Blog Review: Jeffrey Friedl’s Blog

Jeffrey Friedl and I share a few similarities: we both are computer programmers, love photography, and enjoy blogging. Unlike me, however, Jeff is an expat living in Japan. Also unlike me, he has a great photo blog. Jeff documents his travels throughout the islands of Japan as well as his daily life in his blog.  Ocassionally, he also blogs about technical issues or new tech toys he bought or new Adobe Lightroom Plugins he has developed.

Jeff begins nearly every post with a photo that captures the essence of his topic. Just as important as choosing a captivating starting sentence for a text essay, this first photo in the photo essay sets the mood for the following photos and text. Depending upon the subjet matter, Friedl sometimes has more prose than photography or the opposite.  Sometimes the posts are long and you could imagine them taking up a few pages in Time Magazine. Other times they’re just the tiniest snippet to let you know what’s going with his life. No matter how long it is, I’m always left longing for more.

As Jeff explained in his post about writing the blog, he often spends hours on a post including doing some research on the area. This effort is not in vain as it truly comes out in the quality of the writing. You often end up learning a lot of little details about the areas Jeff is visiting.  Jeff’s writing style is extremely accessible. It’s about halfway between a casual blog post and an officially written travel book. There’s also a documentary feel to the blog – as if you’re reading a documentary put together by PBS or the BBC about an American living in Japan. (Like a really classy reality TV show (do those exist?)) As you read more and more, you start to feel as though you know Jeff and his family and would be comfortable inviting them over for dinner.

What attracted me to Jeff’s blog in the first place was a bit of research I was doing on geo-tagging my photos. (You can see the results of my first geo-tagging outing here) Jeff geo-tags nearly every photo he places on the site. This is one of the great ways that technology is changing the way things are done. In the distant past you might read a travelogue by some famous photographer in a book. Closer in the past you might read someone’s blog with pictures. Both give you a sense of traveling together with the author, but with geo-tagging you truly get a sense of where the author is in space. It was one thing, for example, for Jeff to say in this post that he was just off the coast of Taiwan. It’s another thing to see this map of where he took the photo and then zoom out and see just how close Taiwan was (294 km!) – AND just how far the main islands of Japan were!

So, should you read Jeff’s blog and add it to your RSS aggregator? Just ask yourself these simple questions – 1) Does Japan and Japanese culture interest you? 2) Do you like travel books/travel blogs? 3) Do you enjoy great photography?  If you answered ‘yes’ to those questions, definitely check out Jeff’s blog. Personally, I think with just a tiny bit of cleanup for the change of format, Jeff could republish the blog in book form and probably do well via word of mouth. So go read it for free and enjoy it!