Discover more from Work in Progress with Antonina Mamzenko
Photography and Substack
plus a few photos from the weekend
When I first got into photography back in 2008-2009, I started with a blog. I shared photos from my travels, my first experiments with photographing people (something I thought I’d never actually do - too shy, too introverted), wrote about meetups with other photographers, and other random things that I wanted to talk about - and I didn’t really care if anyone was listening. I was geeking out on my newfound passion. This was joyful, organic and allowed me to build a community and get my first paying clients.
Over time, that blog (and the website) morphed into a full time photography business and, to be honest, all the joy got sucked out of blogging. I was (over)thinking about SEO, about sharing my only best work (and therefore sharing very little - impostor syndrome, anyone?), agonised over whether I should post something unrelated to family photography (because I’m not a one trick pony… but it felt like I should pretend to be), whether I should be sharing the hard bits… The usual.
By then, blogging itself has changed too. Now we had social media and the community that regularly read - and commented on - each others blog posts has disappeared - almost overnight.
It became a slog that I dreaded and I didn’t feel like doing it anymore. After a few start-stops I’ve given up completely. So much so that last year I removed the blog from my website menu (as I always say to the photographers I mentor, there’s nothing worse than a dead blog - it only makes people wonder if you’re still in business/doing the thing your say you do… so either keep at it or let it go). The posts are still there, hidden, as I don’t have the heart to wipe them out completely.
Over the past year or so Instagram went the same way. For me it started as an informal diary of my motherhood and photography journeys and ended up as a highlight reel of only the best bits. The ever changing algorithms didn’t help. I’m still keeping at it, but seeing it for what it is: an up-to-date portfolio of sorts that lets some people know what I’ve been up to (emphasis on some because less than 10% of people see what I share anyway) and enables me to stay in touch with a few friends. But it’s not nearly as joyful as it once was.
When I started this Substack at the beginning of this year my main goal was to get back to my other love - writing, and on topics not necessarily related to photography. It felt like a good platform for it, surrounded by other writers, away from my normal channels. There’s currently only about 60 of you reading this, so it feels like a safe place to find my feet and experiment.
But I didn’t even think of it as a place I could share photography in the same way as I did before on my blog.
What I now realise is that it is actually the perfect space to share photography. Both completed photo essays or chapters of projects, but also the random photographs I take that are not part of a anything yet… or not going be anyway because they are often just snapshots, something I tried but didn’t quite succeed - imperfect, but nevertheless important to my creative process overall. My sketchbook if you will. The thing that I need to keep doing without any expectation of a result - otherwise I’ll lose my passion.
Almost a year since I’ve started this Substack blog I haven’t written as much as I’d planned/hoped, but I’ve slowly found my feet with this new platform, and it does still feel joyful. I’m writing with no expectations and although I’d love to be able to build a like-minded community here, for now I’m just enjoying the simple act of sharing what’s inside my head - and inside my camera.
So I’m going to start sharing a weekly(ish - let’s be realistic here!) photo dump of all the random (or not so random) photographs that I’ve taken that week, or have re-discovered in my archives (you wouldn’t believe how much I have that I never ever shared… or maybe you would).
It’s not going to be perfect, and I’m not going to agonise over it for days as I do on some of my longer written pieces (like this one about my recent visit to Russia, or this one on creative burnout). Which hopefully would mean I post more. Let’s see.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy these.
As always, let me know in the comments what you think (or don’t - it’s up to you). But I for one would love to get to this old way of blogging, having meaningful conversations in the comments, sparked by something someone shared.
Oh, and if you have come across any photography-related Substacks that you love, share your recommendations in the comments too, so everyone can go check them out. I am currently enjoying’s In The Flash, ’s Interloper and .
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