I though I would finish this bit of research by looking at the web galleries of some photographers who had achieved The Royal Photographic Society’s Fellowship award, FRPS. Fellowship is the top accolade of the RPS so it goes without saying that their photographs should be superb. I started with a couple of people whom I have come into contact with and mentioned before in my blog.
Andy Beal, FRPS http://www.andybeelfrps.co.uk/ [accessed 9 August 2013]
As I already knew, Andy’s website is in monochrome, that is his speciality after all. It is clear and simple to navigate by clicking on links in the panel to the left. This is another website though where the homepage does not all fit onto the screen at once which is a bit of a pain and I’m not sure that the bit that doesn’t fit on the screen is necessary as it simply lists workshops which are also listed behind one of the links on the side. Like most of the other professional photographers whose web sites I have viewed, this site is more than simply a means of displaying Andy’s work, it also contains information about the various courses he runs, his diary of events, work for sale, lectures he offers etc. This is one of the better ones I have to say although much more complex than mine needs to be.
Nicki Gwynn-Jones, FRPS. http://www.abirdseyeview.co.uk/ [accessed 9 August 2013]
This is very much an artist’s website, reflection Nicki’s approach to her photography. It is clean and simple to the point of being minimalist. When you enter the site, there are just 4 tabs to choose from; home, which is the screen you see on the left, about, portfolio and contact/sales. But actually that is all that is needed and although, personally I will not take quite such a minimalist approach in terms of colour at least, I really like the simplicity of this gallery.
The last two photographers I didn’t know but found when I googled ‘FRPS’; Susan Brown, FRPS. http://www.susanbrownphotography.co.uk/ [accessed 9 August 2013] Susan is a landscape photographer and looking at the images in her galleries, would appear to focus predominantly on beautiful waterscapes.
Susan’s website is clear and welcoming, again a white background with a large image, changing slide show style and not too many, good-sized tabs in clear lettering down the left side of the screen. Once you click on a link, the tabs move to the top of the screen which is a bit confusing and there is no obvious way back to the home page other than the back arrow. I really did like the feel of this site but just felt that a little help with navigation would have made my experience easier.
Dawn Osborne http://dawnosbornfrps.com/index.htm [accessed 10 August 2013]
Dawn describes her photographic interests as predominantly but not exclusively nature and this is evidenced from her web site. In the main, I have steered away from black backgrounds but liked it on this site, whether it was the simplicity of white lettering against that plain black background or not I’m not sure. I got the feeling that something is not quite right with the text at the right of the main picture though as it is butted right against the picture. There needs to be a gap, or maybe another panel down that side. This is yet another site where the homepage extends beyond one computer screen, at least my computer screen which. I’m beginning to wonder if this is something to do with my monitor of whether it is just me that finds this irritating. Dawn’s portfolio is broken down into themes and within that sub portfolios but navigation within the sub portfolios is inconsistent, in some cases there is an arrow to move you forward or back and in other you just scroll up and down. Copyright information is across the bottom of the images so it does not distract and something that I really liked is that you can see your present location in the site on the title panel. Dawn has included her RPS Fellowship panel within her portfolios which I found really interesting and useful for anyone planning to pursue this route themselves.
One of the things I would have liked in all of these web galleries but only found in one, was a little bit if technical information related to the images. Having had a trip to the Galapagos Islands in January of this year, I found myself comparing some of Dawn’s images with mine and wondering what lens she had used, or exposure, or aperture. I appreciate that most of the photographers whose work I viewed hope to sell their photographs, but I don’t think I am going to present much of a threat by knowing how they took their pictures!
So what have I learnt from all of this? Well, probably the first thing is that the web site or web gallery needs to meet the needs of the photographer. In my case, at this stage at least, it will simply be a place to showcase my best work, mainly for the benefit of family and friends. Therefore it needs to be simple but with the flexibility to add other pages at a later stage if deemed necessary, say for example if I am lucky enough to be able to sell my work. It needs to be welcoming and easy to navigate with just enough text so that people know what is going on without being swamped with words. Navigation tabs and text needs to be large enough but not overpowering. At this stage I would probably only need 4 or possibly 5 navigation tabs on the first screen; Home, About, Galleries and Contact, the possible 5th being a blog. I would want clear guidance on where you are at any time and how to get back to the home page, or in the case of the galleries page, how to move between galleries and forwards and backwards once in them. I also want consistency in the way that images are presented, for example is there a border around them, are they framed?
In terms of the technical stuff, I need to look further into some of the companies, such as Clikpic and Photium that host this sort of web gallery. According to the adverts they place in photography magazines they are quick and easy to set up, offering a range of pre-defined templates and at very reasonable cost. I know too that those mentioned here, and I’m sure others, allow trial periods where you can try them out and evaluate them and I will do that over the coming week or so. I also need to think about image size, whether or not I want a slide show, which I know costs more, exactly how I want the images presented, copyright information and I’m sure lots more which will come to light as I research this further.