I am proud to announce and publish this new web site to feature my photography prints and services. Several things came together at once to motivate me to redesign the site, so I thought I would take this opportunity to share a few of those motivations to give a little backstage tour of how this all came to be.
First, as with many things, money is a big motivator. My previous hosting company costs almost three times as much for a year of hosting as my current hosting company. I am a big believer in value and I am completely willing to pay out more money if I think it is worth it, and in this case it wasn't worth staying with the previous company. Not only did they charge more for the annual hosting fee, but they were taking twice the percentage in transaction fees to sell prints online through their e-commerce features for prints I sell and ship to customers. Many of these photography web site hosting companies allow photographers to outsource their printing to online print houses and automate the printing and shipping of purchased products. I like to see what gets sent to customers first, so I choose to do self-fulfillment and I was paying too much to the hosting company to do that.
Now, let's be honest, I am not getting rich selling prints online. In fact I often wonder if people are really still buying prints any more, but I will save that topic for another blog posting. Having a photography web site like this is a way to make my work widely visible to anyone interested when I say "I am a photographer." I have to admit it is pretty cool when people ask if I have a web site and sell prints and I can share this link with them. It adds a certain level of credibility, but let's be honest again. Anyone can host a web site and having your own domain name doesn't mean your work is any good, but it does help getting it looked at in the beginning.
Once I made the decision to move to a new hosting company, my second major motivation in the way this site is designed is to feature images first and foremost. I wanted my images to be as big as possible - to literally fill the screen as much as possible and let them speak for themselves. I have worked pretty hard on the overall design of this site to do that and I will continue to look for ways to make the images as large as possible wherever possible. Those who know me know I favor substance over flash and want my photos to take the stage, not a bunch of text about me. Now having said that, each photo on this site was carefully selected as each has a story that goes with it. It is funny and a bit sad that while I probably can't tell you what I had for lunch yesterday, I can probably tell you what lens was used for each photo, who I was with, and definitely what I was thinking when I shot each picture, and some of these are twelve years old. These photos are very important to me and deserve to be shown as big and brightly as possible.
A lot of work goes into moving from one hosting platform to another, but today's hosting services actually make a lot of that work easier than it was just a few years ago. It starts with moving images and their metadata, and that is a blog post in itself right there. The casual observer might be surprised at the amount of coordination and organization it takes to manage 170,000 images overall offline, and then pick the top 100 or so and manage the titles, captions, and other metadata that travels with each image to the web site. The organization into galleries transfers cleanly, so then it becomes a matter of the user interface and experience. Choosing colors and fonts, placement of site elements like headers, footers, menu bars and display names, deciding the overall page layout for each section and should the text go on the left with thumbnails on the right or the other way around - these are just a few of the decisions made when editing the overall look and feel of the site.
Overall I am really pleased with how it has turned out and I am sure I will continue to adjust it moving forward. I would love any constructive feedback on what works and doesn't work for you. Lastly I need to thank a few meticulously detailed individuals who reviewed this site page by page, word by word and gave me great feedback to make it really great. Kate Whitmore - you are my hero in more ways than one!! Thank you!!! Brandon Thomas, you are my marketing guru - thanks for everything with this site and the business overall.