Your Website ROCKS

- - Websites

If you’re using live books (here) or something similar the answer is probably yes. I like flash websites because the photos look great, they load in the background and it’s sort of become an industry standard. I suppose there’s a solution to the new problem of not being able to link to a specific portfolio or link around a crappy opener but if not Mr. Live Books needs to get off his ass and solve it.

I really don’t give a crap about your design or goddam logo or witty intro. I just want to look a photos. Fast. The more the better just make sure you have a proper portfolio so I can see if it’s worth my time poking around.

Think KISS in concert not the 4th of July fireworks display. Open HUGE.

Jason Fulford’s website (here) doesn’t follow any of these rules and it still totally rocks.

There Are 52 Comments On This Article.

  1. I completely agree about the intros. In fact, can we extend that to music? I’m sick and tired of website muzak. But I’m also not too fond of overly gimmicky websites.

    If a website isn’t simple and straightforward enough that you can find the photos easily and quickly, it’s no good. That’s what it boils down for me. And it’s amazing to see how many people think “snazzy” stuff – that ultimately makes it hard to find the work – is worth looking at. It isn’t.

  2. Everytime I vist a livebooks site it seems to take FOREVER for the pics to load.

    I have to agree with not overly embelishing the site with extraneous stuff. But I know designers & agency AD’s do appreciate good design and it makes an impression on them.

  3. Flash Gordon

    Somewhere, right now, at this very moment, there are three 19-year-old web designers, sitting in a Starbucks, with their MacBooks, reading this, with erections. “Keep complaining, Photo Editor, keep complaining! Show us the money, McLovin’! We’re going to cash in on photographers!”

    Photographers are in that Catch22 place, it seems. Clients bitch and moan about slow loading, but at the same time, they’re young for the most part, and the young want cool. And HTML ain’t cool. It seems like Flash is the only thing that delivers cool, where the photographer doesn’t feel like Fred Flintstone, stuck in the Dark Ages, with HTML. “It’s gotta move; it’s gotta zoom; it’s gotta dissolve!” The only alternative is the T. Richardson route, where you’ve got HTML, but you’ve also got a penis, or two girls making out. I guess that achieves cool too.

    And so many times, the photographer takes his ten (or twenty) grand to a web designer, and the web designer wants to strut his stuff, so you end up with music and megs and megs of overwrought Flash, and there you are — watching the “LOADING” graphic for thirty seconds.

    It’s just a tough call, and there’s not an easy solution — trying to please everyone, all the time.

  4. 10 grand for a site????? I bought a $40 program (Xtralean’s – Shutterbug) and did it myself. Sure it’s not flash and there are no “chicks making out” but I saved $9,960.00. I feel good now!

  5. it’s funny, i have always sent people to jason fulford’s site. I love getting lost in the maze and discovering new things each time. my site on the other hand. . .runs too slow but i am in the process of installing turbo boosters.

  6. Flash Gordon

    Meredith wrote: “it’s funny, i have always sent people to jason fulford’s site. I love getting lost in the maze and discovering new things each time.”

    This is part of the problem, too. It’s almost like you need a “mini site” for those impatient fashion editors, and then a full site for really getting a sense of the full capabilities of the photographer.

    It’s almost like the index page needs two links: “You got thirty seconds?”, or, “You got five minutes?”, and let them choose based on how frantic they are.

    Let’s be honest: Most clients, (and I’m not talking about Art Directors or Picture Editors here), just want to see what you do in five pictures. They don’t want to know the depths of your soul, and your Inner Motivation. You ARE a commodity to them. I’d say, best to face the facts, and deal with that accordingly.

  7. Call me crazy, but I would think Jason Fulford’s site would annoy aphotoeditor….. less than half the lnks lead to photos..

  8. I agree, a photo website should be concise, but livebooks takes ages to load and is too homogenous. I think it using livebooks shows a lack of creativity. You can have an interesting, unique site that loads fast and gets to the point- to present images.

  9. First and foremost: user experience. I’m one of those dinosaurs that uses HTML. It”s and ancient site that is being update before year end with a hybrid – html / flash site that will load as fast as the technology allows and will allow the user to scale their experience to their needs.

    I think this one is very well done: http://www.kettiger.com/

  10. @ none: You should be creative at taking pictures not building websites. The bar for creative websites is very, very high. If you can’t reach that standard it’s a waste of time.

  11. Who uses the forward/back buttons to browse through images? Enjoys the infinite-horizontal-scrolling gallery? ( http://kettiger.com – from Bruce’s post)

    Who uses thumbnails? Needs to see a little version of the image? (Your favorite local Livebooks site that isn’t Heisler)

    Back when I put up my first website, the thumbnails seemed mandatory. I slowly realized that I was really just using them as things to click at blindly when I paged through other photographers’ work. (I ended up dropping the thumbnails in favor of making the images as big as possible – http://ericschmiedl.com/ )

  12. Livebooks is semi-annoying – if you know some flash, or hire someone who knows some flash, I have found slideshowpro and slideshowpro director to be an amazing (and amazingly cheap) and highly customizable way to display photographic work and manage its display with a server-based photo management system. My website is temporarily down as I update some things or else I would post it as an example.

  13. Eric – My current site doesn’t have thumbnails but my new on will. Why? Because if an prospect clicked through images and then wanted to find one they saw previously, they have a chance to find it. I think they are even more helpful when they indicate that they have been viewed once so you can click and collect images for a light box.\

    I hate thumbnails that move however – it drives me insane to point of saying: “f$&% it! Not that anyone cares about me but I’m certain I’m not alone on this.

  14. i guess we disagree on livebooks photo editor! given how much i hear it costs why wouldn’t you just do it yourself or hire a friend for half the price?

    yes, be creative, and be yourself, but we are on your site to look at photos, so don’t lose sight of that.

  15. Having just committed to a live books site and being somewhat aware of its limitations I decided it was a good idea because of the ability to add and subtract galleries on the fly, update bio and agent info the same way without having to contact my web designer and be beholden to her schedule.

    In this digital age, the immediacy of posting new work, formatted and in style with the rest of my site seemed more valuable than the risk of cookie cutter functionality. My sense is that one of the reasons that live books sites look alike is more about a lack of imagination than anything else. I haven’t started with design for my new site yet but I am pretty certain that I will hire one of the designers I work with regularly to design it rather than use LB’s design staff upfront.

    I am not a designer and left to my own devices with the on-staff designers at LB I am sure my site will look like everyone else’s. This is not a slam against their designers ( I have yet to even converse with them!) Its really about knowing myself and what I want my site to be.

    In regards to cost… It is not cheap – the top of the line falls in around 3200.00 – a one time charge. Probably close to what I would spend on a site from scratch if not more but I can have my asst. update the site in an hour without further design or implementation fees. Tack on another 1500.00 or so for my designer to do her thing and I am looking at what I would probably invest in my website for the next two years were it traditionally managed. So looking at this from an amortization perspective – any time past two years that my site is up on live books I am saving $$ and having the most control over posting timely content.

    Now if they can just make the thumbnails load faster!

  16. LIve books is expensive for what you get…. $800 for couple of galleries limited to 30 images each. All the way up to $3200….. For a template. You get the same site as half the photographers in Manhattan. There are tons of other template programs for a fraction of the cost……

  17. ok steve. just remember to get rid of the stupid blinking dot. i hate that dot.

    also, most web designers worth their salt can install a content management system for you.

  18. It’s called Java. It looks much like flash, works on every computer, takes less time to load, and will even get two chicks to make out for you.

    Flash is crisp, pretty, and cool. But it’s expensive, slow, won’t always run on people’s computer (if your client base extends beyond big media) and make certain assumptions about who is going to buy your work. For your galleries and dissolves, Java will work wonders, there are quite a few pre-made packages out there for the cheap, and you can run a .css with .html to make the page pretty and functional at the same time.

    Nothing more annoying then thumbnails that move, or don’t work, or are in a different spot every time you change to a new gallery.

  19. if you are using live books the answer is either you have too much money or you pretend to have too much money while at the same time showing you are just another photographe.

    using myspace is more creative and individual.

  20. Cameron Davidson

    NeonSky makes some great template sites. Flash with content management.

    Far less expensive than other options plus two of their custom sites won Gold Medals in the PDN self-promo awards.

    Jason Singe is the guy to speak to. Good folks. Fair and honest.

    neonsky.com

  21. it seems to me that the best and coolest site of all, is no site at all. When you don’t need one, you’re the cat’s meow!! Try googling Googln’ Gursky just once.

  22. an art director

    I am with avs – any web designer/programmer worth their salt can make a back end for a photographer. I think live books looks all the same… ho hum, not a very distinct web presence. Been there, done that, show me something ‘you’.

    It is interesting to scroll through the comments to see what people like. I didn’t like Jasons site that much – the content was good, but the navigation was horrible – I had to click twice to get back to the home page. And above all – I hate the static HTML text across the top (3 blue links). I can think of 5 creative people in the agency I work with who would obsess as to why that was used. Then this could turn into a ‘your website sucks’ posting because a creative can’t look at content – only the whole package – presentation too. If you are going to do something different, go nuts and make a site like Modernista!.

    I guess to each their own (you never know what people love or hate). Be sure your site is the best presentation for your work.

  23. Texas Toast

    To: “an art director”:

    How would the five creatives react to Mahon’s site? This one would drive the fashion editor absolutely insane; she’d be reaching for the A.D.D. medicine, but you gotta give it to Mahon for having the balls to put it out there. And the little embedded videos of him and his assistant are great; they’re buried deep, but when you find them, you smile.

    As a client, I’m sure I’d just hit the Close button after ten seconds, but as an Art Director, it’s got to make you feel free, like the breeze, and hand it to him for not going cookie-cutter.

    http://matthewmahon.com/

    As far as LiveBooks, I talked to them about a site, and asked how to hide the Thumbnails and the LiveBooks logo. Both of those things could be accomplished. But still, in the end, it still had that “mid-grade Chevrolet” feeling to it; nothing special at all, so I said no to that. Funny, they thought the sameness was a plus, in that Art Buyers didn’t have to re-figure out the interface. But of course they’d say that.

    There is certainly a market out there for a simple, advanced, fast-loading slide show template. I just don’t think it’s been introduced though. Even though the demand is clearly there.

  24. Bruce I agree. I saw that site a year or so ago and was so annoyed I never returned. Don’t even know what they shoot. The awful design and concept stops me from wanting to know more about anything on the site.

    Red – are we the same person?

  25. I agree: website should focus on photo presentation. Thumbnails sometime are annoying…. Big photos required…. I maintain on my website a flash based presentation and some high-resolution version of my core projects….

    Curious on Photoeditor feedback, a greeting from Italy :-)

  26. I’m very gratified to see real live photo buyers confirm what I concluded before building my little site with my own two hands and mouse.

    In my carefully targeted individual emails, I say that my website “has no transition effects, animations or musical intros–just quick access to lots of content.”

  27. Myles —
    hmm… I don’t think so, but we may be neighbors.
    I live on 123 SkipIntro St, PreloadThis USA

  28. an art director

    Hi Texas Toast:

    I looked at the site and found it really creative and great programming. I give the photographer balls for doing it. I think the creatives would like the site very much. I liked the explorer feel of the site.

    Now: let’s talk business. What happens if I ask my jr designer to get me Mahon’s phone number? I am gonna be pissed when it takes her 20 mins to find it… Or better yet, I want to send it to the creative director or make some prints for review. Often 5 photographers hang on the wall together and we look at their work together to choose a few to bid. How am I going to make a quick job out of that on Mahon’s site? A PDF would be nice, I am even happy with a few quick screen shots.

    I think there is a fine line between form and function. There has to be some function to it. That is why Modernista!’s site is a good example – you can still get around, and it makes a statement. Find a balance.

  29. Most annoying features in a photographer web site:

    –Number one: Those scrolling, rotating, moving galleries of thumbnails, where you have to chase the thumbnail to TRY and see it big. I usually give up. Why photographers think anyone is impressed with complicated web sites full of bells and whistles is a mystery. This isn’t 1998, and we’re not hiring web designers – we’re hiring photographers and would just like to see some photos.

    –Obscure naming of galleries. I prefer “advertising” or “commercial” “editorial” “personal” —- should be fairly straightforward.

    –scans of tear sheets. just want to see photos in all their glory, we can visualize how they were – or could be – used.

    Best feature:
    –Web sites where a user can keep their mouse and eyes in the same spots, and just keep clicking through to see more photos. Like on an arrow. Like flipping through a portfolio. Simple. Without taking eyes off the full-size picture, to look for the thumbnail of the next picture to click on.

    –It’s also a nice touch, welcome, appreciated, to have photographers acknowledge the AD’s or CD’s they collaborated with on some jobs…. humble, classy, rare:

    example:
    http://www.martienmulder.com/archive/advertising/index.php

    nice blog PE!

  30. Cowart’s site is pretty ugly in my humble opinion (all I see is Virb), but its very well integrated. I really can’t imagine having that many dozens of images on my portfolio site.

    LiveBooks has only recently become truly annoying to me as they have hit critical mass, but I’ve been cringing at the hundreds of NeonSky web sites that are just everywhere and all the same for more than 2 years (Jayson, when are you going to update templates?!).

    If you want to see amazing design work then you need to dig into what Group 94 is doing. I don’t know what some of their high end photo sites (de Keyzer, Greenfield) cost and don’t want to either… I just want to drool. http://www.group94.com/home_old.php

  31. Make sure and let us all know how your site turns out… Usually you get what you pay for.