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Low Frequency, High Amplitude

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking recently about the next step in my weird, one-off career. And this tweet, by a man who I truly admire, summed up my thoughts in just four words.

As a photographer, you could hardly ask for better advice. I’m taking it to heart, both for myself and for Strobist.

Changes on Strobist

Strobist's new format reflects a desire to cut the noise and focus on the value. Starting from January 2014, Strobist will feel less like a day-in, day-out blog and more like an accessible archive, with the occasional new posts and articles.

I made a New Year's resolution for 2014 to not publish unless I truly felt I had something of value to say. This is to better respect both your time and mine, and to allow me the time and space to pursue several important projects.

It will also allow me more family time, which any of you who are also the parent of teenagers hopefully will not begrudge me. I am trying to de-clutter, and focus on what's important.

The format of the website is changing to reflect that. Rather than exist as a typical last-in, first-out blog, Strobist's front page will be more of a portal to a better-organized archive of information.

New content will still appear occasionally. And when it does it will be positioned atop (or very nearly so) the front page. The new content will also have a permalink and go out via email and RSS.

Fewer Swings, Swing Harder

Zack Arias gets it, and long has. He calls it “More signal, less noise.” We talked at length about it in a hotel bar in Tokyo earlier this year, and it is exactly what has led him to pull back from the cacophony of nonstop online content generation and focus on DedPxl, his upcoming project.

From what he has told me (and I am sworn to secrecy) it sounds fantastic and I am very much looking forward to it.

Low-frequency, high amplitude is the antithesis of the blogging and social media scene today. Look around and you’ll see many formerly good sites that have devolved into near content mills.

Being a good niche site and publishing dozens of times a week is a damn-near impossible combo. In fact, I only know one photo site that pulls that off consistently. But others are mindlessly chasing frequency-based traffic, and the result is a lot of noise. And a lot of wasted time for their readers, too.

I am running, screaming, in the other direction. I think Zack has the right of it. And ditto Brian Lam, the author of the tweet above, who left Gizmodo to found The Wirecutter, a fantastic resource which is most definitely low frequency but high quality/high value.

(For those interested in learning more behind his philosophy, there is a great interview with Brian on GigaOm.)

Same for Strobist

For the last nearly eight years, Strobist has been a ~2x/week blog. As of January 2014, you’ll see that frequency dialed back in exchange for (hopefully) more depth and quality.

There is no shortage of information out there today. In fact, there’s a glut of noise. I don’t want to add to that. I don’t want to waste your time reading it, nor mine producing it.

So going forward in 2014, expect posts that appear less frequently but as a result are hopefully more worthy of a read. Lighting will still be the center of gravity, but we’ll be exploring more deeply the full ecosystems within that context. Because this is not just about light mods and ratios. How all of this stuff fits together is far more important.

Also, we'll be improving the organization and accessibility of the Strobist’s 2000-post archive to make it easier to navigate the different subject areas of the site. There will be new vertical axes (similar to Lighting 101 and OA) to explore. And while on the subject, if you have any suggestions for themes, hit me up. This re-org is happening now.

Lastly, I have plans for at least one new core module in the works. More on that soon.

Same for Me

After more than a thousand miles of hikes/deep thinking in the last six months, I am also personally trading frequency for quality. I plan to do fewer projects but to pour myself into them. In my heart I know it is the right thing to do.

So I’m embracing “low frequency, high amplitude” as a photographer, too. I'd encourage you to at least explore the idea. What will you be remembered for? I doubt it will be for quantity.

Knock wood, I have a few productive years left. And I want to create the space to explore the possibilities of creating something meaningful. Or at least I’d like to try.


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