It’s Getting Personal in the Photography Blogs Hierarchy

Let me start this with a worrying trend: I haven’t received yet a single hate mail. Am I not sticking my neck out far enough? Thanks readers and commentators for contributing to this trend; a trend that’s completely unrepresentative judging from what makes the rounds on the Net these days. While I still enjoy a certain “virginity,” fellow bloggers are reporting abuses to the point that there’s no way to leave comments unmoderated. On this site? Haven’t moderated a single comment yet.

I don’t want to name names, you people familiar with the trade know what I’m talking about. Let me say so much: I admire each and every one who dedicates his or her time to run a website. There may be one or two who can make a living from it, but you can count them on the fingers of one hand. Web publishing, these days, has to first and foremost be a labor of love.

So in this context it comes as no surprise that Steve Huff publishes the well overdue — and meanwhile pulled — What Is Wrong With Passion and Enthusiasm? Nothing!, talking about the bitterness and hate he’s facing from a minority of the community while all he does is living his passion. Preemptively, Steve even closed the comment form.

Steve’s passion means a 60 to 70 hours workload per week just for a website. He does it for free while Ming Thein might be charging $2k for a workshop and asks for financial support by loyal readers. And even that is fair because, and believe me, the work that goes into a quality site can in no way be compared to an average nine-to-five grind.

Why not share a goat.
Why not share a goat.
Maybe some consumers out there have no idea where authentic, original content is coming from. Maybe today we all expected everything to be free because so much is available for free already. That’s why we find ourselves drowning in a total oversupply of often completely inane information. Some even share not to share a goat.

Now are photographers a peculiarly aggressive bunch of people? Dismissive aggression, as a consequence of knowing-everything-better, is a common behavior among some Web users. Who hasn’t witnessed shock-and-awe tactics in online forums. Online wars tend to amplify real-life situations and especially photographers, it seems, can be monumentally stubborn, jealous and childish at times.

Anyways, most aggression is usually flared by insecurities. Some photographers, enjoying the anonymity of the Web, have turned into keyboard warriors attacking everything that’s not according to their own little conditioned world. Think what you want of people that do things differently than you and think differently than you, but hey it’s individual personalities behind each and every site. If they’d all do and think the same, we’d all end up reading the same site.

How exciting would that be.

It’s not bloggers who instigate the fights, it’s users playing a blogger off against another blogger or Web luminary for that. Why don’t they start their own portal. Criticism is important and in many cases constructive and welcome, but be it Ken Rockwell, Thorsten Overgaard, Steve Huff, Ming Thein or anyone else doing what they love to do, give these guys a break and show some respect for their hard work.

THEME readers, on the other hand, seem to be an especially respectful circle of people, and I thank you for that. Once you start sending hate mails I take it as a broad hint that we start challenging the Web hierarchy… Well within not even a year we’ve crossed the 100,000 Alexa Global Traffic Rank threshold. Quite a feat!

Sure I wish you’d order all your gear via sponsored links and that you’re not ad blind. But as others, I’d be a fool to be in it for the money. It’s a passion thing, and I take the solid growth and lack of hate correspondence as silent signs of not boredom, but appreciation. Thank you!

Daniel Kestenholz

  • Ming Thein

    I think somebody from ‘the other side’ should comment: we all have to make a living out of this; if we don’t, then we’ll have to find some other way to do so – and the content generation ends. Ken and Steve make their living from associate sales; they’re frequently cited by mutual partners. If I’m teaching, I’m not billing clients, so it has to even out somehow. And Thorsten charges even more than I do…

    The bottom line, however, is Dan is right: there are a lot of easier ways to make better money. Before I was a photographer/ writer/ teacher, I was a senior director at a large MNC; trust me, that paid a lot better than this does. And I’d never have to worry about whether the end of the month would balance or not. We do this because we want to because it gives us the creative and intellectual rewards satisfaction the other ways don’t.

  • Ole

    Thanks for doing so! I really enjoy all of the mentioned sites, because they provide quite different perspectives on the topic. So keep the good work coming :D

  • And you forgot to say it’s worth it :)

  • Let’s play statistics, shall we?
    The larger your site, the more attention you will get, the more attention, the more likely you will get jerks. I congratulated you on the Alexa ranking, but as you grow, you will eventually, statistically attract jerks.

    My issue with the web is that people seem to think that people running websites have too much free time on their hands. No article ever gets published in 30minutes, it’s always in the hours. Hours were you are not working or dealing with stuff that could bring you clients.

    You HAVE to offset the costs, whether it is paid (Sean Reid), Affiliate (Ken Rockwell), Affiliate and Advertising (Huff), Workshops (Min Thein), etc.

    I highly doubt that their motivator is financial, it is PASSION. But it is a though world to make a living, and passion is not enough, there must be some compensation involved because all of these guys have to take care of themselves or their families. And if you know anything about families, they come before passion, except if you want to loose them, like a certain famous japanese photographer did.

  • dierk

    first of all:
    congratulation for you site and your engagement for photography and our/my passion and thanks very much for spending your time for us.

    Since I found it, it is always my second tab in the browser and my daily start for collecting information. The overview is perfect with the short topic of the rumor and other pages and perfectly programmed. It is different than the other sites mentioned above and it often covers different topics than the others (like this one).

    I agree, the comments and posts in many sites are often very unpolite and therefor I stopped looking at many forum sites.

    good luck!


  • dierk

    thanks to you as well, Ming.

    Your site is always full of interesting info’s and perfect images.

    Your day must have more than 24 hours :)

  • Touché!

  • Appreciate Dierk!

  • Most welcome Ole.

  • Web publishing in this field is driven by many factors. To make it worthwhile for readers is even more challenging in view of dozens of excellent sites dedicated to photography. And yes, you’ll hardly succeed when profitability is the main aim. Passion can become irresponsible when chasing after an illusionary goal. In the end it’s very simple: you get what you pay for, or better: a site is as profitable as its quality.

  • It’s the creative process for me, not expecting anything really, just naively doing what I love to do.

  • Don

    Is this spat why the RHS link to Steve Huff’s site is 7 articles out of date.

  • Strange… Maybe a caching issue. All other feeds seem up to date. Let me check…

  • Eye Forget

    From an economic p.o.v., the reason no one is making money is there’s no demand for their product. So, in the absence of money, these people resort to working 70 hours a week to engage in their “passion”. Simply looking around I can find far more enjoyable ways to spend my life.