here comes 2009, the good and bad news

The abbreviated version for those in a hurry: in two weeks I’ll be diverting my attention from prophotolife to my photo studio and new photo a day 2009 blog (I hope to see you there). This conclusion has come after countless hours of deliberation and, believe me, it hasn‘t been easy. For the “fuller” story, read on…

20081225-_1250417A few things have amazed me since starting prophotolife almost a year ago:

1. The unbelievable reception from readers. We’ve jumped around from topic to topic, sharing random thoughts, and there’s always been someone there to help build the conversation, no matter where it‘s gone. The atmosphere has been incredibly supportive for both the newbie and the professional photographer. That’s something I’m pretty darn proud of, it was my hope from the beginning and it’s proven effective.

2. I’m also amazed that, after 227 posts and 32 videos, writer’s block hasn’t really been a problem. Photography is a huge subject and there are so many aesthetic, technical, practical and business angles worthy of discussion that the topic seem limitless. Yes, it has taken considerable time to create all of this content but it’s been a natural extension of my passion for photography.

While topics for photo discussion seem limitless, the time available for operating prophotolife has become more finite. My photo studio (Daylight Photo) is what pays the bills and it’s begging for more attention. We’ll be traveling on assignment much of January and the studio website and marketing need an overhaul to go along with the new space. From a business standpoint this is all good and exciting news and we feel very fortunate to be so busy.

Speaking of the new space, I’ve wanted to share photos of the new studio with you but it’s not yet finalized. Boxes still crowd the shooting area and we’ve been working on location for everything lately. When it’s ready, though, the images will most surely make an appearance on my 2009 project: the photo a day blog.

As for the photo a day 2009 blog…well, I’m a photographer. I need to shoot more. Writing so much about photography has opened my eyes to many new things but a photographer needs to take pictures and I just didn’t do that enough (outside of work) in 2008. The good news is that there’s plenty of room to write about relevant thoughts and influences on the photo a day blog. I’ll be writing on the new blog on occasion still, perhaps in a more abbreviated format. The important thing to me, though, is that new photographs will be the root of the website. Whether they’re good or bad, complex or trite, I’ll be traveling the road to discovery again as a photographer. I hope you’ll join me for some or all of the trip.

So that’s the focus of my photographic energy for the next year: growing my studio and exploring new visions again through personal photography. There are also a couple of video documentary project possibilities, we’ll see where it goes, but that‘s secondary (every overachiever needs a backup plan, huh?).

And what of prophotolife? I’ll continue with updates for the next two weeks and then it will remain online (as will the videos) so that they can continue to benefit photographers for some time to come. That’s the reason the site was started, to benefit photographers, and it was written in a way that will hopefully stand the test of time. Over the next two weeks here I want to say some thank-you’s and point to other really great resources online.

One of the toughest parts of this decision has been that, by all measures, prophotolife is an extremely successful website. In the last month it’s seen:

56,399 Visits
31,882 Absolute Unique Visitors
160,878 Pageviews
2.85 Average Pageviews Per Visit
00:05:15 Average Time on Site

Those are great numbers. Is it hard to divert attention from a website that’s doing so darn well, something I‘ve worked so hard for (I have many hundreds of hours in the site)? Yes, of course it is. This decision has been a tremendous struggle, to say the least. But here are the ideas I had and the ultimate conclusions drawn:

Idea: I could struggle to keep pace with the site while exploring new creative directions.
Conclusion: The studio needs more attention and I need to shoot more personal work, of these things I‘m certain. That leaves little to no time for prophotolife and it deserves to be more than an “also ran“. A big part of the success of the site is that I’ve strived to give it as much attention as possible, though I wish I had been able to keep pace better with emails and personal requests.

Idea: I could do occasional updates when possible to keep the site going at a reduced pace.
Conclusion: Then it wouldn’t be prophotolife. Without the schedule it would be too easy to put things off…and off. And I’d quickly be back to thinking it deserves better.

I hesitate to say that prophotolife is dead, though. If the studio slows appreciably there’s a great foundation here that I would return to in a heartbeat. I’d also enjoy any opportunity to grow future videos or workshops related to prophotolife. That’s more than I can handle on my own, though, at least at the moment. If there are any corporate sponsors waiting quietly in the wings then speak up now. ;)

I always revert to that old saying, “if you love the bird, set it free. If the bird loves you, it will return”. Simple, yes, but it’s been effective.

The good news is that by committing to a photo a day 2009 I’ll still be sharing and discussing photography in a public forum with less time requirements. As my friend Davey at Racer X Illustrated always says, “it’s not a party unless everyone is invited”. The new party starts January 1 and you‘re most definitely invited.