You know what’s a shame? How disposable your photos have become. In a sense, it’s almost by necessity due to the sheer volume of images being produced by all manners of devices. So, it’s sort of Econ 101, supply and demand. There are so many more images, each is valued less. There’s a little more to it than that though, and part of that is frivolity in produce inherent to production at no/low cost. You can afford to take so many images because there is no monetary cost of developing anymore, and memory is cheap. That leads to less time and effort being taken to make a photograph than on film.
The sad part, and I noticed this some years back now, is that even if you do take more time with your images than most, you’re still going to have so many that they’ll be filed away, never to see the light of a monitor again, and many of those may actually be quite good. So why waste them away in some Silicon death valley of hard drive? What I’ve come to do in recent past is take a lot of those images is throw them up in a gallery online, usually with something like Pixieset. But Pixieset is very basic, and limited.
Sure it’s is good because it’s double-digit-IQ easy to use, nice to look at, and they make it easy to share. But it’s limited and outgrown easily. It doesn’t stand out as special, and doesn’t much allow for you to impart your personality that much. As a publishing platform, I don’t think it hits all the right notes. It can be arduous, for example, to arrange your images in chronological order, and then there isn’t much in the way of presenting with a story.
You may say this is why we have blogging platforms, and too right you would be. Blogs though, can take things to the other end by either being much more complicated than you may want, or may not have the commercial presentation. This is where Exposure comes in as a subscription web service for sharing photo sets, and sharing photo sets is a good way to make something beautiful from pictures that would otherwise be filed away. From the onset, Exposure makes it clear it is about creating a ‘narrative’ with your images, so it’s designed for a set to be posted and viewed with a sense of flow and continuity, rather than just a collection of singular images, so what you end up doing is creating ‘Photo Stories.’
Design & Functionality
At first glance, you may think it’s a particularly structured blog, but it gives more weight to your images than Tumblr and more focus than Flickr, or 500px, where images often go overlooked in the mosaic of thumbnails. On most blogs or photo sites that don’t encourage the sort of ebb and flow that Exposure does, you see images more singularly, and while the photo may say something on its own, it’s not quite the complete picture.
Exposure is much more polished, and the results reminiscent of a photo-editorial in a magazine, with a striking focus on design. Being within a photo story on Exposure is a nice place to be as the finished products are beautiful combinations of photography and text narrations that lead you further into the actual story with simplicity, fast loading, clean formatting, and elegant fonts, all balanced against the right amount of negative space. This appealing aesthetic carries over from your desktop to phone and tablet platforms, too.
Created by San Francisco startup Elepath, whose founder, Jake Lodwick, is the man behind vimeo, Exposure is coming from good heritage, and arguably the best offering from Elepath who also offer a beatboxing app called Keezy, and a specialized ‘to-do’ list with Thinglist. But Exposure doesn’t seem to be some side project given little thought. Even in Beta, they had thousands of invite requests and 10% of its user base signed up for the paid service, and those numbers are impressive.
So no, it’s not free. But this should, in some sense, be something to be happy about. For one, it was designed and marketed to those who are more serious about their photography, even if it isn’t their primary vocation, so it was never aiming for the bottom, or for the masses. As a happy consequence, it’s not trying to please everyone, and it shows, because none of the best things ever do. Sure, things that are free may be initially more inviting, but the lack of monetary cost comes with compromise in experience usually, and the lack of compromise tends to be a hallmark of a better product/service.
So, what does it cost and what do you get? It’s $5 a month for the upgraded account or $9 for Pro, as a subscription service that allows you to host all your sets, and never to have an ad or sponsored post distract a viewer from your work. There is also no question or concern about handing over your copyright, as they make clear it belongs to you. They state the fee is there to keep the business up and running ad-free for years to come – read that as you will.
Creating your particular story is as easy as drag and drop since is uses a WYSIWYG system that lets you just drag and drop into your browser. You first choose your cover image and define a title and sub-title if you desire. You can then either add your images in groups/blocks, or as single images which will be shown full width. Each block of images can be accompanied by a text box that can be oriented however you like, but you don’t have to include text at all if you prefer not to.
To be honest, that’s sort of it. The beauty of the utter simplicity shouldn’t go understated, and this makes is easy to produce beautiful narratives very quickly. While I found a few formatting issues that annoyed me, such as inability to reframe/reposition a cover image, it wasn’t much, and it would appear the company has plans to make Exposure even better as time goes on.
I believe the hardest part about the process is simply the incorporation of a sensible flow that any story must have. If you’re used to writing, you may have your own working process of organization and execution of your thoughts, and that will help you as you approach this. As a photographer, if you just try to keep in mind the story of your images from the start, before you import the images, that should make the process come more fluidly.
One of the wonderful things, if not my favorite thing about Exposure, is that in my time looking into it, I encountered really compelling work, by thoughtful people, in categories including anything from adventure, travel, wedding, food & drink, to fashion. I was quickly drawn to work by Brian McDairmant, and Alan SW Huang, whose pages take you around the world and into its people (whose work are highlighted in the screen caps within this post), and countless others who I still check back with frequently to see new work. From this site, I’ve even recommended a photographer to someone seeking to hire for a specific job, and I can’t be the only one to do so.
[REWIND: Instagram and The Future of Editorials ]
Exploring Exposure draws into sharp focus, as you quickly discover, that there is a populous of photographers out there with more to say than a thousand words we’re told an image expresses, and who shoot with that in mind – with forethought. It’s humbling, and motivating, and sort of makes you want to be part of it. To begin curating your great images tucked away in folders to be published and shared, with your inner thoughts attached.
And it needn’t be only used in one way, as it’s easy to see that Exposure could be a great platform to tell the details, and intricacies of any experience; A wedding story could be told with the flow of the day from start to finish, or a vacation read and viewed as an adventure. So, it’s just a question of what great story have you got to share?