We all know that the main objective of a website for most photographers is to promote themselves, to sell and expand the reach of their photography to new clients, and certainly to internationalize their work. However, too many photographers forget that simplicity is always best in creating websites. Whether photo editors or just casual viewers, simple websites with killer images are those that work.
Many photographers’ websites have flash galleries, which can be visual treats. However, when these cross into the realm of the fantastical design and navigational labyrinths reminding me of the cult game ‘Myst’, it becomes counter-productive. It is one thing to have an effective and beautiful website…and quite another to have a ‘state-of-the-art’ website that is too complicated to be effective as a marketing tool. Don’t waste people’s (especially buyers/editors) time with fancy technology and/or weird navigation, and keep it simple and efficient.
Photographers are often pressured to accept fancy websites by their web designers, who have egos as well, and need to showcase their technical prowess. But, the websites belong to the photographers, and must be created around the photographers’ work, not vice versa. People will remember powerful images…not flashy websites. And another thing about flashy websites…they get stale quickly.
Having said that, I’ve also seen photographers’ websites that seem to have been built in the early nineties…low resolution images, clunky and ugly buttons, thumbnails that don’t work, etc. So updating websites is a must. And since I’m on this subject; photographers need to update their copyright statements every year.
Color is critical for photography websites. My recommendation is to keep it simple…not necessarily monochromatic, but one basic color for the background which serves as complementary backdrop to the images. I personally think that white, grey, anthracite or black are the best colors for backgrounds. Let’s remember that it’s not about colorful backgrounds but about photographs.
I know I’ll be controversial here, but I’m a “larger is better” kind of guy. Some of the most popular photography blogs are The Boston Globe’s The Big Picture and the Wall Street Journal’s Photo Journal, and display large photographs (around 990 pixels by 640 pixels), and the response has been phenomenal.
Let’s face it, when an industry insider such as Rob Haggard of A Photo Editor establishes a web design company on the principle of building websites that will sell photographs ( a distinction from being merely eye-candy), and chooses large photographs that fill monitors, there’s some logic to this generosity. And the logic is pretty simple”¦ photo editors who review websites and portfolios want simplicity, ease of navigation, and large enough to see without having to wear readers.