News & Politics

The Atlantic’s Relaunched Photo Channel Won’t Punish People With Small Screens

"Just because I'm not carrying an iPhone 24/7 doesn't mean a lot of people aren't," says photo editor Alan Taylor.'s new photo section. relaunched its popular photo blog, In Focus, Wednesday afternoon as part of a redesigned photo section. Alan Taylor, who edits the photo section, will now now have the ability to do shorter photo essays. And everything in the photo section will look good on smaller screens.

Taylor says he previously “had a hard time understanding” why anyone would want to look at good photos on their phones, but he realized, “Why should I punish somebody because of the screen they choose?”

The new site will be responsive, so anyone consuming it on a big desktop monitor can activate a lovely full-screen presentation, and the photos will scale down for people gawking toward their palms.

“Just because I’m not carrying an iPhone 24/7 doesn’t mean a lot of people aren’t,” Taylor says (he packs an iPhone 5c). Mobile users will also appreciate clearer text and easy-to-use sharing icons, he says, and people with Apple’s Retina displays should make sure their socks are on firmly.

Taylor used to be a developer for the Boston Globe, where he launched the also very popular blog The Big Picture in 2008 (he came to the Atlantic in 2011).

“I was fighting against tiny slideshows that I saw on all these other websites,” he says. Video was becoming popular but he found much of the content he saw less than moving. “Still images can convey just as much emotion and power as video, and we’re still making them these postage-stamp-sized things,” he recalls.

Like The Big Picture, In Focus spurns slideshows in favor of letting viewers scroll through. The blog has for years “been among the most popular sections of the site,” Atlantic spokesperson Anna Bross writes in an e-mail. “Now that we’re optimized for mobile, we expect the audience to continue growing.”

Taylor assembles In Focus, and will now edit the photo section, in a Boston suburb far from the Atlantic’s DC headquarters. He works alone, rooting through photo agencies’ offerings and very occasionally making assignments. The redesign will let him publish shorter essays, under the heading “Burst,” “if I’m coming up blank for a larger story,” Taylor says.

“On days like recently, it’s been slow with the holidays,” he says. “I would much rather skip a day than post crap.”

Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute,, and Washington City Paper. His book A Bigger Field Awaits Us: The Scottish Soccer Team That Fought the Great War was published in 2018. He lives in Del Ray.