I’ve been shooting photographs for most of my life. I’m a competent photographer. But for most of my life, I was also pretty ignorant about the history and culture of photography. Oh, I knew the names of some of the Big Hats in photography and could probably recognize some of their photos. But I had no real understanding at all of what had been done in photography, or who had done it, how they’d done it, or what they were thinking when they did it. I was the Jon Snow of photographic culture. I knew nothing.
So I set out to correct that. I decided to educate myself. I did it in a fairly haphazard and casual way– picking a photographer who’d caught my attention for some reason and doing some research on them. I also decided to share what I’d learned. At the time, I was the managing editor for Utata, an online collective of smart, creative, funny, curious people who enjoyed photography and discussion in equal measure. So I wrote a short essay on the photographers I studied and used those as a foundation for discussion in the group’s online forum on Flickr.
It was fun at first. I did an essay every week. Then after a while, it was every other week. It was still basically fun, and I learned a lot. But after a few years, it became a chore. A pleasant chore, for the most part, but still a chore. And like one does with a chore, I began to find reasons to avoid doing it.
And then I stopped.
I just didn’t want to do it anymore. I continued to read about photographers and think about their work, but the idea of writing an essay about them…well, it was simply too much unpaid labor. The last Sunday Salon was published in July of 2017.
A year or so later I learned a change in Flickr’s API (I have no idea what an API is, but it changed) had essentially gutted the Sunday Salons; they were no longer available online. Nobody could see them. I was okay with that. I didn’t really care. The salons had been a personal project, after all, and I’d accomplished what I wanted to accomplish. If they were gone, they were gone.
A few years went by. A few folks would occasionally mention something they’d learned from the salons, but I gave them little or no thought. Until about a year ago, when I got the urge to write another one. But I didn’t do it. I mean, why write an essay for a site that couldn’t display them? But I got in touch with Utata’s tech ninja, David Winkinson, who is one of the most thoughtful, generous, and considerate tech ninja’s ever. Would it be possible to resurrect the old site? The answer was ‘Not entirely; not the photos.’ But he said he could restore the text and establish it on his personal server. And before I could say, ‘Don’t bother’ he went right ahead and bothered.
And there it was. 170 or so essays. Somewhat buggered up, to be sure, but all the bones were there. They just needed to be collected, put in order, and fleshed out with photo examples from each photographer.
So I’ve spent the last few months sporadically noodling around, rebuilding the damned thing. I have absolutely NO skill at graphic design. I’m not even sure ‘graphic design’ is the appropriate term for what I’m talking about. But I cobbled the Sunday Salon together after a fashion. I’d have spent more time trying to figure out how to make it more presentable and more useful, but last week Adolfo Kaminsky died.
Odds are, you’ve no idea who Adolfo Kaminsky was. But you should. So I wrote a Sunday Salon about him (yes, I know today isn’t Sunday, but c’mon, let’s not get fussy at this point). Click on the link if you’re interested.
So here you go. The return of the Sunday Salon. You can find them all right here. Or just click on the Sunday Salon link at the top of the page.