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Student life goes on the Net; Photos accent DHS blog

Published Jun 01, 2005 - 14:19:49 CDT.

For many teenagers, the Internet is simply a tool to fight boredom. For Davis High School senior Michael Zhang, it's a way to document his life.

Zhang, like many people, has an online "blog," but unlike others, he updates his each day with personal pictures.

"Most photoblogs right now are by amateur photographers, who share one or two photos on their blog every so often," Zhang said. "I enjoy photography as art also, but my photoblog is more of a documentation of every day of my life."

To keep visual track of his activities, Zhang takes between 10 and 50 photographs on "normal days," taking more "if anything unique or special happens." He doesn't, however, post all those photos on his blog, setting the limit at 20; the extras are filed away on his computer. He has had the blog since mid-December, and has photos posted for every day.

Zhang uses a pocket-sized Sony digital camera for most of his pictures. This allows him to take it everywhere: school, tennis matches (he's in his fourth year on the DHS boys team) and excursions with friends. For the most part, his photography is unobtrusive: "I think a teacher's told me to put it away once, but most of the time it isn't a distraction to the class," he said.

His friends, too, don't mind the constant photo-snapping.

"My friends and teammates think it's great that there's actually someone who keeps memories that they can look back on," Zhang said. "It will be a good way to remember all the experiences after we've gone off to our different colleges and made new friends."

His friends do sometimes laugh at the habits his hobby has given him.

"Since I always have a camera on me, I sometimes do random things," he said. "I'll occasionally run toward the sound of sirens or loud noises."

Zhang dates his interest in photography to three years ago, when his family got its first digital camera; he has never had a formal education in photography. A section on his Web site, Michaelzhang.com, holds his personal, non-blog photos.

Web sites are an area in which Zhang has expertise. A few years ago, he made a "little personal Web page," and he continued to work and improve from there. Eventually he got to the point where he was designing Web sites for paying customers. Zhang purchased his smaller camera with money that he earned from his Web work.

"Finally, I created a Web site that really became a success," he said. "Around one and a half years ago, I created Blogring.net, which is a community providing resources for people who blog."

The community, a part of Xanga.com (an online blogging Web site), has close to 200,000 members. For Zhang, selling advertising on Blogring.net "gives me a way to escape the traditional fast-food jobs most people my age are working at."

Zhang, who will be attending UC Davis in the fall, plans to study business and work in a technology-related field. Whether that will include Web site designing or photography is unclear, but not impossible.

For now, he's a typical senior, finishing up his last season with the tennis team, participating in his youth group at church and spending time with friends and family. His photoblog serves as one more method to capture the last days of high school.

"Before I started this, all my days seemed to just fade and disappear in my memory," he said. "Now all my days have a memorable title and pictures to help me remember all the good times."

- Reach Maddy Ryen at mryen@davisenterprise.net

Wednesday, June 1, 2005


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