I have to admit that I've been hesitant about creating a list of say, "X Outstanding Photographer Websites" or "My Favorite Photographer Websites".
I'm not quite sure I can explain why but here's a stab:
Maybe because creating a website, especially a custom website can be so complex. Plus, marketing online takes many forms. Some photographers are well established and can afford to "break the rules"; others may have great agents. And one big factor: budgets. The money can have an impact on the features, functionality and the wow factor of any web site.
So before I launch into my list of 12 Non-Flash Photographer Websites I thought you might want to know my methodology:
- Easy to navigate: I'm a stickler for getting through a website easily and without too much thinking. If I can't get around your website easy peasy, see you later.
- Clarity of message: Some do it better than others but I think all reflect a strong brand or personality either through consistency of imagery shared, copywriting or both.
- Diversity: I did try to present a diverse range of websites because not everyone can go to the moon.
- Perfect doesn't exist. Or does it? A website to me is always in a state of transition and evolution merely because technology and the tools for marketing change so fast. This isn't to say there aren't websites that truly kick ass but perfect? I'm really not sure. It's easy to criticize work when context is absent. Some of these sites are not optimized for search engines or void of social media but heck, not everyone wants to tweet or be followed. You create, design within constraints and when building, owning a website you can have a lot.
- No template websites: As far as I know, none of the websites mentioned use templates.
- None are websites I've designed: All of these websites were designed by other talented peeps around the web. So this is as much a shout out for the photographers as it is for the designers. If you want to see work I've done for photographers, click here.
- Not an image critique: In an ideal world, all the content presented is top-notch. As a photographer the goal is to present your very best work. For this purpose, I did not have the time to view every image. Plus, I work with a lot of businesses and photographers and the reality is that not everyone can afford a picture editor or photography consultant so they DIY. I'm approaching this from an overall experience; not focusing on any one thing. If I've responded to the images or anything specific, I've said so below.
I could look at John's portraits all day even though I may not know most of them. Yep, these are famous people I don't know yet...
His website is such a breath of fresh air. John's website clearly looks to have been an investment that I'm guessing works well for him. Given his audience and his subjects, it was smart of him to go the distance.
Be sure to resize the browser on the home page. Watch his video bio (brilliant!) and read his blog. Every part of this website tells you something more about his brand, his personality and what it would be like working with him, hiring him or being photographed by him.
This is another site that works because of its simplicity. There's no fuss. Initially I wasn't too keen on the splash home page but on her site, it works more like a magazine cover because of the layout and the image she chooses to display. Try refreshing the page: each reload brings up a new image.
Jewell and Ginnie
If you create video stories, here's a website done smart. The site has spunk, down-to-earth personality (yay, copywriting!) and is well-organized. I love how their blog, "Notions" is designed in a different way from their main website but retains the flavor of their company/brand.
Ben Thompson Photography
As a designer, I can appreciate horizontal scrolling websites. It's a nice twist on the typical vertical experience but as a user, I despise most horizontal websites. Ben's website is one I can get behind both for its design and usability. Check out either Book 1 or Book 2 and just click anywhere on the image areas to scroll horizontally. If you don't want to click, use your keyboard to move through them.
Now here is a photographer who knows what he loves to do. He doesn't offer services for every photo category known to man. He specializes. What I really responded to was the organization of his images by theme: Fire, Earth, Water Air.
Most photographs tend to lean blue so his choice of background color really works well with color and black and white photography. It's a nice departure from the grey, black and white backgrounds of most photographer websites. The titles and captions with each image help give context. I love his bio image.
Here's another website that slows, me, down, and yes, makes me think. Sweet touches of animation and I particularly like the navigation from one series to the next.
Mariana Oñate Cisternas Photography
What I love most about Mariana's website are some of the dramatic colors and bold photography. Add to that the nice touches of animation when moving from one portfolio to the next. Yes, this website scrolls horizontally when you view images but the large pagination arrows make the ability to do so easy peasy.
What I love about JJ's website is the depth. There's so much content which is really great for search engines.The copywriting is polished, active and action-oriented.
The site is easy to read, navigate and seriously well organized. This site is an example of how a photographer's website can be more than just a portfolio experience especially if your audience includes direct sales or services; meaning: you aren't just looking to be hired by a picture editor or an advertising art director/creative director.
It's clear he is running a business.
Lorna's website feels like a book. There's a precious quality to the design that is super consistent with the imagery. At first I wasn't too sure I liked the splash page but in this case it works. I feel like I entered a magical place full of images that take me to another world.
Be sure to check out her commercial portfolio. It's also a nice presentation.
For me, the best part about this website is the Publications section. I love the care and attention to detail that was put into the presentation of his books.
While some people might find his website stark or "too boring" I find the overall experience consistent and complementary to his brand and images. I feel like I could be in a gallery and with this website, I would need to break out the white gloves!
Ok, so some of my favorite peeps were involved in the production of this website and we are friends but I really do think Tiffany's website was well-executed and every detail well thought out.
What I especially love are the image pairings. It's rare to see image pairings on a photographer's website and pairings that work well. I mean, there are some seriously funny ones likethis and really bizarre like this.
There are nice touches of animation on hover when on the main portfolio grid and when viewing a single image, moving from image to image is easy peasy. The image also scales to adjust to the browser window which makes viewing her website easy on a desktop screen or on a laptop. Main navigation labeling is clear and her site seems to be well-optimized for search engines.
Her blog is an absolute delight. It sounds just like her and that's good because hiring a photographer is more than just digging their photos.
The images here are striking and so is the presentation especially on the home page. The website is pretty simple but the effect is bold. I'm pretty sure seeing Giles's images in a gallery pales in comparison to the online experience. Check out his insects project.