stephanie's work is a mission of love and art, up to her most recent shots of people who have come from Bhutan to live in her home state of Georgia.. She is a perfect example of someone who understands what it means to find the humanity in everyone from her kitchen to Tanzania, and the beauty everywhere, whether it's in her backyard or thousands of miles away. She is working really hard and the results are so, so good. She and her partner Jen Lemen (also of Shutter Sisters) will continue to unveil great things as part of their Picture Hope project in 2010. 

Sarah Voisin shoots for the Washington Post and she is one of the few news photographers whose work I follow consistently. (It also doesn't hurt that she let me be her Facebook friend.) Check out her series on drug cartels in Tijuana among other major projects. Amazing work. 

Laurie Smithwick of Kirtsy.com and Upside Up takes some of the best pictures I've seen. Her blog is back. Let's hope we see more photos. 

As for the ones I took, not just this year but that I've posted on Flickr, these are my favorites. 

Finally, I'm going to take my little corner of this Web site at this time of the year to say thank you, Lisa Stone. Thank you for signing me up for this five years ago. I'm not ashamed to say that you made my decade, yes you did. For this woman's voice and for many, many more, you, Elisa Camahort-Page and Jory des Jardins made the difference. Thank you, from the bottom of my picture-taking heart. More people saw what I did, and I saw much more and so many more people than I would have ever seen, because of you. 

Contributing Editor Laurie White writes at LaurieWrites. Most of her photos are on on Flickr.

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