slower.net, an Appreciation

There are lot of things I could say about Eliot Shepard’s recently mothballed slower.net, and a few things I could say about Eliot as a friend. Rather than drone on about both, I’ll just tackle what’s at the top of each list.

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Eliot Shepard, from slower.net

If it weren’t for slower.net, I wouldn’t have taken to photography when I did, or with such zeal. Eliot’s photoblog (back when photoblogs had pictures, unlike this text stuff) was a dependable, nearly-daily dose of a world I didn’t know, but one that seemed eerily familiar. It urged me to keep going when I didn’t know what I was doing, and to do something different when I did.

Eliot’s site was that dreaded word: inspiring. Watching slower.net was like reading a book backwards by holding it in a mirror. Or like talking to your friendly neighborhood alien who’s got a great personality (and such big eyes!), but you can’t understand a word he says. Slower was photography with a capital F.

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Eliot Shepard, from slower.net

A few years ago, I felt like I’d learned as much about what pictures could be from looking at Eliot’s fits, starts, and successes, as I did from looking at anything else. Slower.net was the ultimate work-in-progress; casual & friendly, frayed around the edges, but with a through-line of incredible drive and soul. And by being a loose, public edit, you felt like you got to know a bit about the brain behind the curtain; a mathy guy, quick to smile, eager for a chat with a stranger.

In a web of flash-based photographer’s portfolios, slower.net made sense with its simplicity, and wasn’t about the sell. Everyone wants to stand out with their new project(s), and show their toothy web facelifts, but what we all need are more sites like Eliot’s. Less style, more substance. Less sell, more surprise.

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Eliot Shepard, from slower.net

Thanks for keeping the driveway plowed, E. You kept the wheels clean, cleared the slush and even scraped the tarmac a time or two. I’m not the only one eager to see what next looks like to you. Good luck with the new direction(s)…

Links:
Slower.net archive starts here.
Keep-up with Mr. Shepard on flickr.
I think about the oddness of this portrait once a week.

4 thoughts on “slower.net, an Appreciation”

  1. thanks for this post – it was a good trip down memory lane. i started my photo site a few months before eliot and only found his a year afterwards, but that was a profound, perspective-changing moment that i remember well. i suddenly realized that images from a digital camera, posted on a website, for your friends (and strangers), to show your every day life, can be more than that – it can be art.

    it may sound naive, but at the time (2001ish), i had never thought of it that way. this forever changed how i thought about digital photography and “photoblogs” and the internet as a new and unique art venue/distribution channel. im sad to see it go, but i know the influence spread well beyond me and obviously eliots not going to stop taking photos. you just have to know where to look next…

  2. Eliot is inspirational and will be a great daddy too, but as far as his beloved Red Sox are concerned, I think we may have to dispose of them soon…
    (3 games and counting)

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