I've never been satisfied with most on-line methods or venues for sharing photographs. Most of them are okay for a mini-portfolio. Maybe I'm old-fashioned and just love a big box of prints or a big book. Absolutely the case but there's more to it than just my stubbornness. Starting at the dawn of the internet the notion of how users interact with photographs has just rubbed me the wrong way. I'm referring to the sea of thumbnails linked to some sort of larger image approach.
Starting with venues such as flickr, 500px, typical gallery plug-ins, and a plethora of others – I've never liked those. None of them. Of course I had my own galleries when I was selling my photographic production services. I disliked the lack of pacing control and randomness of access and viewing. On larger more social venues that use the same model I hated that my thumbnails would randomly be shuffled in with a bunch of others. The multitude of reasons for my distaste range from the egocentric to the lack of sequence control to the human nature of clicking the little tiny thumbnail that screams the loudest. I especially disliked that every single image even when clicked on or shown in some random slideshow constructed by the user was given the same exact treatment, sizing, emphasis, etc.
Moving on, there are the obvious other types of outlets, most of which could be thought of as blog-type mechanisms. These suit my personal needs and desires more closely. For personal projects I have a desire to share, blog-type venues more closely match the kind of medium I envision. A couple of those projects are at the point where I need to decide on the particulars.
This blog is not the place to do that. It's an on-going discussion about the endeavor of photography itself. Flavored with my own biases but mostly geared towards thoughts behind the camera and the process rather than an outlet for any end-product. Of course some new blog would be fine but I would need a new one for each project in mind. Mixing them up on the same site would dilute each, especially if I provided the typical random access and sequencing or any random mix of image display. The same goes for most other popular blogging and blog-like services. Tumblr, blogger, etc. I especially don't like tumblr. I don't know exactly why but the whole thoughtless "like" and re-blog out of context thing reminds me of the ADHD random walk of the internet my daughters engage in. The of the moment thought process. If it's scrolled off the screen they'll never see it. They certainly won't engage with anything consisting of more than one photo. Tumblr seems to devolve into a twitter for individual photographs. In any case I would need a Tumblr for each project.
This lead me to look at a few newer communities (start-ups) all looking to re-invent the blog. I thought I would share a few initial impressions of those. Specifically Medium.Com, Exposure.Com, Roon.Io, and Svbtle.Com. All of these want to be the next big thing whatever that means. All of them have a certain appeal depending on your particular bent. I've played with them all enough arrive at some preliminary decisions for my use in relation to photography.
Roon.Io and Svbtle.Com
I'll lump these together. Both are meant to be super simple replacements for a blog. They both have writer centric browser embedded minimal distraction free kind of plain text editors as their main UI. They both have geek-appeal in one way or another. There's virtually no options. I don't see them being around for very long but I could be wrong. They don't have much to offer the mainstream that normal people would consider valuable from my perspective. One of them kinda sorta seems to somewhat be trying to do what's unique to Medium but not quite. More on that in a bit. At the end of it – I wouldn't use either of these as an outlet for photographic centric projects. Not that it matters but there are absolutely no image display options at all. I don't think every image display possibility ever thought of is some sort of requirement but these are just a tad too minimal. Like other blog-type mechanisms I'll need one for each project. Rather do that myself with my own platform and use my own editor and CSS. Could do the same thing with Tumblr, etc.
Here's a test post on Svbtle.
Exposure's target audience is photographers. In common with the other three services I've looked at Exposure is dead simple to use. Not too many options but just enough to make it flexible. Far more image layout options than the other three. A clean content forward design. No real downsides but unique in there is no viable free option. You can put up three posts for free to get a feel for it but then it's pay-only. Not a lot of money, less expensive than a lot of the pay models of other more established photo hosting options out there. I may end up using exposure down the road. The only issue is that there's no thread between related posts. Sort of a random pile. Fine if each post is one project but not really what I had in mind for some of my longterm projects.
The same test post on Exposure.
Medium's model is interesting. On the surface Exposure and Medium are very similar. The overall design is so similar in it's minimalism content-forward approach you may mistake one for the other. The glaring difference is that Medium is free and has no mechanism to group images. It does have a few simple image layout and display options. This is not a deal killer for my purposes and could potentially change down the road. They could provide image grouping options exactly like Exposure. I don't have any idea if they will but they could. The post/article editor is almost exactly like Exposure's. Drag and drop, WYSIWYG, pop-up text styling. Medium's article editor is even more elegant than Exposure's. Truth is that even though each image is standalone there's more layout options in Medium for individual images. That's more relevant to me right now.
What about the interesting part of Medium's model? Well… like traditional platforms posts/articles are associated with an author but there's more. Authors and even non-authors have the ability to create and curate Medium collections, groups of articles related in any way the curator chooses. Perfect for my longterm project needs. Medium is also slanted towards longer form articles far more so than a lot of other ADHD inducing platforms. Images are displayed in-line only. No pop-up image lightbox, no links to some other thing, or galleries. Photographs are displayed in place, in sequence with any text. They have great captioning. Super nice for what I was looking for. Medium also has a fantastic set of comment and interaction mechanisms. Every image, every caption, and every paragraph has the ability for readers to leave notes – public or private. Each one maintains a content thread. Try it.
Medium also does this:
Certain platforms will automatically do this embed kind of thing with just the article link – no html required. Obviously that was the same test post as the other platforms. Bottom line – I'm going to go with Medium.Com rfor a few personal projects, some long term and some short term. I've actually already started a few. Nothing big yet but I do have a collection that I've started for my Mirror–Mirror project.