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Photography - Portrait of a Young Woman

I love photography, so I felt a little indulgent when I decided to do a column on photography websites. Not only because I enjoy taking photos and browsing portfolios, but because trying to convince clients of the value of using quality photos is a tough task, and showing off sites that rely almost exclusively on photographs for content seemed a little cheeky. In any case, the sites featured below contain some amazing photography, and are all unique despite their common subject matter.

ashesandsnow.com

The incredible thing about this website is the vision behind it, and the way itís interwoven through the site and the images on the site. This is more of an online art exhibition than it is photography portfolio, but the photography here is stunningly beautiful and very touching in its simplicity. Because of its vision and the focus of the site, the navigation of the ďExploreĒ area isnít frustrating or unusable, it reflects the nature of the work: flowing and free, allowing the user to take their own path through the images and interpret what they find in their own words.

This website is the perfect example of the idea that on the web, you can make things work your way. Along with that idea of course, comes the question of whether you should make things work your way, but in this case, the answer is most definitely yes. Different, innovative, touching and very beautiful, this website stretches our ideas about what a website is and does so flawlessly.

noriomatsumoto.com

I am a huge fan of landscape photography, and Norio Matsumutoís portrait of Alaska is a fantastic example of the richness this style of photography offers. Norioís site is somewhat unique in the way his story unfolds as you wander through the site. If you start from the beginning, you are introduced to Norio, and then plunged into the Alaskan scenery, sharing Norioís vision of the landscape, and gaining insight into his love for it. The ĎPhotographer Insightí section at the end of the portfolio adds more to Norioís story by briefly describing photos of the conditions he lives in while on site.

I loved this website firstly for the photography, as Norioís talent for capturing the breathtaking scenery he encounters is immense. However, I couldnít help but admire Norio himself for committing himself completely to his work. This is a very simple website that is made special by its content and the talent behind it.

ronbergphoto.com

Single photographs communicate a concept or an idea, or represent an event. Photographic portfolios represent a personís artistic character, and communicate their expression of a scene or collection of objects. Ron Berg is a colourful character, and his portfolio is quite different.

I really like the layout of this website. The simple text that includes a few interesting click events and the seemingly haphazard but surprisingly easy to use navigation is fairly endearing, and certainly stands out from the crowd. Sometimes, itís worth trying something different from the norm, as in this site, what Ronís lost in usability (not a great deal in my opinion), heís picked up in character and that sort of nagging persistency, where I know Iíll remember this website whether I want to or not.

kurtarrigo.com

I was introduced to Kurtís website in a former guise, and was simply blown away by the quality of his photography. His love of the outdoors is evident, and it is shown expertly in his work. This, as in any form of expression, is a key when presenting your passion to the world, that people know you love it. Nothing attracts people more than someone who is passionate about what they do.

Itís testament to the quality of Kurtís photography that I hung around his site for as long as I did, for as much as I love the simplicity of the layout and the focus on his work, I hate the navigation. Nothing frustrates me more than out of control scroll areas; you canít read the titles of each section properly when itís moving or when a photo is highlighted, I move my mouse the slightest amount and all of a sudden Iím whizzing past photos of yachts in a blur. Also, as much I can understand Kurtís passion for sailing, there are waaaay too many sections here to be scrolling horizontally with images this size. Iíve got a reasonably good screen resolution too, I canít imagine this site at 1024x768 or less, it would be infuriating.

I know a lot of people that would simply give up on this site with navigation this frustrating, and thatís not something most of us can afford to treat nonchalantly. The structure of the information on your site and the methods you offer to navigate it is the basis of website usability, and if you get them wrong, you could be annoying way more people than youíre attracting.

Conclusion

Photography websites are simplicity personified. The images on the site are not of the product, they are the product, which gives designers a bit more freedom in the way theyíre presented, but they must present them as the most important thing on the screen. Photography websites demand that design, layout and navigation all take a back seat to the content itself, a concept that some would do well to adopt. Norioís website is perhaps the most pure example of this from this bunch, as thereís not much else on his site. If the area inhabited by photographs on his site was replaced up by company information or product shots and details, his website wouldnít have any impact at all on a national, let alone international scene. As it is however, Norioís website has won some of the most prestigious website awards there are. So perhaps the best thing about photography websites is the humility the web designer must adopt in allowing his work to be second to the artists.

Cheers

Jason Harper
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Jason Harper

Jason Harper

Run Web Design is a Geelong based company committed to providing businesses with a complete, professional web site development service.

With services covering all aspects of web site development, including website design and construction, search engine optimisation, domain registration and web hosting, and online advertising advice, Run Web Design is able to provide clients with a web site that works for their business.

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Marathon is Run Web Design's webzine containing information and articles on Website, Internet and Business related topics. Also included are some websites from around the world that are making some noise.

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