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Sunday, 22 November 2015


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Congratulations Mike. I've never had the pleasure of meeting you, but I'm pretty damn sure you are good man. I wish the very best for you. Your writing has been an integral part of my life for the last nine years. You've been with me through all the good and bad times. So think up something original and different from all the other photo sites which you can implement within what's already here. Everything is possible you just need to believe in it.
Or just stay like you are. You know the saying "If it ain't broke don't fix it".

There really are other photo blogs out there? This is the only one I read. Here´s to the next 10 years.

I won't claim to have been here from the start, but I've been with you through the magazine days, the Sunday Morning days, the Luminous Landscape days, and I think I found TOP pretty early on. Congratulations for the ten years here, and a heatfelt thanks for everything you have done to help keep me "in the game".

Hi Mike

I have been reading your work since before TOP was born and though I have no largesse to send your way, I do buy everything I get from Amazon UK using your link and I truly hope that I can continue to read you for many years to come.

It was unavoidable, but perhaps the multiple home moves also put a dent in readership, as your eye understandably had to be on those other balls and not solely on TOP and your personal output got a little sparse for a while. It never prevented me from popping in daily, but perhaps first time readers didn't get so hooked through that period?

Now things are more settled and your output is back to its regular high quality level, I hope anyone passing by will find reasons to revisit often.

For me personally, I don't read you as a gear review site, I read you because you have interesting things to say on a variety of subjects, some photo related, some not; I loved the tales about your dogs, although I have never owned a dog! Though not articles about Pool, I'm afraid. :-)

I do miss being able to rag my cousin in Wisconsin about the 'warm' Winter weather there though, as your pictures and descriptions made my toes turn blue!

Happy Birthday TOP and very Many Returns of the Day!

I've only caught up with TOP three years ago or so, but it is now firmly part of my photographic culture. Thank you, Mike!
And when you say "I think I've attracted the most mature, most knowledgeable, most courteous group of readers on the Web"... well, I'm flattered ;)

Mike, I find it disturbing that you have two creditors that are neglecting such significant bills. You must have thought about telling us who these are and decided against (apart from the fact that one is in the UK and the other in the eurozone). We must respect your decision. I do hope you are getting advice from someone who knows something about small business finance, even if it just avoids future problems.

For now, I try to remember to buy all my B&H, Amazon stuff via the links, and if in the future you want to experiment with a subscription model, I think many of us would be open to the idea.

Happy Birthday, Mike!
We can relate to the growing pains.
Blow out a candle for me and have a Jack Daniels.
My two cents.
Wouldn't know what to do without you!

The not-my-favorite days here at TOP are still more interesting to me than most days at most photo web sites I've looked at (though of course TOP is not where I go first to look up specifications on various camera models; which I do now and then).

I am not a tax lawyer or accountant but you must have someone here that can comment on your past due accounts and what sounds like some previously illegal and or immoral 1099s. The IRS must see this occasionally. If I was of an evil bent I could send the IRS and enemies 1099s that memorialize nonexistent transactions with impunity.
Nature Lover

Ten years and every posting interesting, fantastic.

Mike; you are the best photo journal / blog ever.

Thank you very much for making life behind a camera have real meaning.

Hi, Mike,

I'm not altogether sure when I started reading TOP, but it can't have been long after you started it, and it's been a constant pleasure to read every morning over those first cups of coffee.

About five or six years ago I tried to do a more or less daily blog myself, and burnt out in just a few months: stamina! I really admire yours, besides enjoying the congenial TOP atmosphere on a regular basis, a little dose of sanity and serenity to start the day with. So congratulations!

I've been living the freelance life myself — photography, art, image processing, editing, translating, even the occasional book design: anything that brings in some sh'kalim — for the better part of the past 20 years now (almost), and I can totally empathize with the problems you have and have had with it.

Sometimes what gets me isn't that some clients have a hard time getting their minds around the idea that they need to actual pay me for the work I've done for them, but that others, bless them, pay promptly — and if they can do it, why can't everyone?

Still, for all the problems, I wouldn't really want to exchange them for any others. They are, after all, MY problems, and I try to view them as the price I pay for (mostly) getting to do what I want to do with my life. Doesn't mean I wouldn't sometimes like to have fewer of them to deal with.

(BTW: I think "creditor" usually means someone whom you owe money to, not someone who owes you money … )

So, anyway, once again, congratulations and Happy Birthday TOP!


Thank-you Mike, a visit to virtual you always brightens my day.

Could you not sell the debt to collectors for a percentage? Gets you something. Won't endear you them of course but they've had their chance and you weren't expecting repeat 'business' anyway.

Well, hell Mike! That sucks! I for one don't think there are many sites worth visiting daily, but yours surely is. And that's been true since your 'The 37th Frame' days. So, a tip into the kitty, some support for a thing I love.

Hearty congratulations on a successful first decade, Mike. Making an independent way for any length of time in any line is a formidable challenge today, but remarkably formidable as a writer. You began TOP a year after I returned to photography in earnest. So I feel we've grown up together.

What to do for the next decade? I'm sure you'll get no shortage of suggestions. But you've managed to gather a pretty enthusiastic and loyal audience cheering you on. So with such a wind at your back you should find good sailing ahead.

Sincere thanks for many years of the best reading on photography and other related and non-related topics. Like Paul wrote your writing have been an integral part of my life for a long time. And its in fact the only photography related destination on the internet where I can always rely on reading well-thought, well-written and well-behaved photography related posts and comments. Every visit is like a breath of fresh air among all the immature stuff that is dominating most parts of the the photo web.
all the best for another ten years, at least!

And I would like to add: it is your voice and tone that makes all the difference. That which makes me coming back.

Congratulations, Mike. theonlinephotographer is the website I most look forward to reading. Good writing and sane thought. Scarcer than one might hope.

Just last week I signed up for a subscription to your site and it gave me several options, but it did not allow me to choose a higher amount, perhaps you could change that to suggest a minimum of $6.00 per subscription period with the option of entering more for each time period. Your column is the first thing I check everyday and I realize that I would miss your thoughts if they were to go away. Glad your here we are lucky to have your insights and comments.

Dear Mike, it is a real pleasure to read your inspiring articles.
The link to Amazon works only in USA, I think. How can I buy from amazon.it and support TOP?

I buy a lot from Amazon and read your blog pretty much every day. However I, live in the UK and so I buy from Amazon.co.uk. You certainly have UK readers - can you not get some kind of a deal going with Amazon in the UK? If so I would certainly use your link.

Mike, I'm sure I speak for most of the regular readers here, we're damn proud of you.

Side note. For those of us lucky/unlucky enough to live in states such as Vermont, where I live, it's now impossible to make any money as an Amazon affiliate. Amazon canceled all arrangements with"Amazon Associates" (affiliates) due to a law passed here requiring sales tax laws to be implemented through customer referral arrangements.

It shouldn't be a big deal, but as soon as the law was passed, Amazon pulled because they wanted to make a statement "Amazon strongly supports federal legislation creating a simplified framework to uniformly resolve interstate sales tax issues."

In rural states such as Vermont, many people rely on unique ways to create a living, and this is very short-sighted both on the part of Vermont's legislators as well as a company as large and important as Amazon. At least 16 states now have similar laws and I assume the Amazon affiliate program no longer works in those states.

Here's a link to the law:

Here's a link to an article about it when it originally was passed.

Mike, get a tax accountant. You do not have to pay taxes on money you were never paid. Sending false 1099's is fraud. I'm self employed and have fortunately never had this occur. I have all my invoices and check them off against every check I receive. If someone padded the numbers and was reported for fraud the would have to show proof of payment.

You should not be receiving a 1099 for money never receive. If you are you would not have pay tax on the 1099, because the 1099 would be in error as I understand it. Your accountant and or tax advisor/preparer should know this. And if that person is you , then you might want to check on that. Congratulations on the 10 years! You created a valued place on the web.

I was so shocked by your talk about taxes I forgot to say Conrgatulations.
TOP Is still the best photo blog.

Mike: Your site is at the very top of my morning reading. I sit happily with a tall mug of java and wade though your latest. As you say, it's grownup, thoughtful and informative and nine miles better than others whom I won't name to protect their sanity. 109 is quite the lofty ambition; I'm in!

Congratulations Mike. I've been a regular reader for a long time and plan to continue. Sorry to say I can't use your link right now. Although there are lots of things I'd love to present myself with. I can't afford my taste in photo gear.

I don't know about a birthday present, but you'll very likely get something for Christmas from me. I'm very happy you're still doing this, Mike! Keep it up!

Congratulations, Mike. I think I came across TOP pretty much at the beginning, grace of the PDML, and have been visiting compulsively ever since. I would miss it terribly if you ever shut it down. Thank you for all the education you have enabled over the years.

Ten years! Well done, Mike. I recommend TOP when ever I get the chance. It's about the only site I ever do it for.

I've been thinking off starting a blog myself, but it won't be a photography blog. There will, of course, be photographs. Whether it is a viable idea or not is another matter...

STILL one of my few toolbar bookmarks and has been since I cannot remember when...probably summer 06 when I moved to NH.
I'm certain TOP will get at least a few kicks from my purchases tween now and the new year.

Congratulations, in advance, from someone who has followed your writing ever since the 37th frame and enjoyed every bit of it! (well except maybe the pool post but then I do enjoy the excitement you have in those posts) Check with a CPA ( I'll bet you have one among your readers) but I believe those unpaid bills can be listed as bad debt and deducted from your income. And certainly if you are issued a 1099 for an incorrect amount that is fraud and should carry severe penalties for the issuer. And who knows maybe a reward for the whistle-blower! Certainly I would name them on this site so that your readers could adjust their purchases to reflect their dishonesty. Finally, on a not too encouraging note, but a realistic one- from someone who ran a business for nearly forty years there will all be dis-honest people and unfortunately most of them will be smarter than you! Never compromise your principles to defeat them.

If I am going to a site I can visit from your links I always do. Other sites popped up with links to these places, but what can I say? I'm set in my ways.

My husband (who is not licensed in your state, and is not a tax expert, and all other relevant disclaimers) suggests looking into the possibility of sending them a 1099 for the loss.

Happy birthday, so to speak. Hats off to you. It's a mystery to me how anyone can make money on the web.

Paying income tax on unreceived income is obscene. I bet Enron and Trump never got snookered like that. There should be a debit column for losses like uncollected debts.

Thanks for the influential writing. I started reading TOP soon after buying Ken-Rockwell-suggested Nikon D80 around 2008, it's still in my 'Important Reading' folder after having an exhibition in NY this fall. It's been a long way and I, neither, don't know what to expect now :-)

PS: Wouldn't a birthday print sale make sense? As an international reader, I don't order from Amazon.

Happy birthday TOP! I hope your around for another ten years,- at least.
I think I know what your going through, as regards making a living. I and a friend were in business together for 28 years. In 2012, our 'boat' was definitely sinking. All kinds of reasons, which I won't go into, but also because we didn't want to alter or change course. I at 75, and Al in his mid sixties, didn't really want to 'morph' into something we'd have to retrain ourselves for, perhaps buying new equipment and software with the uncertainty of success.
It seems you do well with the print sales, though that might not be enough. I'm no good at advice. but yours is a exceptional blog, and everything you do is done in such a classy way. And you have some really great and intelligent commenters,- myself NOT included!
Somehow you have to broaden your reach, and do what I didn't do.
Having said that, I know it can't be easy, being a one man show.
So, what can I say? I prefer to shop on line, so I'll just use Amazon more then I would ordinarily, and of course B&H, because I would really miss you if you were to find it necessary to retire from TOP.


Very best congratulations on an important anniversary. You know, I'm not too sure how long I've been reading you, so to speak. Seems a long time. But it's not for the photography to be honest; it's not such a big thing for me. I think it's the human-ness (is that a word) of what you write. Sometimes it just clicks with me and makes me stop and consider things. That is no mean feat in my busy, child filled life at the moment. So thanks for letting me pause for thought. And long may it last.


I actually have had TOP built in to my Amazon bookmark on my computers for years, and have always bought a lot of stuff through Amazon. Problem is nowadays I end up doing much of it through the Amazon app, which doesn't help you (or anyone else) out. Sorry about that...

Mike, I've been reading your work since the days of the Sunday Morning Photographer, back in the early years of this century. In all that time I can truthfully say I've never once been bored. In fact, almost always I'm learning something new. And you're just so damn level-headed! Here's to another ten years -- at the very least. (Oh, and may your deadbeat creditors rot in The Bad Place.)

Still the best place on the web – thanks for doing what you do so well and congratulations on making it to 10 years.

Aren't creditors people to whom you own money and not the other way around?

I don't understand why you would pay taxes on money you haven't yet been paid or why you think they'll file a 1099 when they haven't paid yet.

Mike—TOP has become like a fifth limb to me. If you ever stop, it will feel like an amputation. I just want to say a huge thank you to you for persisting for ten years. I hope you carry on for many more.

Congratulations! I've been your reader from the very beginning of TOP and even earlier (I even remember your days on Pentax-discuss mailing list) and appreciate the atmosphere and information here very much. I wish TOP to last and thrive for as long as it will give you pleasure! I won't probably contribute much to TOP in a way of comments (I don't comment much on Internet) however I promise to take it seriously and use one of your links on my next Amazon shopping.

Mike, check with your accountant. You should not have to pay taxes on money you didn't receive. And I don't think you can get a 1099 for money not paid to you.

Thanks for (another) open and honest post, Mike. I guess other blogs had similar issues at the origin, but I have never read such plain explanations.

I was looking for information on cameras when I discovered The Online Photographer, many years ago. I think it was a few months before I purchased a Pentax K10D (which remains being my main camera). Quickly I found out that TOP was much more -and much more personal- than a place posting camera reviews.

Since then TOP belongs to the bunch of websites I visit daily. And although I don't post comments too often, I am always reading, and feel somehow part of the TOP family.

I wish you many more years not knowing what to expect, as in the nice senior docent story you used to close this post. I ensure you I will be at the lurking side of the net, and from time to time, posting a little comment.

Mike, congrats on making this milestone. Truely remarkable in this Internet age.
However, I must say I'm #%**{] off that you are owed monies and haven't been paid in over a year. I know it happens fairly frequently with the small guys becaus the creditors know there is little you can do about without it costing more that you're owed through lawyers. However you can use the Internet to your advantage and "out" them so everyone will know. If they dare try to tell the IRS that they paid you and taxes would the be owing by you....that's out right fraud and they NEED to be reported to the IRS for fraud and tax evasion.
My recommendation and rant for the day! It burns me to no end when companies try to shaft the little guy!

Congratulations on 10 years, Mikey!

In regard to supporting TOP, I've been wondering about the effect of the migration from people mainly using computers to people using smartphones and tablets on your ability to continue your income from
Amazon. I travel a lot now and have taken to bringing an iPad Air 2 plus a Clamcase Pro keyboard case with me instead of my laptop. Much easier on the old arthritic neck and back when shlepping from place to place. I still sometimes buy things while traveling from Amazon, and I don't know how to get the Amazon app to give you credit. Until recently I have gotten around this by launching Safari on the iPad or iPhone and going to TOP and then to Amazon. However, lately, the darn thing has gotten to smart by half--when I launch Amazon from your site, while on Safari it outsmarts me and launches the Amazon app instead. Another irritation of iDevices (right up there with autocorrect sending truly bizarre messages for me). Any suggestions? I think this may be eating into your income.


...And I've enjoyed following you all the way from the beginning. Thanks for keeping my photography alive whilst I'm stuck with a boring job.

I'll try to use your link more, it does happen - especially for photo books. Maybe you've earned another donation by now.

I'm still looking forward to Mike's course on Seeing Better (or similar).


I've replaced my amazon bookmark with the TOP link.\

Something I used to have, but lazily has not survived the last few computer changes.

Congrats Mike and here's to the next ten,when are you going to write your authobiography Mike,I'm sure it would be a huge success as most regulars here would buy it I'm sure and you never know what that might lead to.

I visit other photo sites, and enjoy them. But I'm sticking with TOP to buy things, including expensive cameras and lenses, because this is where I started and this is where I've learned so much and met so many people with such rich experience. Thank you, and may you prosper.


Congratulations on 10 years Mike. I read your site almost every day for your lucid writing and the thoughtful comments of your readers. Here's to another 10 years.


I've been reading for six-ish years via the RSS feed (which is hard to imagine, now that I think about it). I look forward to it daily, and I'm glad you've been successful enough to continue all this time. Your writing, proof-reading, and editing are superb and I would say the same for your guest authors. It's been a very pleasurable read over time. Sadly, I can't say that I've paid you very well for the pleasure. I'll try to remedy that in the future, though I have a very disciplined GAS, so even that won't contribute what it's worth. I guess I should explore the subscription link.

Truly, congratulations and thanks!

you deserve the success. Not that of the "enterprise happiness manuals", but the real, intimate success.
A writer who starts asking his readers whether they agreed with the migration of the excellent 37th Frame, in printed format, to digital media, with such politeness, deserves to be well.

Hi Mike,
I showed up a little less than seven years ago, and I've enjoyed reading your writing most days since. You do good work, and I've been happy to see you become more happy as the years have rolled on. Keep up the good work.

p.s. I do use your Amazon links as often as I can.

what Paul said. AMEN.

Congratulations on the milestone. I only recently found your site and it quickly became part of my daily reading. Searching through the archives has been extremely interesting and insightful. Here's to ten more years!

Congratulations, Mike!

I have been following TOP for just 3 years, but I have to say, your blog (and Kirk Tuck's) are the only "must read" ones. It's not about cameras, either, or photography in general, though I think if you wrote only about pool I would bail. You write well. There's a lot of "you" in what you write. Your thoughts are sensible and well ... er ... thought out. You write about people, places, situations, events, in a way that makes me feel I know you. You spotlight so many photographers and their works, it's almost like you could be their agent. (Hopefully, they'll cut you in for some of the extra sales your words might generate.) In all, I'd say that you deserve to succeed, and in this volatile environment, ten years sounds like success to me. Now that you've settled in to a place that sounds like "home", I look forward to reading many more posts from you.

Thank you.

Mike, pretty sure Mike Smith is right, (and so many more commenters) no worry about fraudulent 1099, and why bring this up?

Thanks! :-)


I have been reading photo journalism of various quality for more than 40 years. I do this because I am a sucker for cameras and addicted to pointing them at people and landscapes.

But like others who have commented here, I do not read any of the other photo blogs clogging the internet. Why? Because I am also a writer and know the good stuff when I read it. I come back to this site for voice (yours) and story (ditto.)

I only wish that the economics of the business were such that you could write more about taking pictures and less about hardware (except Fuji digital, of course, my own current infatuation, which we seem to share.)

(As a sometime film guy, I should add that I was a little disappointed that the darkroom narrative petered out and with the abandonment of the single-use device. But these are quibbles only. )

There has been only one other photo writer that I have read religiously, and that was David Vestal when he was writing for the photomags (and you) in the 1970s—worthy company, indeed.

If there really is a Fuji X-Pro 2 arriving in January, yours is the link I will click. In the meantime, I expect to see you here tomorrow. I know I will show up.

Bill Poole

Congrats on ten years of TOP!

"It's probably the thing I'm proudest of—I think I've attracted the most mature, most knowledgeable, most courteous group of readers on the Web. People who fling insults or who are spoiling for a fight go away, because they are not indulged here."

I love your (and your guest writers') posts, whether or not they're about photography or off on a tangent.

Your knowledgeable readership and their comments are often as fun to read as well.

It's why I keep checking back, I've learned much here, and try to buy through your links. I just hope you get the kick-back. When I buy something, like a new D750 and 28-300 Nikon lens a couple of months ago, I never know if I did things right and you got your money. All I can do is start each order "fresh" through one of your links and find and place each item in the cart after that, and make the purchase, all in one visit.

Hope for many more years of learning from and enjoying TOP and the comments.

"...they owe me more than £6,800 and €3,160 respectively."

Trump's right. We can't trust those damn furriners.

Mike, you were reticent enough not to mention it, but I'm not. There's a subscription link on the site. After reading your post, I noticed that my subscription had stopped for some reason, so I've renewed. I'd encourage others to do the same.

Congratulations, Mike.

I think I found TOP about 8 years ago, and it has since been the first photography related site I check every day. Yes, there seem to be more photography or equipment-related sites everyday, but over the years I have whittled them down to about four that I regularly visit---Thom Hogan, Lulu, The Candid Frame, and TOP. TOP remains my favorite.

Now if I could only use Amazon Japan for TOP when I order, I could do more than just read...

Is there a way to use your Amazon link to shop in other countries (e.g. Italy, Germany, ...)? Even though the sellers are the same, you are obliged to use your local front-end.

I have neither the time or the patience to read other photography sites right now, but the breadth of discussion here and the quality of the readership is what makes this site the first thing I read when I sit down at my desk in the morning. Happy Birthday to TOP and may there be many, many more!

I have been reading your blog for the better part of 10 years. I have no shame in telling you that it is a sort of addiction for me. I hope I will be able to read your blogs till the end of my days. May fate be kind to you. Thank you for all those hours of pleasure you gave me.

Hi Mike,
Would be more than happy to support you through purchases from Amazon.de if possible. I am guessing there are also a number of German readers of TOP who would also oblige.

Keep up the fantastic work. Your site is a blessing.

Dear Mike,
10 years? Darn, time does fly. TOP's always been one of my favourite destinations on the web and I still try and recommend it to my fellow photographers here every now and then. I say "try" because they're much more comfortable reading French and easily give up on a website in English. Even one as good as yours. Oh well...
Speaking of French, I would use your link for my purchases with amazon, but I only use the French website and I seem to remember that while you tried and get on their affiliate program, that did not work out. I do use your link when buying from The Book Depository, though, but I see you're not advertising that link anymore so maybe that doesn't work either? You do get a few bucks from me through a PayPal subscription, but that's a very small amount. Well, that leaves the print sales and I've enjoyed those tremendously. I should check how many I've ordered exactly, but I do know there's been quite a few. And while the main reason why I've bought the prints was the prints themselves, I have to say it did make me feel good to know some of the money was going to you. Hopefully, I'll get to give you something more when I finally come to the US and you take the time to tell me what's wrong with my portfolio ;)
Anyway, it's beginning to sound like a rant when all I really mean to say is I love reading you, love that you've managed to make a living writing about what you love and will do what I can so that you and I and all your readers can enjoy TOP for many more years.
Cheers! o/

Congratulations Mike! I have been a reader of your words before TOP existed. There is a lot on the web these days for photographers, but there is only one TOP. IMO, the success of TOP resides in the human-side of your web presence and the delightful cornucopia of respondents.

One piece of advice I would like to give you that can help keep TOP business healthy for another 10 years is to hire a CPA for your annual tax return. I have used their services since 1985. They can help you throughout the year when things like the 1099 fiasco pop up. They have saved me time, money and stress.

Happy Birthday to a great photographer and writer. I am so thankful the lights came back on and TOP was born!

Congratulations Mike, and thank you for a most enjoyable website. A question, if I follow your link to Amazon U.S.A. and then link from there to Amazon U.K. and make a purchase, will you still get your credit?


Congrats Mike. You are doing a great job. I was very active in the days of the Photo.net leica forums and it was a lot of fun until things got really ugly. This is the kind of forum/blog I like. Of all the comments I have made, only once I have been censored, and you have every right to do so.


Well done Mike, I stumbled upon your site a number of years ago and I included it along with a number of other photo sites in a folder on my iPad. I always went to your site as my first read on most days, as the years rolled along my interest in the other sites dropped and yours is one of the remaining two that I still visit and enjoy. I must say if I had to pick only one site to visit, TOP would be the one. I know this does not pay your bills but you are a gifted writer and your site goes well beyond just words about photo gear and technique. I wish you continued success and hope the approaching winter brings you some wonderful photographic opportunities, PEACE.

Dear Mike,
Congratulations on the 10 year milestone. Your writing and discussions have greatly broadened my appreciation of several important aspects of photography and I feel more focused in my efforts now than ever before. Thank you.
Warm regards, Rod S.

Dear Mike
Hesitate to mention another site but here it is


Good testing site ...but he also has a little button which says 'Donate Gordon a cup of coffee' it means that people like me can donate a little from time to time whether we purchase or not ....

Is this domething you could do?

Best wishes


Home or on the road, I start every day by making some coffee and logging on to TOP. I wouldn't think of starting it any other way.


For clarity what if we add something from a wishlist when visiting using your bookmark? Does that count or must it be added to the basket from the store?

[Nope, doesn't count. Only if you add to cart and check out in the same visit. --Mike]

Mike wrote, "More than that, it's that there's much more competition out there now." "I think I've attracted the most mature, most knowledgeable, most courteous group of readers on the Web."

We're smart people looking for quality writing -- not click bait or re-hashed Press Releases.

I would rather see more reminders to "use the links" than see The Online Photographer disappear.

I started reading TOP around 2007. Considering the tumultuous life you've led over the past few years (buying and selling two houses, starting a new relationship, and moving half-way across the country), I think you've done a good job of holding the site together. Now that you're settled and have hung up your shingle (nifty new sign), I predict that your income will begin to rise.

TOP is unlike other photo sites. In some ways, it's similar to NPR's "Car Talk." I come back to this site to read about photography as much as I do read about the other stuff.

Having spent my formative years in Omaha and Minneapolis, I identify with the "Midwestern" sensibility TOP evokes.

Photography, dogs, philosophy, billiards, Miatas, and Ctein are fun. I predict the pendulum is going to swing back and your readership will grow.

A bit of unsolicited advice: Collect at least 1/3 to 1/2 your fee up front next time you want to take on a freelance gig. Over the years, I've learned that clients who wont pay at least 1/3 at the start of a project, are risky. Early on, I was trained to write a "scope of project" document to include terms, conditions, payment schedule, and signatures of all stakeholders.

If a client balks, move on.

Congratulations on 10 years, Mike.
Please keep up the great job
you've been doing all this time.
Yours is among the TOP photography sites on the web. (Sorry ! )

You can easily claim a bad debt on thus year's tax return if there's no hope of getting paid. Discuss with your accountant, because you shouldn't be laying taxes on income not received - despite having already reported. A reversal is possible.

Again, thanks for all your effort and fine work !


+1 for George Housley, Bob Smith and every one else that wrote in...

I ran a middle of the road, mildly successful studio for a number of years before trying a different path, and I would turn into the IRS any client that issued a fraudulent 1099 form! No pay, no 1099 form acceptance, no payment of taxes without a cashable check in my hands! No viable income until that income is actually received and posted in my account! No matter when I bill, it only becomes viable for quarterly tax payment on my receipt of the funds (and maybe then not at all based on my profit/expenses ratio)! You don't owe taxes on billed money, you owe it on received money, minus expenses of the job, minus general expenses of running the business, minus your IRA contribution.

If your accountant told you to do this, get a new one!

Happy Birthday, TOP! I've bookmarked the Amazon buy-through link (called it TOPshop in the bookmark bar), and I will be using it at need. Lessee, 19,000 daily visitors, if, say, one day per week, the lot of them linked through and bought something, why it would be madness to continue thinking in that vein. Someone mentioned subscription, can't go that route, but I can buy through the bookmarked link the myriad items I need throughout the year. And I will. Thanks for the reminder, and thanks for your very interesting site. Yours is the 3rd link I click every morning. Oddly enough, the first two are literally picture sites. (Earth Science picture of the day and Astronomy picture of the day. My eyeballs must eat breakfast, too!)

Congratulations Mike,
TOP is the only site I read EVERYDAY, and have been doing that for many, many years.

Congrats Mike. I love TOP. It's made me a better photographer. Thanks.

I have no qualification to give business advice but I'll give it a shot anyways. You get 19000 visits a day. That's great. You have lots of options.

TOP's greatest asset, besides your writing, is its readership. TOP's biggest weakness is your lack of time. Couldn't you tap your talented readership and use all that potential to buy yourself more time? I'm thinking more guest posts, lots more guest posts. You could switch to a more editorial role and concentrate more of your energy towards growing the business. Of course we don't want to lose your writing, but I know I'd be happier with three Mike written pieces per week and a stream of thoughtful outside voices all tempered by TOP's comments section. And, I know you feel like you should pay for outside writing, but maybe not? Lots of your readers would gladly volunteer writing as a payback for this wonderful site and for the wide exposure.

This page needs to get more social too. How can I meet and trade prints with other local TOP readers? It's difficult with the current setup. How about a forum? Someone would help you set it up. It's easy. I'd do it.

One more idea... This one might be my best... You should form an advertising partnership with a large print service like Bay Photo or Adorama. There's a huge crowd of photogs like me who came into photography at the dawn of the digital age and we are curious about printing but don't want the expense of feeding an ink jet of our own. Who better to write about transitioning to a third party print service than you? I'd love to follow that story arc.

Congratulations. I never realized the growth of this site so closely mirrored the growth of my interest in photography. Though I had a digital camera before our first was born, like many others my decision to spend more time on photography came when he was born - ten years ago last month. I discovered your site a couple of years after that, and it was particularly interesting to me because I grew up near Waukesha WI as a kid. Though I don't have as much time to spend on photography as I'd like anymore, I still check back here frequently, and I appreciate the forum you provide.

Best of luck on the next 10 years if you are still keeping it going over that timespan. I'll do my best to go through you for my purchases this Christmas season.

Happy birthday Mike, TOP, whatever! You're one of the people who shows the rest of us just how wonderful the internet can be. Thank you.

Congratulations, Mike, I have enjoyed the ride.

A clarification on Amazon purchases if you would. If I click on the cart icon in Amazon, I am taken to a page which has a section called "Shopping Cart." Below the "Shopping Cart" are items "Saved for Later."

If I click on your Amazon affiliate link, and then transfer something from the "Saved for Later" section to the "Shopping Cart" by using the "move to cart" link provided by Amazon, do you get credit for it? Or must it be the result of a search and placement into the Shopping Cart?

Congratulations, Mike - on 10 years of TOP, your well-earned success, and for all the richly deserved good wishes from your readers! What I appreciate most about TOP is the consistently adult, civil, and good-humored tone you bring to it. The web is a better place because of TOP.

If I were you, I'd take a day (or two) off, and do whatever the #*$% you feel like doing! You can tell your boss I said it's okay ;)

Best wishes,

Congratullations Mike! I just follow a dozen of sites. This is one of them. Maybe the first I choose to read from time to time. Don't know if others are better. I like your approach to photography. Keep the faith, at least for ten more years.

Instead of doing this I should be writing "President's Notes" which I am obligated to do quarterly. I cannot think of anything to say, which is usually the case. I am so in awe of you doing this almost daily for ten years I sent an anniversary contribution. I have been with you since way before TOP, and you have not chased me off, yet. I do not know how you do it, but I thank you.

I've read and enjoyed your blog for many years. Recently, I decided to subscribe and donate via the PayPal link on your site. It repeatedly fails-- possibly because I've set up two-factor authentication for PayPal. In any case, is there another way or can the link be fixed?

Thank you for all the years of thoughtful commentary on cameras, photography, art, music and, yes, toasters.

Hi Mike,

First and foremost, congratulations !

I can only imagine the effort that has gone into this site over the years, and it certainly has made for some interesting reading. Tonight, I'm particularly in awe of your post (and reader commentary) on a good cup of coffee - that's one to revisit in the near future.

And speaking of the future -

It occurs to me that I haven't seen much of actual "photo critiques" here over the years. I use quotation marks because the phrase is a pretty loaded one, usually suggesting something along judgmental lines of good/bad, a kind of feedback that isn't necessarily helpful to the artist/photographer.

What I'm wondering is whether you can work in regular focused discussions on the EMOTIONAL IMPACT of an image, something along the lines of Roshi John Daido Loori's group exercises on creative feedback. (The Zen of Creativity, pp. 100-107) I led such a group for a time and found the feedback quite useful personally - it's a gift when someone (i.e., TOP reader) really takes in your work and shares their response, is it not ?

I bring this up now in light of your post and its subtext - where does TOP go from here ?


Pfft - If I wanted to obsess about cameras I could waste time on 'other' sites.

I come to TOP because it unearths photographers I had never previously heard of, who are now part of my pantheon of influences and subjects of my growing book collection.

The other reason is because our humble Ed. is one the last holdouts of near faultless and beautifully turned out English on the Internet. Even a review of toasters can be an enjoyable read.

Why don't you publish the names and locations of those that owe you money?
You might be doing a public service preventing others from getting stung by them.
Maybe then we can all write to them and shame them into paying you.

I enjoy your written word but it seems there have been fewer of them in the last year or so. Also,you no longer have C'tein on a regular basis. just say'n

Have you ever thought about asking the "faithful flock" why they read TOP?
Better still, how they arrived, and then why they kept coming back?Even why they feel "bonded" to TOP?
Now that might make interesting reading.

Great timing. Two minutes ago I used the toaster at work. Myself and a collegue agreed that if a toaster was available which actually launched the toast into the air when it was done, we would buy one.

British readers will understand this from a Morecombe and Wise sketch.

Perhaps you should copy Luminous Landscape. They are going to charge $12 per annum for membership. I'd pay that for this site in a heartbeat.

Funny you should mention money and blogs ... Luminous Landscape have just announced they are changing to a subscription model. $12 per annum sounds fair to me.

Mike, have you thought about this as a business model?

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