The top 5 so far : What I’ve learned from looking back at your favorites

Read Time: 5 minutes

Over the last few years I’ve spent a lot of time writing here, for you guys and for myself. Sometimes in the form of photo essays, sometimes gear reviews and thoughts, and other times longer form pieces on creativity and the art of photography at large.

On average, my little corner of the internet is maintaining somewhere in the neighborhood of 5,000 to 8,000 views per month. I understand, that isn’t massive, but I’m pretty proud of those numbers. They’ve been hard earned.

But what really interests me is keeping an eye on what you guys seem to like the most, at least based on article views over time. With the migration to the new site pretty much complete, it’s time to get back to business and kick into writing mode. I thought it would be interesting to take a look back at the Top Five Articles of all time on this site.

Stats, dreaded stats

I feel like it’s never good to obsess over the “stats”, be it for social media and the never ending quest to chase followers/likes/retweets/shares, the podcast and those elusive listener numbers, or even on this site and the article stats. However, it is valuable from time to time to at least keep an eye on things. The stats aren’t useless and can help us understand what work is connecting with people more and what just isn’t working.

The most valuable thing it provides is an insight into how we can bridge the work WE want to be creating with the work our AUDIENCE enjoys seeing. Don’t mistake that for me saying we need to tailor the work we create to meet a random audience demand. It simply means that it can help us better determine WHO our audience is and HOW we can present the work we want to create.

Andy J Pizza, host of the Creative Pep Talk podcast, always refers to the idea this way. Don’t make the T-Shirt you want to make. Make the T-Shirt you(and your audience) want to WEAR.

It’s a subtle, but very big difference and it requires a bit of thought and mind shifting to understand, but I believe it’s very important. If we don’t think about creating work we want to “wear” AND our audience wants to “wear”, then we kind of end up just spinning our wheels.

With that in mind it’s valuable to look back at the numbers to see what we can learn. Let’s take a look at the top five, highest viewed, articles of all time here on (the site formerly known as davidszweduik.com) usuallydave.com!

1 – FUJIFILM XF56MM F/1.2 R – DON’T FEAR THE BOKEH MONSTER

With just under 22,000 views, this real world style “review” of one of my favorite lenses is, by a wide margin, the MOST viewed article I’ve written. In fact it often tends to show up in the top 3-4 results among names like Ken Rockwell on the old Google machine. Pretty amazing actually for a small site like this! It’s not a super technical review, rather my thoughts on how this lens works for ME and MY experience with it. Of course packed full of photos to illustrate examples.

2 – NIKON FA AND KODAK PORTRA 400 – AN ADVENTURE IN FILM

As I said above, the difference in that top article and the second place article is pretty massive. Coming in at just under 2000 views, this article chronicles a year long experiment in which I spent a full year shooting a single roll of Kodak Portra 400 on 35mm film. With insights as to lessons learned and mistakes I made, as well as some thoughts on shooting film, it’s a fun article to revisit for me. It chronicles a learning stage I was in and it’s valuable information for myself, as well as others that may be dabbling in film photography.

3 – A TRUE WORKHORSE – THE FUJIFILM XF35MM F/1.4 R LENS

Another article similar to my top article about the XF56mm lens, this is a “review” of my experience with the classic XF35mm f/1.4 lens from Fujifilm. Funny enough, this lens is my absolute favorite and you’d think THIS would be the article that got the most views, but it comes in at just under 1800 views as of the time of this article. Again it features my real world experience, likes, dislikes, on the lens as well as a lot of photo examples!

4 – THE PHOTOGRAPHIC LONG GAME : A CLASSIC APPROACH TO PHOTOGRAPHY

©2017 David Szweduik, All Rights Reserved

With just over 1100 views, this is a longer read as well. Diving into the differences in today’s social media driven, instant gratification culture of photography versus the approach taken prior to social media. Back when photographers would work for a lifetime building a photographic legacy. An interesting thought well worth a read if I do say so myself.

5 – PHOTOGRAPHY SUCCESS, CHASING THE WRONG DREAM?

Finally, rounding out my top five most viewed articles here on the site, is this long form piece about success and what that means. Too often our view of success gets a bit distorted, twisted until it’s unrecognizable. We end up chasing the unattainable because we lose focus on what true success means to us. If you give it a read and join the nearly 1100 others that have enjoyed this article, let me know what you think success means to you.

There we have it. A top five list… now what?

Well, that’s really the biggest question isn’t it? What can I learn from taking some time to look at stats like this? Anything worthwhile?

The truth is, yes there is a lot to be learned. First and foremost, is what content is connecting best with you guys when you see it hit the website. I’m learning, albeit slowly, that there is a balance to be found here. A mix of a little real world review/experience type of content to go with the bigger concepts of the WHY behind our creative pursuits.

Does that mean things here will be drastically changing?

Not really, at least not super drastically.

I’m still in the thought and planning stage of the next few months, trying to look at things and see WHAT I should be focusing on in this next season. But the one change I’m hoping to accomplish is to keep striving for that mix of content that YOU enjoy reading.

Now it’s your turn

If you’ve been following me and my work for a while I’d love to hear from you. What are YOUR favorite articles I’ve shared? What would you LOVE to see more of? Is there anything you could really do without seeing ever again?

As I wrote that last line I had to pause and take a deep breath. It’s really opening myself up to getting absolutely roasted. But, I can only learn if I’m willing to listen right?

So let me hear what you’ve got, because this is an ever evolving space that I look to make as beneficial and enjoyable to you as it is to me.

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