Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A New Website Is Born, Part Deux

Ron Antonelli using the Wells template
After having made the decision to switch from Wix to Squarespace to design and build the new website, the first step was to select a template. Unlike Wix, Squarespace follows through with their model of simplicity by offering far fewer template choices to make things easy. For photography portfolios, there were three potential template choices that I deemed as possibilities: Wells, Front Row and Momentum.

My criteria was as follows: 1) a simple design that allowed the images to dominate the pages; and 2) depiction of images, one at a time, in a large format. In order to get a feel for how images would look with each template, i viewed the demo that Squarespace provides for the templates. I also searched out the work of other photographers who were using Squarespace templates. I had already seek +Scott Kelby's soon-to-be launched sports photography site and found Ron Antonelli's site on the web. Like Scott, Ron was using the Wells template.

I found another photographer who was using the Front Row template. Momentum was still in the mix but I kept coming back to Wells. White background, large images simple navigation. That was the ticket.

After choosing to go with a logo and opting to have the menu sidebar on left side of the page, font selection for the menu was the next order of business. This is where Squarespace deviates from limited choices. Holy crap, I was looking at at least a couple of hundred font choices and I had to pick one. Long story short, I chose Julius Sans One, which I thought went nicely with the Papyrus font I used in the logo. I adjusted the sidebar size, some of the cell padding including that of the gallery images (made the gallery images a bit smaller than full bleed), and went with the numbered gallery control at the bottom left instead of a "Prev/Next" or bullet type gallery control. After all that, it was time to begin work on the galleries.

Wide World Of Sports

Sports Pageantry
Since I am first and foremost a sports photographer, I had to decide how to display my sports images. My first inclination was to have a gallery of just football images and a second for all other sports. That gave way to having a gallery of sports action shots and a second with images depicting pageantry as well as behind the scenes stuff. The Gallery titles I settled on were "Wide World Of Sports" and "Sports Pageantry".

In The Studio
Next I wanted to feature my studio shots in a gallery. Primarily, I shoot aspiring models in my studio for their portfolios. A simple title, "In The Studio", seemed like a good choice. Landscape, travel, people, black & white, and wildlife were other genres I wanted to include on my site and I chose to have a gallery of landscape type images from around the U.S. in one gallery and a second with travel images from around the world. Gallery titles were mulled over and finalized for each category.
Entrance to Birkenau
Since I've decided to begin creating personal photo projects for myself, I wanted to include at least one past project on the site and that was one depicting the Auschwitz and Birkenau concentration camps near Krakow, Poland. I will be adding more projects to the site as I complete them, and as of now, I'm thinking of one for cars, one for musical instruments, another for gymnasts, and one for firefighters. I just need to find the time to start on one of these.

My first DSLR image
Image selection has been, by far, the most difficult exercise in creating the website. Considering that I have taken tens of thousands of digital images, going through and choosing which ones to include in galleries has been a painstaking, process. I'm still not finished, but I have managed to cut the image galleries down to 20 images per gallery, discarding many images that I have featured in prior websites and replacing them with better (hopefully) ones. I want to get down to 15 per gallery, if possible. I'm told that after 12-15 images, most people's attention span begins to wane which is one very good reason to get down to 15 images. More importantly, limiting the galleries to 15 images ensures that the images are truly the best of the best, which is the goal.

With many images, there is a sentimental or nostalgic attachment that clouds my judgment in terms of whether to include them in galleries. Some images bring back memories, a special moment that has nothing to do with the image itself, or any of a million other peripheral reasons. For example, I am hell bent on including the car image above, not because it's an earth shattering rendition of a street rod, but because it was my very first image shot with a DSLR. In addition, my wife gave me that Nikon D50 for Christmas in 2005 and a couple of kit lenses so I could begin to explore the world of digital photography. After the Christmas dust settled and the battery was charged, I went out to test out my new toy. I happened across the car and fired off a few images. So, this image carries a lot of sentimental baggage with it.

That is where the advice of others comes into play. I have asked friends to view my site and pour through the images I have currently included and asked them to tell me which ones don't spin their wheels. After receiving feedback, I will take their advice into consideration and finalize the galleries. Hopefully, in a week or so, the process will be completed and the site will be finished.


Mark Coons said...

Great job Mike, love your new site.

No arguing with the end result. But I found the Squarespace tool way too difficult for me to navigate.

I was attempting to do exactly what you did but could never figure it out. Too dense I guess.

You portfolio is beautiful, the site and the images, well done!

Jim Harrison said...

Well thought out. Well put together. End result is stellar.

All of your images evoke a desire for more, and I truly enjoy them.

Hard work pays off. Great site!


Howard said...

Two thoughts: (1) I am astounded you only started DSLR photography around Christmas 2005 - your work certainly suggests a more lengthy period. (2) I know you didn't seek votes on your next project, but if I could, I would vote for cars. After all, a man who drives a 911 must appreciate autos!

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