In 1996, I started the first photo blog ever in Charlotte, NC. It was called CharlotteMix.com, paying homage to the multiple meanings of the word “mix” involved with the DJ / electronic music scene at the time - DJs mixing music, mixing with friends, mixed drinks, etc… The term "Photo Blog" would be coined after "Weblog" quickly shortened to "blog" in 1998. All I really wanted to do was have an excuse to go to the incredible nightclub events and budding EDM scene and document it with photos and snarky captions and possibly get paid to do it. Somehow I achieved both.
At that time, there were NO easy ways to post a photo online, much less a set of 30 - 50 with captions on a dedicated website. There were no smartphones, no Facebook, no WordPress, and digital photography was in it’s infancy. Being an avid photographer and nightlife enthusiast, and being one of the pioneers of the emerging Electronic Dance Music scene/culture of the city, I easily gained access to many of Charlotte’s lesser known underground venues, armed with a camera (a Nikon CoolPix 5000 with a Fisheye adapter was one of my favorites) - often times being the only person in the venue allowed to take pictures at the event.
Most nights, I would endorse the event I was attending as THE best thing to do that night - then, I would go, take photos, have some fun, then race home to photo edit, write captions, and post the photo set, one-by-one with nothing more than Dreamweaver to help me publish individual html pages to my website. My goal was to have the night documented so that those in attendance, would wake up the next morning to immediately see images from the night before. My photos were meant to be representative of the memories the attendees would have: vibrant, colorful, motion-blurred glimpses of a world most didn't even know existed at the time.
Regular destinations included: Mythos, The Steeple, Tonic, The Moon Room, The Pterodactyl, and various underground warehouses… once we even through a gas generator-fueled dance party in the middle of then-under-construction 485 at the Johnson Rd overpass… but that is a story unto itself.
One of my logo/marks for the site was “CLTMIX” - thus also being one of the first times anyone used the airport code CLT in a website or branding/media function. Many years later I would have the privilege to work with The PPL during 2012's DNC in Charlotte with Justin Ruckman and Matt Tyndell, and Desiree Kane of CLT Blog, but that too is another story I will share.
What I Learned:
After just over 2 years of publishing Charlotte Mix and religiously updating the site, I was eclipsed by Carolina Nightlife, who was just doing a better job of signing sponsors/advertisers, NOT doing everything themselves, and running a business… While I went after local nightclubs, bars, restaurants, and small businesses to create focused advertising that would speak to the exact viewers of the website… they signed huge beverage companies like Bud Light, Corona, and others ( I think those were the ones…) and very quickly were in the position to hire teams of photographers, buy advertising, and steal the show. This taught me me the very important lesson of delegating tasks and focusing as much of my own time as possible on strategy, creative direction, project management, and the business end of running a successful business. I never forgot those important lessons. I've tried hard for years to forgive Carolina Nightlife for teaching them to me : )