Observing anniversaries is often a way to mark the passage of time, celebrate small achievements, and reflect on the journey. It can also be an exercise in self-absorbed narcissism. ☺ Be that as it may, I'd like to observe a minor milestone in my creative and online life. Earlier this year, Shunya completed its 10th anniversary. I created this website in 2000 to share my travel photos from around the world—photos that were fading away in cardboard boxes—and to learn web publishing. It was to serve as my web address, and perhaps become a quiet record of a personal history. ("Shunya" means the number "zero" as well as "void" or "nothingness" in Buddhist philosophy.)
The site has since evolved much and now includes prose by me and others, photo essays, and videos. A big expansion came when I took a two-year break (2004-06) to visit 100+ destinations in 20+ Indian states. As a result, nearly half of the ~15K photos on Shunya are from India, the rest from ~50 other countries. In the last two years I've added a host of essays to it, including ones I've written for 3 Quarks Daily as well as by others on this group blog. I've even made new friends through Shunya, found long lost ones, and received many notes of appreciation.
Encouraged by the inquiries I got out of the electronic blue, I also began licensing my photos based on the buyer's means and ends. Over a hundred organizations, including 15 museums, 25 academies, and 35 publishers have since licensed photos from Shunya. I've given away quite a few for free, especially to progressive non-profits, students, and starving artists. They have inspired paintings (samples below) and adorned calendars, posters, music CD jackets, slideshows, brochures, ads, postcards, websites, and book and magazine covers.
(Artists: Mukta Sareen, Trevor Guitar, Neelam Solanki (3-4), and Cristina Goia.)
Google Analytics reports that Shunya got 3+ million page views in the past year. Each month over 100K people—45K+ from India, 25K+ from the U.S.—stop by at least once. According to Alexa, ~15 out of every million people on the Internet visit Shunya (15 ppm, as I like to think). In 2005, I put ads on the site, which has since paid for at least one vacation abroad each year for me and my partner. Not bad for what is still a labor of love and lunacy (fortunately, I have a day job ☺). Shunya will continue to evolve, but it has already been a very gratifying journey that has helped me grow as a person, writer, and travel photographer. Thank you for your interest, friends and visitors!
(Shunya home pages from 2000, 2004, 2007, and 2010, respectively.)