Thursday, April 16, 2009

Photographer's Website

As a member at I read the forums, of which there are many and many more experienced contributors along with the many ordinary (me) and novice photographers. And any professional and commercial photographer has their own Website. Others do too, but many use the available on-line free photo gallery Website. One of the most frequently asked questions is to evaluate the Website of photographes, usually a new site or an updated or upgraded one.

And this is where it gets interestiing. Professional and commercial photographers usually develop their Website using either a professional Web designer or an on-line or commercial package with templates. There's always the main or home page with either a single photo or slideshow and navigation. Simple and often elegant. And from there you can navigate to their galleries, blog, purchase, about and contact Web pages.

It's pretty much canned format, just slightly different styles. But the common thread to almost all of them is simplicity. The vast majority of photographers like clean designs without a lot of fluff. They want to see the images. After that most don't seem to care, or at least they don't express and an interest beyond the images and basic navigation.

So when someone comes along with a personal expression outside of this style, they can get critical, and easily, in my view, mistake their opinion for expertise. Experience in photography doesn't necessarily translate to experience in Web design, and, again in my view, not much. Understanding visual design and composition in photography is totally different than Web presentation.

I'm not saying I'm an expert in either, not by any stretch of my imagination, but I like personal expression. And while I may not like some Website's desgin, I will always try to admire how it's presented. Because in the end Website design is only partial visual communication. It's really about content and content presentation, which is the world of journalism and publication.

And that's where many photographers lose track of their limitations for critical review outside photography. They often translate the criteria for photography to other areas, forgetting it doesn't usually translate and often misunderstanding the Website design and presentation. I'm no different. There are some I just shrug and go, "Huh?", or "Well, ok."

Anyway, this is just a small, passing comment on an observation about being critical. Sometimes you need to step outside your own shoes and see things differently. Someone's personal Website doesn't have to always be within an accepted standard. That's why it's personal expression. In short follow simple rules when asked, "So, what do you think of my Website?"

If you don't like it, be honest to know it's your opinion.
If you can't express negatives as positives, then don't.
Always be constructive, being destructive only shows on you.
And always say thanks for sharing.

None of us are the best at anything, so don't act as if you are. And don't act as if your standards are everyone's. After all, the situation could easily be reversed and you're on the end of the criticism. How would you feel about your work then?

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