Featured Movable Type Site: Daily Dose of Imagery

By Jennifer Jeffrey

ddoi.jpgWhen Sam Javanrouh moved from Tehran, Iran to Toronto, Canada in 1999, he left behind many friends and family members. He wanted to stay in touch and let people know about his new life in Toronto - but he wanted to show them what it was like, not tell them.

Sam purchased a digital camera and began to carry it with him everywhere, documenting his new city one photograph at a time. He captured idyllic street scenes, the glowing nighttime cityscape, and clouds that looked as if they were painted on canvas. Every few days, he attached a few photos to an email and sent it to friends and family. The system worked, but not perfectly - not all email systems accepted large photos, and he felt uncomfortable “pushing” photos at people.

Then, in 2003, Sam discovered Movable Type. “It was the best blog software out there,” he says. “It allowed me to customize my design so that I could display large images with very few words, which is exactly what I wanted.”
Sam named his blog Daily Dose of Imagery, with the implied goal of posting one photograph every day. Though he had a full-time job as a creative director, he felt that the project would motivate him to explore his fascination with digital photography. He is entirely self-taught as a photographer; his early interest in the visual arts was spurred by his father, a cinematographer.
“Daily Dose of Imagery is a very personal project,” he says. “I post different types of images and all kinds of subject matter - I do have a definable style, but I love to experiment and try new things.”

Personal though it was, Sam’s project didn’t stay under the radar for long - with his uncanny eye for composition and the vivid sense of place in his photographs, people soon began to take notice. In a matter of months, mega-sites from BoingBoing to Forbes began linking to Daily Dose of Imagery. Since then, the site has garnered a staggering number of awards, from Best Canadian Photoblog to Photobloggies’ Best Photoblog of the Year. The site averages 50,000 unique visitors per day, sometimes double and triple that on days when one of his photos gets linked from a top site. Movable Type’s robust architecture handles traffic spikes with ease, so the site never goes down.

Over the years, the blog has brought a number of wonderful connections and opportunities into Sam’s life. When he posted a photo titled Jumping Girl taken at star architect Daniel Libeskind’s new addition to the Royal Ontario Museum, the architect’s office rang, asking Sam to take photos of the museum for the firm. “Libeskind is one of my heroes,” he says. “It was really exciting.”

When he compared one of his photos to a world within the game Myst, the legendary creator of the game contacted him, and the two exchanged emails. “I never had any idea that this kind of thing would happen when I started my blog,” Sam says today.

Yet another satisfying serendipity has been the way that Daily Dose of Imagery has inspired people to visit Toronto. “I get emails from all over the world,” Sam says. “Japan, Brazil, you name it - they tell me that they had no idea what Toronto looked like, and now they’re visiting based on my blog.” He chuckles. “I tell them ‘If you don’t like Toronto,’ don’t blame me.’”

Today, Sam maintains his full-time job as a creative director, while still posting to Daily Dose of Imagery every single day and fielding requests for licensing and photography assignments. “I haven’t missed posting a day since I began,” he says. He continues to experiment with different techniques, including dramatic composite shots, time-lapse shots of a single scene, and a recent project where he compiled hundreds of still shots into a video.

“Movable Type has never let me down,” Sam reports. “Because the Movable Type architecture is so open, it allows me to do whatever I want, from videos to Flash. I love being able to try out new things and share them.”