Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The New Year Post 2013

Time to assess last year—ok, well. past time by about two weeks. It doesn't bode well for 2013.
First, the overall picture. Since I started this blog, number of posts per year is:
2008: 88 (which was in half of a year)
2009: 118
2010: 73
2011: 76
2012:  *gulp* 45
Notice any trends? And then there's the fact that I feel like I should begin the blog with a confessional ("It's been more than a month since my last post.")
The average life span of a photoblog is two years. Actually, I just made that up. I have no idea what the lifespan of a photoblog is, but as a reader, I have seen many of them come and go. Will mine be next? Probably not. Will my posting become more frequent this year? I guess we'll see.

So, on to the day of reckoning for last year's goal....
2012 was to be the year of shameless commercialism. After my artsy "epic fail" project of 2011 during which I learned that success in gallery shows can be expensive, I vowed to devote myself to the commercial realm. The screen shot above (from shows that it was the year of black-and-white Paris photos over vintage text and the year of dogs. The year was off to a good start when about 10,000 prints sold in January. Things kept going (but at a slower pace) for the rest of the year, and then in May, I ran into a postcard rack with two of my dog prints.

I must be rolling in cash from all those sales, right? Not really, since my royalty payment is a modest percentage of wholesale. Not that I'm complaining (just trying to give an accurate picture). I know that some photographers only dream of galleries and high end art sales (and I'd love that, too), but I dream of seeing my photos on the art aisle of Target (or some similar store). 

Advice to the new photographer—you can earn more money doing weddings. Nevertheless, I'm drifting away from the wedding market—at least at my old prices. I've decided that the absolute cheapest package I will now offer is $1800. The mid-range package (with album, engagement, wedding, etc. pretty much everything you really need) is $3400. The price increase, while not enormous compared to some (Jonathan Canlas, anyone?), definitely puts me out of the range of a lot of potential clients. Raising prices in bad economic times is a risky move, but I have a limited amount of time and my old prices just led me to resent the work. 

Speaking of risky price increases, let's talk about Smugmug

When Smugmug decided to double their annual fees for pro accounts with no corresponding increase in features/service, many people started looking for alternatives. Being a huge Smugmug fan, my response was to save money by attempting to customize my smugmug site to the point where I could dump my regular .com and hosting plan, thereby offsetting the price hike and streamlining my web presence. I spent hours trying to tweak code in Smugmug, but never finished and am not happy with the results so far. I still have until April to downgrade or abandon Smugmug before my annual renewal. So far, I'm pretty disappointed with Smugmug—not with their stellar customer service, but with the fact that they don't provide stylish website templates (just *meh* themes). Yes, you can tweak the code like crazy if you have the skills, but I don't have time to master java, CSS, and whatnot.

Back to last year's goals...

Last year, I said I would do an occasional tutorial (I did. not often.), some posts about books I'm reading, a "variety of projects," and hopefully some "real-life retouch" posts. The real-life retouch didn't happen, so I make no promises this year.

Also related to last year, my pathetic attempt at monetizing my blog with skimlinks has thus far earned me enough money to buy a couple of albums on iTunes. I'm sure I would have done better had I written more posts and spent more time trying to promote products, but hey—it's still money and I haven't cluttered my blog with ads, so I see no reason to remove skimlinks.

A word about Pinterest

On Jan 1, 2012 I had 146 followers on Pinterest. Today, I have 1,710. The ease of pinning (vs. writing posts) and the immediate satisfaction of seeing "likes" and "repins" and increasing numbers of followers means that I have more incentive to pin than to post. I can blame Pinterest, at least in part, for my decrease in blog posts, but I don't see it ever replacing my blog.

So what's this year's goal?

I don't know. To be honest, the Sundance film festival starts this week which means I will be watching movies non-stop for the rest of the month. I knew that if I didn't force myself to do this post tonight, then I might never do it—which ultimately shows that I still maintain at least some degree of commitment to my blog.

So if I force myself to come up with a goal, here, on the spot?

Portraiture. I want to get back to portraiture, preferably starting with my own kids. You can therefore expect:
  • one or more posts about my quest to redo a photo wall in my home
  • some portrait inspiration and experimentation
  • the occasional tutorial
  • ???
And in a project unrelated to photography, 2013 will hopefully see this parked domain turn into the promotional vehicle for an amazingly cool French book (sort of the anti-textbook French textbook that will make pedagogues gnash their teeth and cry out in horror) I am writing (with boy-wonder Andrew of ) for iPads everywhere. 

That's as ambitious as this year gets. If you've made it to the end of this post, thanks, loyal reader! So nice of you to indulge my yearly New Year's rambling. I hope to repay you sometime this year with inspiration of some kind.

I'll be back post-Sundance.