I’m a Gawker Artist!

2008-07-20 Update: They upgraded the site and broke the old URLs! Here’s my new Gawker Artists page.

I have a page on Gawker Artists now. The photo that got me in is The Rebel, one of my favorite portraits, taken for my now-concluded black and white film class. This means the image will appear occasionally on Lifehacker and other exhibitors. Quite cool. Sarah will be proud, if she checks here. She’s representing an entire movement of non-conformity.

The Rebel: a girl smoking in front of a no-smoking sign

I came up with a great summary of my photographic mission for the page:

I’m an experimental photographer who’s been working in the digital medium for four years. I strive to capture nature in inspiring and unusual ways; while I take pretty pictures, they should always make you think. The same effort goes into my portraits and still life; I photograph whatever I like, and am known for forcing people to pose in crazy ways, or for spending hours setting up arrangements of marbles or ketchup bottles. I’m a believer in contributing to the photography community, so I write a lot of behind-the-scenes details and add tips for my fellow photographers to my website.

If you’re a photographer, isn’t that what your mission should be? To make people think. Anyone can do that. Anyone can do what I do. But does that mean you do? For many of you, no. But I’ll do it for you.

In my spare time over the past few days, I’ve been working on the tech side of the site, instead of posting new material (sorry to my viewers). Some advances:

• My Twitter updates are at the bottom of the first post on each page (Twitter tools, with modifications).
• The ads are inline with posts; see the top-right of the first post on any page, and the link ads after the 2nd and 7th posts. That was tough to figure out. Code like “<?php $postnum = 0; if (have_posts()) : while (have_posts()) : $postnum = $postnum; the_post(); ?>” and “<?php $a = 2; $b = 7; . . . ” went into my WordPress template’s index.php file.
• I switched to Google Custom Search for my search engine (in the side-bar). There are extra ads when you search, which I make money on like the normal ads.
• I made the links below the banner nice, and cleaned up the sidebar, moving stuff to an Index page. The cousin and the father have been demoted to there.
• All thumbnail links use Highslide now, so if you have JavaScript enabled, click one and it will pop up right on the page. You can even flip through photos with the arrow keys. This is a big improvement from a plain link to a JPEG file, and was suggested by the author of Post-Thumb revisited, the plugin I’m using to implement and manage it.
• I added a Contact page, with my info and an inline contact form (SCF2 Contact Form).
• I switched over to WP Super Cache, from WP-Cache. After some battling, I thought I had it so every page, except search, the shopping cart, add to cart, and random gallery, was cached and gzipped, from the second visitor every 24 hours onward. I was very proud of it. It worked for a couple hours, but now only some pages are zipped while other, more important ones get nothing, and I have no idea why. I give up, I’ve spend enough time on this. If it’s not good enough for Steve Pavlina, then it’s not good enough for me. I gzipped the larger CSS and JavaScript files while at it (prototype.js is cut from 125KB to 22KB), and that sticks, fortunately.
Comment previewing is gone. I was revising the preview text, and then the text disappeared and I couldn’t get it to work at all, even writing the settings into the database myself. This isn’t an advance; I just gave up. Maybe it’s outdated, I don’t know, but that’s enough dealing with it. If your comment messes up, post a corrective comment, and I’ll fix it and delete the second one for you.
• Added “overflow: hidden” CSS class to the header (with the six random photos). So if you’re browsing in a window smaller than 1024×768, there is no ugly wrapping to the next line.
• I finally hacked WP-Print to put the URI markers after the hypertext instead of before. So now I can print out wonderful articles like How to Brand Your Prints and they can be read logically. If you print (“Printable View” link below any post), do it in Internet Explorer 7. Firefox is no good at formatting in print. Plus, I was sick of the line breaks in my awfully long Amazon.com affiliate links, so I changed the code so there are no line breaks for URIs, and Firefox deals with this by making all the text really small, while Internet Explorer forces a line break (nice).
• People have been signing up for thripp.com despite my lack of advertising. I’ll work on the layout and features in July. I can’t get virtual subdomains like I want without upgrading to a virtual private server, which I won’t yet pay for, so you just get a name like thripp.com/foobar instead of foobar.thripp.com (which I know you’d prefer). Sorry for that. If you start blogging for some reason, I added plugins you can activate to multicast to Facebook, LiveJournal, Twitter, and Xanga, like I do (see links in my footer). You’ll have to hand over your passwords, but they’re safe with me.

It’s good to know when to give up, as I did with a couple of the issues above. I enjoy taking, editing, and writing about my photos more than this stuff, but somehow I get engrossed in tweaking layouts and settings, which is never the most important thing. It was good this time, for the gallery features mainly, but I’ve had my fix, so I can switch back to the important stuff (publishing photos and writing to inspire others).

I also reached a milestone lately; I’m not in the hole anymore. I’ve made $19 from contextual advertising and $2 from print sales, while I only have $16 invested for hosting (till August when I’ll have to pay almost $10 a month). I’m never going away, even if I have to pay $50 a month and lose money. My art and writing must be accessible to the world, forever.