Ten years ago today I started Light Stalking.
I enjoyed photography and thought I would enjoy writing about it. Turns out I loved it (and continue to).
Boom! Day one and we had over 6,000 readers (remember Digg and Stumbleupon?) and from there we never looked back.
Over the following 12 months over a quarter million people visited the site and it was going better than I could have believed! Light Stalking even got onto the “Who to Follow” on Twitter in photography and started to hit a bunch of top ten lists online for our industry.
That's when things got interesting. But, I needed help!
Enter the awesomely talented Mike Panic in February of 2010 who wrote for you for two and a half years. His knowledge and engaging style really helped set Light Stalking's path. It also augured well for the staggeringly high quality of people who came to help the Light Staking project and helped take us to be among the five most-read photography blogs in the world.
In the years since then, some amazing people have given serious help to this ship.
And some have gone above and beyond the call with Jason Row, Jason Little, Dahlia Ambrose, Federico Alegria, Kehl Bayern, Sheen Watkins, Dzvonko Petrovski and Scott Johnson all contributing over a hundred articles each and keeping us at those high levels. Hell, the two Jasons are at over 600 articles each – that's some dedication!
Other crowd favourites who wrote prolifically for us included Jasenka Grujin, Ritesh Saini, Christopher O'Donnell, Rachael Towne, Aloha Lavina, Chase Guttman, Tiffany Mueller, Taissia Iv, Russell Goodman, Jacob Maentz and Kent DuFault.
I am proud to call them all friends and I loved (and love) working with each of these talented people.
The following year, another wonderful thing happened. On Oct 21, 2010 The Light Stalking forums opened and were instantly successful. People streamed in from the blog and social media. This really turned on the taps of meeting some incredible people, many of whom are still on the site to this day as old friends join new ones.
Diane Kidd has been a rock on the forums since they started and can take as much credit for their ongoing success and anybody. David Chesterfield has volunteered for years to keep them going as have John Thompson, Tobie Schalkwyk and Dru Stone for which I am eternally grateful. I love how people have really stepped up to build that section of the site. Seriously, among the visitors in this past week, there are 29 people who have produced over 1000 forum responses each since they joined (several of them many more)!! I love that the community is so tight-knit.
During those years I also met a creative guy named Brett Fox and we swapped a lot of notes about running websites and whatnot. Almost three years to the day after Light Stalking was launched, the deal to start Photzy with Brett was made on March 17, 2012 with a three line email. And boy did he run with it.
Brett formed his own team with some former Light Stalking writers and went from strength to strength, building one of the most prolific digital publishers in the industry. Former Light Stalking writers Kent Dufault, Karlo De Leon and Ritesh Saini have been amazing in that company. These days the teams are totally separate, but Photzy continues to draw talented photographers and writers from the Light Stalking community and both companies work closely together.
On July 11, 2013 we opened another section of the site, The Shark Tank, aimed at giving people meaningful feedback on their images and differentiating ourselves from a lot of communities that become “nice shot” clubs. This one was for people who really wanted to improve. And wow, it took off too. These days it is responsible for well over half of the posts in the community and, dare I say, it is about the best place online to get genuine critique on a photograph?
Since that time we have also released several dozen products for photographers and continue to explore new ways to help people improve and enjoy the craft. Twenty million people have found their way to the site and I like to think all of them enjoyed it… well most of them anyway.
Today, Light Stalking still sits in the top 5 most read photography blogs in the world. People continue to reference our amazing articles in their books, blogs and sites. The community continually gets ranked among the best photography communities.
This past decade has been nothing short of amazing for me. The people I have met. The team that has been built around this site. These are things I will be grateful for forever.
But the wonderful thing is that I don't feel like we're done yet. Not by a long shot. Something about making useful photography tutorials and helping people take their photography up a notch is quite addictive. Seeing the pride people take in their own improvement is so satisfying to me personally. It just feels right and I know the team feels the same way.
Combined with the fact that our current team works so well together… Dahlia, Jasenka, Federico, Angie, Kehl, Jason R and Jason L – I feel like we're only just starting to hit our straps.
And because of the wonderful people, the wonderful community and the wonderful readers, well that's why we'll be back tomorrow.
Thank you for joining us on the ride.