Why Ted Forbes is the Most Important Photography Vlogger on Youtube / by James Christos


Living through a generation comprised of fragile job markets and unaffordable education fees, it's not at all surprising that Youtube has become the principal authority and learning resource for aspiring photographers worldwide. Quite frankly, gone are the days when photographers needed to assist other photographers for the best part of their youth or spend four years at a university. Why go through the hassle when we can solve all of our problems by asking Youtube for a helping hand? 

Now don't get me wrong, it's an incredible feat of humanity that so many innovative people are out there to fill the gap and ensure anyone can get their hands on a creative education; but in the post Casey Neistat era of vlogging fame and glory, we've become inundated with a lot of gimmick oriented photography vloggers whose approach is much more about showmanship than actual education. And that isn't to say there isn't a place in the market for them, it's just unfortunate that the market is currently dominated by them. 

And that's where Ted Forbes' The Art of Photography vlog comes in. I've been watching Ted's vlog ever since I became invested in photography around six years ago, and it really didn't take me long to realise that this guy was a cut above the rest. The Art of Photography is never short of fascinating content, and it's not that Ted necessarily shies away from theatrics and high production value either - quite the opposite in fact - it's more a matter of there actually being something to grasp beyond the surface.  

You see, the difference with Ted is that he's been an educator for a lot longer than he's been a marketer, and so what you get with his videos isn't just a sense of a commercial environment and set of photographic trends you're probably too late to get on board with anyway, but more a sense of how to thrive as sui generis, so you can change the market and actually establish the trends yourself. Ted's about revolution, not participation. 

His content ranges from genuinely insightful gear reviews and in depth technical tutorials, all the way through to art history, advice for young photographers and just some good old fashioned vlogging.  His chronicles on the history of photography with video essays on pioneers like Bresson, Saul Leiter, Eugene Smith, Capa, Latigue are always thought provoking, and I feel it's the kind of content that's crucial for a generation of photographers who are at risk of having little idea about who came before them. So I feel we all owe a lot of thanks to Ted Forbes for his 9 years of youtube philanthropy, for sharing his two decades worth of industry experience, and for giving us both the style and the substance. 

In a nut shell, being commercially generic really isn't good for the soul, but what's more, it's not necessarily good for your wallet either. Ask any leading agent, agency or publication and they will undoubtedly cite daring unorthodoxy as the key ingredient they look for in new photographers. And despite all their talents, the fear is that this is far from the kind of wisdom the prevailing vloggers are passing down; instead what we often get are the '10 hacks' videos, the quick tip that goes viral and yet another Lightroom preset. As Laura Wilson put it so perfectly in Ted Forbes' Artist Series, "Forget the f stops, forget the shutter speeds; you really need to be well informed and you have to have something to say".