Photography Newsletters Are the Opposite of Social Media: Personal and Profound.

Photography Newsletters Are the Opposite of Social Media: Personal and Profound.

Wesley Verhoeve recalls having tea and cookies and chatting with Bruce Davidson in his storied New York apartment before settling in for a portrait session he’ll never forget. Gregory Crewdson shares how and why his daily open-water swimming routine in a remote lake feeds his soul and nurtures his artistic practice. Chris Arnade shows us why walking miles a day is essential to making great pictures and offers tips for new walkers: wear a sunhat, slather your feet in Vaseline, and stretch before and after. 

In the age of social media, we might be used to quick, snappy captions and over-saturated feeds. But email newsletters offer an alternative, providing a personal and profound look at what it means to be a photographer in 2022. On Substack, photographers become publishers, delivering new pictures, op-eds, essays, and personal projects to our inboxes. These eleven newsletters remind us of the days before “likes” and algorithms–when we took our time looking at pictures, reading stories, and learning something new. 

While all of these newsletters provide content for free, some Substack newsletters offer extra benefits for paid subscribers. Arnade, for instance, gives paid readers access to thousands of his photos to use as they wish; Crewdson, on the other hand, offers exclusive first looks at new work to his paid subscribers. And at Feature Shoot, annual subscribers get a free portfolio review with the founder, Alison Zavos. 

Feature Shoot’s newsletter was created to give photographers more opportunities, better advice, and fresh perspectives on industry trends (for example, how to make money on TikTok or how to avoid some insidious scams targeting photographers). A free subscription gives you access to all our latest stories, features, and interviews with photographers, while paid subscribers get bonus articles on topics like how to self-publish a photo book or get your work exhibited in a gallery. Plus, we send a massive monthly roundup of opportunities, including grants, competitions, awards, residences, and job openings that caught our eye. 

Run by the writer and art critic Emmanuel Iduma, Tender Photo is a newsletter devoted to African photography, featuring one picture each week. “The process of choosing the photograph I present is simple but collaborative,” Iduma explains. “I send 3 photographs to a photographer born or based in Africa (selected from their portfolio). 

“They choose one of those photographs and respond to 5 simple questions: Where was the photograph taken?  How did you go about taking the photograph?  What makes this photograph special to you?  Can you describe your approach to photography?  In what ways do you think photography is impactful?”

Tender Photo is a treasure trove of stories, memories, and insights, featuring street photographers, portraitists, documentarians, and more with tales of joy and friendship, personal discovery, cities in transformation, and family life during lockdowns. This newsletter is free to all. 

From the photographer Gregory Crewdson and the producer/studio manager Juliane Hiam, who is also his partner, comes this newsletter taking us behind the scenes on some of the most unforgettable pictures from the studio. Learn what goes into creating architectural designs for soundstage sets, finding the perfect location, and working with a team to bring an imaginary scene to life. 

At the same time, this newsletter is about so much more than what takes place inside the studio: the artist’s love for the natural world shines through in regular swims, hikes, and outdoor adventures close to where they live and work in a small Massachusetts town, surrounded by forest. A free subscription will also get you access to the Crewdson Studio nature cams so you can see the local wildlife. 

Crewdson Trail Log is free, but you can upgrade to the paid version if you wish. Paid subscribers get deep dives into the artist’s process, production anecdotes, and exclusive peeks at new photographs coming out of the Studio. 

The photographer and curator Wesley Verhoeve presents this free weekly newsletter, inspired by his own experiences and lessons learned in the industry. Read about the day he spent chatting with and photographing Bruce Davidson, the time brought a film camera to a Jason Sudeikis improv show, and the life-changing advice he got from Coreen Simpson, an 80-year-old Brooklyn photographer and jewelry maker. 

FlakPhoto Digest by Andy Adams is a newsletter featuring essays, book recommendations (e.g. the new Diane Arbus book from Aperture), and new work from artists (he’s accepting submissions). Although the Substack is new, Adams has been running the FlakPhoto community for years, so the newsletter is a natural evolution: “FlakPhoto Digest will be a mix of photography news, online ephemera, and recommended reading.” 

He’ll be rolling out perks for paying subscribers in the future, depending on what readers want. To get a taste of what’s in store, check outAdams’ recent tributeto the great William Klien, featuring some of his most memorable pictures and moments. 

Desire Path is a community of photographers and photography lovers, with a focus on what’s happening in Web3. Through their free newsletter, they share a bit of everything: photography projects to watch, (non-photography) art collections to know about, and trending viral news from around the web (like that one time an AI-generated image won an art prize and the internet freaked out).

This newsletter was born from a simple idea from the freelance photographer and writer Chris Arnade: “In Walking the World, I’ll bring you stories and photos from parts of the world few visit, but plenty of people live in. From cities and neighborhoods tourists ignore. To do that, I will be literally walking around the world with my camera. Sending dispatches from different cities.” 

Arnade walks around twelve (and up to twenty) miles a day, so there are lots of insights in here, taking him across the globe and to places like Binghamton (USA), Bucharest, Istanbul, and Lạng Sơn (Vietnam). In addition to full access toallposts, Arnade has added an unexpected perk for paid subscribers: by upgrading, you can get access to thousands of his high-res photos to download and use as you wish–a unique selling point for publishers, editors, collectors, and more. 

Run by New York City gallerist Michael Foley, The Photographer’s Report tackles many of the questions you’ve always wanted to ask but never did: How do you price your work? Is it actually worth entering photography competitions? How are artists “discovered” by galleries, and what can you do to get your work seen? The free newsletter also features dispatches from Foley’s daily life, giving us a behind-the-scenes look at exhibitions, events, and workshops–plus a few offbeat anecdotes from life in the New York art scene. 

Presented by the lens-based artist Peter Nitsch, DRAWLIGHTS features work from photographers working in both the traditional space (#offchain) and the Web3 space (#onchain). They run reviews as well as interviews, with recent stories covering a satirical series of self-portraits, a project inspired by ancient Greek mythology, and an intimate exploration of family and childhood as told by one artist. DRAWLIGHTS is free, but Nitsch accepts crypto-tips if you want to show your support. 

This free newsletter from the photographer and filmmaker Ramon Haindl provides a deep dive into his creative process, offering practical tips and lessons learned along the way, with a focus on commercial and editorial photography. In addition to how-to articles (for example, how to prepare a photography treatment, how to communicate with clients, or how to light a portrait), he also discusses important and timely topics, such as the changing role of Instagram for photographers, the importance of making time to play and experiment, and the value of forming meaningful connections with other photographers.  

Published by the photo-based artist Gregory Eddi Jones, PhotoVerso bridges the gap between photo history and photography on the blockchain. “We feature collections by lens-based artists weekly, lead dialogue on collector’s issues, and help you keep up with the social and technological happenings,” the team shares. One of their main offerings is the Collector’s Guide, which provides an up-to-the-minute overview of newly released and upcoming NFT projects. Paid subscribers get access to exclusive posts (and the full archive of posts), and they can post comments and join the conversation. 

Finally, we’d love to hear from you! What photography newsletters are you subscribed to on Substack? Drop your recommendations in the comments section below.

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