5 min read

The Newsletter Doesn't Exist

10 Photos from 2013 // Arboreal by Virginia Wilcox // Natura Negra by Chanell Stone // Escaping Time and Space and a clubhouse chat on Walking and Art Monday Night

“I’m going to create one of those substack things, but not like yours with links and stuff,” said my photographer pal.

A ‘substack’ or newsletter is an empty container you can fill with anything you want.

The brilliant writer Rebecca Bengal calls Alec Soth’s Little Brown Mushroom Newsletter, “a zine masquerading as a newsletter.” When I read Noah Kalina’s weekly newsletter, it feels like an old-school blog or as if I’m reading chapters from a short story collection.

A newsletter can be about the news, however you define it, but it can also be just a bunch of random photos if you want. Craig Mod recently launched a new ‘experimental’ newsletter called ‘huh, A Cafe with a View of the Waterfall,’ which will just be one photo per week.

I still receive a few newsletters from photographers that are the garden variety ‘here’s what I’ve been up to and where I’ve been published,’ and they work fine too! But you have to be doing interesting things out in the world, and these photographers are doing just that which is why I subscribe and follow them in the first place.

I’ve always been a fan of zines even though most zines are forgettable. Zines can be about anything. It’s flexible format. You can experiment. They are cheap to make. They are fun. They are crazy.  

Which brings me to my point. Newsletters are a flexible format too. They can be anything. They don’t need to consist of words. They can just be one photo a week like Craig’s doing or they can be a series of 20 that tell a story. So, if you’re holding back starting a newsletter, tell yourself that you’re starting a weekly or monthly zine, or you’re sharing chapters from your forthcoming book.

The newsletter doesn’t exist.


10 Photos from 2013


Arboreal by Virginia Wilcox

Virginia Wilcox’s debut monograph – consisting of photographs made in the large Los Angeles parks that are equally hardscrabble and breathtaking – is quite aptly titled Arboreal. Because they have so many irreconcilable demands placed on them by both civilization and climate, the dominant subjects of the artist’s vision seem more “tree-like” or “relating to trees” than they do the actual thing. We can’t help but admire their stoic resolve. The pictures, Wilcox says, “offer a winding journey through a mangled urban landscape that looks something like wilderness, towing the line between the natural and built environment.” - Dead Beat Club

Speaking of projects about parks, this book by Virginia Wilcox looks really interesting. When I lived in Los Angeles, I didn’t explore the parks as much as I should have so I enjoy getting this type of glimpse at what I missed.


Natura Negra by Chanell Stone

This is a great project by photographer Chanell Stone. I especially appreciate the following:

Rather than leave the city in search of natural beauty, Stone heads into it. "It's important to see the beauty in the most overlooked and mundane urban environments," she says. "Growing up in a low-income neighborhood, I saw how the area was cast aside compared to other areas of Los Angeles. It made me think about why it was disregarded. But now these same places where I grew up are being gentrified. So apparently there was value there all along."

I have no empirical evidence but I feel that I’m seeing more projects about parks and green spaces in the last couple of years. The most likely explanation is that I’m looking for them now, so they become easier to spot. One of my goals this year is to start a spreadsheet that tracks the projects and books, and then eventually publish that in some format. This will be a long project! But for now, you should check out Chanell’s website.


Further Reading


I’m an photographer, writer and social media strategist moving from NYC to St. Cloud. This is my newsletter on art, walking, and mindfulness. Each issue, I share new work from my projects and try to make connections between ideas, articles and people that fascinate me. You can email me at info@bryanformhals.com or follow me on Instagram & Twitter