While we are working hard on creating lots of very useful and informative content for our readers at Photography Life, I have to admit that we have not been doing a great job when it comes to keeping information sorted and easy to access. Well, that’s about to change in the upcoming year, as we will be making lots of changes to the site layout and work on creating pages that will be easy to follow. For now, we have finally delivered something many of our readers have been asking for, which is the ability to search the site.
We are happy to announce a big change to the way we handle and process email subscriptions for our readers. As of today, we have completely switched to a new system and migrated away from two previous email subscription systems, which will hopefully alleviate all the frustrations our readers have had with our newsletters. While we have been relying on free email delivery services from Google and WordPress for the past few years, they have proven to be very limited in terms of delivery and customization options. One service in particular would send an email as soon as content was posted, so if we posted several articles within a short period of time, it would result in practical spamming of the mailboxes of our readers. Going forward, we will no longer have these issues, as emails will only be delivered once, no matter how many times we post content on a given day. In addition, we have made it easy to both subscribe and unsubscribe from our email newsletter, so we are hoping that you will take a moment to try this new service out.
I am sad to say that the world of photography lost one of its true masters this past Sunday. Chinese photographer Fan Ho, known for his intimate street photographs of 1950’s Hong Kong, died of pneumonia at the age of 84. His photographs are more than simply beautiful; they show an understanding of light and composition is truly unparalleled. I cannot write anything that does justice to work like this, so I will leave with one of Fan Ho’s quotes – among the most beautiful sentiments I have heard from a photographer: “I put my whole life into a single photograph.”
Today is a very sad day in our photographic community – Michael Reichmann, the founder of one of my all-time favorite sites “Luminous Landscape“, passed away late last night after an extended battle with cancer. He was 71. Although I never had a chance to meet Michael in person, I always hoped that one day our paths would cross, since he has always been such a huge inspiration. A great teacher, an amazing photographer and from what I had heard from others, a very warm, kind and funny person. I learned so much from Luminous Landscape and the articles that Michael and his team put out on the site, and I have always recommended the site to our readers as one of the best sources on the Internet on landscape photography.
This week I have been heavily working on keeping our lens database up to date. With so many lens announcements coming out from different manufacturers, keeping the database current has been a challenge, since it takes quite a bit of time to add all the relevant information. Big thanks to everyone who has been sending feedback, requests and recommendations to improve our lens database. We want to make it the best and the most complete database in the world and everything we build today will be hugely beneficial for current and future readers of the site. This is why we need your help today! By letting us know about the missing lenses, errors and inconsistencies, you will be joining our efforts in compiling a great source of public information. But before that, let me first shed some light on some of the changes that we have made to the database.
This weekend, a very exciting display opened at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. – the twentieth anniversary of the Nature’s Best Photography exhibition. Every autumn for the past twenty years, the Windland Smith Rice Nature’s Best Photography International Competition has collected its winning images for a year-long display in the museum; the 2015 exhibit is a “Best of the Best” retrospective of the work from previous years. It features all the past Grand Prize and Youth winners, alongside the photos awarded in this competition 2015. In total, the exhibit features 113 massive prints, selected from nearly 500,000 submissions over the past two decades. I am very happy to announce that Spencer Cox won in this year’s Youth Category, and his “Brown Anole” image will be included in the 2015 retrospective exhibition! Congratulations to Spencer for winning this very prestigious award!
Just wanted to let our readers know that I have been battling with server slowdown issues during the past few days and I am working on getting these issues resolved. Big thanks to everyone who emailed me and let me know, particularly about all the slowdowns this morning. During the next couple of days, I will be implementing a new caching and balancing system to help with the server load. Our traffic has been steadily growing and it looks like we need to beef up the system again to accommodate all the load.
Due to rising costs of hosting and other expenses, we decided to add some advertising space to Photography Life, which has always been and always will be a free photography resource. Some of our readers were a bit annoyed by the often intrusive ads (which, unfortunately, we have little to no control of) and they requested that we add an option to support Photography Life with a monthly donation option, which would completely remove all the ads on the site. Others have been asking us to give a good option to subscribe on a monthly basis or simply donate funds to support our work. I am happy to report that this feature has finally been added to our site, and as of today you can become a member and enjoy completely ad-free experience. You can choose your level of support from Basic ($0.99 per month) all the way to Gold ($19.99 per month), depending on how much support you can and want to provide us and all three membership levels give you the same browsing and reading experience.
It is hard to visit any photography website without noticing extensive fanfare being paid to the mirrorless camera niche. Some tout it as the savior of the mid-to-high end camera market. Others have dubbed it the “DSLR killer.” A number of prominent photographers have created videos and articles articulating how mirrorless innovations caused them to shed pounds from their bag and reintroduce them to the joy of photography. And why shouldn’t they? The market for traditional point-and-shoot cameras is in a free fall as smartphones increase in usage, quality, and capabilities. Traditional DSLR sales continue to fall as well. The industry certainly needs something to cheer about. And of course, photography websites need something to write about.
As you might have noticed, our site is back to the normal commenting system – I got rid of Disqus. After giving Disqus a try for a few months, I realized that it was only creating more hassles than doing anything useful. My intention with the Disqus platform was to reduce server load and to increase engagement, but it created too many issues that I constantly had to battle with. Although Disqus was supposed to be better at keeping spammers away, a lot of spam made it through and I got tired of having to clean it up on a daily basis. In addition, our writers did not get proper notifications when comments were posted unless they subscribed to each article, which was creating even more headaches. And lastly, Disqus went all berserk on the site after I enabled additional caching – some of our readers reported that they were getting logged in under other accounts and all kind of other strange things were happening.