Hi Gang: We had so many questions yesterday about my new Flash-based portfolio that RC Concepcion put together for me, that we thought he might be helpful if he did a Q&A for you guys, and RC being RC, he was more than happy to. Here’s a quick Q&A from RC himself:
Q. Great Job with Scott’s Portfolio! I love it!
A. That’s not really a question, but an awesome statement. I’m glad you’re enjoying it!
Q. I’m having a hard time figuring out the navigation. It took me a little bit to figure out how to advance the pictures/see the arrows/move around
A. In the portfolio, all you really need to do is move the mouse slightly and you can see the navigation icons. From there, I would think the next impulse you’d have would be to click.. it’s what I do.
Q. I miss the Thumbnails
A. This is one version of a component that doesn’t include thumbnails, and I have to say – I really prefer it over having them online. The best way that I can equate it is like this: When someone handed you a physical portfolio, how anti-climactic would it have been to see all of the pictures on a small contact sheet before you even began. Part of the portfolio process (hard cover) was to turn that page and “Ahhhh..” See the next image in the series. If you really spent time looking at the portfolio, you used those images to carry a theme along and move the ‘energy’ of your work up, up, up. All of that just becomes “Photo Collecting” when its on a thumbnail list. Does this mean that this is wrong? Not at all.. there are components that -have- thumbnails. Just means that this one is different.
Q. Did you design this component?
A. Absolutely not! That honor goes to Tomuta Tiberiu from Flash Web Design in Romania. Tibi just knocked it out of the park on this one by providing something that is modular, engaging, AND cheap! All of that code cost 50 bucks to use. Think of that next time a web design service wants to charge you 2 grand for a site! When my class comes online – I’ll show you how to take pieces like this and put it together with a strategy.
Q. Hey, no fair! You didn’t even build this!
A. Hey! Not a question! But I will address it this way. I had a conversation with Scott in NY some time ago that set me on this course.. so I invariably owe it to him. As a photographer, your job is to develop the best Pictures. The website is a means to an end. You’re not trying to win a website design award with your site, but you want it to look clean, sharp, engaging, and stylish. I’d argue you don’t want to spend a lot of time doing so AND you don’t want to go back to college to do this. In this, components can help.
If I design a site to sell pocketbooks.. would it be cheating if I bought a shopping cart solution and didn’t hand program one from scratch? Nope. I don’t write my email program from scratch either – I use Outlook. Look at these components as what they are – Tools- and you’ll realize you can be better spending your time taking pictures than sweating the technology.
Q. Flash sites are Terrible. I can’t see them on my iPhone! Plus, they’re not SEO compliant.
A. You know what’s terrible? The fact that the iPhone still doesn’t have Flash. My Droid will soon though.. (Sorry.. couldn’t resist.. and I love apple).
The SEO Compliancy thing is another animal too.. Yes, Flash is harder to work with from an SEO standpoint – but I argue that if the Flash portfolio were the ONLY thing you were putting out there, you have a bigger problem than SEO. The hardest person to get to a site is a repeat visitor. After someone sees your SEO compliant website of a portfolio, why would they want to come back? What are you going to give the Internet community as a reason to trust you with their project?
There are two things that you should keep in mind with Photography on the Internet nowadays. 1. Tons of photographers are using it, so if EVERYONE had top notch SEO, you’re still going to need to be ranked. 2. Tons of photographers are doing it online – and you’re going to have to differentiate yourself to be able to stand out.
SEO alone will give you very little. To be competitive in this industry you need to go to where the photographers and the clients are going. If there’s anyone that can get away with a blog (like my personal blog for example) – it’s the photographer. If there’s anyone that can get away with Twitter (like my Twitter), it’s the photographer. You get to have a platform where you CONSTANTLY add, opine, review and talk about WHAT you do for a living, and in the process, the Internet community gets to see you as a resource. Your client gets to meet the person behind the images (Which is what they’re really looking for when they see the work.. your Vision.. so to speak). You cannot simply setup a lemonade stand and expect them to come anymore. You need to go pitch your tent at the Marathons..
Don’t focus as much on SEO on your portfolio and focus on setting up a blog or Facebook or Twitter. See my classes online for help with those things.
Q. This is Lame, I’m a pretty hip Photographer and Want to learn how to code a XML based Gallery from Scratch
A. No, you don’t.
Q. Yes, I do
A. OK. Let’s play a game. Click on this image from my Flickr Account. This is a snapshot from a BASIC sample XML based gallery. This is also a summation of a non-programmers experience with programmers. By the time you get to step three, you will be foaming at the mouth and eyes will be rolled into the back of your head. I am not responsible for that.
Now, If you’re a programmer.. then this stuff may be easy and AS3 is the best thing for you. The world is your Oyster and I say follow people like Tibi for an example in how to make a Killing by helping the rest of us out.
Q. The Portfolio looks exactly the same as ….
A. That’s ok, as long as the images don’t look exactly the same as mine. Remember, at some point we should expect the demonstration of our images to have -something- in common…that’s called Functionality. It’s not like when physical portfolios existed, some people used a Black binder, some used a hatbox, some used a paper bag. We all shared a common portfolio presentation thing.. this is just something we should demand online.. Less zoom/flower/gusy movements and let more of your images speak for you.
Q. How can this work with a blog based layout?
A. Scott has the portfolio coming into another page. Click here to see an example where I have the portfolio pop into a specific window -inside- of a blog.. pretty easy too. This also let’s me control the dimensions of the Flash component to minimize the clipping you may see of images.
Q. It looks like some images are clipped if your browser is at a specific size. Can you change that?
A. Yup.. just wrap that stuff in some CSS and you should be good to go. Those (and how to do what I posted about in the previous question) are the things I’m covering in the portfolio class I’m doing.
Q. When is your class coming?
A. Very soon!
Q. I noticed some pixelation on an image. Can I change that?
A. Yup. All depends on how you save that image from Photoshop, and how much of a file size you think your clients are willing to tolerate.
Q. Can I have thumbnails for a portfolio like this?
A. Sure! Tibi has a bunch of templates on this.. I’m going to cover a couple to show you.
Q. Can I code in Sharpening into the Component?
A. Nope.. Sharpen in Photoshop. And keep in mind, you are looking at images on a computer screen.. because of size limits.. the general user accepts that they may see artifacts. If you want to see it pristine.. expect a large file size or you’ll have to get the print.
Q. How can I see images on the iPhone?
A. Another thing that I am covering on the class. There are places out there that have really cool and inexpensive technologies based on things like Jquery that make it really easy to setup. Now If we could just get the Lightroom team to put in some Jquery based templates into their web module that’d be nice… (Think Jquery Galleria.. for in Lightroom.. mmmmm)
So I’ll cover more than just using Flash to do this.. and even cover how to make a website change based on what device you’re using.[Thanks RC for tackling those, and thanks again for the snappy new portfolio! -Scott].