Octogenarian bloggers leave a void when they close their blogs

In the past few months, two of my favorite film-photography bloggers have ceased posting.

Morning at Piedras Marcadas
Morning at Piedras Marcadas, © Mike Connealy

I found Mike Connealy’s blog shortly after I restarted my camera collection in 2006. He was doing what I aspired to do: using old film cameras and writing about the experience. Despite his obvious and considerable photographic skill, he wrote of his journey of discovery, sharing his ups and downs with his cameras and his technique. I found it to be compelling, and it has led me to be transparent as I write about my own photography. Mike has mastered many aspects of black-and-white photography, especially the use of light and shadow. His work has heavily influenced mine. Mike’s Flickr space shows his best work; go take a look.

Paul Giambarba is an artist and graphic designer best known for his iconic branding of Polaroid during the company’s best years. I learned of him in 2008 while researching to write this post about my first Polaroid camera. It remains a great thrill that Paul himself left the first comment on that post. I’ve followed his blog about analog photography since. It has introduced me to many talented film photographers, past and present.

What Mike and Paul share in common is what one might call advanced age. Per Wikipedia, Paul is in his late 80s. Mike doesn’t reveal his age, but a couple self-portraits in Mike’s Flickr space suggest that he’s roughly of Paul’s generation.

In their farewell posts, Mike writes that he’s said everything useful he can think of; Paul writes that it is time to let his work stand and to be content with it.

I want to exclaim, “No! Your work is interesting! I’m still learning from you! Keep doing, keep sharing! ” But what do I know of 80? Does one wish to crown a lifetime’s work and bask in its satisfaction? Does one find futility in continued exploration? Does one scale back activity to match flagging energy and drive? Does one simply find newly fulfilling things to do?

Yet how else other than through the Internet would I have had the opportunity to peek into the mind of anyone of this generation? To come to know a fragment of them as whole people?

I’m grateful. But sad nonetheless.


15 responses to “Octogenarian bloggers leave a void when they close their blogs”

  1. David Avatar

    Thanks jim. I’m glad your writing your thoughts here, and that many more years of them are to come. Yes, we can thank the internet for connecting us this way . Regards David

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thank you, David!

  2. hmunro Avatar

    It is sad when someone stops sharing their viewpoint and creativity — for any reason — but it’s especially sad when the voice is as unique as Mike’s and Paul’s. That said, it does seem to be a part of the aging process, based on my observations of two of my own older friends (a 94-year-old music history professor and an 82-year-old composer). In the past year both gave given up their publishing and writing efforts in favor of a more private, more internal dialog. Like you, I’m grateful for everything I’ve learned from them … but sad nonetheless. Thank you for this beautiful and poignant post, Jim.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Anytime a blog I follow closes, I feel some loss. Last Saturday’s Recommended Reading post shared the final post from a blog I liked, by a woman who I think is in her 30s, and I’ll miss her words. It’s like a friend announcing she’s moving far away.

      There’s something about a good blog that makes me feel like I kind of know the writer. It’s especially wonderful to feel that way about someone who has so much experience to share in an area that I’m interested in.

  3. kiwiskan Avatar

    Yes, there used to be a saying ‘old soldiers never die’ – maybe old bloggers as well…

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      One can hope!

  4. pesoto74 Avatar

    At least they are giving some closure now that they feel they have no more to say. It seems like a lot of blogs just kinda fade away and you never know why.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Good point. I would have worried had they chosen to just fade out.

  5. bodegabayf2 Avatar

    Not only was Mike’s blog consistently interesting, he always left wise and thoughtful comments on other photography blogs as well. I have a feeling he’ll be back when he has something again to say.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Here’s hoping. He’s taken hiatuses before. But this one feels more final.

  6. dehk Avatar

    Must be a conspiracy that they are doing that at the same time.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar


  7. davidvanilla Avatar

    I am an octogenarian blogger who cannot tell you how many times I have thought about closing out. I have even written a “final” post (in two or three versions). Yet so far, each time I am away from it for awhile I seem to come back to it. Now I know that my blog is not focussed, so to speak, being a hodgepodge of most anything, but its main reason for existence still holds– it keeps me entertained.

    And more to the point, I get a kick out of reading and interacting with other bloggers.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      At least once you’ve actually published that final post, and it has appeared in my feed reader, and when I clicked through to your site you had already had second thoughts and removed it. So you were in the back of my mind as I wrote this. And I’m with you: blogging is endlessly entertaining, and it is a pleasure to interact with other bloggers!

  8. Jim Grey Avatar

    Today Paul Giambarba thanked me publicly on his blog, quoting most of this blog entry in the process. Read it here: http://giam.typepad.com/analog_photography_at_its/2015/05/thank-you-jim-grey.html

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