After 3 years, I'm finally ready to share a project I've been working on, Photosaaya. Photosaaya is my online service for hosting photography collections taken on higher-end cameras. It was built out of frustration with existing platforms, their overzealousness with social engagement, and their apathy towards serving photos in high quality. What's it like? Check out my San Diego collection and see!
I started Photosaaya back in 2017 after trying to build a new and performant home for my photography work on my site. I looked around at the different tools available at the time, and didn't find any of them allowed elegantly grouping photos into collections, didn't allow UI customizations (like custom CSS), and didn't offer compelling value for the monthly fee. I didn't want to be another handle on a social network. My initial goals were static-site performance (if that term is new to you, it means very fast, because no processing is needed from the server), blurry-photo placeholders to fill the page while the real photos loaded, data waste reduction (avoid downloading photos until you scroll to them to prevent using too much mobile data) and global reach (I spend a lot of time in India and love being able to load collections equally as fast as I can from San Diego). I also wanted a pretty minimal design around the collections, with the ability to set custom HTML and CSS for the header and footer.
Nowadays, web technology has made building a project like Photosaaya much easier, and the hosting is virtually free! Because of this and all the content complications that photography hosting services have to deal with, there's no plan to ever open Photosaaya to the public.
Features & Functionality
- High quality photograph hosting. Using JPEGs straight from the camera (no compression!), photos are served at significantly higher quality than other networks would. It costs more, but that's the point!
- Performant LQIP (Low Quality Image Previews). The Blurhash library is the finest implmentation of LQIPs available online. I highly recommend it.
- Fast global performance. I'm an American who's spent a lot of time staying in India. I want my photography to load as quickly on spotty 4G networks in India as they do in urban USA. Special shoutout to Vercel hosting for this.
- Support for custom HTML headers/footers. And custom CSS. Photo collections need to blend in with a photographers existing web presence. And be very minimalistic on branding.
- Zoom functionality for photos. Currently photos in collections can't be clicked on or zoomed in on yet. Still brainstorming elegant ways to resolve this.
- Password protection for collections, and private collections. Ideally Photosaaya could help with sharing photography work with clients without making it public.
- Support for custom domains. Currently my site is kyle.photosaaya.com. I'd eventually like to move it towards photography.kylehotchkiss.com
- Roadtrips. More than building more functionality, I want to add new collections to my current Photosaaya galleries! The pandemic hasn't given me many chances to take my camera out.
The camera in the banner above belongs to Mr. Chand in Jaipur. He'll take and develop your photo with a camera from the 1800s for about $5. Pay him a visit if you're ever in town. He's usually a few hundred feet to the right side of Hawa Mahal.