Firstly, I’d like to say a huge thank you to everybody who contributed in the comments to the previous discussion – your ideas and support have been most helpful in clarifying my own thoughts. Fundamentally, the challenge is really one of time: how can I balance off increasing family demands against the site (which in many ways is really another child) and perhaps at the same time, make changes that both buy me time and give you something more? It isn’t a question of monetisation because all of those options require more administrative time and don’t buy time elsewhere. Having had some further time to think, here’s what I think we’ll do going forward:
Status quo – for the time being
It’s clear that the audience likes things the way they are: this is understandable, but also somewhat self reinforcing (since you can’t want what you haven’t seen or don’t know about, and you’d have already left if you were aware and it existed otherwise). This means the direction of content and structure of posts and schedule will stay for the time being. Being prolific I think is part of what I do: I need to experiment and shoot and ruminate a lot to produce what I produce, and changing that will of course change the output – which is not what I want. I will try to maintain the frequency for as long as possible, but at some point in future, it’s likely I may cut down from the current average 3.5 posts/ week (once every alternate day) to 2.5 (once every three days), or make one post out of three something a little quicker/lighter. This also gives way to…
A new discussion format
The ‘third post’ will likely be some open thoughts on a current topic to encourage further discussion in the comments. I would rather not implement a forum or system to promote popular posts at this time because it goes against the idea of currency and immediacy – there’s no point dredging up something two years later; if it’s significant, it merits a new post. Fora will simply increase my workload in moderation and administration and probably not really offer the additional interactivity I was hoping for, since it seems that most readers are here for guided discussion.
I agree with the suggestion of covering a broader range of topics – beyond photography, anything that can be tangentially related to the visual medium or human psychology is fair game, I think. I will aim to present more of this in future, but it may be a while as I need to get my own knowledge up to par first -which means putting some order to my own haphazard personal erudition quest so far in this direction. If anybody has any ideas on what they’d like to see discussed, I’m all ears – please either leave a comment or shoot me an email.
Will still not be making a comeback in any major or regular way. This was a direction I decided on switching to medium format, for two reasons: firstly, though they do drive traffic, the traffic tends to be composed of a lot of transient and unsavoury elements that do nothing for the community. On top of that, these are the most time consuming element of content production, and being based here, downright costly: I have to buy everything I review if I am to retain any editorial independence.
More importantly though, I truly believe that we have passed the ‘sufficiency singularity’ and everything/anything is more than ‘good enough’: pick your poison, and get on with it. Moreover, the differences and gains are so small that often in order to extract them, a significant increase in operator skill (often also coupled with specific shooting conditions) is required. This unexpectedly hit home recently when I shot the H6D-100 for the first time, in Tokyo: another level up, and I’m not sure I can extract 100% of the performance over as wide an envelope as I was previously doing with the H5D-50 (or D810, or E-M1.2 etc.). I also made some of my favourite images, period, with a lowly Canon 100D during that trip.
Bottom line: we are the limiting factor to better photographs by a significant margin now, not our gear. Isn’t it high time we reviewed and improved our thinking?
Which brings me to the final point: as much as I appreciate the idea of a paid model, and financial support from the readership in return for me providing you with education, knowledge and content – the main site is not something I can or will charge for, because the underlying aim has always been to provide education. It also doesn’t solve the main problem of not having enough time at the right times, of course.
If you would like to support the creation of content and the site, I’d like to give you even more in return, again, in the form of education and entertainment – be it workshop videos, the Weekly Workflow and Critique, or the Email School.
I’ve often been asked to simply drop things that don’t make sense either financially or creatively or otherwise; I have come to realise that what I do now is entirely codependent on everything else: the site gives me an outlet for writing (another creative pursuit) and is motivation to formalise and structure thoughts around everything image-related. Unquestionably, this leads to a different creative direction and the making of different images, which in turn affects commercial commissions and professional work – mostly not directly, though I have had some significant clients (and the most interesting jobs) straight from the reader group.
In a lot of ways, my current position and thinking in photography is heavily dependent on the site, in that it forces me to know myself better. I was asked in the comments “how necessary is this blog for your own state of mind?”: the answer I wanted to give is not necessary for personal sanity, but important and significant for creative development. And I think that sums things up as a very good example of why I’m trying to do everything I can to keep things going here: if I wasn’t asked the question, I wouldn’t have an answer – or the clarity of position that comes with it. MT
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