Statistics show that 99% of all new blogs die within their first year. On 14 Dec 2008, ULTRAsomething became one of those new blogs. And today, 14 Dec 2018, it turned ten years old — making it a genuine blogging anomaly.
Perhaps even more anomalous is the fact ULTRAsomething’s ongoing existence came not from beating those odds, but from defying them.
Consider those same statistics, which suggest that a failure to attract a significant number of readers is the main reason that bloggers stop blogging. But ULTRAsomething’s still around — and not only has it never risen above a statistically insignificant audience size, but the site’s current per-article engagement rate is just 10% of what it was several years ago. So I have not only failed to increase my readership, but I’ve actually seen it diminish by an order of magnitude.
Which is perhaps an indication that ULTRAsomething is not an anomaly because of its success, but because of some untreated mental illness.
Most researchers conclude that the single biggest impediment to having a successful blog is simply that the author never defined its purpose. But in the last ten years, I have defined several. ULTRAsomething began with the purpose of giving additional online validity to my flagging commercial photography endeavours. Instead of increasing my client base, I learned that I no longer wanted to be a commercial photographer.
With a decent aggregate of articles under my belt, I shifted the site’s purpose away from obtaining gainful employment through photography to obtaining gainful employment through writing. Surely, I thought, someone somewhere would discover ULTRAsomething and offer me a paid writing gig. Nope.
So the site’s purpose morphed again. Instead of using it to attract an employer, it would become the employer. I placed less emphasis on attracting thoughtful readers and more emphasis on attracting all readers. A large reader base would surely entice various photography companies to sponsor ULTRAsomething, thus making it a source of badly needed income. Instead, I learned that attracting enough readers meant I would need to produce content condoning all the things I abhor about photography. I wasn’t willing to do that, and no companies — no matter how niche — were niche enough to sponsor the likes of ULTRAsomething.
So I pushed the repurpose button once more — making the site take on a supporting role in a more noble and grander goal. I wanted, more than anything, to establish and open the Vancouver Centre for Photography — a gallery, library, bookstore, and educational facility in which the public could discover the sort of love for photography that I have. Where good photography is not seen as a sharply rendered copy of an object in time and space, but as a means of expression; as a language; and as an art form. Instead of achieving this, I learned how frustrating it is to have a dream that no other living soul shared, nor even saw a need for.
Which ultimately led me to the site’s current goal, which is simply to have no goal. And yet, propelled by such willful and supposedly devastating lack of purpose, ULTRAsomething has managed to turn ten years old.
What happens next? I haven’t a clue. And I like it that way. I still want to open the Vancouver Centre for Photography… only it’s a dream now being funded through the purchase of lottery tickets rather than subtle, blog-based persuasion. And those so-called experts? The ones who claim that a blog must have a purpose if it’s to survive? I counter that argument with this month’s text and photos.
So thanks for reading! Thanks for the witty comments! Thanks for the donations! And thanks for all the times you let me know this site brings you a modicum of enjoyment.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a rash of Tokyo photos to sift through…
©2018 grEGORy simpson
ABOUT THE PHOTOS:
The previous two photos are metaphorically literate (is that possible?) examples of anomalies. But I figured, as long as I’m writing a post called “The Anomaly,” maybe I should include some genuine photographic anomalies — color photos!
It’s probably been seven or eight years since I posted a color photo on this site. People frequently question why this is — often assuming I’m trying to make some sort of statement, or attempting to artificially imbue my photos with a sort of gravitas. Nothing could be further from the truth. The reason I shoot almost exclusively black & white is that I’m absolutely horrible at color photography. Because my photos are rarely about the object in the frame and more often meant to convey a mood or suggest a metaphor, color often detracts from what I want a photo to say. The eye is drawn to luminosity, contrast and saturated colors. In the field, my brain works just quickly enough to find a way to encapsulate a scene’s luminosity and its contrast. By eliminating color, I eliminate the need to worry about how colors will attract or repel a viewer’s eye — and whether those colors will enhance or detract from the message. So my freezer contains only B&W negative film, my primary digital camera is a Leica Monochrom, and when I do shoot with a color digital camera, I have Lightroom automatically convert those images to B&W on import so that I never even see the images in color.
There is only one exception to this rule — one anomaly. Occasionally… VERY occasionally… I’ll take a photo that’s actually about the color. Because Tokyo is such a wonderfully colorful city, I found myself purposely shooting ‘in color’ on several occasions. So what the heck, why not post a few of these in the footnote? It’s not like this site has a purpose or anything…
REMINDER: If you find these photos enjoyable or the articles beneficial, please consider making a DONATION to this site’s continuing evolution. As you’ve likely realized, ULTRAsomething is not an aggregator site — serious time and effort go into developing the original content contained within these virtual walls.