Research – Inspiritational Websites

Now I am going to get the ball rolling by looking at websites that I like. I am going to focus on photographers who use their website for showcasing their portfolio as the main agenda for the website. For me this website is very important because it will be there first (and only at the moment) website people will go to to see my work. I think its really important to look professional, and different to a blog. A blog involves a lot of scrolling down and down and also is about updating, with my website it will not have text accompanying the images, or if it does it will be just the title, date, and possibly location. This means that the website will be 99% built around the images, I feel this is important because as a photographer your photographs speak a lot about you and also your interests as a creative person.

I am going to start with 3 pages for my website. No 1, the most important is the ‘home page’, No 2 will be the ‘gallery’ and No 3 could be a ‘profile’ or ‘contact’. When designing I will firstly design a template for the 3 pages. This template will include my branding, colour scheme and navigation. It is important that the theme for my website is designed so that there is some coherence in the website and this makes it easy to use and a pleasure to look at. I will also use the social media that I am using to help to promote myself, such as: Facebook, Pinterest, WordPress, Flickr, LinkedIn.

To be honest I don’t like most photography websites. Not many that I look at strike me at all as good or even mediocre. So whilst I am researching other photography websites for inspiration I am finding it hard to find anything that I actually like!

Here are some that i do like:

contemporary online portfolio photography photographers website design interface research good professional

http://www.timwalkerphotography.com  This is a particular favourite photographer of mine, also I love browsing through his work online because he has such a great website. This kind of simple layout is what I would call a online portfolio. There is nothing fancy, there is nothing that diverts your eye away from the photography, and there are no bright colours, I feel that this allows the photos to ‘speak’ and it is sophisticated. The hero image is the largest part of the website and there is no header which makes more room for the hero image this is great in my opinion because the photograph is the most important part of a photographers website and it is horrid when viewing someones work online when the images are only small. Another reason this is a favourite of mine is because of the scrolling area below the hero image, so that the viewer can highlight which thumbnail they want to view. This is my preferred way of viewing images on websites as I don’t like it when the image is ‘playing’ (not sure of correct name for this yet…) and plays through a selection of images, I like to browse the images one by one in my own time for as long as I want.

contemporary online portfolio photography photographers website design interface research good professional

http://www.jessicahilltout.com this is a website for a photographer called Jessica Hilltout, I find her photography work very inspirational and also her website as its not like one I have ever seen before. For the home page instead of using a hero image she has used the main space to show 3 images which all lead to different photography projects. I like the way she has used the effect of ‘tape’ to ‘pin’ up her images, its very informal way of designing a website and reminds me of how someone might stick photos onto their fridge or something its very simple and casual way to display photos. Apart from this the only thing I feel doesn’t work (for me) in the design is the navigation bar, it is along the bottom of the page and for ages when I was on the website I couldn’t even find it and thought it didn’t have one! I feel that it is obvious that anything at the top of a page is going to be seen first as we read a page  like we read a book of text, starting top left to right, and a website without any obvious navigation made me feel lost, I wanted to find out more about her as I had browed the three projects but couldn’t find the navigation bar for a few minutes. I feel that the navigation would work better for this website if it was in between her name/logo and the three projects so that it was easily found.

contemporary online portfolio photography photographers website design interface research good professional

http://www.matthias-heiderich.de This is a screen shot from German photographer Matthias Heiderich’s home page. I have gone to his website because his work is a favourite of mine so I thought I’d asses his website. He has used a simple approach with a non decorative font for logo (which is just his initials) & for the navigation bar. Personally I think that the lack of colour he has used is too faded and hard to read, a gray background and gray text. The navigation bar lists all his different project titles which then show a image from the title as the hero image. He has a lovely large hero image, although instead of having thumbnails to click on to change the image you scroll down and down and down, this layout for me  doesn’t work as well as Tim Walkers way of presenting the hero image and thumbnails below as scrolling down is tedious. I am not drawn to this website as much as the other two I have looked at so far, I feel it lacks any kind of character as there is nothing regarding a logo which could have been used for his branding. Searching for him on google I found his Tumblr account which works much better visually, it is less formally laid out than this website and suits his colourful abstract style a lot more with lots of his images on each page, see it here.

contemporary online portfolio photography photographers website design interface research good professional

http://www.johannalaskey.com This is the website for a interiors stylist, so to show her work she shows the photographs that she styles for, so the website is presented similar to a photographers. I am very interested in her work so decided to look at her website for inspiration. She has used the main page to use medium sized images with the title of the project below, each leads to a new page showing all the images for that project. The same projects are also listed in the top of the navigation bar, which means you can go through the different projects without needing to go back to the home page. It uses a simple way of showing her contact information along the top of the page, with her name and ‘//’ two forward slashes to separate this from her job title ‘lifestyle stylist’ and her email and phone number. I like this because it shows that she wants you to contact her and you don’t have to even click on the ‘contact’ page to get the information. To me it makes her very approachable. The only thing that I don’t like is that you have to scroll down slightly to see  the last 3 projects in the 3×3 block, I feel she could have put them closer together so that there is no need to scroll at all! Overall I like the website, it is simple which is a important part for me, nothing fancy at all so it is easy to navigate around all of her work systematically.

Conclusion

From looking at some different kinds of photographers websites I can see how they have all approached the appearance of their websites differently. For me the most important thing is that my website is a online portfolio so I can direct people to see my work online and feel confident about how my website looks and how my work is presented. It is clear in 2013 (now) it is vital for majority of businesses to have a website as this gives potential viewers (and there for buyers) a place to see what you do and how to contact you, this will (hopefully) generate business. I feel that for my own website I am going to build my website around me, as a photographer generally as although in the future I would like to have one that is dedicated to the genre of photography that I want to specialise in, at the moment in my second year in my degree I don’t have enough work in any one genre to build a website gallery from. So I am going to make my first website about me and all the work I do, this does have benefits as it will show that I can work across many genres. I feel that the two websites I have shown above that have got more than one image on the homepage is not what I want, I feel that having all the different boxes (Johanna Laskey) for each project is too confusing for the eye and that having the navigation down the left side which includes the same projects is sufficient. I will have one hero image on my home page, and this can be updated as often as I want for which ever image/project I have finished most recently or am most proud of. I will then have a simple navigation down the left side listing my personal work (with drop down of different project titles), portfolio, genres such as landscape, portrait, and a contact page. I will also include social media as I feel I am part of a few online communities that show my creativity such as Flickr, Pinterest, WordPress blogs, as these are important to link me online, but also show some diversity, for example the images I put onto Flickr are much more about me than me as a professional photographer. Also my Pinterest shows my interests in interior design, architecture and interests I have that do not evolve around photography.

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