Spring Cleaning at APhotoEditor.com

- - Blogs

I thought I’d air this place out a bit and offer a little transparency in an attempt to move the conversations we have here on to the next chapter. I’m sensing a vibe of suspicion among a couple readers and commenter’s and I’ll offer a little transparency in an attempt to clear the air and make things right. I’ve tried to avoid writing about what I do for a living, what my plans are and in general not turn this into a place where I solicit work but I think that can sometimes make people suspicious of my motivations for doing all this work in the first place. I’ll be very clear, I wouldn’t do this if I thought it wouldn’t lead somewhere. I don’t think anyone knows where blogs and free services offered on the web lead. We’re figuring that out as we go.

The most common question I get is people asking if I’m a trust-funder or millionaire. No, unfortunately I’m not. I have to work for every dime like most of you. I have occasional photo editing, casting and consulting jobs to pay the bills and I’m living unbelievably cheap in Tucson, AZ with a family member. This will change when I move to Durango, CO around May 25th.

Next, most people probably want to know what I plan to do with this blog and all these readers. It’s changed several times since I began because honestly I didn’t set out to create a mainstream photography blog so for pretty much the whole time I’ve done this the answer has been “I don’t know or care.” When I started blogging I only wanted to teach myself how to blog, then it became a fun way to rant about work, then it grew to became very large and time consuming so I started to think I might need to get some advertising on the pages and try to make a living off all the time I spend writing and moderating the comments. I just couldn’t see myself hawking any type of photography equipment here so I gave up on that. It didn’t seem like a very good match for this site.

So, I finally decided very recently that the best way for me to make a living is to offer other products or premium services for a fee. It’s an idea that many web companies employ, you offer a few things for free to drive traffic and to create your own advertising platform and then you sell a product that a small percentage of the visitors are interested in. I’m not ready to discuss what those products are but I can say the blog will remain open and free and I’ll continue to do things like the free promos, media phonebook and photo rank as a way to support the community I’ve created and keep people coming back. As much as possible I’d like the blog to continue to be a place where conversations happen. A few readers have noted that the comments are more informative than the posts and I love that there’s so many people willing to share their experiences and ideas. I’d like that to continue as long as possible but I can’t pay rent with comments or notoriety so I’m developing products that hopefully will.

I’ll note here that I’m very aware that my thoughts on the industry and ideas on how people should behave will slowly lose relevance the longer it’s been since I’ve worked at a magazine. I’m cool with that. I hope other Photo Directors will take up blogging (email me and I’ll set you up for free and give you advice on how not to get caught) to provide that in-the-moment perspective and I’ll continue to interview people and give my opinion on the news and make posts that I feel are relevant. People who no longer find any of this interesting are free to leave. I’m not trying to create a monopoly here or write sensationalist material to drive up traffic. The blog has to evolve into something written by a former photography director. A few readers have commented on how they liked me so much better when I was anonymous and working at a magazine. I’m not going back so let’s hope someone else comes forward.

There’s been recent discussion about my previous anonymity and I’ll explain why I started my blog anonymously. First off, I always told people who I was when they asked. I wanted it to be an open secret. I was only keeping it from my employer because I had a contract that prevented them from firing me without a payout and this could have easily been voided if my blog was discovered. My family and I had moved all the way from Santa Fe to New York and that was my safety net. I’m actually uncomfortable talking about it now because I’m still bound by a non-compete and other contract terms until May 16th.

I offer anonymity to my commenter’s in the hopes that people will leave interesting tidbits they wouldn’t otherwise for fear of something getting back to their employer or client. It works most of the time but in a few cases it’s used for personal attacks. I try and prevent that from happening by patrolling the comments and will block people I think are real disruptor’s and remove comments that are intended to be evil. That being said I’ve decided anonymous commenter’s can remain anonymous forever. I’ll never track you down and if I inadvertently discover who you are I will never tell anyone. The same goes with emails people send me. All are confidential unless you personally tell me I can reprint something. I hope that helps. I recently tried to track someone down (technically I can’t track an IP address only guess who it might be based on city and state) because I wanted to ask why they were leaving nasty comments and I wanted it to stop. I’m not going to do that anymore. If it becomes really aggravating or disruptive I’ll just delete the comment or block the commenter. Additionally, if you impersonate someone who posts here I’ll just delete the comment or let everyone know it’s not the same person.

This leads to the final topic for spring cleaning, my thin skin. I’m going to do a better job of allowing criticism and dissent to my opinions without immediately firing a comment back. As I said before I’d like the posts and comments to be a conversation and other points of view are encouraged. I don’t want to get in the way of that happening.

There Are 39 Comments On This Article.

  1. Many of us come here for the next little tip on how to make a living from our creative output. Opening up the subject of how you can make a living leading this valuable discussion is all part of the same conversation.

    You would be going from being an expert in the frying pan to one of us in the fire. Making the leap is part of the adventure. Being able to turn the frying pan into a tool that both fries and brings home the bacon is part of the challenge. (as is using this run-a- way metaphor)

    I would welcome your thoughts about how to turn the blog into a paycheck. Some of us in the community could also have idea and connections that could help. Off the top of my head PDN would be wise to bring your conversation over to their site and publication.

  2. It’s been a very interesting journey so far Rob, and many thanks. I can see why you started off anonymously and you were absolutely right to do that. As far as I’m concerned you’ve provided an insight into the thoughts and workings of that often-anonymous person that I send pictures to and (very) occasionally receive a reply back from ;-) Yes, I know there are a million photographers out there and being one of them, just having that little extra knowledge can really help.

    The only criticism I have of the whole thing is that random selection of out-take pictures of yourself you insist(ed) on putting up! For goodness sake man, if you want some decent headshots just gimme a shout and we’ll work out a deal!!

    Good luck ;-)

  3. Huh, interesting. I was wondering how you made your living after leaving the magazine, but honestly one of my biggest questions is… what kind of photos do you shoot? Do you shoot at all?

    I mean, for somebody who talks about how photos make stories so much more interesting, they sure are pretty sparse on here.

    Just kidding. Even being from a podunk town in the midwest where the photography scene is not even remotely comparable to the kinds of things you address for the most part, it’s still pretty interesting, and the comments are pretty great too. You must do a good amount of moderating, because I’ve been impressed by how few comments I have to outright dismiss for idiocy.

  4. You are doing a fine job. I have some similar concerns myself, just do what you feel in your heart is best, and that is the answer

  5. if one of those products you wind up selling is industry consultation, then sign me up. i’d eagerly pay for your insight, suggestions and advice.

    seriously, send me an estimate before you’re over-booked…

  6. If the Free Promo proves popular with photo buyers perhaps you could sell the slide show to them. Like Black Book, but better edited and the art buyers pay the tab. It would be a great way for people who trust your taste to view juried talent, not just people who had $1500 and some pictures.

  7. I’m interested to see where this goes…..
    I’ve been reading the blog for a long time here, and still drop by often to catch up between work.

    Good luck :)


  8. tl;dr.

    Haha, just kidding. I first came here because I saw a link on some random forum somewhere, linked to the photo rank pages… I then read a couple of posts on the blog and thought it was cool, so I stayed. There are defiantly certain things here that I benefit hugely from, mainly the topics about getting noticed, portfolio submission tactics/etiquette etc, because that’s where I’m currently stuck, in my career.

    I’m really appreciative of the time you take to write this blog and the frequency with which you do so. At first I wondered if it were better to stay anonymous when posting comments, but then I thought “well hey, it’s free promotion”; I’ve noticed on my website stats, a few hits from here – I don’t know who’s been clicking, but I know people have been. I also know I don’t really say anything stupid on here (except for that email I sent to you, Rob, that I now regret), so there’s no harm in people knowing who I am.


  9. At you very interesting blog, questions which here are discussed very much Important! It lets know that in the problems (-the work) you are not lonely,
    and at many as difficultly adapt to a reality of today.
    But as though we did not try to be friendly, all of us “competitors” (-let on pages of it blog
    hardly smaller), we are chained in a circuit of business because we at everyone have responsibility for the family, and
    for wound to which we pay for an apartment – from our earnings in sphere of a photography.
    Time of trade unions (-as it is sad!) passes, and we as promote this from time to time..
    I read you with the big interest as far as it allows me my English language.
    Good luck to you!

  10. Oliver Rudkin

    Hi Rob,

    I’m nineteen and I’m a student, and it’s a pleasure to come back every day just to soak up all the advice.

    I’ve been reading since before you ‘came out’ and I have to say: well done, and thanks, and good luck to you.



  11. Hey Rob

    Keep doing what you’re doing. The insights, the analysis and the sharing of information are all very much appreciated by those of us on both sides of the camera. Thanks for all your time and effort.


  12. anotherphotoeditor

    As a photo director myself, I appreciate your insights and opinions, it helps the rest of us in magazineland feel like we aren’t going crazy. Keep up the great work. Your experience will never get old.

  13. APE- I’ve been reading your blog daily for nearly 8 months. Not only have I found it to be very interesting and useful, I’ve also enjoyed watching it evolve. I look forward to seeing where it goes next. btw- any chance I’ll get a response to that email I sent you last September?

  14. Rob,

    While I guess the how and the why of your blog is a vague question in the back of my mind, the sentiment I have is appreciation for running the blog to foster conversation–and through that community.

    I am big on community for, living as a freelancer in a world filled with competition, it is often hard to find and stay connected to fellow photographers. I guess partly due to a growing maturity and partly due to what I’ve learned in through my work, I am appreciative of you candor and encourage further vulnerability; in an industry full of artists I half-jokingly term (and self-deprecatingly include myself) “vain, egotistical, and insecure” it is nice to see someone throw it out there. Though I guess the flip side is one could be called opinionated.

    Blogs are…possibly a great commercial venture but considering the work involved I’m not sure the monetary payoff is that great. I hope you figure out how to compensate yourself for the work you put in; I’ll be watching and learning. In the meanwhile, I hope you continue to have time to do those cool, community building things like the promo and photo rank as well as simply providing a place for us to visit.

    As for the thin skin, take it from a photographer who’s had more than one 5 minute or less portfolio review followed by a curt “thank you.” Someone once told me you need the hide of a Rhino. I couldn’t agree more but, again, you have to put yourself out there to have something to say.

    Keep at it.

  15. Rob, I’ve been reading your blog for quite a while, and as an artist coming from a painting/art background just starting to try to ramp up my photography “business”, I’ve found the information in your posts (and goodness knows, in the comments!) helpful and insightful. Can’t wait to see how things unfold for you. Good luck!

  16. One thing I see in your writing is a sensitive, articulate and rational thought process. You might be burned up a bit with the BS world, but you maintain an enviable tenacity. I’m going to continue reading this blog which has some objectivity in a world of photographic subjective nonsense.

  17. Looking forward to your offerings, and having left photo editing over ten years ago, I can confirm that there is life beyond magazineland!

  18. The statement of several photo editor’s suggest idea me, that will soon pleasure escape to Nepal, India or Tibet not only for – flight from “noisemusic of city”, but also for – clearing of the eye of billions photos! :)
    In Russia there are some former photographers who have left a trade and have borrowed in other work (-restaurant and consulting). Also know? – they speak – that are happy! ;)
    Sorry my bad English..

  19. Word.

    People who have suspicion for why you blog are probably the same kind of people who wonder why artists art. They just do.

    And it’s nice to be able to make a living doing what you love, but that’s not your motivation for doing it.

    And that’s good, man.

  20. Hey Rob,
    Thanks for sharing more of your thoughts on the direction of this blog. I’ve been lurking here for a while and really enjoy your insights as well as many of the comments posted here. I look forward as this site evolves to see where it takes you. On another note…I just left Tucson about 5 months ago for the joyous winters of Buffalo, NY. Would have been enjoyable to sit down for lunch at El Molinito’s and shoot the breeze.


  21. Rob,
    I think you are doing a great job considering what has been going on here on the last month or so.

    Keep in mind why you do this….because you want to.

    take good care.

  22. Rob,
    Completely off topic of your post, and I have to admit, I haven’t yet read it all but scrolled down here to make a comment when I saw “Tucson”.

    Since you are in Tucson, you should definitely try a Tucson-based sub place; Eegees ( http://www.eegees.com/locations.htm ). Check them out, get a strawberry or lemon Eegee and I’d suggest the original Grinder with extra sauce on the side.

    Ok, I’ll read the rest of your post now ;)


  23. Hey Rob,
    Peter Garner is right. You should get some headshots and then comes your big break – modeling. You’re too cute to be hiding behind a hat…
    And please don’t ever disappear; your blog is so inspiring, uplifting, and makes me happy.

  24. Whilst it might consume a large amount of your time, why not offer portfolio reviews?

    How many here would jump at the chance to have you rip through their site/book and have the chance to make it better and impress other photo editors.

  25. Hi Rob,

    I have really grown to enjoy the spirit of your blog. I especially like when there view points that differ. You rant now and then, but it come from a place of passion for us and what you do.

    I am excited to see what the future holds for you. I hope that you will share it with us in the open honest way that you always have.

    You are a hero for us all.

    Many Thanks!


  26. Rob, I just ran across your facebook picture and I have to say that you should use it for your picture here.

  27. Does anyone else find irony in the fact that Rob wants to charge for his time with this blog when he uses the word ‘free’ at least twice in every post? That’s pretty funny isn’t it?

    What’s your sign, Rob? Gemini? Cancer? You change your mind more than I do.

    All the best, I’m out.

  28. Why does everything need to be (specific) goal-oriented with said goal being making money off the endeavor? When people ask me why I invest time in my blog (I have about a thousand visitors a day… not as popular as your’s) I tell them I’m writing a book. I let them know that, if I sat down to write a book, I’d never get it done. But I can blog and, somewhere down the line, all the articles I’ve blogged will cumulatively serve as (loose) source material for some kind of a book (on glamour photography) I might someday write. If I never get to the book, who cares? I enjoy blogging and, for now, that’s reward enough. I’m just letting things go where they might. If my blog turns out to be something with a monetary return, cool! If not, that’s cool too.

  29. yep, watching the place grow. nice.

    and we can all see how editing oneselves pics is a hard thing. or like peter garner @2 put it: get some decent headshots done. pleeeease.
    actually, one would be enough. ;)

  30. What’s up with the few folks taking shots at Rob for wanting to make a bit of money from this blog thing? I dare say you are the same folks who would blow a nutty if the brother tried to nickel and dime you for a crap front of the book shoot. Most of us here are in this business to earn a living ie: make money. And before anyone goes all batty, yeah, yeah, it’s about my art, it’s the creative process, but it must pay for my house, car, gas for said car (actually we have 2), kids dental checkups, dog going to the vet…you get my point.

    Have any of you padded your travel? How about the crazy markup for film or digital processing fees? I charge them, do you? We (photographers) feel the need to be justly compensated for our services and rightly so. I deserve to be paid for every last cent, even when the “film courier” is my wife who, on her way to the kids soccer practice, swings by the lab. Is anyone here not billing for everything they possibly can?

    Rob deserves to be compensated for the information on this blog. It’s his time, energy and creativity producing the material. The feeling that he should be doing this for free is just BS. I’ve learned much from the posts on this blog. It’s been a place for ideas or insight that I can’t get from most editors. I’m actually ripping apart my website and remodeling based on a few of the things I’ve read here.

    Don’t be down on the guy for making a living or even trying to make a living of this blog. I actually hope he can make a huge go of it.

    Think about that the next time your on the phone and you hear, ” We don’t have much budget for this assignment, it’s just a small portrait…Did I mention we’ll need all rights in perpetuity, we plan on running it on the web and in our foreign editions and see clause 39-c. because you’ll need our permission to use it for your own promotion.”

  31. Rob,

    I really like what your doing here and the information is a real help in many ways. If you ever charged a fair price for this service I would pay for it in a second!



  32. Rob, I think your blog has been great and, as far as I can tell very unique.

    I only wish I had more time to read all the topics and all the comments.

    I have your blog as a feed on one of my sites and hope others are finding you and learning as well. I’m sure they are.

    I am in Denver twice a month for a few days now and will be looking for opportunities while I am there.

    Keep up the great communications & thanks


  33. I enjoy reading, is informative, you have the oppurtunity to monetize…do it. :) I am always trying to think of new business ideas, within art related. You have ideas too, do them.

  34. I also would like it if you paid me so you could look at my photos… that is what you meant by a paid portfolio review right James?

  35. hi rob, just keep doing what you’re doing. this is one of the best blogs on the internet. and please, don’t feel like you have to justify yourself to a bunch of wanky internet geeks.

  36. Great blog, keep doing what your doing. Thick skin is something we develop, its our way of dealing with things..so dont worry if the comments are a bit nasty, the good will outweigh the bad.