Summertime And The Livin’ Is Easy
I’m often asked how photographers can have their website appear in this column, so I decided to offer some advice that even if it doesn’t get you featured in Web Profiles will improve the quality of your site.
Don’t use Flash. It may be fun, but why spend time and money to limit the number of people who can view it? Using Flash means literally millions of iPhone and iPad users can’t see your site.
Avoid the temptation to fill the site with graphics that compete with your photographs. First impressions count and you want visitors to focus on your images.
No music. Period.
Provide a Contact page so clients can get in touch. You may be surprised by how many photographers don’t do this. Yes, it can generate spam and you may have to use an “enter the code” box to minimize unwanted e-mail. And don’t ask people for their phone number; it just scares them away.
Include a photoblog and update it periodically with new images. This keeps your site fresh and gives you lead time to update the rest of the photographs on the site.
Sean Crane is a wildlife and nature photographer who wins the prize for having the best portrait of themselves on their About page. He’s collected an astounding selection of images in 16 galleries plus a feature all photographers should have on their sites—Photo of the Day. The Favorites gallery is an ideal way to get an introduction to the breadth of Crane’s work. Here you’ll find images of creatures as small as an albino grey squirrel and there’s a polar bear at the other end of the white mammal scale. Both are different yet show the precision, detail, and sensitivity that are hallmarks of Crane’s remarkable nature photography.
It’s that compassion that shows in images such as one made in Indonesia of an orangutan mother with a newborn. This is a perfect example of the kinds of quiet moments Crane captures with care and incredible technical ability, combining the best aspects of craft and art in a single image. The rest of the galleries are arranged by geographical areas, covering the planet from Botswana to Tanzania. Opening a gallery displays a page of thumbnails that, when clicked, opens up a larger photograph that’s big enough to appreciate the skill and talent that went into creating it. Once open, you can use forward or back arrows to navigate.
If you want a laugh, check out the Botswana gallery to see Crane’s image of meerkats “dancing.” People make an appearance in his Tanzania gallery with an image of a young Masai boy juxtaposed with a dazzling photograph of a pair of hippos plodding though a flock of flamingoes, creating a moment most of us have never seen. In fact, that’s a good description of the kind of nature photography Crane has produced. Sean Crane’s view of nature is one that includes people, landscapes, and animals that are all part of the same ecosystem and that are captured in crisp detail, producing photographs that are a joy.
Matthew McDonald’s site is powered by liveBooks (www.livebooks.com) and contains two WebBooks of images—Traditional Photography and Infrared Photography. The Traditional gallery contains a cornucopia of travel imagery with brightly colored photographs side by side with introspective black-and-white photographs that are so different in style and their take on the world that they could almost appear in separate collections. A view from a rooftop with the tile roof in the foreground shows how his dynamic use of color combined with a unique point of view makes it a travel photo with a difference.
Bouncing into McDonald’s Infrared gallery takes you inside a world of dramatic IR images, displaying the medium’s power to showcase all-too-familiar objects in new ways. The Eiffel Tower may be a cliché but when seen in infrared the experience can be completely new. It’s a little bit Cartier-Bresson and a little bit rock ‘n’ roll. In this gallery McDonald meshes the styles of images in his Traditional gallery to create an entirely new experience, with dazzling landscapes made even more so with quiet moments such as the untitled image of an umbrella next to a tree at a vineyard taking on a mysterious and mystical look that’s only possible when photographing with invisible light. Matthew McDonald demonstrates that he’s mastered the craft of IR photography and uses his talents to take us places and see things that typical travel photography does not.
John Jackson photographs families and portraits as well as being a fantastic automotive shooter. You’re initially greeted by a splash page, giving you a choice of what kinds of images to see, although when looking closely you’ll notice there’s some cross-pollination between his fields of endeavor. In his Portrait section there are galleries for Portraits, Family, and Bridal. Jackson’s wedding and engagement images have a wholesome naturalness often missing from these kinds of photographs. The black-and-white image of a bride sitting down while the groom massages her feet, for example, will be one this couple will treasure for a long time. Similarly “My Grandmother’s first formal portrait” tells you as much about Jackson as it does about his grandma and is filled with the warmth and natural beauty of the surroundings that even someone who doesn’t know the subject will find moving.
Portraits is mostly filled with pictures of people, including their cars, motorcycles, and even a bus. These insightful images form a window into car culture, showing not just amazing vehicles but the amazing people behind them and the amazing photographer behind the camera. There’s more in the Automobile section of Jackson’s website, including one of the more outstanding portfolios of automobile photography that can be found on the web. People who like to make photographs of cars will be inspired by Jackson’s vision that shows how these marvelous machines are more than beautiful sculpture; they’re an important part of the American Dream and nobody has captured that dreamlike quality of the meeting between people and their automobiles better than John Jackson.
This month’s Blog-of-the-Month is from Alex Budak and is the first and hopefully not the last blog using the Tumblr platform to be featured in Web Profiles. He uses the Effector Theme (http://effectortheme.tumblr.com) along with a custom header that’s successful in adding a friendly feeling to the blog. Budak lives in Washington, DC, a place that I’m always surprised to learn that many people have never visited. Use Budak as your travel guide. Since he’s from San Francisco, his take on DC is as an outsider and the images inspire the kind of patriotism that a real visit to Washington, DC, always does in me.
But there’s more. When I last visited he also posted images that were made in Utah, including a powerful black-and-white photograph of Balance Rock in Moab. Budak shows he’s equally adept at street photography in the wonderfully whimsical image of two women crossing a street holding a large but empty frame entitled “Self Framing, San Francisco, CA.” I also enjoyed his photograph of the Palace of Fine Arts, which is one of my favorite places to visit in the Bay Area and the site of a terrific scene in the film The Rock. Budak used the Tumblr format to create a photoblog but integrates links to his Flickr photostream, SmugMug page, and travel stories he’s written. It also serves as an online CV and he’s posted his Master’s thesis looking at social media and the 2008 presidential election. You can skip all that if you like and just enjoy Alex Budak’s visual talents and the clever way he’s turned a simple Tumblr into a real blog.