Writing With Feeling, Sharing With Soul

We recently talked about why blogging is alive and well.

That said, for me the majority of blogs (especially those focusing largely on cameras and/or bicycles) tend to be very much focused on the technical, statistical side, with reviews and the like.

Or they just feature photographs that rarely transcend the ordinary.

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Amidst the mediocrity, a couple of blogs that have really stood out for me and been something of a guiding light, consistently offer more than this.

A great deal more.

What they give the reader, me included, is a very personal and emotion fuelled adventure, combined with descriptive, intelligent, soulful and heartfelt writing, the likes of which you usually find in a treasured novel, or an intimate memoir. Or both, combined.

Please do check them out and see what you think.

The Trailhead – Life and death and sleeping on the ground by Jennifer K Bowman

Wish I Were Here – Journeys Through Place and Time by JD Riso

As I said, they are setting the standard for me currently, shining the way with how emotive and articulate and honest and moving they are.

When 35hunter grows up and gets over being obsessed with gear, I want it to be more like Jennifer Bowman and Julie Riso’s blogs.

What do you enjoy most in a blog, and which inspire you most? 

Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).

Thanks for looking. Please share this post with others you feel will enjoy it too. If you’re interested, this is what’s going on with my photography and cycling right now.

19 thoughts on “Writing With Feeling, Sharing With Soul”

  1. I can see why you love the two blogs you recommended — Jennifer Rowland and JD Riso are both extraordinary writers. But may I make a polite suggestion? Just leave it at that: I love these two blogs, and here’s why. It’s not necessary to bash most other blogs for their “mediocrity,” or “photographs that rarely transcend the ordinary.” (After all, some of us mediocre writers and photographers may be your readers and subscribers.)

    1. Heide, thank you as always for your comments, much appreciated.

      I completely take your point, and I specifically didn’t name any blogs I don’t like so much, that would be unkind and pointless. I just don’t read them.

      My point was that in these days of the internet where everyone’s a writer, publisher, photographer, there aren’t the gatekeepers of the past to guide us towards what we might find most enjoyable, or moving or inspiring. We have to find it for ourselves, and that’s so much harder because there’s so much more to sift through. So when we do find a blog where we can’t wait to read every post and revel in rummaging through the archives, it makes it all the more precious, to me, like a precious stone we stumble upon half buried on a vast sandy beach.

      I hope that makes sense, my aim wasn’t to “bash” any other blogs, just to point out that amidst the sea of content online, it’s all the more pleasing to find a writer or photographer that we really enjoy.

      I really aspire to be a better writer (and of course photographer) so these discoveries are important to me. I’m sure most of us feel the same?

      (By the way I follow less than 20 blogs, and yours is one of them.)

      1. Thanks for your thoughtful reply, Dan! Ah … now I see what you mean. You’re right that because of the sheer number of blogs it’s difficult to find the real gems. It’s true also that without gatekeepers — or proofreaders or photo editors — the quality of content can vary. But that doesn’t mean the majority is “mediocre,” just that it’s average (which most of us are!). So forgive me please for getting a bit prickly about semantics … but thank you for your kind and thoughtful follow-up. And thank you especially for following my blog! I’m truly honored to be among your fewer-than-20 and will do my best to earn your continued readership.

        1. I see mediocre and average as virtually the same thing, we obviously have different definitions! But I wanted to make the point I wasn’t trying single out any blog or people, just saying the great ones are all the more great amongst the average. : )

          1. That’s really interesting, Dan! Mediocrity has a much stronger negative connotation for me than average (because mediocrity implies satisfaction with a shoddy job, while being average means you’re doing your best — but that your best just isn’t that good). Isn’t it funny that two people can use the same word but extract different shades of meaning from it? Well … you have indeed made your point brilliantly, and I do agree that the great blogs really do stand out in a sea of average mediocrities. 🙂

          2. I find language endlessly fascinating.

            There’s that saying there about American and England being two countries divided by a common language!

            I believe you live in America, but don’t know of your family history, I always assume there’s some German heritage going by your name?

            I googled mediocre and it says “of only average quality, not very good”.

            And for the word average, once you get past the mathematical connotations, it states – “an amount, standard, level, or rate regarded as usual or ordinary”.

            So my understanding and use of the two words is pretty interchangeable.

            I wonder if in the past someone used the word “mediocre” in a very derogatory way to you, and that association stuck with you?

            It’s amazing how much we absorb from our parents and childhoods about words and phrases and our associations with them.

          3. I don’t recall being scarred at an early age by being called mediocre, but I suppose it’s possible. Something to bring up if I ever go into therapy, ha ha! And yes, I do indeed live in the United States — and you’re spot-on too about my heritage being German (and also Irish). But I spent most of my youth in Mexico and Peru … so we’ve got kind of a cultural scrambled egg going over here. 🙂

          4. As I’ve got older, especially the last two or three years, I’ve become more curious about my ancestry. On the surface I’m “100%” English, but of course that has evolved from somewhere if you go far back enough.

            I’m interested to know whether I might have Irish or Roman or French or German or Scandinavian history, or something else.

            Might do one of those DNA ancestry tests in a year or two!

      1. Gosh, Dan … do you have a couple of hours? 🙂

        You are well-acquainted with the first blog I ever followed: “Down the Road” by Jim Grey. He’s been my role model in many ways because of his authenticity and the variety of topics he covers. Plus, his passion and curiosity are contagious.

        I also am a big fan of https://tyrannosaurusfir.com/
        He hasn’t been posting much lately, but I think you’ll greatly enjoy a stroll through his archives. He has a wonderful eye and is an equally wonderful writer with a truly unique voice.

        Then there’s Stephen Dennstedt, my living-simply hero. He and his brother have spent the past six years traveling the globe with nothing but their clothes and camera gear. Some of his posts are 101-style primers, but I think you’ll appreciate his (sometimes gruff) writing and travel photography.

        And in case you don’t already know Ming Thein: https://blog.mingthein.com/
        His blog may be a bit more technical than you like sometimes, but his images (and those of his co-blogger Robin Wong) are always inspiring.

        Then there’s Lignum Draco (https://lignumdraco.wordpress.com/) and Andy Porter (https://northwesternimages.wordpress.com/) … well, I could go on and on. And I should probably do a separate reply on the women bloggers I follow, because I’ve just realized all of the ones I’ve listed are gents! But maybe that’s because not as many women seem to be into photography.

        Well … take a look and see if there are any new sites you’d like to follow.

        Cheers!

        1. Heide, thank you, plenty to check out! This is what I hoped people would do with this post, share the blogs they love and so we call get exposed to a few more that deserve our attention.

          It would be good to hear about some female bloggers too, to balance the genders. You can’t generalise too much, but when I want to research a bike or camera and look on gear forums, I would guess only 5% are female, if that! So male dominated, I guess it’s a “boys love their toys” thing, whether the toy is a camera, a bike, a motorbike, a car, a stereo, a phone, etc. So I really enjoy the balance of reading far more emotive and touching writing like the two blogs I mentioned above.

          1. Yes, I’ve heard that “boys love their toys.” HA HA! It really is interesting that — generally speaking — men seem to get way more into the technical aspects of their hobbies, though.

            Well, since you asked, here are a few of the women bloggers whose work I enjoy.

            Valérie Jardin splits her time between Minneapolis and Paris — as I do — but somehow I’ve never met her. I do love her street photography, though, and especially her use of light:
            https://valeriejardin.wordpress.com/2018/06/15/some-rome-some-paris-and-a-gallery-opening/

            Then there’s Nicole. I don’t know how she manages all this travel, or how she gets beneath the touristy veneer of every place she visits. (Not a photography blog per se, but lots of lovely images) https://thirdeyemom.com/

            Oh! And also Leanne Cole, who is based in Australia. She sometimes “talks technical,” but mostly in regards to how she shot or processed a particular image — which I find really helpful. She’s at https://leannecole.com.au/

            Well … that’s a good start for now. I’ll be eager to hear what you think, and hope I’ve introduced you to at least one new blog to follow!

          2. Lovely, thanks Heide, plenty to check out. Wow you must invest a lot of time every week in reading blogs!

            I need to have a bit of a shake up of my WP Reader as there are blogs there I just skim over that I can unsubscribe from. To make place for some new gems!

            With the boys’ toys thing, I confess I can be like that to a point, but then I end up just wanting stuff that’s well designed and made and that just lets me use it for its intended purpose without getting in the way. Like the invisible camera concept I wrote about a while back.

          3. I probably spend too much time reading and commenting — and mentoring new bloggers, too. But I learn so much (and get so much inspiration) each week that it’s well worth the investment! Plus, as I’ve mentioned before, some of these bloggers have become real-life friends, so their posts are even more meaningful.

            As for the boys’ toys: Well, there is nothing wrong with admiring something for its beauty or capabilities. But I’m seeing already that you’re a practical fellow who ultimately cares about results. Which is wonderful, because there are enough technical blogs out there already.

          4. I do find that for years I’ve been naturally guided by that William Morris quote – “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”

            When you have a camera or bicycle (or anything else) that meets both criteria at once, it’s a double win!

            I probably do spend quite a few hours a week reading blogs, but not that wide a range. I usually have maybe half a dozen that post regularly and I read the latest posts of (like yours) and then often have one I’ve discovered and am delving into the archives of (currently http://lovelybike.blogspot.com/) and reading two or three posts (plus comments) at a time.

  2. Well, I think it is safe to say that your blog inspires most of us that follow it. I have recently reactivated my own blog in the hopes I can find something to say in it. With my own aspirations to be a writer any practice can only be a help!

    Most of the blogs I follow are the big ones that get a mention everywhere, although yours and Canny Cameras don’t seem to get mentioned enough in lists of photography blogs.

    Like you, I am not always looking for the technical detail (although it can be useful at times), the real inspiration comes in the ‘feel’ of the blog. Someone who shares about how something makes them feel is always more interesting than reading a list of numbers.

    1. CT, many thanks for your kind comments.

      I wonder if 35hunter doesn’t get mentioned so much because I’ve drifted away from film photography, and don’t have anything to do with cutting edge digital. Both of these interests have a plethora of blogs around them!

      Absolutely agree about feelings versus numbers (though I do love numbers). I still don’t get why so many camera reviews on blogs are purely regurgitations of the manual, and have very little, if anything, about the person’s feelings about the camera.

      You can have a technically amazing camera on paper that feels lifeless, dull and completely uninspiring to pick up and use – indeed many modern cameras are. The tech spec is only a fraction of what’s important in finding the kit we love using most.

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