One of the largest and longest running photography forum communities is shutting down by the end of 2023. Photography-on-the-net has decided to shut down by the end of 2023. The industry has definitely changed, and every time we see one of these long-running web sites ceasing operations it's sad, but outside factors have definitely made the financial commitment difficult to recoup.

From Pekka (Admin of POTN)

POTN forum was started 2001 when digital photography was in its infancy- We have seen the great digital camera shooting boom, gear wars, rise or RAW, chimping frenzy, sensors getting better and better, faster AF and failed AF, new lens types, mirrorless cameras and eventually a steady decline of major camera manufacturers, sales dropping every year. There is no one reason for the decline of digital camera, there are several. Better mobile cameras killing people's interest to heavy and expensive systems like SLR with lots of lenses. Photojournalists use iPhones, photographers get less hiring opportunities , families and friends use mobile devices. Some special interest shooters like bird and wedding photographers, sports and action shooters can not really work with phones, but they are a minority. Image quality does not matter much to 99% of people, when viewed on mobile all is sufficient.

Gear has lost its appeal, but what about forums?

Facebook was founded 2004, three years after POTN. Twitter was started 2006. Instagram was founded 2010. Snapchat 2011. Discord 2015, Tik Tok 2016. All those multi-billion dollar companies have conquered the market, created the social media as we know it, intentionally aiming to addict by algorithms, put people into own bubbles, track you to target ads, lose content validity in short time so that new content gets created constantly. Some of them reduce message lengths thus directing young people to short attention span and think less about complete sentences. Photos are shared via social media apps, Whatsapp and cloud services. This trend has sped up in last few years, and AI will change it all again. Soon people won't have to write or create anything – it's all done for them.

Sad truth is that there is no place for conventional forums any more with the recent generations. Traffic is down. Enthusiasm is down. Mood is down. Discussion is down.

There are many old timer members who keep posting, but that does not sustain the site. New members appear, but they do not post much, just browse and like here and there. That is the reality. When everyone had only computers (PC or Mac), writing was much faster and easier – now tapping seems to be the main communication method.

Google delivers fewer and fewer ads in forums (most ad slots are empty, meaning we don't have even a chance to get anything), so for a long time I've had to pay most of the server costs from my own pocket, even with some occasional donations which I appreciate.

Even if financially this wasn't a burden, I do not have time or interest to code by request or set up servers (I've put thousands of hours for POTN during the years). Members can get vey demanding, there's no real joy in this “service” for me any more.

I do not really shoot photos any more, I have other interests and a profession in music.

I'm not getting any younger, health issues due to stress have happened.

What does all this mean?

I have decided to do the only logical option: close down POTN by the end of this year, exact date is to be determined.

https://photography-on-the.net/forum/showthread.php?t=1530921

Go to discussion...

13 comments

  1. The POTN admin's story makes it sound like photography has died, which couldn't be further from the truth. Photography is more alive than it's ever been. People take more pictures than ever. They do more with those pictures, and they want to take better pictures.

    For sure there is less interest in interchangeable lens cameras, but ILC != photography. Many brilliant photographers, including photojournalists as the admin mentioned, are using smartphones and drones, because those are often the right imaging tool for the scenario.

    And the photography community is bigger than ever, but they're choosing different social media than forums, which feel a bit slow-paced and low-tech compared to, say, TikTok. Still, change is painful.
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  2. Had some threads running there for a while - but moved on as numbers started to dwindle. So part of the problem myself, as these trends are mutually reinforcing. The almost-closure of dpreview being another example.
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  3. The POTN admin's story makes it sound like photography has died, which couldn't be further from the truth. Photography is more alive than it's ever been. People take more pictures than ever. They do more with those pictures, and they want to take better pictures.

    For sure there is less interest in interchangeable lens cameras, but ILC != photography. Many brilliant photographers, including photojournalists as the admin mentioned, are using smartphones and drones, because those are often the right imaging tool for the scenario.

    And the photography community is bigger than ever, but they're choosing different social media than forums, which feel a bit slow-paced and low-tech compared to, say, TikTok. Still, change is painful.
    I agree on the way it sounds. I don't have personal knowledge, but the impression I get from some other posts is there might be more going with Pekka than his concern over the implied "decline" of the industry. It doesn't change your point of course.
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  4. I've been a relatively active member on POTN since 2008. Like most I have really active periods and then quiet periods. It's a huge site with a lot of members, still a lot of activity, and a tremendous amount of history. I hate to see it go. I've mentioned this site a few times over there in the hopes that some may join here, and I think a couple may have so far.

    Frankly I'd love to see more activity here, outside of the rumors/equipment discussions where there seems to be plenty. It's a good opportunity to increase the traffic with POTN closing down. That is...as long as we don't bring back the "trolls" :)
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  5. POTN will be gone and good riddance. It was a place for the very old who long ago stopped keeping up with the progress of photography. These old geezers (I'm 64) made film a religion, and their closed views and inability to embrace the future finally did them in, but to be truthful, POTN died long, long ago.
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  6. \"writing was much faster and easier - now tapping seems to be the main communication method\"
    so much truth in that.
    for most people these days, \"writing\" means \"work email\"...
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  7. That's unfortunate. Usually when I'm considering certain lens, I go to POTN to check example pictures in the lens-specific thread.
    Flickr's respective lens groups have lots of images available.
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  8. POTN will be gone and good riddance. It was a place for the very old who long ago stopped keeping up with the progress of photography. These old geezers (I'm 64) made film a religion, and their closed views and inability to embrace the future finally did them in, but to be truthful, POTN died long, long ago.
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  9. POTN and DPReview were my first experiences with forums in 2006 until I discovered FM, which provides greater visual appeal, navigation and style.
    FM also seemed to have more people that took actual pictures, DPReview was, and is, the realm of arm chair gear owners and Sony trolls.
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  10. POTN will be gone and good riddance. It was a place for the very old who long ago stopped keeping up with the progress of photography. These old geezers (I'm 64) made film a religion, and their closed views and inability to embrace the future finally did them in, but to be truthful, POTN died long, long ago.
    Not clear where this belief comes from. I was a member at POTN for 16 years, and film photography was a very small section of that forum. I mean it was called Canon Digital Photography Forum, then Digital Photography Forum (as there were other brands represented there as well). Quite a few gear heads, and a lot of picture sharing, particularly in the last decade. At no point do I recall the site being stuck in film photography and old tech.
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