Exercise 25: A web gallery

Creating a web gallery is a rather apt topic for my final exercise in DPP. In a month which witnessed Kodak, the pioneers of film photography, declaring bankruptcy, nowadays the end point of the photograph is an onscreen image. This is acknowledged by Bull (2010, 78) who states:

Screens have become as connected to the experience of viewing photographs as looking at printed pictures on paper.

This is very much the case with my photography. I rarely print my pictures. I can’t remember the last time I printed a picture, put it in a  frame and hung it on a wall! Digital images can be displayed on so many different devices including, smart phones, tablets, computers, and TVs. Wifi and Internet technologies have enabled photographs to be distributed widely and in a very short time frame. Friends and family can view and share albums online and professional photographers can advertise their skill by creating marketing website portfolios.

Although this is the last exercise of DPP, setting up a website is something I have done a while ago. This exercise will enable me to share my thinking and reasons for choosing a particular site.

Choosing a website provider

Photography and the Internet have become reliant on each other. Digital images are naturally suited to being displayed on a screen and websites would look very boring if you could only scroll through pages of text. Therefore there is almost a countless number of websites that the photographer is able to choose from, including both free and paid versions. I’m aware that there are other options that involve designing a website from scratch, with software such as Dreamweaver, but at the moment all my free time is taken up with working through my OCA coursework, so I haven’t got the time to create my own yet!

Before I refer to websites I considered before making my final choice, I think it’s important to first mention blogs. WordPress and Blogger are two of the most popular blogging platforms available for free (there is an option to pay for a WordPress site and self-host). Blogs can be designed to navigate like a website and if the content is regularly updated it can achieve a higher Google SEO than a website that may contain photographs and very little text. To date my this blog has received over 6,000 hits which is very pleasing and rewarding, knowing that others are interested in what I am doing. Posterous is another such blogging site, with extras! You are able to create blogs as groups and specify who can access it. Pages can be created like a website and an added bonus is that you can auto-post the content you create to your other web-tools, such as Flickr, Tumblr, Twitter and Facebook. In terms of a social media marketing strategy I can see the benefits in terms of saving time and distributing content to a wide audience. However it can be a concern as to what happens to your images when they’re out on the Internet and it’s always important to check the small print. For example when posting to Facebook their terms state:

Subsequently there is a trade off for photographers to maximise their publicity at the expense of relinquishing some of their rights. Photographers can protect their images by placing watermarks, limiting the image size and using tables. More information about protecting your images can be found here.

My Digital Eye

My blog works very much like a website with links to various sections. However I wanted something that could display photos larger and offer slide shows etc for the viewer. Therefore I needed to look for a photography website. Photography magazines such as DSLR User offered some examples through adverts and reviews. It was also helpful to see some providers offered a try before you buy option. Websites that I looked at included, Clik Pic, Photo Shelter, 4ormat, Viewbook, and Smugmug. They all had lots of good aspects to them, I decided to list what I wanted from a website:

  • minimum cost
  • opportunities to personalise with a domain name and logo
  • slideshow creation
  • multiple albums
  • easy to upload and organise images
  • marketing facility
  • large images
  • thumb nails
  • clean and simple interface
  • links to other social media tools

Viewbook

After much deliberating and trying out different free trials I decided to choose Viewbook for my website. It is very simple to use, based on frames. This enables the user to have images on screen that aren’t surrounded by lengthy menus etc. It is also able to be customised by adding your own logo and links to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr etc. Another bonus is that it can be viewed on an iPad and other tablets, something that is very important for photographers wanting to share their work and create portfolios nowadays.

Uploading is very quick and can be used as part of the Aperture or Lightroom workflow. Once the images are uploaded they can be added to albums which in turn can be customised and displayed in various sizes with thumb nails and arrows to aid navigation. Below is a screen shot from my website. I decided to use my photos from Assignment 3 in the web gallery for this project.

I decided to keep the gallery very simple and uncluttered with a white background to show the images at their best. As you can see above there are arrows to navigate through the photographs, which are also represented as thumbnails if the viewer wants to select them in a different order, stepping in and out of the collection. I have also tried to keep the menu navigation simple, with links to information about me, my blog, projects and motion (film projects). I have also included a ‘Like’ button which links to my Facebook page. This is part of my longer term strategy of promoting my work to a wider audience.

Next Steps

It has taken me almost a year to come up with a logo and website that I’m happy with. I feel that this should showcase the best of my photography, rather than somewhere to upload everything. I now need to consider how to categorise my images. This has also got me thinking about which area of photography I will specialise in and how my own personal style will develop. I have also bought the domain name www.mattdavenportphotography.co.uk. Having ‘photography’ in the domain name should also increase my Google rating. I also need to think about the key words and meta-tags I use.

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