Looking Back at the Year, and Looking Forward to 2016
This past year has been kind of a weird one for me. I achieved a lot of what I had planned for this site, and for my photography career, but I also had some setbacks, both personally and work wise. I've already mentioned that my work was featured in some publications this year, but I've had some other interesting developments too. My Streets of Dublin project is going really strong, and there's been lots of take up on that. In fact I'm planning on stepping that up a gear, but more on that in a minute.
As many of my long time followers know, I split my working time between writing and photography on the one hand, and motion graphic design and visual effects on the other. Since leaving my full time job a few years ago, the plan has been to slowly transition to doing photography and writing full time. This year, I've made some good strides towards that goal. I was really surprised at how well my Fuji X-Trans guides have been received, and so I want to thank everyone who supported me on that. The hardest part has been finding a niche, and after a lot of experimenting I think I've found a formulae that is resonating. In the end it was a case of just being true to oneself, both artistically and in the way you write.
Next year, I hope to complete the transition finally and make this blog (and my other related ones) and my photography my full time career. It's been a lot of work to get to this point and it will take a lot more to go the rest of the way but I'm looking forward to the challenge.
The other reason that I want to finally complete the change is that the environment in which my motion graphic design work was being done has been changing and it's becoming very difficult to work in that environment. While I have some great clients that I enjoy working with, there has been more and more times when it's been very difficult to get paid. The average time for getting paid for jobs has gone up from 2-3 weeks to 2-3 months. For a small business, this is very difficult to manage. Another trend has been for jobs to become open ended. Some clients seem to never finish and sign off on work, and take ages to get feedback on projects, making it very difficult to schedule other jobs. Small jobs drag on far longer than they should. I had one situation last year where a job that was booked in for one week went on for 4 months. That's not an exaggeration either, and they still only wanted to pay for one week's worth of work. It's not just me either, as I've spoken to several colleagues who are all in the same situation, and are all looking for alternative careers. It's a real shame, as I used to really enjoy my design job, but now the environment has made it unsustainable, at least as a freelance anyway. I don't know if this is just an Irish thing, as it's such a small industry here, or a world wide phenomenon, and I'm sure there are some people still making it work but for me, I've had enough. I spend as much time chasing down feedback and payment as I do on the actual work, and it's just not worth it, both economically and creatively.
Autumn was a difficult time for me personally. My mother passed away after a short but horrific battle with cancer. This has been devastating for all of us, and I've found it very hard at times to come to terms with what happened. My mother was an amazing woman. She raised nine children who went on to have 11 grand children. As the youngest I was very close to my mother, and to me she always seemed indestructible. She was hardly ever sick, so when she went into hospital we were all stunned. Her passing happened so fast that we didn't really have time to catch a breath and register what happened. I miss my mother very much.
Anyway, looking forward to net year, I have quite a few plans for 2016, photographically speaking, so I thought I'd share some of what's coming up in the new year. I have a couple of big and little projects and some reorganisation that I want to talk about, so here's a quick roundup of some of what's coming soon.
I've grown this blog substantially over the past year and I aim to do so again over the next twelve months. Since last January, the average daily traffic here has nearly doubled As I've mentioned already, I plan for this to be my main focus, and that means a few things. Firstly, I hope to write more often, and diversify the subjects a bit. I'm going to continue to cover the kinds of subjects I've been covering, but with a bit more depth in certain areas, and a bit more often. I want to write more long form articles and more editorial type pieces.
As the plan is for this site to be my main career too, that means making it pay for itself. I don't want to cover it with advertising. At the moment, it generates income from the sale of my presets and e-books, and I will be doing some more of that, but I'm looking at a few other models too, including things like limited sponsorship, a special subscriber section and other such things. I like the design the way it is, so I don't want to have to do major re-designs, but I'm open to ideas. There are some people I follow who are doing similar things, but maybe not in photography, who've found models that work for them, so I'm looking at a few ideas. One idea is to offer PDF and kindle versions of long form articles and reviews for a low price, much like I've done with the Capture One guide. Either way, the amount of free content won't change or anything, there'll just be more. I'm open to any suggestions and feedback.
Photography new year's resolutions
I'm looking forward to trying some new things, photographically speaking in the new year too. I've been spending a lot of time doing street photography, and I want to start looking more at other genres too. I love nature photography so I'm going to spend some more time at that. There are a few other things I want to do more of next year too: - Shoot more video. I really want to shoot more video, and it's where I started my professional career, so I want to go back to doing more of that - Shoot more film photography. I've been dipping my tope so to speak back into the world of film photography a bit over the last year, and I want to do a lot more of that next year too. - Shoot more projects. I want to shoot more complete stories, and develop some of my own story projects.
I had started the Lightroom diary website after Aperture was discontinued. I had planned to try and keep the momentum of my Aperture Blog going with the Lightroom diary, but it didn't really work out. It turns out that while I use Lightroom a lot, and find it fine for my work and what I do, I just don't have the same passion for it that I did for Aperture. That's not to say I'm not going to continue to cover it, I just can't find myself committing to managing a a whole other blog for the software. So, I'm shutting it down as a separate blog and re-directing the site to my Lightroom section here.
It makes more sense and I can concentrate on growing this blog, rather than splitting it across several. The url will still bring you to the right section, so it can be used as a handy bookmark. I'm also going to re-name the Lightroom section as the Lightroom diary, so it will be like a mini sub-site.
My epic Sony A6000 review
I've been teasing this on Instagram for a while, and it's finally complete. Well, almost. For those that don't follow me on social media, or have missed it, I've been working on a long-term, real world review of the Sony A6000. It started out simply enough, but I've been adding to it and adding to it, and it now stands at over 8000 words (which is about 20 pages). I've finally finished the text - well, I've made myself stop adding to it - and I just have to proof read, do some clean up and take some product shots to go with it, pick sample images and so on. I had hoped to have it up before Christmas, but now, I will definitely have it online for the first week in January. I'll probably have to post it in several parts, as if I posted it all in one go it would probably kill squarespace. I'm also possibly going to look at doing a PDF version for a minimal fee for those who want to show support for the site and also have a nice printed version.
One more X-Trans Guide
I mentioned already that my Fuji X-Trans guides were really well received. I have covered Lightroom and Capture One, and I have one more planned. I'm going to do a guide for Iridient Developer and I hope to have that out by the end of January. I know that leaves Photo Ninja, but I'm not sure what's happening with that software. They have mentioned several times that they are working on a major project, which I assume is a new version of the software, and the old version hasn't been updated in quite a while, so I'm not willing to commit to writing a guide when it could change at any minute. I know that's the case for most software anyway, but it's especially the case here. If they do come out with a new version I'll cover that.
Earlier this year I launched a new site as an experiment. It was a travel photography photo blog and I posted a few images on it. The original purpose was to try out Wordpress.com for another upcoming project (more on that in a minute). I haven't posted on it in a while, but that's not because the site is dead. I've gotten what I needed from the experiment side of things, but I still want to do more with it, so I'm going to be moving it to a better platform (i.e. Squarespace) and launch it as a proper site sometime in the new year. It will be primarily a photo blog, with minimal writing, at least initially, but I have lots of Travel Photos backed up, and so I want a way to share them (and I'll offer prints for sale too)
Photo Blogging Series
The reason that I was using the Photo Wander site as an experiment was that I have been planning a new series and section on this blog. I'm going to start covering the art of photo blogging. In other words, I'm going to cover the things I've learned about how to run a successful photo blog. I'm going to cover lots of different things from choosing a platform, to no nonsense search engine optimisation tips for photographers. I'm also going to look at social media and platforms, and offer my own insight, which in many cases separates some of the things you read online to the reality in the real world. If it works and takes off, I'll compile the posts into a proper book at the end of the year.
New Lightroom Presets
I haven't published any new Lightroom Presets in a while, but I have several which are nearly ready for release. I've mentioned coffee tones a few times, and this set is just about ready to be released. I just need to do samples and usage notes (which takes a surprising amount of time). I also have a few other sets which are in various stages of development and will be released over the next few months. Here's a rough overview of some of the ones I'm working on: - Quick Lux 2: A sequel to my popular Quick Lux set. The second set is coming a long nicely, and I have a variety of looks in it including some nice faded film looks, and some basic enhancements that are useful when you want to give your images a quick enhancement. - Mono Lux. This is kind of a sequel to Monolith, and also a black and white version of Quick Lux, sort of. It's another set of Black and White presets. It's a little less contrasty than Monolith, and more generic, but I think it's still fairly unique. - Curves Kit. This is pretty much as the name says. A kit with lots of curves adjustments. You can do a lot with curves, and I've been collecting them, so I'm going to put these into a preset pack for release sometime soon.
Most of these packs will be smaller than some of my previous ones, so I'll be selling them for a little less. Coffee Tones should be up soon (first week in January hopefully) and the others in January or February.
The Streets of Dublin
Finally, there's my Streets of Dublin project. This has been going for a few years now and it's gotten a lot of attention lately. I have mostly been posting on Facebook and twitter as well as a site run on tumblr. The tumblr site was pretty basic, and I was just posting image on it, but I've been wanting to have a more flexible platform and be able to post longer form posts. So, I've been working on a whole new site, based on Squarespace, and it's of a similar design to this one. The site will go live soon, and it's the start of a new phase for the project.
I'm planning to spend more time on it and make it a must visit destination. The general brief won't change too much. The original tag line was "Candid Photography from the Streets of Dublin". This was because I was originally doing more traditional street photography but over the years it's morphed into something else. Now it's more of a combination of cityscape images, as well as life of the city and its people. I try to view the city itself as a person and the subject, and so the new tag line which sums up the goal of the project: "A Photographic Portrait of Dublin City". I'm also going to be shooting more video too, and I hope to grow the you tube channel.
As I'll be spending more time on the site, I'm going to look at ways of making it pay for itself too, including releasing some coffee table books based on the images, as well as offering prints for sale (which I already do anyway). I'm also looking at some other options too, such as patreon support, or some other kind of subscription for additional benefits. I don't really want it to become too commercialised, so I don't want it to be saddled with adverts, but we'll see how it goes. I'm excited about the possibility of the site, as the project itself has become very popular, but until now it's lacked a proper home. I'm looking forward to see where it will go now that it has a "base" so to speak, and it will be a full on entity rather than just an experimental project.
A thank You To My readers
Finally I want to take this opportunity to thank you, my readers. Without you none of these plans would be possible and I wouldn't have reached where I am now. As much as I love photography and writing, I love that I have a good community of readers here. I wish you all a happy new year and I hope I can continue to provide you with an interesting and varied reading experience for the year to come.