This year, the Phoblographer is going through several changes. Many of them are very radical, and they’re all in response to the current way of the world for media. The site just turned 14 years old; and as an accredited website actively taught in schools to students and used as a resource by many retailers, I look at the landscape of things and see that there’s a lot of work that needs to be done. I’ve hinted at and talked about some of the changes that I’ve wanted to make in various posts before discussing how I want to hire people to work for the site. And I’m going to address them more plainly here.
Less Reviews, More Good Stuff
In 14 years, the Phoblographer has reviewed tons of gear. We’ve reviewed more lenses, bags, lights, and accessoreis than any of the competing photo websites and YouTube channels. But more specifically, we have standards and entire guidelines to how we do our reviews, which are discussed and talked about on this site.
There was a time when I believed that we needed to review every single lens out there. And I don’t believe that to be the case anymore. Why? At the start of 2024, I can say with certainty that there is far less innovation today than we’ve seen in a while. Instead, there’s much more monotony because of many brands using Sony sensors and getting lenses made by Sigma, Tamron, Cosina, Hoya and others. But more importantly, the brands try to obfusicate this information. It’s resulted in lots of boring camera gear. All of the brands have the funding to do better, but just aren’t. If they keep at it, they’ll continue to point the finger at smartphones like they have for over a decade. Instead, the problem is with them not trying to break away from each other and innovative within their own silos. The three camera brands that perhaps do this better than any other are Sony, Canon, and Leica. But some brands are really starting to show more promise.
With so much monotony, it also means that tons of camera gear being announced each year. Many of these brands like to pride themselves on putting out over 12 new lenses over a period of a year. We’ve had a policy that if three months go by and we haven’t been granted a full review unit, that we’d just move on. Considering the furious pace at which products are now being launched, we’re going to enforce this much stricter now.
Brands tend to loan products to Youtube influencers who are too smitten with the fact that they’re being paid attention to (or monetarily compensated and hiding it, along with being told that they can’t say anything bad about a product) to want to grant access to the publications with an entire framework of ethics and polciies. Now, we’re going to be very firm about getting products first.
Many of you come to our website to make purchases of gear because you trust us. In 2023 alone, we sold over half a million dollars of camera gear — and that’s the stuff that we can track. There’s far more that I know that we can’t track via Amazon Associates and Adorama. I can tell you that we also sold another $50k worth of gear on eBay that we didn’t even put any real effort into in 2023.
The bigger point of all this is that there’s too much monotonous gear. And a lot of it doesn’t deserve coverage or for you to even bother looking at it. Even if you’re a gearhead, it gets annoying to see and hear the same thing over and over again.
More Art: Less Monotonous Gear
When I first started Phoblographer, I had a focus on both gear and art. For some time, most of our traffic came from art. Then it was gear. Now, we’re in a place where we know how to get people to pay attention to art more.
People come to Phoblographer to read. That alone requires a different level of thinking and brain usage because it’s active instead of passively listening to a podcast or watching a video. Many people even put on videos in the background to listen to them while doing other things. That type of media consumption has become the equivalent of sitting back after work or school in the 90s and 2000s while endlessly scrolling through television channels searching for something to watch.
Phoblographer’s audience, therefore, comes to us for a higher end conversation. And through analysis of art, I plan on giving that to our readers. Not everything is about gear. We’re going to actively help photographers learn more about their craft and give them new ideas and guidance. It’s up to you to accept our help; but our resources will always be there. As it is, there’s 14 years worth of tutorials and such that people can read.
Changes to Our Review Structure
Last year, Google search changed their algorithms more so than any other time in history. It annoys me because I’ve had to make some major changes here at the Phoblographer that gave me anxiety and that majorly affected our revenue. One of theseis the review article structure that Google implements for search.
Isn’t it odd that literally one company dictates how every publication should structure their reviews for rankings?
Because of this, we’re making some structural changes to our reviews; but we’re not totally going to abide by what Google says works for search. We’re going to do what’s best for photographers who want to get a btter understanding of what gear can do for them. If there is no innovation, we’re not going to bother reviewing it. If it can’t change the way that you make images, we’re most likely not going to bother with it unless there’s something about it that truly stands out.
If a product isn’t weather resistant, we’re probably not going to even bother reviewing it anymore unless there’s something very special about it. I think we can also all agree that Micro Four Thirds has a lot of work to do too. Our focus will be on what professional and artistic photographers can do with the gear. Often, I’ve held back my own creativity (as has our staff) to allow ourselves to reach audiences more. But now, we’re not going to hold back as much in our creativity.
Still, the best way to keep following us is through our app, which you can get on iOS, Android, and tablets.
I’m honestly looking forward to a refresh. Recent events have fueled me with anger nearly equivalent to how I felt when I started Phoblographer when I looked at the state of the photo industry and personal affairs.
Most importantly, we’re an original. And you can keep expecting that from us.