The online free magazine about landscape photography LNH has published in their last number an interview where Alister Benn and I explain quite a number of things about Whytake.net – The Global Community of Nature Photographers. How had we the idea? Why we did this? Which defines Whytake?…These and many other questions are answered in the interview, which we hope you will find interesting!
I think even for those who have been using Whytake during the two months it has been online, it will really give a lot of interesting information about what Whytake.net is and what it is not.
Take a look, the article is both in English and in Spanish and you can download this magnificient nature photography magazine for free. Click here to download the mag and good reading!!
Otherwise, you can find directly the interview here below:
Interview appeared on LNH Magazine, written by Alister Benn and Rafael Rojas, cofounders of Whytake.net – The Global Community of Nature Photographers
What is Whytake.net?
Whytake.net is the Global Community of Nature Photographers. It is designed to satisfy the many and varied needs of Photographers around the world, pros or amateurs, who make a living or are inspired by nature photography.
The site is split into three main sections; INSPIRE, CONNECT & EXPLORE.
INSPIRE section shows some of the best images on the site, grouped by category. This is a great place to stop for some immediate inspiration.
CONNECT section allows users to have a personal space that defines who they are as nature photographers within the community, and to interact with other members. Here they can have their personal profile, a personal portfolio with their best images, a favourites gallery and even a space to display products and services. From this section, our users can also post links and updates on their wall and subscribe to other photographers so that they receive all their notifications.
EXPLORE section is a powerful database and search engine of images, photographers and their products and services.If you are looking for a landscape photographer from Bilbao, Boston or Beijing, a macro image from Basel or Brisbane, or an eBook about photographing Birds, this is where to find them all.
As the database of photographers, images and Products grows, we are confident this will be the most useful search directory of nature photography related content anywhere online.
Where did the idea come from – what was your motivation to create the site?
Both of us are professional nature photographers and were increasingly frustrated by the lack of a dedicated niche network for Nature Photographers. We realized we were wasting a lot of time by having to use many other tools at the same time without getting optimum results from any of them, tools quite generic and not really suited for our photography interests. In the end, we built whytake.net for ourselves – it does exactly what we wanted it to do, everything we needed in the same site, nothing more or less.
We also assumed that, as we are not in any way unique in our needs, that other Nature Photographers may enjoy the site too, and the initial feedback we’ve had from our peers shows we were right.
From the beginning, what features did you want to include or omit? (Here we can cover also, No PM’s Comments etc)
From a visual point of view, we were determined from the start to keep the site as simple as possible and to make the images the dominant element. We designed a clean, simple interface, and kept reducing clutter until we were happy.
We wanted to be able to turn the “Lights Off” to view the image on black – and that has been fabulous. For presentation purposes we had to go with square thumbnails, but we believed it was vital for users to be in control of that crop for artistic reasons. That too has been a very popular, although subtle feature.
The main omissions in the philosophy of the project however are any trace of a competitive element – no ratings, voting or commenting on images. This is a site about Nature Photography, not egos. If you like an image from Whytake, you can always add it to your Favorites gallery, and you can also highlight it on your wall, but it will ask from you a certain commitment beyond the typical quick comment with no added interest.
Due to the way we have designed Whytake, from day one we have seen a lot of people showing and commenting to the rest of the community an image from another photographer, which has inspired them. Isn’t this the real spirit of a community of Photographers?
We also wanted to take away any obligation for reciprocal “liking” or “friending” – you can subscribe to other photographers without them having to get your wall posts. Therefore, when someone subscribes to any photographer, the former is not informed about who subscribed, only how many have. We implemented this to avoid people using the subscription function to fish for reciprocal subscriptions. This might have led to people subscribing massively to other members just to improve their own popularity and killing the purpose of the connection.
Finally, we wanted to the site to be free of charge – we felt that would help motivate users to get involved and create a true community.
Who is your target audience – professionals or amateurs?
Simply put, both, and everyone in between. We considered trying to list users descriptively – pro, semi pro, amateur etc, but in the end realised that it’s the images that do the talking. There are so many truly gifted amateur photographers out there that we didn’t want to discriminate or pre-judge anyone.
What we did do however was to create a flow of information, inspiration and knowledge – by allowing the best work to be easily found, the ability to subscribe to your favorite photographers and keep up with their news, images, blogs, etc. Finally, users can list their products & services, which then links back to their web sites. Basically, Whytake can also be used as the main gateway to all learning material related to Nature Photography.
It’s all about finding photographers whose work inspires you and learning from them. In turn, your own work is inspiring others too. Some people will adopt a role of leaders, some others of followers, and most will be both, the community allows everyone to get what they want from it.
In a market that seems saturated with Social Network’s and Photo Websites, do you feel Whytake.net can compete?
That’s an excellent question –It was never our intention to compete with the existing sites available.There are many well-established Nature Photography communities already, and it is certainly not our goal to try and lure users away from them.
Had we found a site that did everything we wanted to do, we would have started using it and we would not have felt the need to create Whytake.net.
From the beginning we saw Whytake as something that did not exist anywhere else, where we could combine many things into one site. Whytake cannot be defined as just a gallery, or a forum, or a social network, or a photo database, or the yellow pages of nature photographers and their products and services…Whytake is all that together, and much more due to the inter-connection between each of those elements.
As for the large social networks, of course, competing with them is pointless. But we believe that as our community grows, users will consider posting their Nature Photography related news, content and blogs on Whytake first, as they can target their audience. Again, you need to take into account that the social network is just a part of the integrated systems that make Whytake.
And then, the most important thing is we believe we’ve developed the site 100% for Nature Photographers. We are the first niche integrated system dedicated to this group, and that is great since you know everything you will get here is Nature Photography related and everything is targeted to the right audience.
You have fairly strict Posting Guidelines – no Human Elements or Structures, can you explain why that is?
Yes, at first glance they could appear quite strict and unfriendly, but as with everything else we designed, there is a good reason we made it this way.
If we allow “any” people, structures, fences, roads, lights, tracks etc we open the whole thing to a never-ending debate about what constitutes acceptable content and what is not.
There is a fine line between a solitary climber silhouetted in the mountains and a holiday shot of someone’s kids and dog on a beach.
We went for the simple solution – nature only – nothing more or less.
You say everything on whytake.net is free and always will be, and you even allow photographers to list their products & services without commission fees? How can you do this, and will it change in the future?
Both of us abandoned our successful careers to make our living from Nature Photography and to be honest, we did not do it for me money since there are easier ways to make a living!. Neither of us is interested in making money from other nature photographers. If anything, we want to promote the work of our peers and to benefit the global community with a great and useful site.
We have financed whytake.net between us and will continue to do so. Whytake.net will always be free and we will never charge for registration or charge a commission on users who list their products and services.
We are hopeful that some corporate sponsorship will come along at some stage, but equally do not want to turn the site into one great big advert. We have some limited space that we are prepared to discuss terms with the right sponsors.
In any case, both of us think that those who give to the community receive from the community. You can call us naive, but until now that is the way we have approached our life philosophy with good results…
We have seen the quality of the photography within Whytake is exceptional. Do some users feel scared in a way to submit their portfolios, due to the high level of average quality?
LOL, we all feel a little like that sometimes. You’re right, the quality is exceptional, every day when we log in we’re finding images from people we never knew and are being inspired to raise our own games in response.
Whytake is very quickly becoming a hugely inspiring environment, which was one of our main goals in fact. This is the reason we decided to talk about portfolios with a limit of images to upload. This way, every photographer shows only their best work and does not get diluted with quantity instead of quality.
However, a portfolio is only a snapshot in time, it can be a growing representation of your work and we believe that no one is going to turn his or her noses up at any work that is loaded on the site.
Also, the site can be used for many other things other than loading your own portfolio. In fact, Whytake was also conceived to become a strong tool to help you improve as a photographer and find your style. You can create a profile and then Subscribe to other photographers, get information and learn from them, get inspiration from their images, create your own Inspiring gallery by adding images to your Favorites and using them to find out what you like and who you are as a photographer. In fact, you can use whytake.net even if you never take your own images.
We have seen that Whytake has been designed from the ground up in different languages. Was there a strong will to develop an international tool?
Absolutely. We already mention that will on the slogan of Whytake: The Global Community of Nature Photographers. One of our main goals was creating a tool that would unify all nature photographers from different cultures, countries and languages. That is why there is no official language for Whytake, and every user can contribute in his own language.
From the beginning, we have seen a group of communities where people interact with each other while at the same time use their own languages. Only considering the four founders of Whytake, we use more than 5 different languages when posting things on our walls…
This brings an incredible richness to Whytake, since one is able to see and get inspired by how photographers from other cultures develop different visions and styles, photograph very different subjects and bring to us exotic locales far away from our more familiar environments.
What does the name “Whytake” mean?
When we were thinking of names we needed something that was short, punchy and memorable.
But, we also wanted it to be meaningful. We know that many photographers consider that they “make” images rather than “take” them, but whymake sounds awful!
Whytake is a question we must all ask ourselves before pressing the button of the camera. It boils down to finding your inner vision and the message you want to communicate with your photograph…Why are you taking that image?
The natural world is our motivation, our inspiration and gives us so much in our lives. It cleanses the cluttered modern world from us when we step into its environments. It gives us everything; we developed whytake to spread that philosophy and to do what we can to conserve the natural world.
That’s why we take.