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Thursday, 22 May 2008


This is oh so true, music is not going to sell your work, a few well selected photos should do the trick. I like the analogy with a slide show. After sitting through far to many ridiculously long slide shows and looking at far too many over engineered websites I know exactly where you are coming from.

Excellent little piece there Ctein! I'm currently redoing my website in my first few months as a professional photographer. However, as an art director in advertising for the past 10 years you'd imagine I should know EXACTLY what my clients want to see. But no... there's the temptation: I like this shot so I'll include it (even though it's irrelevant to the market. The other instinct as a designer is to over design the site. Bad BAD move...

If you can, please avoid using flash. Yes, it gives the illusion of protecting your pictures from copying (only the illusion; it's easy to get the image anyhow), but it breaks with the normal browser interface. Suddenly my normal shortcut keys and habitual actions no longer work; I have to spend time and mental effort figuring out a new, different interface at exactly the time you as the photographer would prefer I focused solely on your work. If you make animated transitions and other effects then you just manage to distract me from your pictures all the more effectively. My takeaway from your site is not "wow, what great photographs"; it's "hm, annoying flash site". Do you think I'll return, or pass a link along to friends?

Ok then, anyone have good examples of how a web-novice can present work? Especially since everyone seems to hate Flash. What about little flash bits like simple viewer?

This is good advice; I don't like music or too much flash. Do you have any views or advice for those of us with photoblogs?

Fine article... I'll add a few items:

1. Do not have an introductory page that shows a picture and says "Enter." Nobody has time for that. Just go right to the meat.

2. Make sure the photos are sRGB. Probably a good idea to embed the profile as well.

3. Size the images to how they will show. Do not use the dimensions on the HTML IMG tag to reduce (or enlarge!) them.

4. For best results, output sharpen for the web. PhotoKit Sharpener has a preset for this, and it makes a significant difference.

5. Not something you can control, but be aware that the colors users see are going to vary maybe quite a bit from what you see in your color-managed environment.

6. Make sure appropriate copyright info is in the IPTC data embedded in the photo, and also that info you don't want to be public (e.g., your home adress) isn't there.

7. Consider a watermark on the images.


Boil it down to 10, I say. That's a good portfolio.

Don't, under any set of circumstances, blog, unless you are ctein or mike johnston.

Make your web site a compact fluorescent....

If you do use flash, keep it minimal. Take Ben Lowy's site (www.benlowy.com), from the post below. The slide show on the front page is brief and a fine use of flash. In terms of usability, the rest of his site isn't too bad as these things go--there are only a couple of things that annoy me enough to remember it's flash. The way the bar follows your mouse up and down the menu is annoying, as is the way you navigate through the photos in each collection. I personally think it would have been better done through HTML and CSS.

Fortunately I really liked the photos.

Here's a particularly bad one: www.katiekingma.com. I like her photography, but the site interface is horrible. When you click on to the next picture, a "loading" symbol appears IN THE MIDDLE OF THE CURRENT PICTURE, meaning I can't even look at the current picture in peace while I'm waiting for the next one to load. Horrid.

One day I might have the patience to look at her photography anyway, though.

Mike J.

And if you want people to see your work, make them able to find it!

Quite simply, this mean no frames, flash, javascript links and the like. Just use plain html, with a good caption close to the image (and possibly in the alt or title attribute) and try to make the URLs describe the content, so not "image12.jpg" but "image12_dog_in_bath.jpg", it will get indexed much better.

Doing all this makes my meager collection of mostly barely-above-snapshot-quality travel photos pay $30/month in google ads. Turns out travel agencies pay good money for clicks and there is a distinct difference in views and click on some badly captioned collection compared to the well captioned ones.

I notice quite a bit of websites from pro travel snappers that have only a small (watermarked, flashed, etc to avoid stealing) collection trying to sell their work, completely ignorant to the fact they could be making thousands a year on Google ads with their far superior collections to mine if only they put on more photos and captioned them well in collections per country and city. At the same time I doubt it would take anything away from their sales. Probably quite the opposite.

If you want to be hired for your services, less is probably more as Mike said. If you are in the stock market, more is definitely more. Not only will showing more sell more, your website (or a special one set up for it) will make direct money.

Interestingly, I have the same "waiting for stuff to load" complaint about *this* site... when I visit from my mobile browser at least. I always have to wait for that giant stack of sponsor images on the left to load completely before I can even scroll past it to the meat. I often say "forget it" (generally when the network is slow) and move on.

Part of it is bad browser design. But changing little things on the site would help, like adding "height" and "width" parameters to those tags. Or, having those in the right column instead would help for some mobile browsers also, since then those would appear *after* the article and we wouldn't have to scroll so much.

One thing I can't figure away around is the problem of having too many photos on the site as Ctein mentioned, yet needing everything on there because I sell my work from my site, and I have often sold photos that were not among the ones I considered my best or favorite.

They're usually bought as stock photos for things like Music CD covers, advertisements, etc. Most people who buy my work don't go to the site and search till they find something. They use Google to search for photos of the particular thing they want (windmills, old barn with basketball hoop, texas landscape, etc). Google gives them lots of photos to look at, including some of mine if I had what they wanted on my site. If they like mine, they email asking for a price, and we usually make a deal.

I have almost 1000 photos on my site...way overkill for the casual visitor, but it has brought me good money and sales have gone up a lot this year as I have been rewriting the alt tags to be more descriptive and giving better descriptions on the pages themselves (a process that isn't near done so don't flame me with examples you found on my site that haven't been re-written yet!). I do have my photos divided into 22 projects so there isn's a massive page with 950 thumbnails loading at once!

When I go to a photographer's site with only 10 pics, I am usually dissapointed because I want to see more, and I wonder how they sell anything. I'm talking professional fine art photographers here, not hobbyists.

I aggree with Mike, i have seen that site and man! great photos but got horrible place to put into.

Theres a UK TV programme called Grumpy Old Men. I think there may be a few candidates here. You guys are way too touchy !

1) Identify the Decision Maker(s)...

2) Select and prioritise the arguments that you believe will have the greatest influence on them...

3) Choose the method(s) of communication that you believe will be most appropriate and effective in getting the messages to the decision makers...

- - + - -

When I was doing high-value sales and marketing, these principles were pretty useful in cutting through the day-to-day nausea to let me focus on my intentions.

Three ideas so embarrassingly simple as to verge on fatuity, but how many websites stand up against them ?


do interesting stuff and have fun within the sorrow....... whatever that means

yea as he said interesting stuff...............smile

Some good advice I think. I agree flash can be overdone especially where navigation has to become a learnt art form.

I use flash but hopefully in a not too in your face manner.

If you have some basic html skills, and a server that supports php, check out lightbox. I have a sample on my website : http://www.dustandrust.com/2008/sakura-branch-brook-park-cherry-blossoms/

I've seen some very well done flash sites, but for the most part, I prefer a good clean page of html/javascript.


One more suggestion: when you've got your portfolio images all picked out and in order, go back through them and eliminate one more. Say to yourself, of all these, which one is the weakest, which one can I kill? Sure enough, you'll suddenly notice one you included as a sentimental favorite that no one else finds interesting...

I look at an awful lot of photography online, so I'll mention two other things that annoy me.

One, when I go to a site and click on "Work" or "Portfolio" or "Photographs" and then get a sub-listing of lots of different categories. How do *I* know if I want to look at "Winter and Summer" or "Places and Things" or "Kosovo" or "Trees" or whatever else might be listed? First I'd like to see some of the photographer's best work, THEN go on to see more. I don't like having to make so many decisions before seeing any work.

And two, I really hate it when I go into a portfolio, click "Next" eighteen times to see all the pictures, then have to click "Back" eighteen times to get back out of the gallery--or else figure out how to jump up a level and get back to the index. Better is to have "Next" and "Previous" buttons for the work, then have the browser's back button return to the level where I was when I decided to go into that group of pictures.

And Paul, whenever I get to complaining at the TV or something, my son mumbles "grumpy old man." So I guess you're right!*

Mike J.

*Also, David Vestal's longtime photography newsletter (now discontinued) was called "Grump."

And here's my two cents just for emphasis.


If I want music I'll turn on my stereo.


I don't know who worked it out or how, but from my days as a web professional, the mantra we all had was "you have 12 seconds to engage the visitor". The idea being that casual visitors have an attention span only slightly better than goldfish

I think that 12 seconds can be used for something better than a "loading" message. I have nothing against flash as such. A "standard" home page with selectable flash based galleries would be fine.



What makes a good website design is almost like asking what art is.

Right on Ctein,

Sage words for the online culture we currently live in. You nailed it and I pretty much agree. One thing though...are you saying 24 images total? Or are you saying any one gallery should not contain more than? I think that consideration might be determined by its design but one thing we decided on when doing mine was that not everyone uses a 24" cinema screen. I am annoyed by fixed width sites that are way too wide for a notebook viewing. I still think a fixed width might be best but....


That is one of the things I'd like to change about my website. In keeping it spare we (my partner Karen) decided on a few thumbnails that come up randomly on the home page. I'd like a single show of favorites that is the same as how you view my galleries. Which by the way we also designed so you would NEVER get stuck and have to back your way out. You can choose navigation no matter where you are.

PS I always thought my name linked to my photography site which is http://www.63images.com. It links to another site I run...any idea how I can change that?

I REALLY need to update my photos. It's been 2 years I think.

Whew! I'm glad my website doesn't feature any of these mistakes. I was afraid you'd say something like, "And never, ever use thumbnails! Nobody likes thumbnails. They make me wanna puke."

I keep meaning to organize my photos into project/story galleries, and also to put together a "25 best" gallery, but it keeps slipping my mind, and a "25 best" would probably not tell a story.

I don't take pictures with the intent to sell, but ultimately I have sold a few prints, so I wonder sometimes if I could manage a book someday if I got serious.

I think also worth noting in the "things not to do" category is "auto-play a slide-show".

I hate command-clicking a link so a new window opens behind my current window, and then when I get around to bringing it to the front (sometimes days later), I find myself staring at a screen that says "The End".

............... buy a site, let them manage and concentrate on what you do best......... image making


i think Simpleviewer is good for galleries
when you don't want to write in html


Dear Mike,

For me an even more annoying quality of katiekingma.com was the way the images slid sideways as they changed. I could feel my eye muscles getting a bit of whiplash every time that happened (seriously). It was more than merely distracting, genuinely unpleasant.

Dear Chris,

For lots of images, drilling down usually works best. You've already subdivided your work into sets of about 50 photos. That's not too much for somone to look at, especially if they can browse the selection. For someone visiting the site for the first time, an opening page for each set might feature 4 or five of your photos from the set to give them a taste of what's beyond that page.

Dear Charlie,

No I didn't mean 24 site-wide. Just that you shouldn't force-feed more than that to the audience. Fewer's better, still, if you can stand to weed your work down that far. It's painful.

Dear Eric,

"25 Best" can tell a 'story.' It doesn't need to have an obvious 'plot'. More like arranging an exhibit, deciding what gets hung where so it complements and coordinates with nearby work, so you've got a strong beginning and end, etc.

I wrote a column for Mike way back about selecting and ordering photos for a book. Same problem as for a web presentation, so it may be helpful to some of you:

"Every Picture Tells a Story" http://tinyurl.com/ygyvgn

pax / Ctein

This is all very nice, What I need is advice along the lines of "what to do when you put six and a half thousand photos online , then a hundred thousand people try to look at all of them all at once."

Dear Hugh,

That, unfortunately, has simple and known solutions-- you pay (uck!) for guaranteed bandwidth or mirror sites.

I wish I were in your shoes [envious smile].

pax / Ctein

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