Tom MacWright


Olympus XA-2

My photos are on now: /photos.

I don’t like Instagram. I know that other people like it: they found a community there. They keep in touch with family. They share interests and life events. But I just don’t: I don’t like how browsing Instagram makes me feel. I don’t like how it shapes my photos, how it works as a product. I don’t like that it’s a Facebook company. How it doesn’t have critical APIs. You can’t cross-post to Instagram without using the app.

By creating my own place to post photography, I can start to like taking photos again. I can feel like my process of taking film photos, scanning them, and putting them on the web is worthwhile. That learning how to tweak camera raw in Capture One is fun. I can post just a photo or two a month. I don’t want to engage, I want to create.

So I wanted was /photos and that’s what I made. I use a script to resize and encode photos, then put those photos on Amazon S3. S3 is wired to CloudFront, which is then connected to Using Amazon isn’t ideal, but because I control the domain, I can swap that later.

To post a photo to the site, I take it, process it in Capture One, create the thumbnails, upload them to S3 with Transmit, create a post that works with Jekyll, and hit publish.

Maybe the most interesting part of the tech is the way images are presented: I use the aspect-ratio CSS media feature to size each photo to a screenful on desktop, and use the picture element to serve one of 2 sizes and 2 formats - JPEG and WEBP.

It works the same way as the rest of the site. The only new thing is my usage of S3 and CloudFront in the place of Git LFS, which is where I keep my illustrations. I just knew that there’d be a lot of huge images, and didn’t want to commit to keeping them all on the disk of my laptop forever.

I’m happy to have built my own thing, where I can feel good about one of my passions again. I won’t be racking up likes. I don’t even collect analytics on this site, of any kind. I hope you like the photos.