Our Favorite Reader Websites: 3 Great Online Photo Portfolios that Make Every Click Count
Each of my Web Profiles columns will now include suggestions on how to increase the number of people who not only visit your website or blog but want to come back for more. To provide real world examples, I’ll pick sites that put these tips into practice.
Let’s start with the basics: You need a dramatic splash page. The first thing anyone landing on your site should see is a signature image, not a portrait of you, your studio or an exhibit. These kinds of pictures belong in the About or Bio sections that your site should also have.
Be sure to include a Contact Page. I’m surprised how many sites lack one. If people like your site they’ll want to learn how to get in touch, purchase photographs or just send fan e-mail. Yet every month I encounter amazing websites I can’t share with you because the photographer didn't provide a way to contact them.
And you don’t have to serve up your e-mail address and phone number to all the trolls and bots on the Web hoovering up data. You can use a page similar to what Chris Gibbs (see above) and I use that offers a safe but direct way for potential clients to contact you.
Chris Gibbs is a landscape and nature photographer based in Calgary, Canada and built his Web site using the Redframe platform. The site kicks off with a screen filling, slide show-based splash page that follows the old adage “first you have to get their attention.” Ten galleries are listed in a pop-down menu and when one is selected, another slide show launches. His Autumn collection includes lush panoramas of (what appears to be) golden aspen trees, while Alberta Prairies contains monochrome and color images showing a tranquil, introspective Canada that most of us seldom see. Each gallery’s format features thumbnails on the left side with a running slide show at right but you can click an image any time to see it displayed larger. Chris moves out of Canada for a gallery of images made in Joshua Tree National Park, that’s located in southeastern California and while I’ve never been there, Gibbs’ quietly powerful photographs make me want to take a trip—maybe you too. I’ve said it before that I believe Montana is our most beautiful state and Chris’ Going-to-the-Sun Road gallery only confirms it. This is the only road crossing Glacier National Park and because of his dynamic photographs it’s been added to my bucket list. Chris Gibbs’ photograph don’t hit you over the head with color but his deliberately understated style shows an appreciation of the subject matter that lets us all enjoy a walk through nature with him.
Florida-based Andrew Vernon is a fine art photographer, whose splash page contains images from six collections, including an Instagram-like iPhone gallery. From its all white background to the elegant sans serif typeface, the site design is exemplary with everything done in service to the images. In the Florida gallery, a page of thumbnails is displayed, with titles, that when clicked allow you to scroll through the rest of the photographs. Images such as the pensive blue-toned monochrome “Withstand” are followed by the minimalistic no-real-subject-just-a-mood “Ablaze” that’s unbelievably immersive, a highlight of all of Vernon’s seascapes. There is a visceral energy in his Long Exposure images that you literally feel, including monochromes such as the stark “Variance,” while the Color gallery explodes with photographs such as “January's Sunset” that reminds me of Stonehenge by the Beach. The Elsewhere galley contains images made outside Florida, yet photographs such as the black and white “Shrouded in Distance” echo his best monochrome images from the Sunshine State, while others such as “Evening Mist” made in Nantahala, North Carolina produce a beautiful, lush quiet that feels very end of day. Tidbit: Vernon’s titles include locations where the photographs were made. Clicking the text opens Google Maps, so if you type the location you’ll see where it is. Andrew Vernon is a terrifically talented photographer with his own unique vision for capturing landscape images and presenting them to the world.
Adam Burton is a UK-based landscape photographer whose elegant and blog-styled Web site showcases his equally elegant images. The site’s gallery contains a (mostly) geographic titled collections and the depth and width of his travels is breathtaking, much as the images contained within. Photographs such as “Iceberg Alley” of Gerlache Strait in the Antarctica collection are simply stunning for their use of color with a composition that lets your eyes wander though it, all the while amazed at the power of nature in this ”last place on Earth.” Having been mesmerized by PBS’s Poldark, I had to look in the Cornwall gallery for photographs such as “Colours of Cornwall” and other images in this collection that capture the mood and romance of the series. Game of Thrones seems to have gotten photographers excited about Iceland and Burton’s images prove that photographically this must be the most interesting place on the planet. His image, “Storm surge” made on the Vik Coast could have easily been made on Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons as Iceland. In looking through his collections, the site’s design follow that of a gallery because of the information provided, not necessarily the form factor used. This site is an excellent example to emulate for fine art photographers who want to sell their work. Through all of his extensive collections, Burton has taken a less is more approach providing fewer but select images of breathtaking beauty combined with a impressive grasp of craft to create images of England and the world that could proudly hang on the walls of any home.
If you want your photography website to be considered for inclusion in an upcoming edition of Web Profiles, click the contact button on my website (www.joefarace.com) and tell me about your site. You could find your online portfolio featured right here in this space!
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