Our 21st century economy revolves around money—and profit—and all kinds of methods are used to convince as many customers as possible to shell out for goods and services. It’s the way things work in the modern world, whether we like it or not
During the last couple of decades as the Internet and the World Wide Web evolved and matured, a massive amount of “information” has been offered for free—no cost to the viewer other than being able to access it online. Not to be cynical, but usually if you look a little deeper at most (but not all) offerings you’ll find an underlying motive designed—not surprisingly—to make money. Historically, advertising, or selling product of some kind directly, has been the predominant business model for satisfying the profit motive in order to stay in business for the majority of photography-related websites. That has begun to change more rapidly now with more sites moving to a subscription model. The latest is Luminous-Landscape, which on November 26th will offer a one-year membership for $1 a month ($12 for one year). For most engaged photographers that seems to me to be a very reasonable fee, and LuLa has committed to the goal of removing all advertising from the site once they reach 50,000 paid subscribers.
The question of course will be, is it worth it? I believe so, emphatically. No single source of information provides all one might wish to know, regardless of whether it is paid or free. Over the years, LuLa has been (in my view) one of the truly excellent and trusted online photography resources, not just for the views and opinions of Michael Reichmann (along with Chris Sanderson, and more recently Kevin Raber), but also for the collaboration and contributions of many other highly respected heavy-hitters in the imaging world. That includes not only the articles, but interviews with influential persons like Brooks Jensen (LensWork) and Jeff Schewe (PixelGenius), and in the forum in which Andrew Rodney (color management guru), Will Hollingworth (Senior Manager, Product Development, NEC Display Solutions of America), and many other notables regularly participate. Photographers, in particular, understand the impact of the “culture of free.” Sometimes it’s worth paying for reliably good information and in this case I’d suggest the cost/benefit for those who choose to subscribe will be very high indeed.