Blog platforms make adding content and updating the look of a site easy for photographers who lack web design skills. With Tumblr, setting up and managing a blog, which the site will host for you, is free as long as you keep "tumblr" in the URL. Plus, there’s really no thinking involved. Just enter your email address, create a password, name your blog and start posting. There’s little to no learning curve, and the features are intuitive and quick to understand.
Taylor Jones found out just how easy and effective Tumblr is when he launched his Dear Photograph blog in May. He was sitting around the kitchen table with his family looking through old photo albums when he came across a photo of a birthday celebration. In the photo, his brother, then 4 years old, was sitting at the same kitchen table and in the same place as he was presently sitting. Jones was sitting in the place where his mom, who took the picture, was sitting.
"So I held up the photo in the same spot and took a picture," Jones explains. "I thought it was really cool, so I found more old pictures from around the house and took photos."
His concept was simple: Take a picture of a picture from the past in the present. He took the photos straight to Tumblr because of how easy the site is to use.
Jones’ idea of retaking a picture of an old photograph in its modern-day surroundings resonated with people. After sending his pictures to a few friends and getting positive feedback from them, he decided to open it up to the public.
He now gets about 20 submissions a day, way more than he can use, and the site is completely user-generated. In less than three weeks, Jones and his site had attracted 1.2 million visitors, 15,000 followers on Tumblr, 8,000 followers on Facebook and 2,000 followers on Twitter. A couple of weeks later, the number of visitors had jumped to 2.2 million.
With such a captive and growing audience, it’s no wonder the 22-year-old social media specialist has signed on with a literary agent in Los Angeles to publish a book based on the site. He’s also exploring the idea of developing a television series or movie script using the photo-within-a-photo concept.
The site is a time machine of sorts, allowing you to see how homes, neighborhoods and towns have changed around the world. The emotional pull of these photos-within-photos is considerable, with many of them packing such a nostalgic punch that Jones gets emails from people saying that his site motivated them to visit their parents and flip through old photo albums together.
One of the ways Jones was able to garner so much attention was through Tumblr’s reblogging tool, which lets you quickly share content you find on the site. Clicking the Reblog button next to any post creates a copy on your blog and allows you to include your own commentary. You also can automatically update your Twitter feed and Facebook page whenever you post, and use Google Analytics to track how many users are visiting your blog, how often, which posts are the most popular and more. Some of the themes even have an option for simply pasting in a Google Analytics ID.
"It seems like before my page even loads after I post a photo, I have 20 reblogs and then it just explodes," Jones says. "Tumblr is really the perfect way to get a project like this across the Internet."