[Updated] New Things Coming to Improve Photography. A Letter from Jim Harmer.

After months of thought, I'm excited to bring some new things to Improve Photography today.  I explain all of the reasons and details in this post, but here's the short version.

  • Improve Photography was going to delete the Facebook groups, but no more!  I'm updating this post to change that decision.  The group just means too much to too many people.
  • We are moving our podcasts to one simple feed.  If you're subscribed to the Improve Photography Podcast, you'll now get two episodes per week.  One episode will be the regular IP Podcast but “improved,” and the other will rotate between Photo Taco, Tripod, Latitude, and Portrait Session each week.  I think you'll like this change.

I'll explain the changes and thoughts behind them below, but first I want to sincerely thank all of you for your support.  Making changes like this is never easy, but I believe it's the right direction to go.  Thank you to those who can see the reasons behind it and how this will actually be a very good thing for you.


Why the Podcasts Are Moving to One Feed

The Improve Photography Podcast is one of the very largest and longest running and highest rated photography podcasts out there.  I'm so grateful for the many thousands of people who support it by downloading and listening to our episodes.  Sometimes I'm not sure why you all put up with me.

Improve Photography has also launched a number of other podcasts, like Portrait Session, Tripod, Latitude, Photo Taco, and the late Thoughts on Photography.  The shows have all been successful but the pace of publishing has also spread us quite thin.  There are things I'd love to do on the Improve Photography Podcast which I simply don't have the resources to do with all the other things I do.

Right now, Improve Photography and Photo Taco publish each week, but all the other shows publish only 2-4 weeks in reality.  On average we're getting out 2.7 podcasts per week right now and sometimes they are hurriedly put together since all of the hosts are busy.  Also, when we launch a new show like Latitude, we have to go on a months-long campaign to get everyone to subscribe to the new feed.

The change here is a simple one, which I think will be very positive for listeners.  From now on, podcasts will only publish on the main Improve Photography feed.  We'll publish two shows a week.  On Monday you'll get an episode of one of our podcasts which will rotate between Photo Taco, Tripod, Latitude, and Portrait Session.  On Thursday you'll get an episode of Improve Photography.

Thus, Improve Photography will cease to be a podcast network and will instead be one really awesome podcast that publishes twice a week.  Episodes of the other shows (Photo Taco, Latitude, Tripod, etc) will now be branded as such.  For example, we'll say “This is a Photo Taco episode of Improve Photography” instead of the show being “on the Improve Photography network.”  I believe this will make the branding more clear and succinct.

The podcasts will be better than they've ever been.  The SLIGHTLY reduced publishing schedule (down from 2.7 podcasts per week to just 2 per week) will open up enough bandwidth to do some cool things.  For example:

  • The Improve Photography Hotline!  The conversation about podcasts won't be on Facebook anymore, so it'll continue right on the show.  If you disagree with anything we say on the podcasts, want to ask a question, or you just want to comment on something happening in the photography industry, you can call in and leave a message.  A new segment of the Improve Photography Podcast will be “The Hotline” where we play YOUR thoughts and commentary.  This will make the show more interactive and thought-provoking.  The hotline is ready right now for your thoughts and calls.  Here is how to send audio to the hotline–you can send your thoughts right now for next week's show.
  • Fewer Ads.  I'm also cutting down on the ads so we can have more time for the good stuff.  Right now we do up to four ads per episode, and that is changing to a maximum of 3 ads per episode.  With a target length of 45 minutes per episode, that means no more than 4% of the podcast is advertising.  Compare that to network TV which has an average of 24% advertising time.  The ads on Improve Photography have never turned a profit.  They really only pay for the expenses incurred by the podcast such as paying my assistant to do the publishing, as well as giving the ad broker their cut and hosting, post-production software, etc.
  • Better Research and Prep.  I hate the feeling of hurriedly throwing together a podcast episode 20 minutes before recording.  I feel a lot of responsibility to you all who trust me with your time.  With this new schedule, I can now carve out a significant chunk of my day to prep for each podcast and ensure it's worthy of your download.  Each show will be better produced and have better content.  I'm setting a higher bar for what podcast episodes will be published.
  • More Interviews with Industry Experts.  I almost never do interviews on Improve Photography.  We've only had 3 interviews in the last 75 episodes.  Some interviews are boring.  “I started photography back in the film days… yada yada yada…”  But when interesting news stories are happening in the industry, I want to cover them deeply.  For example, when a new camera is released, I want to be certain we have someone on who has been shooting the camera as a beta tester so you can spend your gear dollars well.  Similarly, when I find people releasing a thought-provoking book on composition or photography as art or whatever, I'd like to have them on and pick their brains.  With this new schedule, I can do that.

To be clear, all you need to do to get all of the updates to the podcasts is to be subscribed to the normal Improve Photography Podcast.  Everything will come on that feed from now on.

Lastly, change is happening to Apple Podcasts which were announced last week at WWDC.  It looks like Apple is finally bringing some features to podcasting which podcasters have wanted for many years.  I'd like to make these changes now to take advantage of a medium which seem to be growing lately.

More Updates

Tomorrow (Tuesday, June 13), I'm going to the airport in Boise Idaho.  What country will I be photographing?  I have absolutely no idea.  I had my awesome assistant Jesse book me a plane ticket to a country without telling me where I'm going.  I'm going to show up to the airport, read the ticket, and get on the plane with absolutely zero prep.  Each day during the trip, I'll be posting a photo and you can all guess where I am.  After the trip, I'll be posting a series of 8 videos on the Improve Photography Youtube Channel–one for each day of the trip so you can watch my disasters (probably) in travel photography 🙂  You can follow the adventure by checking ImprovePhotography.com each day where I'll post the picture, and subscribing to the Improve Photography Youtube channel for the videos.

I have now spent over a year working on the Really Good Photo Spots app.  I anticipated a release in March, then April, then May…. ugh… But it's ALMOST ready for launch.  I'm doing the best I can, but this was a harder project than I anticipated.  I sent out a beta copy to 46 testers last week and we discovered 3 last bugs that needed to be squashed.  Today I sent out a release candidate to the testers and if there are no further bugs, we'll be ready for launch.  Keep your fingers crossed!


157 thoughts on “[Updated] New Things Coming to Improve Photography. A Letter from Jim Harmer.”

  1. Jim, I would echo Brian Pex’s comments as to how I use FB. I look first for notifications, then for groups. Sad that you have to spend the time and effort to police FB forums (and presumably will also on the IP site), but I understand. Consolidating the podcast feeds makes sense for another reason too – if/as you add podcasts everyone will automatically receive them and that should reduce the growth pains of new podcasts. Lastly I would also be interested in a forum here on the site. Keep up the good work!

  2. Good on you Jim for getting away from FB. I am not a fan as well but it does seem like the way the current crowd wants to view their world. I am all for the forums…. I do listen to all of the podcasts so I am glad they will continue. I do learn so much. I as well hope a forum is at least thought because the knowledge gained from what was the broken FB group system was helpful. I do get the fact that it does not bring business in, you can’t grow without money. I guess I will need to look at the IP+ accounts. It does become a fine line between my budget as a hobbyist though. I am not putting down your great site, actually I love it and I know it is worth all of the $20 and more. It just is not something all will be able to do. Of course as I am typing this I am contemplating on joining up…. Keep it up Jim and keep bringing your knowledge and training to us!

    1. Thank you for the support, Pat. I appreciate that, and totally understand your feelings. It’s going to be a bit of growing pains for the conversation to find a new home, but that’s really all. It’s just a matter of time.

  3. Regardless of everything, I visit your site on a daily basis, to read the full articles. And to stalk the annyal Lightroom preset announcement, of course!

  4. Jim I’m in online marketing and I’ve been telling my clients for years that Facebook was headed this way. I completely agree with your move. The problem is with small businesses, they think it’s the best thing because it’s easy right up to the point where you start tracking actual business that has been generated via Facebook against how much time you’ve wasted getting there. I may write a marketing post about your decision. I think many businesses will start following suit soon.

  5. Jim, when Dusty O left IP, I thought that was it. I loved the interaction between the two of you. I was sure I would lose interest and move on, but I am still here! You have adjusted and changed. I won’t say I think every decision has been a good one, but all of us make mistakes from time to time. I have come to really enjoy the way you have adapted and changed IP. I am sure there are more changes to come, some good some bad. But don’t stop innovating! You have made following IP an adventure, and a fun one at that. Thanks!

    1. @Pat Lopez – Awesome comment. I’m so glad that many wonderful and supportive people have rallied around IP. I literally couldn’t do it without you.

      I fully agree that I’ve made some bone-headed mistakes. But I’m stumbling through it and doing the best I can.

      Thank you SO MUCH for the support.

  6. While I understand your decision, I’d have to say that I’m a bit bummed.

    If there is a free forum, I’ll be sure to visit occasionally, especially if I have a question/need some help. However, when I scroll fb and see a question I can answer I help real quick, then just keep scrolling. I feel like I’m probably not the only one doing that.

    I mention all that to say it might make me a more selfish consumer rather than a contributor of convenience.

    Being a hobbiest, being behind a pay wall eliminates any contribution as I’ll just be a passive listener.

    I’m just sharing my perspective as I hope it helps you, as you have helped me so much. Also, the community on fb has helped me tremendously.

  7. I follow all of the show’s FB groups and I see posts from them in my feed maybe once a week. I don’t blame you.

    I’ve been the recipient of your advertising content and you’ve made money from my purchases through your affiliate links. Aside from that, I’ve gotten a ton of value from IP and paid NOTHING for it. I think you can ignore people here that seem to think you need their approval in return for the $0.00 they pay for your content.

    Last I checked you’re a husband and father with bills to pay, like me, so keep forging ahead.

    BTW, I’ve subscribed to at least a half dozen photography podcasts over the years, but IP is the one to which I always come back. I will definitely miss the FB groups and I’m always disappointed when my (free) podcasts are late or missing, but I admire your hard work and entrepreneurism…and that of your hosts and writers.

    Rock on, Jim.

    1. @Jim Taylor – That was a really nice thing to say. THANK YOU.

      I really wish Facebook had never made these changes so we could just keep the status quo, but things keep getting worse on there and I just think it’s time to make the change.

      Thank you for your support.

  8. Best of luck with the changes Jim, and thank you for all that you do for the photography community! I hope to keep up with everything on the website, but it will be a big change to my habits, which are always hard to change. Really looking forward to the new podcast schedule and format! Will it be a regular rotation of the other podcasts, or will it be dependent on which hosts have time each week? I really hope to hear more from the tripod podcast. I’m super happy that you, Nick, and Majeed are so busy these days, but I miss hearing the three of you! again, I can’t thank all of the IP family hosts for how much you have helped me grow as a photographer!

    1. @Chris – I agree. This will be a weird change for me too. Facebook has been part of my daily routine for years, but they just keep making changes that are hurting our community.

      I will put more of a focus on Tripod for sure. I’ve always liked the show and wished I had more time to dedicated to it. Only so many hours in a day!

  9. I really don’t get all the negativity. Improve Photography has literally made me $1000’s of dollars by helping me turn a hobby into a side business and I never paid a dime for that knowledge.

    It’s unfortunate that the decision may not be what some people would prefer but it is unfair to expect a business like IP to stay on a platform like Facebook when it doesn’t give a return on the investment. Sure, Facebook is way easier for me to check too, but I’ll adapt (its really not that hard) and I’ll be there in the forum or the website comments or whatever direction things go next.

    There was a recent post on FB where I had a lively debate with someone about business and pricing and all involved were respectful and brought up valid points and i think a lot was gained on both sides despite differing opinions. Someone actually commented on how much more respectful the IP community was as compared to others he had been a part of. That is what keeps me here and I have no doubt that will continue in whatever direction this goes.

    There is really nothing gained by any of this negativity.

    1. Pete, THANK YOU. That was a really nice comment. I think change can be scary for people. I understand that a lot of people have made the Facebook groups part of their day and are sad to see that go, but I think we can do the same thing on another site.

  10. Sorry to hear that you are leaving FB but I understand. Are you going to identify what podcast is on the feed? Have fun on your trip.

  11. Rockford jordan

    I’ve been wondering why I’ve seen less of IP on my feed.. I just assumed I missed cuz I’m on fb less now. I totally understand ditching fb. I’m so sick of it and how they treat people and only let you see the things they want you too. I’m in full support of what you are doing and thank you for all you’ve done. I would not be half the photographer I am today if it wasn’t for y’all, no joke.

  12. Hey, Jim! I applaud your courage to make such a change. I think a forum here on the site that works as the community on IP+ does would be awesome! I am all in for getting away from FB.

  13. Jim, you continually evolve Improve Photography and it is always a high quality , informative, friendly and helpful medium. All the best.

  14. I see that this will save you time and energy, Jim, but the downside seems much worse than any upside. I guess I’m one of the few who sees posts show up in my Facebook feed. It’s a great way to keep up to date as I check Facebook multiple times per day. But I only check out the website at most a few times per week. Either way, I’ll continue checking in.

    As for the change to the podcast. I understand your reasoning but there is a reason I subscribe to the IP podcast and not the others. I think this change may cause a few people to unsubscribe. On the flip side, I might give the other podcasts another shot if they are going to show up twice per week.

    The hotline thing I think will be a dud. It sounds similar to what Sharky James has and he rarely gets an audio question or comment. But it’s. ice to try something new.

    What I would really like to see is more pictures from the hosts. I follow a few on social media but there should be a spot on the website that features the latest photos from the IP hosts. I don’t want to have to check out five different websites to see everyone’s latest photos. And if you guys are talking about a photo trip on an episode, what about linking to a gallery of photos? We are all here because we love photography but sometimes it’s hard to find some current photos from the hosts.

    I would probably check out a forum but it would not be on a regular basis. Like it or lump it, Facebook and Instagram are the place to be for photographers. By abandoning those platforms, you risk missing out on a lot of new listeners. There is a reason Sharky James promotes his social media accounts every episode. He is trying to build his followers and listeners and social media is where everyone is. Good luck with the changes!

    1. @Craig – I’m sorry you’re not a fan of the changes. I wish I could please everyone, but I can see that I do need to do something to move from the status quo. I simply can’t spend 4-5 hours a week deleting spam and trying to figure out which of the people requesting access to the group is a spam robot and which are real accounts.

      I simply can’t do that. Something has to change.

  15. Jim,

    While I do understand from a business perspective why you are doing this and it’s your brand/network to do with as you like, this makes it very hard for me as a user. Being military and on the opposite side of the world from friends and family, I utilize FB almost religiously​. My daily interactions, many times, came from the various IP groups there. A hotline is not the same. Commenting on posts is not the same. Those are not conducive to actual community discussion. An open forum would be great, but maybe that should have been in place before making this change. To tell you the truth, waking up to this news, when normally I start my day by logging in and going to the Latitude FB group, kinda makes it feel like I just got kicked in the stomach by a horse. I’m not in a financial position to pay for IP+ and so, until there is another community based discussion area for me to connect on, I guess I’m back to being a silent listener and just a number who visits articles on the IP website as needed. Thanks Jim for all the help you and the other contributers have given me to grow my photography skills. Best of luck with this change and I’ll see you in Charleston. – Bender

    1. @Bender – I agree with you that only the IP+ community page is a full replacement for Facebook. I would very much like to make sure there is a free option as well, but change takes time and I do also need to provide for my family somehow. I will work to improve the free communication tools we have here on IP.

      However, the status quo may be working fine for users, but it simply isn’t possible for me to continue. I’m spending HOURS each week deleting spam comments and trying to figure out which new accounts are real humans and which are spam accounts. I just can’t possibly keep doing that.

      1. I agree Jim, its not fair to you to be putting in that many hours for little to no return financially. And I really, REALLY, REALLY do appreciate everything you have put out on a free basis for everyone. I plug IP every chance I get (in my classes, blogs, website, and other photo groups online and on FB) as a way to try to pay back everything I have gotten out of it.

        Many of the other FB groups I am a part of that are super large have a team of volunteer moderators. Maybe that would help fill the gap? Narrow the FB footprint to a single group and ask for volunteers to moderate the page for you. That way we still get a free forum where IP listeners can discuss topics in a community while freeing up any obligation you have trying to moderate it yourself. It would also save you further development costs/bandwidth on the site in creating an open forum. Just a suggestion.

        Either way, I’m not leaving the IP community all together, but this way, especially without notifications and a single place to communicate, will make it very hard for me to stay active. Just as a heads up also, on mobile, there is no distinction in the comments between an OP comment and replies, which only makes following a thread on mobile more confusing.

  16. Jim
    I would just like to say thank you for all that you do. I am new to photography and have been listening to the Improve podcast since last fall and very much enjoy it. Leaving FB and bringing the traffic to the Improve Photography site just makes sense. Keep up the good work!!!

  17. I am a big fan of IP, it’s podcasts, and everything associated with it. I have great respect and appreciation for you, Jim, and for all of the people that have helped create the community, and made it a thriving base of helpfulness.
    That said, I feel that your monthly price is steep for my budget, and I will be leaving parts of the community that are literally a part of my daily life. It makes me sad.
    It is my loss, and I can understand your reasoning, even if I will never like it.
    I just wanted to say thank you, and let you know that this will negatively effect some of us.
    Keep up the amazing work, and best of luck in all of your future endeavors.

    1. @Matt – I’m sorry to hear that. But I don’t feel like I have much of a choice. I am spending HOURS AND HOURS a week deleting spam and trying to figure out which accounts which request access are real people and which are spam robots. I simply can’t continue like this.

  18. Jim and team:

    I’ve been a fan/listener of the Podcast since episode 7! I feel like I’ve grown up with the community through all the new stages. While all of those new additions have been awesome, for me it became a bit overwhelming. I struggle to keep up! It is so hard to keep track of everything these days, that virtual downsizing makes sense. When I have a question/issue to discuss, I find myself bouncing between the various groups to decide where I should post it?

    I admit my part in the Facebook-only postings. I do read the articles here (because I have my settings to popup), but found myself throwing kudos on Facebook vice on the website. Sometimes both, but honestly–mostly on the Facebook page. I like the idea of keeping the comments specific to the articles, that way the discussions can be focused.

    Same goes for the podcasts. I’m trying to keep up with everything, but gosh its a challenge. So having ONE feed will help me streamline my “continuing education” along with my business.

    So, I’m totally on-board and ready to sully support!

    Standing ready to support!!

    1. Cindy, it’s been a tough day for me. Been all kinds of names and had all kinds of insults leveled at me, but the overwhelming response has been from kind people like you who understand and support. THANK YOU for everything, Cindy. Means a lot to me.

Comments are closed.

Scroll to Top