National Geographic Photographer Ditches Website in Favor of iPad App

Ex-Magnum and current National Geographic photographer Michael Nichols first launched his website back in 2001 but left it untouched until last year, when he finally decided to update it with new work. After spending a considerable about of energy towards the update, he suddenly decided to change course:

I spent months updating it: new galleries, new captions, stories and videos. It was an incredible amount of work. Right before I hit publish on the site, I realized that I just couldn’t give it away anymore, I had poured my soul and time into it and while I don’t care about making money off of it, I needed to be sure people would value it. I wanted to be the guinea pig for the rest of the photographers out there. So I scaled back the content on my website and decided to embrace the new technology of the iPad and build an app. This way, the audience views the photo essays with my voice behind them. [#]

His paywall experiment seems to be well-received so far — the app currently has a 4.5/5 star rating in the iTunes Store. It’ll be interesting to see if more photographers follow his lead.

(via British Journal of Photography)

  • Patti B

    It also means that he’s limiting his market.  Is he not interested in having people appreciate his work if they don’t have one specific technology platform?

  • Amanda K

    This concept would probably only work for photographers who already have an established career and client base. But I do think it’s an interesting idea!

  • Guest

    I came very close to doing this, then took an immediate right turn back to the web. Not just for the reasons Patti B notes, but also because, frankly, I am unexcited about having to maintain the app – especially with Apple introducing a fourth resolution standard when they drop iPad 3. There’s just too much chasing this technology. If you branch out into the chaotic world of Droid-based tablets, it gets even worse. And besides, many of the apps floating around out there are just encapsulated web pages anyway. Yes, the apps create a revenue stream (kinda – nothing at all like gallery sales), but it will not be cut from whole cloth and when you whittle market away by excluding availability, it isn’t long until an established artist is once again a niche artist. The web hasn’t liberated us from the gallery system and the app hasn’t liberated us from the web. Like it or not, an emerging artist still needs to send out show entries.

  • Rob

    Ignorant. Alienating the rest of the populous who won’t buy ipads.

  • Anonymous


    It’s his work—he’s free to never show it to another soul if he desires, and nobody can fault him for that.  

    His criteria, as stated, is that he wants to serve viewers who will value his work.  There are (likely) many paths to his goal, and he has decided to experiment with this one.  Sounds like a smart and well-balanced individual to me. Nobody has any right to lay claim on his work without his consent. It is entirely his.

  • Wing Wong

    If he had all the content… it wouldn’t have been a leap to DAM the original content, produce volumes of it to be exported out to both ipad and web. Have the web be a smaller subset that the ipad/tablet version would be an expansion of… oh well. Bought it, curious to see how he implemented it… and whether full rez images are included in the app bundle.

  • Anonymous

    Now that you have bought it what can you do with the imagery beyond looking at them?

  • Flgraphics

    thats dumb.. how hard is it to make sure you cover all platforms?

  • Masa

    Not really. One could also buy issues of National Geographic to see his work. Since he is already an established photographer, he probably has some reasonable competence in marketing.

  • Ragler

    I had an iPad for about two months.  It became a dust collector, so I sold it.

  • Anonymous

    You didn’t understand the story, apparently.

  • Wing Wong

    The app is interesting. Good content. But it quickly runs down the interest ladder. Basically… it’s like one of the new emag(s) out there. I don’t think it adds to his brand… rather, it detracts.

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