If you’ve browsed Photography Life in the last week or so, have you noticed something interesting? I don’t blame you if you missed it – it’s not something we’ve added, but something we’ve taken away. Here’s a hint: Our pages load much faster now, and perhaps you even feel less stressed when you look at the site.
Yes, we’ve gotten rid of ads!
It’s always bothered me tremendously that the high-quality articles that we spend hours writing are placed next to weird ads for diet scams and novelty t-shirts. What a strange business model, and who even clicks on those ads? Well, apparently a lot of people do, because ads comfortably generated six figures for us each year. Frankly, ads are a very seductive thing to website owners – we simply check a box and earn all that money without doing anything extra. The only small compromise is that the website starts to suck.
We’re sick of it. At a time when many photography websites are closing their doors for good, and most of the remaining sites are ramping up their ad volume to compensate for a shrinking market, we’ve decided to take the opposite approach and remove ads altogether. Nasim will have a lot more to say about why we made this decision in an upcoming article, with a revealing look “behind the curtain” of the ad world. Today, though, I want to tell you what we’re going to be doing instead – it’s probably the biggest thing we’ve ever done at Photography Life, and something that I’m extremely excited to share.
Photography Life Expands!
I knew that the only way to make up the lost revenue from ads would be to focus on our readers and offer you something extremely valuable. With that, I’d like to introduce the newest part of Photography Life: A reader-supported page where you can sign up for our top-quality Online Workshops, get detailed constructive critiques from our team, vote on which lenses we review next, see our lens sharpness tests weeks before they appear in our reviews, and much more.
In the spirit of Photography Life, anyone who joins the page, even if you join for free, will get access to extensive behind-the-scenes articles that don’t appear on the Photography Life homepage. On top of that, joining our $5/month tier or $12/month tiers will give you correspondingly valuable rewards each month. It’s a way for you to not only support our work at Photography Life, but to get world-class tutorials and other rewards at a fraction of what most photographers would charge.
If you’ve been reading our website for a while, you know that we try to give back to our readers as much as possible. It’s a running theme – it’s why we made all of our video courses free during the pandemic with no strings attached, why we will never lock our reviews behind a paywall, and why we just removed all ads from the site. We wouldn’t exist without our readers and want everything we do to be valuable for you.
So, even if you don’t have the ability to join a paid tier, you still get the benefit of an ad-free Photography Life and new behind-the-scenes posts for free on our member page. At the end of the day, this page will complement our existing work at Photography Life and give something valuable to everyone who cherishes our site.
More Details on the Rewards
We decided on Patreon as the platform for our member-supported page, since they’re already well-known and have a lot of good tools for publishing exclusive content. That said, Patreon only gives me so much room to explain things on our membership page, so let me take a moment to elaborate on each reward a bit more.
You get access to a variety of articles that would never appear on the Photography Life homepage – mostly behind-the-scenes articles, personal updates from our team, short-and-sweet tips, previews of our photos, and things like that. Free means free. We’ll never charge for these posts, so there’s a lot to enjoy even if you don’t pay for anything.
Silver Members – $5/month
This is our first paid tier and the easiest way to support Photography Life! I arranged the rewards so that you’ll get a ton of value for just $5/month, but don’t take my word for it. Here’s a detailed list of the rewards:
- More exclusive articles and updates: This goes a step further than what free members see. You’ll be the first to know about upcoming articles, videos, reviews, and other projects we’re working on. Plus some of our… less filtered… opinions about the photography world that aren’t fit for public consumption :)
- Early access to our lens sharpness tests: It might not be obvious from the outside, but I usually test a lens in the lab several weeks, if not months, before the review actually gets published. However, for our Silver Members, I’ll post these sharpness results immediately after measuring them. Hopefully this beats waiting two months while I’m testing the lens in the field each time! Point of fact, I’ve already posted the sharpness results for four upcoming lens reviews, including the Nikon 135mm f/1.8 Plena…
- Our “Creative Landscape Photography” eBook: Nasim and I spent years writing this 149-page book that covers the artistic side of landscape photography. It’s one of the things that I’m the most proud of making, and I think that anyone who reads it cover-to-cover will see their creative photography improve significantly. If you’re a Silver Member, you get this eBook plus all updates and new chapters that we’ll add to it in the future.
- Your name in our YouTube videos: Anyone who helps keep Photography Life running is a hero in my book. As a way to say thanks, all of our future YouTube videos will list our Silver and Gold members’ names in the video credits, since we couldn’t do it without you.
Gold Members – $12/month
Of course, this tier gets all the benefits of Silver Members, too! On top of that, we have a series of advanced rewards tailored to improving your photography as much as possible and giving you a voice in where Photography Life goes next:
- Four online workshops each year: Four times a year, we’re going to publish in-depth Online Workshops that cover a select photography topic at a workshop level of detail. These will be the signature products of Photography Life for 2024 and beyond. Our Online Workshops will combine livestreams, field videos, audience Q&As, and more – all to make you an expert on the topic at hand. You’re effectively spending $12 to get the most instructive parts of a $4000 in-person workshop, taught by the same photographers. (Also, if you’re part of this tier, you can download the most recent Online Workshop in case you missed it live and/or simply want to re-watch it in the future.)
- Monthly photo critique livestreams: Each month, we’re doing a call for submissions where you can send us your photos to our team for a thoughtful live critique. We’re not in the business of tearing people down – we’ll analyze what’s good about a photo and what you can look for next time. Personally, I find that watching photos being critiqued, whether your photos or someone else’s, is the best way to refresh your creative sensibilities as a photographer. While I can’t guarantee that every photo sent to us will be critiqued each month – it depends on how many we get – we’ll analyze as many photos as possible during these livestreams without sacrificing the quality of the critiques.
- Vote on which lenses we review next: Usually, I’m juggling about 4-5 upcoming lens reviews per brand with no defined publishing order. If there’s a lens review that you want us to prioritize, now’s your chance to tell us. We will strictly follow the results of each of these polls!
- Early signup for in-person workshops: Our in-person workshops often sell out within 10 hours, especially our Death Valley and Colorado Fall Colors workshops. Now, Gold Members will get notifications about our workshops 48 hours ahead of the public announcement, including a proprietary signup sheet. Our workshops are still first-come, first-served, and in theory, your fellow Gold Members could beat you to the punch – so this doesn’t guarantee you a spot, but it improves your chances substantially.
I think that explains everything you need to know about our member-supported page! Once again, the link is here, and our page is already live and ready to be explored. Finally, you can upgrade or downgrade your membership at any time, so there’s no pressure no matter what tier you choose.
I hope you’re excited about this new endeavor as much as I am. I’d like to pause for a moment and just say thank you for having our backs. It’s only because of our dedicated readers that we were willing to take this leap of faith in the first place, remove all the ads from Photography Life, and know that it will turn out okay in the end. Here’s to a great 2024 filled with beautiful light and meaningful photos!