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.
Saying “goodbye” to a friend is never an easy thing to do. We have a great team here at Photography Life, made up of some of the most creative, inventive and supportive folks in the photography world. Each of them works incredibly hard to bring our readers some of the best photography articles available anywhere.
I am excited to introduce yet another great addition to our talented team at Photography Life and this time I would like to present Spencer Cox. Spencer grabbed the attention of many of our readers with his inspiring posts and I was thrilled when he agreed to join our team. Please give a warm welcome to Spencer!
Since many of us now consider our smartphones an integral part of our photography hobby, I thought I would give you a quick perspective regarding the much anticipated Android operating system. I realize that many in the photography arena are huge iPhone fans. The global smartphone market share numbers break down to approximately 82% for the Android operating system and 14% for Apple IOS, according to the research firm IDC. Thus I suspect a healthy percentage of our readers are using Android phones. In the USA, the market share for Android and IOS is almost a dead heat at roughly 47.5% apiece. My comments below are based on upgrading a Verizon Samsung Galaxy S5 smartphone from KitKat to Lollipop.
As you may have already noticed, we have been experimenting with advertising here at Photography Life over the weekend. After several days of trying out Google’s advertising, we decided to settle on a few locations on the website and we have now pretty much settled on showing advertising on the sidebar and the main content area of the page. While we have tried to do our best to make ads as unobtrusive as possible, our old-time readers who have been enjoying the ad-free environment for so many years might get a bit annoyed and might wonder why we had to resort to introducing advertising on this site. Unfortunately, it all has to do with our rising costs.
Since Sports Illustrated’s (SI) announcement that it would lay off its staff of 6 professional photographers last week, there has been the traditional wailing and gnashing of teeth in the media. The responses have ranged from the stereotypical demonization of capitalism to lamentations for a skill set no longer appreciated. Others predict SI’s demise due to the inevitable (so they claim) decline in the quality of its photos that will result from this decision. You may recall a similar outrage when the Chicago Sun Times laid off its entire staff of full-time photographers.