Tag Archives: website

Photography Wonder: Photography Q&A Forum

A new photography website launched today, and this one is a bit different from others out there. It’s not a blog, it’s not a discussion board, and it’s not a typical forum.

The idea behind Photography Wonder is a Q&A platform just for photographers and all topics directly related to photography. You can ask questions, you can answer questions, and you can vote on the best answers. The model is similar to something like Yahoo Answers, but it has the benefit of being very specific to a single topic.

It’s free to sign up and definitely worth checking out. If you have some photography questions, you might get some good answers from the community. And if you’re the knowledgeable type, you can share your thoughts with others.

WWW.PHOTOGRAPHYWONDER.COM
(tipped off via Jake Garn)

10 Online Photography Portfolio No-No’s

[tweetmeme]Online portfolios can be an important tool for photographers wanting to share portions of their work with an audience. When done right, they portray your work in a highly professional and concise manner. When done wrong, you just look like a hack. I wrote about this topic some time ago, but I’d like to cover it again.

I should also state right up front that I don’t have a dedicated online photography portfolio in the traditional sense. Perhaps one of these days when I take some decent photos I’ll put one together. But I’ve had to look through many other portfolios and I’ve seen a fair amount in passing.

What I can say from those I’ve seen is that some of the same mistakes and nuisances are common to a good number of them. Now, it’s rare to find a portfolio site that exhibits all 10 offenses listed below, but it’s also rare to find one that exhibits none. (also keep in mind that some of these things are only my personal preferences and opinions)

If you have an online photography portfolio (or, more likely, a collection of portfolios housed under one website), here are a few things worth paying attention to if you want the user experience to be a good one.

Red crown
Creative Commons License photo credit: sunnyUK

1. SPLASH PAGE

Do you really need a whole page dedicated to your name or the word “Enter”? I probably know your name if I’m visiting the home page, and you ought to have your name present somewhere on every other page in your portfolio. Don’t force me to find your frilly little entrance link on the splash page, just get straight to the point.

2. MUSIC

I don’t encounter this one much anymore, but it’s still out there. Seriously people, don’t put music on your photography portfolio. It’s not adding to the mood or ambiance, it’s just annoying. I usually have music going on my computer and nothing pisses me off more than some website with music or audio ads messing with my tunes.

map
Creative Commons License photo credit: robpurdie

3. DIFFICULT TO NAVIGATE

A photography portfolio should be quick and easy for the viewer. Navigation is a key component here — make it as simple as possible for me to see your photos. If I spend too much time digging for the images, I’ll just leave.

4. PHOTO SIZE

Most photographers are pretty good about sizing their photos appropriately, but I do see some extremes from time to time. Images that are too small (< 600px) don't show enough detail to be interesting to the viewer. Images that are too big (> 1200px) won’t fit on some screens and you lose a lot of impact when you have to scroll. I find that somewhere in the neighborhood of 800-900px on the long edge is a good compromise: large enough to be viewed, small enough to load quickly.

too many dices
Creative Commons License photo credit: BovenX

5. PHOTO QUANTITY

A portfolio isn’t a dumping ground for every photo you’ve taken in the last 10 years — it’s supposed to be a small collection of your best work that represents you as a photographer. Each portfolio should contain 10-20 images on a specific topic or subject (maybe 30 or 40 depending on the subject and how they’re presented). Any more and I’m bored. Any less and I’m unimpressed.

6. PHOTO DIVERSITY

While photos in a specific portfolio should be on topic, they should also show differences in subjects, locations, styles, etc. If your portfolio for “fashion photography” has images from only one studio session, it just looks like you have almost zero experience. Show some diversity, and show that you’ve done this more than once.

7. PHOTO ORGANIZATION

How you organize your photos and portfolios is totally up to you — the important thing is that they’re organized. Unless you shoot only one specific subject/topic, you shouldn’t be presenting every photo on your site in the same place. Break it up and make it easier for your viewers to understand what they’re looking at. Even if it’s something as simple as “Landscapes”, “Plants”, “Animals”, “Waterfalls”, “Portraits”, “Weddings”, etc. Portfolios should be topical and concise.

8. ALL FLASH, NO INFO

Flash sites don’t bother me and I’m not going to start a flame war on the subject. But if you use Flash for your entire site, have the decency to also place a title or image number on the same screen as the photo (since most flash sites don’t have a separate url for each image). It’s so frustrating to contact somebody and say “I’m interested in that image of the staircase. If you click on the menu item that says “patterns”, then click on the other menu items that says “3″, then click the right arrow 14 times. That’s the one I want.” It’s a lot easier to grab a url from a non-flash site or just state the title of the image.

cookie cutters
Creative Commons License photo credit: danmachold

9. STANDARD TEMPLATE

This isn’t a huge deal, but it’s something to think about if you have some spare time. For sites that use templates or standard designs, a little customization goes a long way. The cookie-cutter design can sometimes send the message that you’re not serious about your work.

10. NO NAME, NO EMAIL

Similar to #8… if you don’t want people to contact you, then don’t put your name or email on the website. Contact forms are usually fine too, but some people prefer to send an email so they have some record of what they’re inquiring about. This is not a joke, I’ve actually seen portfolios that had no way to contact the photographer.

ANYTHING ELSE?

What other things with online portfolios bother you? What really gets under your skin from a viewer perspective? Any good examples of portfolios done right?

New Partner: Wix

Wix logo

Design your own free photography website with Wix’s website builder, and save time and money you would have spent hiring a web designer. With Wix, no programming is needed to customize one of the brilliant Flash templates, designed specifically for photographers. Choose a free template and immediately start customizing it, without downloading anything or even confirming an e-mail registration.

Wix is highly intuitive, and playing around with the design elements is a fun and even addicting process, even for those with no technical skill. The website builder’s user interface is graphic-based, and a simple drag-and-drop process allows users to customize design features. The result is a brilliantly designed, unique website that lets you share your photographs with the world.

Here are a few of the free design elements Wix offers, to create your own Photography Website:

Templates – Choose a template that compliments your photographs. Each template is fully customizable – change the color, texture and layout as well as the content itself.

Galleries – Showcase your photographs by arranging them with one of Wix’s many gallery styles. Each gallery style has its own unique layout, so you choose how your photos are presented. Gallery styles include matrix, slideshow and carousel formats.

Mini Web Pages – Create a separate page for information about the photographer. Another page describes your inspiration or artistic vision. Each collection of photographs, arranged by theme, date, project, etc. can have its own gallery page.

Menus – Building menus into your website creates an enjoyable browsing experience for visitors. Menus are automatically linked to your web pages – all you have to do is customize their appearance. Title your menus with the names of your galleries, your Bio page, and a Contact page.

Widgets – Include a Contact Form that visitors can fill out to get in touch with you, to ask for more information about the photographer and his/her creations.

Music – Add a music player widget to add an audio element to your website. Upload your own music files, and customize the On/Off switch.

Social Media – Add a link to your Facebook, Twitter or MySpace account. Publish your Wix creation on a number of social networks.

Another neat thing about Wix websites is that they are SEO compatible. This means that search engines such as Google and Yahoo are able to index sites created with Wix, so when someone performs a search for your photographs, your Wix site will appear in the search results. Wix’s SEOMyWix blog provides tips on how to optimize your website, to attract the most amount of traffic as possible. There are also plenty of video tutorials and helpful articles on using the various elements of the website builder, in Wix’s online Help Center.

Website created with Wix

I recommend using Wix if you are new to web design but still want to achieve professional results. Websites created with Wix are completely free, with the option to upgrade to a Premium accounts for users who wish to gain control over their domain. Upgrading also allows you to insert a Shopping Cart widget onto your site, so that clients can purchase photographs or service packages directly. There are a few Premium packages from which to choose, but each one is much cheaper than hiring a professional web designer.

Check out examples of photography websites made with Wix by visiting Wix.com, and clicking on “Explore” at the top of the homepage. Go to the Photography section. Or, start browsing the entire gallery of Wix photography templates by choosing “Create” from the home page, and opening the Photography category. Find a design that will illuminate your artwork, and make it yours with customized, easy and fun web design. Give your photographs the brilliant web design they deserve.

Feeling Negative? Check Out This New Film Photography Blog!

[tweetmeme]OK, so this thing has been in the works for many months now. I’m pleased to announce the launch of a new blog aimed at film photographersFEELINGNEGATIVE.COM

As many of you know, I’ve been heavy into film photography for the last few years. I post a few film-related things here on Epic Edits from time to time, but I never felt really comfortable pushing a ton of it because we have a mixed audience.

This new blog will give me a chance to write about film photography uninhibited. And the best part of this new blog… I’m not doing it alone. My good friend Tomas Webb will be joining me as an equal partner/mastermind. We’ve been brewing ideas and organizing this thing for several months and I’m confident that we’ll be able to provide outstanding content in this particular niche of photography.

WHAT DO WE HAVE IN STORE?

I assure you, we have a bunch of great topics and themes that we’ll be talking about over there. The site is organized into five main sections: Camera Bag, Darkroom, Digital Darkside, Community, and Other Stuff. Each main category has several sub-categories yet to be announced, and they’ll roll out as we publish more articles. At launch, we have one article per main category to get you started.

In the first few weeks, we’ll also be talking about the various ways you can get involved with the new website. One of our main goals is to create a thriving community of film enthusiasts, and we’ll have plenty of ways for you to get in there and take part. Right now, you can join the Feeling Negative Flickr Group and contribute photos that will be exhibited on the site.

You might also notice that the site design is somewhat mild… we’ll work on that eventually. Our thought was to get the content rolling and focus on the frilly stuff later.

WHO IS THIS SITE FOR?

This one is pretty simple: anybody that is already or wants to be involved with film photography. That includes everyone from beginners with a small interest, way out to the seasoned pros with tons of experience.

For the beginners, we’ll be covering the basics of shooting, developing, printing, scanning, etc. For the ol’ timers, we’ll be digging into alternative techniques, various pieces of equipment and film stocks, DIY stuff, and new ways of working with an old process. I’m hoping we can keep a wide variety of photographers engaged in the discussion.

LAST THOUGHTS…

I don’t want to run on for too long about this thing, so get over there and check it out. I would encourage anybody interested in film photography to give it a chance and watch how it “develops” over the next few weeks and months. We have a lot of stuff to talk about over there and it’s going to take some time to get everything up and running.

Again, if you have any inclination toward film photography whatsoever, please check out the site and/or subscribe to the RSS feed:

FEELINGNEGATIVE.COM WEBSITE

FEELINGNEGATIVE.COM RSS FEED

What do you guys think? Is this a good idea worth the effort, or are we just wasting our time in a diminishing medium?

Also feel free to leave any comments, questions, concerns, etc, right here on this post. And have no fear, Epic Edits will continue on as it always has.

Challenge Yourself in 2010 with PhotoChallenge.org

One of the best ways to improve your photography is to challenge yourself and push the limits of your comfort zone. Photographing subjects or situations outside of your norm will force you to apply your existing knowledge to a new thing. And in the process, you’ll be learning things and picking up new tricks.

PhotoChallenge.org is a website/blog committed to challenging photographers. In 2007, Trevor Carpenter, started challenging photographers to shoot 1-photo-per-day monthly themes or challenges, and continued that into 2008 when PhotoChallenge.org was officially launched. Also in 2008, Trevor started a yearly challenge to photograph a single subject each week for the entire year. 2009 included challenges on a different topic each day — and I applaud anybody that could keep up with that schedule!

In 2010, PhotoChallenge.org will be changing it up yet again. We’ll have monthly themes (4 weeks each, actually), but you’ll only be asked to shoot one photo per week on the topic — so 4 total for each challenge. The new format will allow more people to keep up with the challenges, because shooting every day can be tedious for some of us.

The first challenge is “Resolution” and you can basically take that theme any way you see fit and shoot a photo that reflects your personal interpretation. After 4 weeks of “Resolution” they guys at PhotoChallenge.org will announce the next theme.

Really, it’s all in the name of learning new things and having a good time. You’re more than welcome to join in or opt out as you choose and nobody is keeping tabs on you if you miss a week or two. So if you’re looking for new ways to expand your skill set, jump over to PhotoChallenge.org and see what they have in store for the new year.

Site Review (Plus Giveaway): FotoTV

FotoTV

Photography resources can be found in every corner of the Internet, but not all are created equal. There’s free, expensive, outstanding, terrible, and everything in between when it comes to these websites. Recently, I had the opportunity to explore an outstanding (and moderately priced) subscription website built around education through video.

FotoTV Screenshot

FotoTV was founded on the mission to provide an online learning resource for photographers based on the principle of ‘learn by watching the experts’. They offer instructional and inspirational videos to avid photographers on a very wide range of topics and lessons. Photoshop, digital image editing, photography equipment, photo art, analog photography, black and white, fine art nude, landscape photography, sports photography, photo techniques, exhibitions, history of photography, darkroom, photo technology, physical basics of photography, art work, portfolios of photographers, presentation of images, composition, studio lighting, interviews with leading photographers, and many more videos ready to be released. So… you get the idea!

I was provided with an opportunity to explore the entire FotoTV website (full access to all videos), and I must say that I’m quite impressed with what they have to offer. I spent several consecutive nights watching videos from each of the main categories and each of them taught me something new. The videos are very professional — not something you would expect to run across on YouTube by random chance. And the best part is that every video held the same set of standards, so I was never let down with the quality or depth of knowledge presented.

FotoTV Video Interface

Most of the videos are between 10 and 20 minutes in length — so not too short, but not so long that you lose interest. The video quality is great too, with a size of about 750px wide with the height depending on the aspect ratio (click the image for a full size view). Videos loaded quickly and the buffer never cut out on me (I’m using a cable Internet connection tested at approximately 12 Mbps download rate). The video player also has basic options for viewing full screen, controlling volume, and rating the video. Technically, the site is well prepared to handle most visitor needs.

From what I understand, FotoTV.com was launched off the back of FotoTV.de (hint, hint, for you German-speaking readers) — a German based photography site. The German version launched about 2-3 years ago and it’s very popular with over 500 videos available to subscribers. The English version (FotoTV.com) is basically the same resource with fewer videos available at the moment — I believe they launched with just over 100 videos several months ago, and they’re adding more each month.

Some of the videos on FotoTV.com are strictly English, while others are English voice-overs from the German videos. So I would assume that they have a huge pool of videos in the queue for translation — and thus, I would not expect a shortage of new videos on the English site. And I must say that the voice-over videos are not any less educational/intriguing than the native English videos.

In addition to the video archives, FotoTV has a forum available to registered members. Even if forums aren’t your thing, it’s still another resource available to you. They also have a blog that they use to announce new videos and other topics of interest.

FotoTV News (coming soon)

And one other thing — these guys are planning on launching yet another service that has done well on the German site: FotoTV News. It should be available to all registered users in the very near future (though, I’m not sure if you’ll also have to be a paid subscriber). It’s basically going to be a once-a-month photography show with approximately 1/2 hour of news, tips, artist spotlights, and updates on new videos coming out. Pretty cool!

So here’s the deal…

You can visit the FotoTV website and view 3 of their videos absolutely free of charge and obligation. If you want more, you can register for free and get access to 15 free videos and the forum. I would suggest at least checking out the 3 free videos. If you want more convincing, register and check out the 15 videos. If you want even more, subscribe and get full access!

ABOUT THE FREE STUFF…

You guys know I’m always looking out for you, so I have some goodies for you! The folks at FotoTV are giving away 2 — THAT’S TWO — one year subscriptions to the FotoTV.com website!!! Totally FREE!!! Awesome stuff — I’m sure we won’t have any trouble filling the two spots.

In order to get a free one-year subscription, here’s what you need to do: check out the FotoTV website, sample the free videos (and maybe even register for free to see more free videos), then — LEAVE A COMMENT HERE STATING THAT YOU’D LIKE TO BE ENTERED IN THE RAFFLE (yes, random drawing this time). I’ll be giving away two free one-year subscriptions to FotoTV.com on November 18th, 2009.

Before entering the raffle, be sure to read through the Terms and Conditions and the Privacy Policy. Something I would always suggest you do for any online resource — read the fine print and decide if the terms are acceptable to you.

New Partner: Wix

Wix

Please join me in welcoming Wix as our newest blog sponsor! They’ll be filling the home page banner for at least the next month, and those of you who visit the blog via the web may have already seen their banner displayed.

Wix offers up a simple and powerful online platform for creating Flash websites — and for free! They also have a premium service that allows you to use your own domain, display your Wix-created site without ads or Wix logos, extra storage, premium support, and a few other goodies.

As photographers, you may be asking yourselves “How is this relevant to me, and why is Brian taking on a Flash website generator as a sponsor?” Yeah, just hear me out. Visit their sample websites and click on “Photographers” (2nd link down on the sidebar). Go ahead and flip through the sites and tell me that isn’t cool! These are all very unique sites and quite professional in appearance — definitely worth a look.

Wix.com

My thought is this… If you want to put together a portfolio or a photography website to display your work, but you don’t have the know-how or funds to create something on your own, Wix is the place to go. Hey, if nothing else, start off with a free site and build it up until you’re satisfied. When you get the dough to upgrade to the premium package, go ahead and get your own domain. At that point, you’ll have an awesome display of your work.

If you want to learn more about Wix or about how their site works, be sure to check out their FAQ in addition to the main site. They cover topics such as search engine friendliness, PayPal integration, stats packages, and more.

So who is this online service for? I’d say it’s a very good option if you don’t already have your own photography site or portfolio, you don’t want to spend a bunch of money to get your site going, and/or you don’t want to deal with the technical side of website creation. Hell, even if you already have a site, you’ve got the money and know-how for a custom site — you still might get a kick out of creating a Flash site through their platform.

If any of you out there already have a Wix-generated website, let us know in the comments so we can check it out!

Birthday Gift #7 – Free Web Hosting

The seventh birthday gift for our one-year party will be 3 months of free web hosting provided by Top Hosting Center, and instigated by our buddy Antoine. Here’s what they’re offering up for one raffle winner:

Top Hosting Center Logo
  • 10 GB HDD Space
  • 10 GB Bandwidth
  • 10 MySQL
  • 10 Domains
  • 10 Sub-Domains
  • 10 Emails
  • 10 FTP Users
  • NO Free Domain Name

This could be a great way to get yourself started with a new website to test the waters. If you find out that websites are too much hassle or if it’s just not your thing, at least it didn’t cost you any hosting money!

SO REMEMBER…

If you want in on this one for the raffle, leave a comment on this post with the phrase “FREE HOSTING” in the comment somewhere. And don’t forget that every comment you make for the entire month of January (on any post) will count as a raffle entry for this and the other giveaways.

Also, check the main Birthday Party page to see all of the prizes being offered. And if you have a prize you’d like to give away for the birthday party, let me know!

ADIDAP is Down, But Antoine is OK

Antoine is fast becoming a friend of mine, and he’s having a bit of an issue with his photography blog at the moment… actually, with his host. And it may be terminal. I know some of you read his blog, so I just wanted you guys to be aware that he’s fully aware (and a little ticked off). So think happy thoughts, and let’s hope for a successful revival so we can get back to reading his stuff.

UPDATE: Antoine’s site is back up and running! Glad to hear he didn’t lose any information.

Phase 1 of the Fine Art Photoblog Complete

So I’m pretty sure I have an ulcer and half a dozen mental issues now. I gave myself the task of selecting a small handful of photographers from a group of 30 to be included in the upcoming Fine Art Photoblog. This was no easy thing to do and I leaned on those 30 photographers to help me decide who gets in, but the fact remained that I had to make some hard decisions about several photographers… including a few friends.

I’ve chosen six amazing photographers and artists to be part of the initial launch of the photoblog. If you’re one of the 24 who won’t be with us for the launch and you put your best foot forward on this effort, I truly apologize and I really do feel terrible about having to exclude people — especially those of you I have personal relationships and friendships with. No hard feelings? We may actually bring on a few more photographers before the launch or sometime after the launch, depending on what this core group decides. So this is probably not the end for several of the other photographers in that list of 30.

On the bright side, we have the following six photographers plus myself to bring the site up to critical mass and get the kinks worked out. These guys are really amazing and I’m looking forward to working with them.

* UPDATE: Martin and Victor decided to part ways with the Fine Art Photoblog prior to the launch. They were for personal reasons on their part, but we’re all still on very good terms. Due to these departures, two other photographers were asked to join in their place:

So what’s next? Well, I’ll be finishing up a few things on the site while these guys test out the interface and post a few photos for practice. We’ll be fine-tuning the site until it’s ready for public consumption. After we launch, we’ll just be posting photos and working on getting the site off the ground. After we get into our groove, we’ll consider bringing on more photographers — so keep your portfolios up to date!

UPDATE: Site launch announced here!