Two Stops Down

A journal on photography by Thomas Riggs

What I Do Here

I’ll be honest: I’m at a point where I’m really not sure what I’m doing here. And yes, I (mostly) mean on this site; that’s not an analogy for a kind of SAD-onset depression. It’s about time I cleared this up with myself, with people who read this (particularly, you) and with whoever comes across this site in the future. Why? Because it matters to me what I make, and an empty husk of a something-something-photography-blog-essay-bleh is not something I want to make.

Not a manifesto.

Another person once said manifestos should be taken with a grain of salt1. And while I aim take what I’m writing to heart, the same should be said about this statement-of-sorts. If anything, this text should symbolise a focussing of intent—by a stop, or two.

I talk about photography.

As a student of the craft, I’m indebted to developing my understanding of photography. That’s what I imagine most of the writing here will be about, by word-volume, but don’t be surprised if a bulk of my posts concern other areas of interest. The constant underlying theme will be the photographic image, above all else. It’s important for reasons nobody else seems to have realised, or can possibly know, and I want to share those reasons with you.

I show what I’m bad at.

I’m somewhat haunted by Aristotle’s maxim of “we are what we frequently do”. It’s certainly true in that what most people think of me will be decided by the actual, physical things I’ve brought into being. If I’m unsure of how to say something of my motives, making it happen is usually the best route to express it. But equating yourself with your work is a pretty dangerous thing to do when you occasionally hit a hurdle. It creates a fear of failure. I can only try and avoid that here, not lowering the bar as such, but finding a muscular way of saying “I’m not quite there yet, but here’s where I am, and where I’m headed towards”.

I share what I’m getting better at.

As much as I envy sites like Strobist, DIY Photography et al for their industrious production of actual, practical, helpful advice, I won’t avoid it as much as I want to. One of the few things I can certainly do here is teach what has gone well, and it makes the whole art-student thing seem a whole lot less fucking selfish.

I don’t post much.

Don’t be surprised if my post volume stays slow. I want to spend my time doing other, more important things. A post a week is an amiable but probably distant target. It amazes me how people like Havi Brooks2 can write so damn much, and say so damn much while they’re at it. I’m not much for posting first drafts, so things will probably sit around and mature before they appear on the site. Interesting finds add a nice dusting of sugar, but I will only do so tastefully.

Why am I writing this?

Back to Work Episode #1: Alligator in the Bathroom

Somewhere in this recording, my man-crush Merlin Mann talks about most creative advice being on a spectrum between shut up and work harder, for fucking real this time and 101 Ways to Spend Your Money on Stationery. I think Merlin’s stuff has historically been the latter, and lately the former. He says he’s aiming for somewhere in-between. Good on him. But I can’t keep from thinking of all the hours I have spent listening to him ask me, tell me, yell at me to get up and do something. For real this time! Christ! Well, here you go Merlin. Here I go. I promise to be much more mindful of how many hours of your web-Popery I subject myself to in the future.

  1. Actually, it was Jesse Richards and his Remodernist Film Manifesto in 2008. ↩

  2. and her amazing website, The Fluent Self. ↩

This article was published on 19 January 2011.