Is The Medium The Message; Make A Splash With Your Homepage

"Speak the truth but leave immediately after."--Old Slovenian Proverb

One of the joys of Web Profiles is hearing from readers about their own websites, maybe a friend's, or just some great photography they found on the Internet. Recently, I received an e-mail about a new site and, as I always do, looked it over. (Yes, Virginia, I review every website that's submitted to me for consideration.) While the gentleman's work might not be called traditional, it was stunning and inventive, but the site itself? Let's just say it's a sight! In the not so distant past, it was enough if you placed a few pictures along with some text on the Internet and a unique URL, but not anymore. When planning a new website, photographers should also think in terms of traditional media, such as galleries and brochures. It should not take five different button clicks to see one of your images. And like the old joke about hitting the mule in the head with a 2x4 piece of wood; you gotta get my attention first.

Stanley Chan's journal-styled website if full of great images and his portrait at the top of the screen will be sure to make you smile, as it did me.
© 2003, Stanley Chan, All Rights Reserved

For The Love Of It
When I first visited Stanley Chan's website (www.stanc.net) I smiled and so will you. The true definition of "amateur" is one who does something for the love of it, although Chan readily admits he's a detail oriented dude who won't turn down an assignment if you ask. His site employs a journal-style design that's both pleasing to look at and easy to navigate. At the top of the screen, you'll find a list of places to visit on the site. Because I love wide-screen images, I clicked Panoramas first and enjoyed the way Chan used every inch of the format as part of the composition for his Wailea image, something often overlooked when shooting this format.

One of his journal entries concerned the San Francisco Auto Show, so you know I had to poke around in there and look around. I enjoyed the photographs and so will you. Chan has a flair for shooting these kinds of images and knowing how difficult it is to make images during a show makes me even more impressed with his images of the Ferrari Enzo, a notoriously difficult car to photograph unless you have lots of space. All of these images are fully captioned with complete capture data down to the ISO, but some of them could have used a tiny bit of Photoshop tweaking to get the most impact from these strong compositions. Chan's People images are full of life and some of them show his strong compositional skill, such as the mellifluously titled DSCN0882.jpg. Places has some excellent examples of how he works with forms and shapes and I loved the image of the amusement park at night. Clicking on the large thumbnails in each of the galleries opens a huge image on your screen, so you can appreciate what Chan's all about.

Template-based websites don't have to look like they were built with cookie cutters, as can be seen by one of the samples that BluDomain has created.
© 2003, Blu Domain, All Rights Reserved

Instant Website
Just add water? Not quite, but as someone who is involved in four (soon to be five) websites, I must tell you that creating and maintaining them is a challenge and is fraught with more dead-end alleys than a Raymond Chandler novel. One concept that's been beaten to death is "the template" and I've seen schlocky web designers try to foist off lame-o designs based on templates for $1000 or more. But BluDomain (www.bludomain.com) offers affordable templates with a sense of style that are aimed specifically at photographers. All of their website interfaces cost $600, and BluDomain will upload all of your pictures, arrange the galleries to fit your specific needs, upload your logo, change any colors, insert content, then test and launch your final site. These websites are fully completed and transferred to your current URL and hosting company. Be sure to check out these samples: www.bludomain.com/photo8; www.bludomain.com/artsytemplate/red.html; www.bludomain.com/templates/temp1.html; and www.bludomain.com/photo/photo.html. They also do custom websites, and speaking as someone who has spent far more than $600 on web design and got absolutely nothing to show for it, BluDomain templates are a bargain.

Webshots is more than just a photo-sharing site and offers a number of ways for members to share imagery with friends and family.
© 2003, Webshots, All Rights Reserved

A Shot In The Web
Ranked by Nielsen/NetRatings as the #1 photo site, Webshots (www.webshots.com) defies easy description; it's much more than just a photo-sharing site. Sure, Webshots offers a number of ways for friends and family to share imagery with one another, such as Photo Messages, online photo albums, custom prints, and gifts, but there's more, like their own software. Webshots Desktop for Mac OS and Windows is a surprisingly robust (yet free) photo management application that combines the ability to make wallpaper and screensavers with tools for managing and sharing photos.

The application lets you produce on-screen slide shows, gives you one-click uploads of photos from digital cameras to online albums, along with a feature that lets you track and view the photo albums of friends and family. Free (there's that word again) membership allows members to download any of their Gallery images to their computer and upload and share their own photographs. Once your own image files are uploaded, you can send Photo Messages or invitations to view entire albums, and can choose to list albums publicly in the Webshots Community and Photo Search directories.

Within the personal My Photos area, you can track downloads and view statistics for your images, as well as order prints, frames, and a variety of customized gifts, such as T-shirts, mugs, and mouse pads. Premium (that means you gotta pay) features, such as high-resolution downloads, additional image storage, and ad-free browsing, are available with Webshots' Unlimited service. For cell phone slinging digital photographers, Webshots' My Photos Viewer mobile service lets members use their wireless phone or handheld device to remotely browse their own and favorite members' albums. My Photos Viewer is carrier-independent, operates on WAP 2.0-enabled, color screen phones and wireless handheld devices with graphic Internet browsers. (Wireless Application Protocol is an open international standard for Internet access using cell phones.) This free service and a list of enabled handsets are available at: www.webshots.com/html/mobile_myphotos.html.

Thanks to the design efforts of Michael John Parker, the 2004 Take Your Camera To Work Day website will have an all-new look with image hosting services provided by Smugmug.com.

What Four Sites?
In addition to my websites www.joefarace.com and www.joefarace shootscars.com, I invite you to visit http://farace.smugmug.com to see some of my images in categories from cars to fashion to projects I'm currently working on. Smugmug (www.smugmug.com) is one of the sponsors of Take Your Camera To Work Day and the site redesign is going extremely well. Remember: May 21, 2004, is the second annual Take Your Camera To Work Day, so be sure to visit the site (www.takeyourcameratoworkday.com) and post images made on that day.

Don't forget: If you want to recommend your own or a friend's website for an appearance in this department, e-mail me at editorial@shutterbug.net.

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