Photography-on-the-Net, a popular digital photography forum that has been active since 2001, will be closing down at the end of 2023. Over the years, it has served as a gathering place for digital camera enthusiasts, professionals, hobbyists, and anyone passionate about photography.
The site features various forums to discuss gear, share photos, and exchange techniques. Additionally, Photography-on-the-Net has a camera gear marketplace and an extensive photo gallery of over 250,000 images, allowing users to explore specific camera results and settings.
Sadly, after more than two decades, the forums will cease operation this year. Pekka Saarinen, the site’s founder, shared this news on the platform. In a recent post, Saarinen highlighted several factors contributing to the decline of the community, including the waning interest in digital photography and the rise of social media platforms.
Saarinen explained that the emergence of better mobile cameras has reduced people’s enthusiasm for bulky and costly camera systems like DSLRs, with many opting to use smartphones for photography.
Even photojournalists rely on iPhones, which has resulted in fewer opportunities for traditional photographers to find work. Moreover, the widespread use of mobile devices among families and friends has shifted photo-sharing from dedicated platforms to social media apps and cloud services. Saarinen acknowledged that certain niche photographers, such as those specializing in bird, wedding, sports, and action photography, still require dedicated equipment but constitute a minority.
Nevertheless, the decline of Photography-on-the-Net cannot be solely attributed to diminished interest in photography equipment. Saarinen believes the rise of major social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Discord, and TikTok, has significantly impacted forums like Photography-on-the-Net.
He argued that these billion-dollar companies have revolutionized the market and intentionally designed algorithms to addict users, create personalized bubbles, track behaviors for targeted advertising, and render content outdated quickly, promoting the constant creation of new content. He further noted that this trend has been accelerated in recent years and anticipates that artificial intelligence (AI) will bring further changes. The convenience of AI-driven platforms could result in people no longer needing to write or create content themselves.
Saarinen emphasized the decline of conventional forums among newer generations, as traffic, enthusiasm, mood, and discussions have all dwindled. Furthermore, he mentioned that Google’s reduction in ad placement on forums has contributed to the financial strain on Photography-on-the-Net.
Despite occasional donations, Saarinen has been covering most of the server costs personally. However, as he no longer derives joy from coding or managing servers and has shifted his focus to other interests and his music profession, shutting down the site appears to be the logical choice.
Although there are members who have been a part of the community for over two decades, Saarinen expressed his regret that the site cannot continue. He indicated that maintaining a read-only version of the platform to lessen server costs is not feasible. Therefore, the decision has been made to completely shut down the site, removing it and its contents from the internet. While Saarinen apologized to the members for the situation, he recognized that everything has a lifespan, and it is now time to move on.