Dear Tumblr...

Like most platforms, it was only a matter of time. It lasted longer than most.

Tumblr’s decision to ban all NSFW content on December 17th is not simply ludicrous, it’s the last nail in the coffin. Why it feels strangely synonymous with opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling, I can’t really say. Perhaps it was simply the last best place, to borrow a phrase. I do know it’s all we had left.

I wonder Tumblr, will you ban hate and bigotry as not safe for work? Will you ban Terry Richardson for his brand of exploitation? Will ban the Kardashians in various states of undress? How about Miley Cyrus?

As of this evening, they have not.

What I do know is that “fine art nude” currently produces no search results, where as “White Power” returns thousands of posts.

Apparently violence and racial propaganda, among other things, are still safe for work.

Will you erase entirely what so many have created? Will you destroy creative work that you consider morally dubious while condoning the voices of intolerance?

Will you return my personal information and browsing history when you inevitably decide to erase my feed?

Marissa Mayer, former CEO of Yahoo, was quoted after acquiring Tumblr “We promise not to screw it up.”

You had one job.

We’ve built these 9 headed hydras. We show up, we create our content, we deliver it for free, we publish, we push, we link, we share. They take it all, and give us the “privilege.” It’s the ultimate case of work on spec. Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter, we drive these platforms. But let’s be honest, it’s not about the user, it’s about profitability. It’s about ad revenue. It’s about corporate advertisers being more afraid of sex than they are of racism. This is about app stores. This is about stock price.

This is about censorship. This is about legislating taste.

I’ve discovered, followed, met and interacted with some truly talented individuals on Tumblr. I’ve been exposed to creatives of all types, genres and disciplines that I would have never stumbled upon had it not been for this platform. I’ve shared a great deal of my own work in the process, and found it overwhelmingly fulfilling more often than not.

But it was just a matter of time.

God Speed Tumblr, it was fun while it lasted.

Recent Acquisition...

So we had a baby about 2 weeks ago, and I’ve been laying pretty low ever since. Hoping to post more work soon, I’ve got quite a bit on deck, but as was expected, I’m a bit busy. Here are a few Polaroids, because sometimes me and the boy get bored at night so we take pictures.

Thomas Eveland Szymanski, born September 26th, 5:21AM, 8 pounds, 8.9 ounces. Nice ears, close to the head, as my Polish grandmother used to say. He’s got my wife’s nose and my perpetually grumpy scowl…

New Year's Resolutions Are Dumb...

I'm not one of those people that stick to New Year's resolutions. Hell, I don't stick to most things, as is evident by the metric ton of unfinished projects on my desk... But I make them, sort of, why not, I know it's early, here it goes...

Break less bones. Should be easy, stop acting like you're still 20 years old. Here's to 2018 being a fracture free endeavor. Seriously. I'm super tired of this crap.

Shoot more pictures. Seems like a no-brainer. Gotta get off the internet and outside and shoot some more stuff. Feels like I live out my life in front of a screen sometimes. Might explain the vitamin D deficiency. Looking to do a bunch more portrait work this year. Drop me a line if you want to collaborate... 

Get more tattoos. Been saying this for years. Haven't been under the needle in probably 5 years. Need more ink. Lot's more. Just covering up the boring. I see another sleeve in 2018...

Make more prints. This is important. I'm really tired of looking at work, my own in particular, on the web and instagram and facebook and all the other platforms that we create the content for for free only to have it digitally trashed and stolen and re-published and our reach throttled and our accounts banned and ads plastered all over them. I want to see prints, in my hands, and turn them over and smell them and examine the signature look at the grain, like a photograph is supposed to be appreciated.

So here's to prints in 2018. Bottom's up...


Should've Got Me A Rolleica

So I'm in line at the little shop down the street from school picking up a bagel on my way in and this guy in full construction garb and a hard hat comes up behind me...

Guy: Is that a "Rolleica?"
Me: Say what?
Guy: A "Rolleica" you know, like the old "Rolleica" cameras.
Me: It's a Leica. Maybe you're thinking of a Rolleiflex? 
Guy: That's film right, not digital?
Me: This one uses film, yes.
Guy: I shoot pictures with an iPad now.
Me: That's nice.
Guy: I got me an old Canon. Those worth anything?
Me: Eh, depends what it is.
Guy: It's a AE-1, that worth anything?
Me: Not really.
Guy: Wanna buy it?
Me: Um, no.
Guy: I got all the stuff for it, like the zooms and the light thing.
Me: I'm good, thanks.
Guy: (Pauses, shakes head) Should've got me a "Rolleica..."


Lucy Hilmer And The Dry Mount Press

Every now and then I randomly search Craigslist for the term "darkroom" and just see what comes up... Sometimes you find something interesting, though it's usually futile but often entertaining. "I was cleaning out my dad's house and need to sell all his great darkroom gear cheap!" Which usually translates to about 2 trays, an easel, 2 broken film reels and a burned out enlarger bulb, 50 bucks, cash only, no delivery.

This time around I got lucky and found a big old heavy virtually indestructible 16x20 inch dry mount press for a $125 bucks, which I've been keeping an eye out for for years, and is dirt cheap considering most places would charge you $100 bucks just to ship it. Still can't believe it didn't get snatched up... and as it turns out, the lovely lady that sold it to me is none other than San Francisco photographer Lucy Hilmer, whose work I've seen around for some time...

You can have a look at Lucy's work at


I Should Probably Stick To The Darkroom...

Left leg, pre-op, September 2017.

Seems I have a real hidden talent for breaking bones...

I grew up playing hockey in Michigan, but gave it up when everyone else got bigger and I stayed the same size. I missed playing for sure, but it was never that important, I was never very good, and at the time I was getting more interested in the arts, music, substances, the like... I didn't play for almost 20 years, and then on whim, sort of fell back into it not long after I met my wife. She said let's go ice skating and it was all down hill from there.

Left leg, post-op, September 2017.

I started playing pickup on the weekends again and promptly began to injure myself unfortunately... strained the tendons in my wrist, pulled a muscle in my back, a partially torn hamstring, then a clean break through the tibia and fibula above my right ankle, and a year and a half later, last weekend, a really bad tibia fracture that cracked my left leg into about 6 pieces, bringing my total hardware count to 1 rod, 2 plates, and 14 screws.

Right ankle, post-op, May 2016.

Not going to be shooting much in the next few months. Will be posting some older work from the back log soon. Seems like I should stick to the darkroom... I'll miss playing for sure, but it's time to hang up the skates.

Hashtag Metal.

Why I'm Giving Up On Patreon

As many of you (like 5 of you really) may know, I have a Patreon page. It's been running a little over a year and a half. It has turned out to be a resounding failure, for a slew of reason, not all of them my fault, some of them very much so, regardless... I'm shutting it down, and here's why.

Patreon is very much based on this concept of hope labor. I will do this thing, for free, and hope that someone will support it in the future. Artists, writers, photographers, designers, you know what I'm talking about. Great idea in theory, entirely terrible idea in practice. The fact that I am and have been basically doing this anyway, for years, without a platform to gain sponsors and patrons, makes Patreon a terribly attractive idea on many levels. Here's the problem(s)...

"Do you want to buy this photograph? No? I completely understand."

This is, and always has been, my standard sales pitch. I'm not a salesman, I don't want to be a salesman, I never will be a salesman. Period. Patreon promises a platform that connects paying fans to the creators they want to follow, but it does not deliver. It provides a decent platform for pushing work to subscribing patrons, but fails miserably at actually searching for, finding, and connecting anyone with anything. The responsibility is solely on the creator to seek out and drive patrons to their page and close the deal. Additionally, the publishing platform itself is quite lacking, and though better than when I started, needs a great deal more features and flexibility to become viable for the majority of content creators. For this platform, Patreon skims 5% of artists earnings, not including processing fees (Paypal, Stripe, etc).

Patreon is absolutely amazing for people with a large, established following, and that's not me. The time put into promoting this page is staggering when you take a step back and actually look at it. On top of that, the other services used to promote it require their own investment in time and effort to be of any use or effectiveness. I currently run a website, with a blog updated semi-regularly, a Facebook page, an Instagram stream, at least 2 or 3 Tumblr blogs at any given time (because I freaking love Tumblr, honestly), and probably some other social-media crap I'm forgetting about. It's ludricous, it's busy work, and I'm tired of it.

Perhaps most importantly, I feel as though I've begun to create content to satisfy a subscriber, and that is absolutely the last thing on Earth I ever wanted to be when I decided to pursue photography as my life's work. This took me a minute to realize, and come to terms with, and it's not something I'm willing to continue doing. I am, however, in a position that I don't have to. 

By definition, I am not technically, on paper, a professional photographer. The vast majority of my income comes from other places. I work at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco in a full time position that affords me a decent salary, benefits, and flexibility to pursue my own work. I do classroom support for various departments, I teach on average 3 photography courses a semester, I manage the pool of equipment that students can checkout during classes, and I'm incredibly fortunate to have this stable, steady income that allows me to continue producing my own work. I also married really well, and that doesn't hurt either.

The point is, I don't need Patreon, and they don't need me, which is a wonderful thing.

It wasn't always this way... I've been crushingly poor at times, I've weighed 50 pounds less than I do now (it wasn't pretty), I've sold cameras to make rent, I've borrowed money from friends, I've been in debt, but the solution to those problems, the very real issues that working artists are faced with every day, aren't going be solved with Patreon, or Kickstarter, there is no app for that, there is no magic platform. 

It hasn't been a total failure to say the least. I've thoroughly enjoyed creating new work in a different way, and putting it out into the world. To those of you that supported my work, I cannot begin to thank you enough. To think that even a handful of you out there cared enough about what I was doing to not just pledge money, but to want to get prints in the mail once a month on top of that is just amazing and flattering, and I am forever in your debt. Some of you have supported me from day one (I'm looking at you Doc and Jon) and for that I will be eternally grateful.

All that said, I will be shutting down my Patreon page, and ceasing all subscriptions, effective immediately. From here on out, I'll be focusing on this, my own personal website, and less on the social media busy work that has become such a distraction.

And now, for the sales pitch...

If you'd like to support my work, please buy a print, purchase a book, commission a portrait, help me fund an exhibition, share my work with others, or just send me an email and tell me you enjoy what I do. It would mean the world to me.

And if you don't want to do any of those things... I completely understand.