Photographing The World Around You: Around The World With Four Websites

“Taking pictures is savoring life intensely, every hundredth of a second.”—MARC RIBOUD

If you want the world to see your images, one of the easiest ways is with a free photoblog from Tumblr ( Free or low-cost templates give your blog the look you want. As a fan of Micro Four Thirds system cameras, I started a new blog ( to pick up where last year’s Picture-a-Day blog left off with a spin aimed at mirrorless photography. Using a free template, I had the blog up and running in 15 minutes, and you can, too. Tumblr is interactive so you can have a two-way conversation with admirers of your work. Don’t, as the parable goes, “hide your light under a bushel basket.” Sharing images is what makes photography the universal language and Tumblr makes it easy.
John D. Andersen’s online portfolio consists of three galleries, including Fine Art, Commercial, and People. Andersen’s Fine Art images are stripped bare of anything unnecessary and rely on color, form, and shape, embracing a spare but elegant aesthetic that produces striking photographs. His untitled monochromatic image of a denuded tree in a field of tall grass transcends nature and landscape genres, creating its own, something otherworldly, yet of-this-world look at the same time. His pristine beach scene shot in full-blown panoramic mode lacks the presence of people, but it seems as if you’re watching for someone, maybe someone from your dreams, to walk into it. Similarly, his image of a cluster of pine trees on a snow-covered mountain seems waiting for a skier—wearing red of course—to schuss into the image.

Andersen’s Commercial images employ a similar spare style, but people enter the picture for the first time, and dramatic images of sailboats fill the frame with color, literally exploding from the edges of the screen. His People gallery includes some of the freshest yet natural-looking wedding photography I’ve seen in a long time. Brides and grooms are portrayed as individuals, eschewing the cookie-cutter approach often used to capture this special day. Images are filled with love and action and become the diametric opposite of his introspective fine art images, proving he’s no Johnny One Note and capable of adapting to the situation. John D. Andersen is always ready to create an arresting photograph, no matter the genre.

© John D. Andersen, Images by JDA
The Photo Picture Gallery in Park City, Utah, features the landscape and nature photography of Jared and Trish McMillen. All of the images on their site were created using a 4x5 large format camera or a 6x17 panoramic film camera, and they literally sing. Images are collected in seven galleries within a portfolio. When I opened Standard Format my jaw literally dropped when looking at “The Peace Tree” and reading the description of how it was previsualized. “In order to truly experience this gift of nature is to tuck yourself under its arms and allow it to embrace you.” This image could literally be taken as a signpost describing the rest of their work.

There is tranquility in a snow-covered barn (“McPolin Barn, Winter Morning”) or placid waves on the Pacific Ocean (“Endless Oasis”) that is a study in light and color. The blue tones in that photograph echo in “Tahoe Blues” found in the Panoramic gallery, where the horizon seems to go on and on… In “Among the Aspens” they take you for a stroll down a road enveloped by snow-covered trees, producing a green and white wonderland. The McMillens go urban in Bulbs with close-up photographs of illuminated signs that mix a certain amount of whimsy stirred with a strong design sense with a soupçon of color. There is much more here, including galleries featuring wildlife and one containing precisely rendered architectural interiors. Overall, you’ll find nature photography at its highest level visualized by practitioners who’ve mastered the technical challenges of photography and wrap it in a strong aesthetic; it all serves as a celebration of the world around us.

© Jared McMillen/McMillen Fine Art
Shutterbug reader Barbara Bell Motter is a talented nature photographer from Maryland whose website provides a window into the breadth of her work. And there’s real breadth in the 18 galleries. Clicking a thumbnail displays the collection, while clicking an image opens a screen-filling photograph with directional arrows that you can navigate or play a slide show. Black & Whites is sorta what you think, filled with monochrome images, but there are also color photos of black-and-white subjects, with the arctic fox being one of the best examples. If you like this image there are more in the Arctic Foxes collection, one of three—the other being Polar Bears—found in the Arctic galleries. The wrestling/dancing bears in Polar Bears Sparring are not to be missed.

The four Rockies galleries mostly focus on the Canadian Rockies with the exception being images of Glacier National Park, which I think is one of our most beautiful national parks, and Barbara Motter does them justice with sweeping vistas and placid lakeside images. She also photographs people in her travels and her People & Culture gallery shows how well her subjects relate to her. I especially liked images that are part of her Blurb-published book Himalayan Kingdom, which includes warm, sensitive portraits of the people of Tibet, Nepal, and Bhutan.

© Barbara Motter
Ralph Duke is another Shutterbug reader and a Texas-based photographer whose lively images populate a cleverly designed site. He gathers images into six galleries; seven if you count Self Promotion that features the witty headline “Ralph Duke shoots people.” His Fashion images embrace several aesthetics and he knocks it out of the park with his location images, such as the woman in a red dress at a laundromat photographed against a rusty wall, which combines the mundane with a graceful and powerful use of color and design. In the studio, his black-and-white photography has impact and power and most important for fashion—style.

The first of his Street images made me smile; “Live Monkeys Here” is monochrome street photography at its fanciful finest. His Fine Art images cover the waterfront with every conceivable genre embraced, including architecture and panoramas, but the image of an ice skater—tutu and all—sitting in a coffee shop shows Duke at his delightfully surrealistic best. Here all bets are off, from off-the-cuff street photography to highly formal, classic black-and-white photography to eye-searing color that beats you over the head. Ralph Duke clearly is restlessly exploring the art of photography and apparently having lots of fun doing it. And isn’t that what photography should really be about—having fun?

© Ralph Duke