Home News MacFilos at Ten: 2,500 blog posts and as many new friends

MacFilos at Ten: 2,500 blog posts and as many new friends

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  2016: Leica M262 and 50mm Apo-Summicron-M — another camera to review
2016: Leica M262 and 50mm Apo-Summicron-M — another camera to review

Today is an important milestone in the history of this little blog. Ten years ago today I posted my first thoughts. Then, the main incentive to write was technology — in particular Apple and all its works. I was three years into Mac ownership after a working life spent with Windows computers, and I had recently purchased the second version of the iPhone, the 3G. I let the original iPhone pass by because it didn’t work on the then wonderful 3G network. My first post, as most of the subsequent ones, was devoid of illustration. Now I believe a picture is an essential part of any story.

  2012: The Lady from the Panama Hat Shop, Mykonos. Leica X2
2012: The Lady from the Panama Hat Shop, Mykonos. Leica X2

Blog on a whim

I started Macfilos on a whim. After searching around for a suitable Apple-orientated domain — most of the the obvious ones were taken — I had a brainwave one day while sitting in a cafe in Athens. I added to Mac and came up with something that I could actually register. In some ways, as I subsequently discovered, this was a mistake because it was too Apple-centric. 

At the time I had no plans for the future and could hardly imagine that I would still be hard at it after ten years. Nor could I have imagined that my interest in Apple would wane (at least in terms of needing to write about the products frequently) and that I would resurrect my life-long hobby of photography as a main subject. Had I had more foresight I would have chosen a more general domain name. But I’m stuck with it now and, I suppose, readers don’t really give a thought as to why it is called Macfilos as long as the content is interesting. 

  2013: The first Leica Monochrom (with the 50mm Apo-Summicron) in Brick Lane, London
2013: The first Leica Monochrom (with the 50mm Apo-Summicron) in Brick Lane, London

Lots of Filoi

  In the early days we even had a secretary. But there was no heating to speak of and we had great difficult hooking the computer up to the internet. Nevertheless, tradition rules and I invariably get dressed up, like some 1930s radio newsreader, before writing the daily instalment. Taken with the Leica I Model A
In the early days we even had a secretary. But there was no heating to speak of and we had great difficult hooking the computer up to the internet. Nevertheless, tradition rules and I invariably get dressed up, like some 1930s radio newsreader, before writing the daily instalment. Taken with the Leica I Model A

Later my train-enthusiast friend in Washington DC, Ralf Meier, decided to start his own blog which I helped him set up during a visit. His choice of Trainphilos.com as a domain was rather against my best advice but he wanted to go down that line (no pun) and did. So now we have two sites, one a filos, one an anglicised philos, both sprung from one idea. 

The early years, especially in 2013 when I gradually migrated almost entirely to photography, were pretty tough going and many times I wondered whether or not it was worth continuing. Feedback was minimal and I sometimes felt I was addressing an empty auditorium.

Fortunately, this proved to be unfounded and with photography and Leica I found a niche which has been successful. Then, as now, I avoid trying to make a few pennies out of the blog. Google would like me to use lots of Adsense panels which, I am sure, would bring in a few hundred a year.

But the hassle isn’t worth the effort, although I do suspect that blogs with lots of Google advertising get pushed up the rankings and therefore attract even more readers (which means more clicks for Google’s advertisers). 

Over the past three or four years, the little Macfilos community has been growing. There is now a fine panel of regular commentators which scrutinises what I write and takes me to task if I step out of line.

Troupe of contributors

We also have a troupe of regular contributors who keep me supplied with enough additional material to ward off insanity. Beyond that, I know, there are many regular readers who don’t feel motivated to comment but enjoy the content nevertheless. 

  2016: Chiens de Paris, another superb insight from John Shingleton
2016: Chiens de Paris, another superb insight from John Shingleton

It’s heartening, too, that so many people I meet in the photographic world (especially in the Leica ecosystem) have heard of Macfilos and, in some cases, have purchased equipment on the basis of our recommendations. Even the chairman of one Leica society confessed be had bought both a Q and an M-P on the say-so of Macfilos. All this brings a responsibility and reminds me that I have to try to be as objective as possible.

  June 2015: The Leica Q meets Bill Clinton in Piccadilly, London. A very quick shot while running the gauntlet of the minders. The Q makes a great camera for street photography
June 2015: The Leica Q meets Bill Clinton in Piccadilly, London. A very quick shot while running the gauntlet of the minders. The Q makes a great camera for street photography

Networking

After ten years at the helm, I have no idea how long I can keep up this daily blogging. In one respect it has given me a strong interest during retirement. I get to borrow interesting cameras and lenses and to pass on my thoughts, however subjective they often are. I have also made many good friends all over the world. In particular, I should mention George James, an experienced photographer who lives in Hampshire. One day about six years ago I met him in Red Dot Cameras’ previous premises in Old Street. We had a good chat and have met up regularly for coffees, lunches and the occasional photo walk ever since. George isn’t too well at the moment but I know he will read this and I am sure that all our Macfilos readers around the world will wish him a speedy recovery.

  2013: At the Beijing Opera. The much-maligned Leica X Vario comes up trumps at 70mm. f/6.3 and 1/60s without the need for five-axis stabilisation. The processor cranked the ISO up to 3200 and the result is a credit to the X Vario
2013: At the Beijing Opera. The much-maligned Leica X Vario comes up trumps at 70mm. f/6.3 and 1/60s without the need for five-axis stabilisation. The processor cranked the ISO up to 3200 and the result is a credit to the X Vario

Prolific

There are many others I could name, including regular contributors such as William Fagan, Bill Palmer (who helped enormously in the early days), David Bailey, Dave Seargeant, Paul Glendell, Claus Sassenberg, Jonathan Slack, Kevin Armstrong, Richard Scott and John Nicholson. And the list wouldn’t be complete without our Aussie contingent — the most prolific of all.

John Shingleton has been a contributor and supporter from the early days and now we have Wayne Gerlach and Jason Hannigan to add more antipodean wisdom and wonderful photographs.  My apologies to any regulars I’ve omitted; I appreciate you just as much.

  My friend and occasional contributor, George James, shot this scene in Italy. It forms part of his  Venice collection which is well worth a visit
My friend and occasional contributor, George James, shot this scene in Italy. It forms part of his Venice collection which is well worth a visit

I count all these contributors and the many regular and constructive commentators as friends, although most of them I have never met. The point is that without Macfilos I would never have got to know them. 

  The Leica Q is one of my favourite Leicas of all time — a congenial and capable travel companion as I proved when I took it to the Berner Oberland in July 2105: Here is the impressive scene at Grindelwald station
The Leica Q is one of my favourite Leicas of all time — a congenial and capable travel companion as I proved when I took it to the Berner Oberland in July 2105: Here is the impressive scene at Grindelwald station

Curse or lifeline

While I sometimes curse Macfilos and quite often I am at a loss to know what to write, I do know that I would miss it if I suddenly stopped. It has become part of my life and, frankly, it’s difficult now to imagine waking up and not having to consider the day’s post. 

I have to thank all the regular supporters, including those who subscribe to the popular daily email and to assure you that I do appreciate your comments and your interest. You make everything worthwhile. 

If you wish to browse the past visit our INDEX PAGE

Incidentally, the pictures in this article represent a random selection to illustrate the passage of time. They are not intended to be in any sort of ranking.

ERIC KIM: WHY START A PHOTOGRAPHY BLOG. Why indeed? Eric puts a typical slant on the question.

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35 COMMENTS

  1. Mike , hearty congratulations on achieving what in blog circles is considered a superb and unlikely achievement. To turn out such a high quality blog,week after week and day after day for ten years really is an amazing effort. Hoping for another ten years maybe asking way too much-and anyway I may not be around to read it-but here’s to a few more years of Macfilos.

    • John, without your support and that of other contributors, Macfilos would be a far inferior product. Thank you for being so helpful and a fount of good advice over the years. I know you don’t suffer fools gladly and your constructive criticism is always that much more valued. You are right about the next ten years. I sincerely hope we are both around to write and read….

  2. Hi Mike – congratulations on your stewardship of Macfilos. For many years now it has been my go to morning read. Your equipment reviews are done in conversational style that remind me of the great Micheal Reichmann of Luminous Landscape. Looking forward to many more years of your thoughtful reviews on a variety of subjects that interest me and many of your readers. Thanks again to all of your contributors that have elevated Macfilos to what it is today. A toast of morning coffee to all!

    • Dear James, Thank you so much for your kind words. Your comparison with the great Michael Reichmann is too kind and, I am sure, unwarranted. But nice all the same. I will try to keep up the standards.

      Mike

  3. Firstly congratulations on getting there – its probably some significant feat given I cannot recall many blogs lasting a year or two, let alone doing a decade and being stronger at the end of it.

    I hope George is okay, and wish him well – if your reading.

    Without this site I probably wouldnt have taken a punt (expensive one) on my trusty X typ 113. Nor would I have found the likes of yourself Mike, or Wayne and John S – plus the other faithful to give advice to me.

      • Thank you, and all the best. I am raising a glass to both your good self, and George, and naturally the rest of the macfilos crew – and as William has said above – here is to another ten years, and hoping as an eclectic community we can keep this amazing resource alive – and productive. You have some esteemed company in these comments, and that says possibly significantly more than I could ever do.

  4. Congratulations Mike on your first 10 years and here’s to another 10. I have said to you before that the things that distinguish Macfilos from other tech and camera blogs are its sense of humour (and proportion) and also your willingness to think ‘long and broad’ about its subject matter. The two contributions of mine to Macfilos that have given me the most feedback and ‘distance’ have been ones relating to diverse topics such as 19th Century astronomy and photography from World War I .

    The other thing that non contributors may probably guess at is that, as an editor, you are a pleasure to work with and any issues are resolved with a minimum of fuss and great good humour.

    As we say on my side of the pond ‘may the road (continue to) rise at you and may the wind always be at your back’.

    William

    • Thank you, William, and thank you for your unfailing support. I admit Macfilos is something of an eclectic mix but is probably all the better for it. Cameras and photography are a means to an end but we all have other interests and favourite subjects. So digressions into astronomy, railways, fast cars and other topics help, I think.

      Mike

  5. Congratulations. It’s amazing to see someone do what was the original slogan of blogging, "sharing is caring".

    I really admire your dedication and making a space for sharing personal views on what matters to you and many others.

    That is quite an accomplishment and one a day is a lot of discipline. Well done!

  6. Thank you for all your hard work and for sharing so many interesting posts over the years: late afternoon email inboxes wouldn’t be the same without you. I’ll also raise a glass to you.
    Here’s to the next 2500 posts.
    Philip
    TLS Magazine

  7. My sincere congratulations Mike – what an extraordinary journey! I can’t insgine how you get the energy – but I look forward to your – and your regular contributors – posts – every lunch time (in New York ) and hope that you will still have the fortitude to continue
    All my very best
    Tony Vidler

    • Thanks, Tony. The question is whether I have the fortitude to stop. Macfilos keeps me going and, without it, I wouldn’t really know what to do. Fortunately, without advertisers or sponsors, I don’t really have any bosses and I can blog or not blog according to whim.

  8. Congratulations, Mike, on this amazing work. Really good to be allowed to see a little behind the scenes. I only discovered you by accident a few years ago, and now it’s my daily refreshment! Also the genuine community of followers you’ve built up gives me access to all sorts of inspiration and photograhic-human wisdom. And that Bill Clinton shot must be historically unique.

    • Many thanks, Ken, and I’m glad to see you progressing in your new-found love of photography. When’s the next article? Maybe you should write a photo story in Chinese and we can then discover a whole new world of readers! Oh, and congratulations to you on starting your first job. It will be a big change from academia.

    • Thanks, Don. In a few minutes, there will be an article on Brough Superior appearing and I am sure you will find something inaccurate. All updates gratefully received, including any extra information on the featured models.

  9. Well done Mike. A notable achievement providing news and excellent illustrations for enthusiastic readers worldwide. As to the future, why not adopt my philosophy; have a rolling ‘ten years plan’? Keep going until you are called to a higher sphere (or alternative of your choosing )

    • Yes, David, there’s a lot to be said for that. When I retired I flailed around for a few years, wondering what had happened. The lure of having no work soon tarnished as I got fed up with travelling. Somehow, travel squeezed into a brief work break seemed more exciting than travelling without constraint. It was Macfilos that put me back on the straight and narrow, giving me a focus for the day that even now I value. It’s all too easy to do nothing. So I agree with you — keep on going as long as possible.

  10. Thank you so much Mike. My favourite read when I go back home from work. Excellent articles and reviews. An Inspiring site.
    Keep it that way (and stop if you happen to get bored or tired of doing it). Long live Macfilos
    Jean

    • Thanks, Jean. As you can imagine, I spend a lot of time in front of the computer working on Macfilos — and even more if you take into account the outings to get the pictures. But, so far, it is very enjoyable and it keeps me focused. Although it is non-commercial, I get the same feeling that I would get working for a large organisation thanks to the feedback from readers such as you.

  11. Mike,

    My apologies for not commenting sooner but congratulations on reaching this milestone. Always a pleasure to read and informative I hope you continue to blog for a long time to come.

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