Cameras exist everywhere today, from ATM machines to mobile phones to government meetings. With the increase of the lenses surrounding our world, the artist inside springs forth from all walks of life to see the moments captured from a falling leaf to a speeding locomotive.

While many mainstream photo storage sites attempt to appeal to photo artists, Lance Ramoth felt differently. Lance’s vision was which now includes both a website and a printed publication, Fotoblur Magazine all crowd sourced or created by the artists from the inside. With a passion for photography and technology Lance’s efforts tell a story of hardwork and love. It is an inspirational tale in how a niche can evolve into a group collaboration in this case, photographers who believe in the Art of the Moment.

Techlife: How did start?

Lance Ramoth: I first started Fotoblur as a side project in 2007. I had been quite active in a number of other online photo communities and was actively submitting my photos to various printed publications. At first, Fotoblur was just a small corner for a few of the photographers that I had met at other communities where we could have complete autonomy of how it all would work. I got a lot of input from the first group of members and that helped shape the way Fotoblur works today.

TL: How has your focus changed since you started?

LR: Well now we’ve grown. Although we are still very small in terms of other photo communities we have some amazing photographers from all corners of the globe. Now we focus on aesthetics of the design, providing a cleaner and simpler user interface. We’re always looking for ways to improve how the community members interact with one another based on what we see them doing. From day one, the development of Fotoblur has been an organic process, allowing the community to determine where our focus should be applied. Fotoblur Magazine, which started a year after the initial launch of Fotoblur, has also been a main focus.

TL: Do you love how has grown?

LR: Indeed. I love to see how the members interact with one another. They are very supportive of each other and have created a very positive dynamic environment. This I couldn’t have developed in the code, or the design, but comes from the members. How the community has grown amazes me every time I’m browsing the gallery.

TL: What’s your favorite photo of 2010 so far?

LR: Wow, there are so many. We have a section of featured images where I select, based on my opinion, the best images of the day. The community also has its own voice in the Community Favorites section of the front page. The way the community favorites works is that each member can promote an image that they appreciate, and the ones with the highest number of promotions makes it to the front page for that day. So its a good mix of the community favorites and editor’s choice that goes into showcasing the best of the best.

TL: What’s your favorite story a photographer has shared with you?

LR: Most photographers can leave descriptions of their images and some are quite moving after reading them. For instance photographer Greg Brophy submitted an image that was quite moving after reading the description.  Apparently the subject of his photo was a dear friend who died at an early age and the image seemed to be a tribute to her.
James Andre Mortram posted images of individuals who suffered birth defects from the drug Thalidomide*. The image was so striking it was published in Fotoblur Magazine, Issue 5.

Images have been submitted depicting waractivism , hardship, and culture.  People post images of all types. Some are purely artistic in nature but some have messages that teach us about something that has touched another individual.

Background of Thalidomide:
Thalidomide was sold in a number of countries across the world from 1957 until 1961 when it was withdrawn from the market after being found to be cause birth defects in what has been called “the biggest medical tragedy of modern times”. It is not known exactly how many worldwide victims of the drug there have been, although estimates range from 10,000 to 20,000.

TL: Has publishing changed your life?

LR: Not really. Fotoblur has become an extension of my creative interests. Its a bit of work obviously to meet our deadline for Fotoblur Magazine but its also fun. I never know which images the community is going to select as the top images for publication so that is always exciting. Seeing the breadth of talent out there is inspiring and bringing that talent together and formulating a way of presenting it, also in an artistic way, has been both a challenge and creative endeavor.

TL: Has there been any negatives to

LR: Sure. We’ve had our handful of trouble makers in the community. I think you get this with any online community where members are mostly anonymous. But what I’ve found is the strength of the community takes care of this.

TL: What should new readers and users expect to see in the next 12 months?

LR: Expect to see some amazing work both on the site and in the published magazine. Word is spreading, and we’ve had some amazing artist join our ranks within the past year, so expect more of the same awe inspiring photography you’d come to expect from Fotoblur in the future.

TL: Are you currently working on any other projects?

LR: Fotoblur is a full time job that takes most of my spare time. As a technical person at heart I’m always fiddling with new technologies and approaches to problems that I can use to better the user’s experience. We’re excited by the fact that HTML5 has been gaining a fair amount of traction this year and hope to incorporate more of this technology into Fotoblur in the future.

TL: What’s a dream job for you?

LR: Anything thats creative. I love the creative process whereby you have the opportunity to build something from nothing. To have ultimate freedom of creativity and expression is all that I could ever hope for in a dream job.

TL: What’s a dream photoshoot for you?

LR: Where I enjoy the world around me. I like to take long exposures when I shoot whereby each image can take up to 4-6 minutes to expose. This gives me the opportunity to soak up my environment. It slows down the world in such a way that I feel at one with it. This is a personal experience and can be very spiritual in nature.

TL: Have any famous people or photographer’s who you were surprised to find fans?

LR: Oh yeah. We’ve had fine arts photographers such as Cole Thompson, Russ Martin, Marcia Martin, Jennifer Short, Tom Hoops, Xavier Rey, and Pierre Pellegrini join our ranks, plus many more. We’ve also recently had some large followings in Italy and Saudi Arabia. But we have many intermediate to beginning photographers as well. Fotoblur is a dynamic landscape where all can benefit from the social aspects of the community. It has brought photographers from all over the world together.

TL: What’s your advice for someone who has up to now just shot their family and friends for getting artistic with photography?

LR: Shooting family and friends can also be artistic. Photographer Jennifer Short makes it her main subject of work. Regardless, the advice that I would suggest is that the camera is just a tool and that it takes an artist to create the art. An artist attempts to communicate through their photos. Whether its emotions, wants, needs or desires, attempt to communicate that in your photos.

For me its about communicating the loneliness of life’s journey. Yes, I have family and friends but I’ve always felt alone and my images depict this feeling.

At Fotoblur we view photography as an art form. Its a matter of expression and personal experience. To shoot for the sake of shooting is not conducive to being an artist. We want photographic artists at Fotoblur and that’s what each one of us is trying to develop in ourselves.

At the time of this writing the Fotoblur community was just shy of 5,000 users, with 5 published magazines volumes, and nearly 43,000 images.  Along with an active comments and forums section of the site, the growth of a niche community based on a something you love is a great  way to get other passionate users involved who want a hand in creating a place for, in this case photographic artists, to gather and trade tips, admire work, and get inspired.  Where do you find inspiration for your passions?  Share it with us in the comments.