From our vantage point in New York, the situation in our photographic city has changed dramatically in just a few days. The museums are now largely closed. Galleries are moving in the same direction, some trying to stay open by offering appointment only visits. The upcoming art fairs have been postponed or cancelled, as have the spring auctions. And a fuller lockdown of life in the city feels both imminent and necessary.
As we all move to working from home and “social distancing,” keeping our digital community together becomes all the more important. While photography may not be a top priority when health, safety, food, and the well being of family, friends, and loved ones are in question, we can still try to use our connective power to support, empathize with, and provide encouragement to our photography world. This is an immensely creative community, and we need to leverage that creativity to make the best of the situation.
At this point, we have roughly two weeks of backlogged reviews of museum and gallery shows that we still plan to cover, even though the venues are now closed – we can still think about them critically and celebrate their ideas, and that’s what we’re going to do. Once we work through those reviews, we will turn our entire writing team to the task of photobook reviews, perhaps with a few essays, opinion pieces, and other experiments thrown in. We will continue this approach until such time as it is safe for reviewers to head back out into the streets.
We’ve already started to see email blasts from smaller publishers who are worried that their community will abandon them. We’re not going to do that. As always, we will be buying every book we consider for review, and we will be making a particular effort to reach out to publishers and booksellers of all sizes (including self publishers) to spread out the support we can give. If you want to remind us again of your best new releases, hit us with an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, and make sure your mail room is shooting things out quickly.
Our comfortable photo community is now being tested and it’s time for us to rise to the occasion. Do what you can. Share our photobook reviews more widely so photographers and publishers (and their galleries) don’t feel forgotten. Hit our support button to help us pay our writers. And if you’re an experienced photo writer whose gigs have dried up, connect to us and maybe we can throw you some paid assignments. In short, let’s work together as a community of people who care about photography to make this extended moment of surreality feel just a tiny bit more normal.