Sunday, May 31, 2009

Take-out Photo is 1 year old!

(stock photo—I'm not shooting today)

Happy belated birthday to my blog!!!

Although my first post was actually in May, take-out photo really began with the June Monthly Special. So I'm celebrating my first year of blogging with a look back at the past year.

Origins and the not-so-hidden agenda of Take-out Photo
My wife had already been blogging for at least a couple of years when I started my blog. To be honest, I didn't understand the joys of blogging until I starting doing it. It's not that I hadn't considered blogging, but I knew I couldn't start a personal blog without getting myself in trouble at work—I'm way too blunt for my own good.

My blog was an attempt to make something good out of a frustrating experience—namely, publishing. I did an ABCs of Paris photo project that in my mind would make a great little coffee table book for people who love Paris. I had some disappointingly close calls, but ultimately no takers. I put the Paris project on the back burner and decided to just give out information for free, maybe getting some good karma in the process. Early on, I decided to shun advertising. Instead, the commercial side of my blog would be an eventual book project of "take-out" photo recipes (in a couple more years, after I finish an unrelated book project). But first, my evil plan of global domination...

Google analytics Risk
A friend of mine started a blog at the same time last year, and since we both like useless competition, we decided to start a game of "Google Analytics Risk." Each hit on a blog= a soldier in that area. In order to win, you must achieve complete global domination.
The white areas are countries with no hits. Not bad, but if anyone goes on a tour of Africa, there is work to be done. And here are my top 10 countries:

Its own rewards...
Absurd Risk games aside, my real satisfaction comes from pushing myself to take on new projects and from seeing photographers of all levels benefit from my blog.

Some highlights/facts from the first year

Serendipitous highlight: The series of interviews. It wasn't part of my original plan, but once I started seeing the work of so many talented people, I just had to make interviews a tradition.

Most hits: The "starters" series of tutorials gets by far the most hits. The one about eyes is the top of the popularity list.

Monthly Special with the most participation: The grid project. That's right. The first project had the largest number of people post their work and link back. I know that a lot of people do the projects and never link back, but it's a lot more fun when they do.

Monthly Special with the least participation: A three-way tie. Ugh! Still life had only six (of which three were my son, Max). Brushes had four. Background had five, two of which by the same person. Compared to the booming participation of the first month, those lean months were very discouraging. If I hadn't seen that my subscriber base was growing I might have given up.

Unwelcome landmark moment: My first rude comment. It simultaneously irritated and delighted me to have a random stranger try to tell me that I am not a real photographer.

Most out of my comfort zone: The "still life" post. I cringe every time I look at that post. This doesn't mean I didn't enjoy trying something new. I may even revisit the topic with a vengeance someday.

Most pleasant out-of-my-comfort-zone surprise: Brushes. I know it was also one of the monthly specials with the least participation, but I enjoyed experimenting with something entirely new to me. I even made my own brush set based on things I've picked up at Paris flea markets.

My favorite Monthly Special: Street photography. It's my favorite genre because it makes me appreciate my surroundings.

Love to hate: Photojojo. They are the arch-nemesis that doesn't know I exist. Why do I love to hate them? Actually, I subscribe to them and find their approach pretty amusing. But they also have a couple hundred thousand subscribers and would therefore kick my butt in google analytics Risk. So I have to hate them.

What's in store for year 2 of Take-out Photo?
More projects, more tutorials, more interviews. Hopefully, more of what you like.

A new "recipes" section will help you put smaller tutorials to better use. The first recipe? The complete portrait retouching workflow.

And what's in store for next month? Something inspired by Fritsch. Something I have never done. Something for which I still don't even have a photo. Hope you will give it a try.