Talking about photography may be as sensible as dancing about geometry, but do you fancy a rhombus?
I love my podcasts, but that love has changed during the covid lockdown and working from home. Like 35hunter I no longer have a commute to work (or I didn’t, that’s changing). I was spending 40 minutes each morning and evening trapped in a car with nothing to do but be entertained. Perfect for podcasts. These days, if I commute at all, it’s 20 minutes or less. Some of the longer podcasts could take me three days to listen to.
Many of the podcasts I listen to are about photography (or I wouldn’t be writing about them). The good thing about this is that it’s almost impossible to describe pictures, so the discussion should be about photography itself. The bad thing is that it is easy to talk about cameras, so there are lots of podcasts that are audiobook versions of the manual. There are also a lot of photography-related podcasts, so there’s a lot of camera manuals out there.
One reason may be that talking is easier than writing, so if you have something you want to say, saying it wins over writing it. There is also convenience – I can listed to a podcast when I’m driving but I can’t read a blog (though I still like my blogs too). Although I did once work with someone who told me how they held a book on the steering wheel so they could read when they were driving the boring stretches on a motorway (eek!).
We are programmed to converse – we have evolved so that language is innate: a baby can learn to speak just by listening to the noises the big people make. We have to be taught to read. Together these are the most powerful tools we have – talking gives us collaboration and cohesion, writing gives us cultural memory so that we can learn from others without having met them. But to be able to read we actually have to rewire our brains. More Homo Flexibilis than Homo Sapiens, but it’s put us at the top of the tree (if only we were also sapiens…).
Anyhow – what’s that got to do with podcasts? It was a bit of a diversion really, into things I find interesting, but it may explain why there are more podcasts on photography than blogs. There is also a huge number of books on photography, but writing and publishing are difficult and have a high barrier to entry. A spoken podcast has a much lower entry cost and uses a skill you’ve had since you could walk.
I should be clear though – I am not criticising podcasts or saying that they are less clever than writing – I love my podcasts. I’m just thinking out loud about the different media.
Podcasts are also a larger commitment than writing: the participants have to turn up on time, every time, and spend at least the length of the podcast talking. I expect most blog writers, like me, can have several ideas in development and only need to post them on time. I can spread my input over weeks if need be, and I don’t need to commit a set amount of time at fixed intervals. So all kudos to the podcasters for their commitment.
So which podcasts do I rate? Given the bias I have expressed for photography and against cameras, it’s these:
UNP – Grant Scott talks about the business of commissioned photography and art, and has photographers describe what it means to them.
A small voice – Ben Smith interviews photographers about their work.
Sunny 16 – it feels like a family gathering, with everything from drunk uncles to wise aunts. Always entertaining.
Negative Positives – the American family gathering with sufficient mutual sarcasm that they could almost be British.
I dream of cameras – Jeff and Gabe talk about cameras, but I listen because they are funny and entertaining. This is an offshoot of the Sunny 16 podcast and can be found in the same place.
My list has changed over time, with some dropping off and some added. There are others, obviously, but these are the ones that I listen to each episode. How about you? Any recommendations?
PS – added a new one that I am enjoying: Lucy Lumen’s Podcast Adventure.