Tomorrow will be the last day that a new Daily Shoot assignment will be posted. After that, the site will be mothballed. It’ll eventually disappear into the depths of the bit-bucket.
Mike and I sincerely hope that everyone that participated—some 2700+ photographers in all—had a fun time, learned a few things about their own photography, and keep at it on a regular basis going forward. It’s a rewarding art and one that rewards consistent practice.
Why are we shutting the Daily Shoot down now? The primary reason is time, or the relative lack of it for a non-commercial site like this. When we started the Daily Shoot, we tried to keep things as lightweight as possible, both in terms of code and the impact on our daily schedules. After all, both Mike and I have businesses that we have to attend to. We leveraged the Twitter and Flickr APIs and had something decent going in no time at all.
It worked out well enough to start with and we were able to add some photo sharing services and make a few other improvements. Since then, the overall landscape of the where photographers communicate and share their photos has evolved quickly. For example, Google+ has exploded as a place to post and talk about photos. Flickr, on the other hand, seems to be a place that people are less and less interested in. 500px is picking up steam. And with the explosion of new services has come both new APIs. Even the APIs we already integrated with have been slowly evolving.
At this point, in order to integrate with all of the ways that photographers communicate and share photos, the site needs a total rewrite. And not a small one. A codebase that takes the Daily Shoot where it would have to go is easily several times larger than what we have currently. It’s straightforward enough and there’s little technical risk to it. But, it would take a non-trivial amount of time to execute.
For a site that runs for free and doesn’t attract enough eyeballs to monetize in any obvious way, neither Mike nor I can afford to spend the time to take the Daily Shoot into the future.
What about user’s data? Luckily, we made the decision early on not to store photographs on this site. That means that everyone’s photographs will still be where they are now even after we pull the plug on our server.
Why don’t we just let the site run for a while more? It’s true that we could let the site continue to spit out assignments and people could use it. But things are continually getting more brittle. The number of people writing in asking questions about why their images aren’t showing up or can we fix something is going up over time. At this point, we’ve decided that it’s better to shut it down cleanly at this point than to lumber on and rot away into a useless lump of bits that people get more and more aggravated with.
Will we donate the code to somebody to take on? Mike and I talked about this and decided that it probably wouldn’t be of much use to pass the code onto somebody else. As I said above, it’s way out of date and needs a total rewrite. Furthermore, with the emergence of Google+, 500px, and other sites, a total re-imagining of the concept is in order.
What about making it Open Source? I’ve participated in making taking codebases into the Open Source realm. It’s a lot of work to do well and isn’t worth it in this case.
Are Mike and I done with the idea of daily practice? Most certainly not. This is just one possible way to promote the idea of daily practice. There are others. Inspiration is everywhere and there are lots of possible ways to encourage people to find it. Hopefully, the next one I try will be a bit more sustainable.
Finally, if you’ve ever used the Daily Shoot, thank you. Keep at your craft. Get out there and make some more photographs and share ’em with the world.