It’s extremely hard to believe that it was that long ago. 21 years is a long time. Yet it feels like only yesterday.
On this date, 21 years ago, I decided to use this new technology called the Internet to share educational and inspirational tidbits about photography. I had enjoyed a lifetime of photography already – way back then. And I thought it would be cool to share what I had learned with others.
I didn’t have a grand plan. There was no such thing as a blog or a podcast yet. RSS had yet to be discovered. So I launched what I called an “online photo magazine” and I named it “Photofocus.com”
It was a clunky design that probably wasn’t very good. But I was giving away free information so I figured nobody would mind that the site was ugly.
We managed to accomplish a few ground breaking moments with Photofocus. We were one of the first photography blogs. We were one of the first regular photography podcasts (I co-founded the very first photo podcast “This Week in Photography” (TWIP) with Alex Lindsey.)
We were the first photography blog published on Kindle. We launched one of the very first iPhone photo-related “apps.”
Our original podcast was one of the first to be broadcast on an airline. And so it goes.
Fast-forward to 2019. Photofocus.com is still going strong. It’s a blog and a podcast and an educational platform that serves photographers today and will no doubt continue to in the future.
Several years ago I sold the site to my pal Rich Harrington. I remained loosely affiliated with the site on and off up until last year. I decided to launch a new site called PictureMethods.com based on everything I had learned doing Photofocus.
Whether it’s at Photofocus or PictureMethods, I hope that the work I have done has helped others. We never charged any fee to access Photofocus. There has never been and will never be a fee to access PictureMethods. (As long as I am running it that is.)
Photofocus is now a very robust site with lots of different voices and lots of great content. I have to admit I am proud of what it has become. It has given many photographers a voice and has reached hundreds of thousands of people. Rich has taken it further than I ever would have alone, but I am happy to have been the seed.
I have published more than 6000 blog posts and photography podcasts over my career. I have written 12 books and spoken at literally hundreds of workshops and photo conferences.
I’ve made some genuine friends along the way. And had the good fortune to rub elbows with the very best photographers on the planet. Those I cannot count as friends, I can at least count as acquaintances and the best thing about that is, almost all of them will take my call and if I need help for a fellow photographer that I cannot give, I can count on one of them to step up.
Through it all, I have probably gotten more out of this journey than the people I tried to help. The secret to my “success” is simple. I realized early on that the best way to truly master a subject – to learn all you can about it – is to teach it. Nothing puts the pressure on you to learn like needing to know what you are doing so you can teach. So if you want to be a better photographer, decide to teach someone else about photography.
I have made my share of mistakes along the way. I have tried to learn from them and improve. I am but human – and a heavily flawed one at that. Thankfully, I have always found redemption in photography. It’s the one thing in my life that I haven’t screwed up. I continue to teach because frankly, there’s more for me to learn.
I know I don’t have another 21 years left in me. However long I do have, I will continue to try to help photographers find the joy, peace, happiness and personal satisfaction that I find in photography. If all goes well, on my last day on earth, that morning, I will have written a post at PictureMethods teaching one more thing about the joys of photography.
In the mean time, please continue to follow my work at PictureMethods and also check out Photofocus. It offers a wealth of information about photography from a very dedicated group of people who share the same goals I do – they want to help photographers.
Happy birthday Photofocus. Keep at it. The photo world needs you.