It took a while, but I finally gave my portfolio website an overhaul and updated it. You can check it out here, or just click the image--
There's still a kink or two and I plan to add more photos soon, but overall, I'm happy with it how it turned out. It's a fresh and clean design, not a lot of fluff, just pictures..which is really all there needs to be.
warning: i get cranky in the next few paragraphs....
I struggle a lot with the idea of "web presence". Obviously, it's essential for a photographer of any genre to have a good web presence---it's how the majority of us get our businees, where we store our portfolios, etc. But the variety of presence can be daunting.
First, there's your website, then blog, then facebook...and tumblr, flickr, 500px, google+. Almost every photographer I know has at least five of these things if not all (I have all, and then some)...so then there's the decision of WHAT to post WHERE. Do you put commercial work on one site and personal work on the other? What if the truly creative and artistic work overlaps with the professional jobs?
Where do you put it all?
Then there's the branding---which is a HUGE word in the world of lifestyle wedding & portrait photography. All those guys seem to care about is "branding". "Build your brand" you hear them say all the time. But what does that even mean? I mean, I know what it means....but it's all just so...meaningless, I'm beginning to think.
I think part of my problem is that I'm getting old and annoyed with the wedding photography industry. When I took my first photography class back in the 80s I thought "I WILL NEVER EVER BE A WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER" because....it was the 80s and wedding photography was so boring and lame. Then slowly, some really creative photographers began to break away from the pack and began shooting a little differently, then with the advent of digital cameras....everything changed. Suddenly, wedding photography became this fresh, new, creative thing and soon after EVERYONE was doing it, and certain photgraphers were making tons of money off of other photographers just thirsty to get their feet in the door. The age of the "rock star" wedding photographer was born---with their own fanbase to stroke their egos.
I'm not necessarily criticizing--- it was an exciting time, and I got caught up in it too (just dig thru my archives and you'll see me drinking the koolaid wayyyy back on my blog). But as digital camera prices came down and equipment more accessible to regular people, it seemed like every day a new photo business was born. Someone got a new camera for Christmas and by Spring, they were charging $2K to shoot a wedding. It's ridiculous.
Now here I am....sounding like that grumpy old photographer. And I'm really not because there really is a lot of great talent out there. But there are a lot of schmucks out there too. People who don't know Diane Arbus and Robert Frank. People who've never heard of Edward Weston or Gordon Parks Sr. And I don't care if this all makes me sound like that grumpy old photographer---these photographers are truly the MASTERS and have shaped how I see the world and have influenced me personally and artistically for the last 25 years.
So when I see other wedding photographers all like "OMG PHOTOGRAPHY IS MY PASSION AND MAKING YOU LOOK BEAUTIFUL IS ALL I'VE EVER WANTED OUT OF LIFE AND OH YEAH LOOK AT MY NEW SHOES AND MY SHINY NEW LENS AND GO COMMENT ON MY BLOG AND LIKE MY CRAP ON FACEBOOK AND OHHH LOOK AT THE PICS I TOOK ON MY PHONE OF MY PUPPY".... I kind of want to throw up a little bit.
I still love wedding photography. I love being with families on such a special occasion---it's really an amazing experience. But it's not all I do and it certainly doesn't define me.
I'm a photographer. Through and through.
There are the things I photograph to make money. And there are things I photograph to feed my soul. On the best occasions, some of those things serve both needs.
So when it comes to my "web presence" I struggle with how to represent all that I do. The wedding world is so separate from the Art world and rarely do the two mix. I seem to have a foot...or maybe just a toe... in each world but to be taken seriously in one, it often feels like you must forsake the other. And I can't do that. I won't.
Art photographers have no (or little) respect for wedding photographers (sometimes deservedly so). Wedding photographers think Art photograhpers are pretentious jerks (some are). Photojournalists think they're better than everyone and Music photographers are just busy acting like they're cooler than everyone.
I'm left here in cyberspace trying to cohabitate with all of it. Because I really love all of it. I love all photography. And since I was 15, I've done a little bit (or a lot) of everything so I can't let me web presence signify just one facet of the artist that I am.
A long time ago I met a working photographer whom I admired. I was just barely getting started in the photo scene here in Columbus, just trying to get my feet wet, get a little bit of experience here and there. I'd met some great photographers along the way. I remember asking this guy if he knew another really cool photographer that I'd just recently met. He told me no and said that he didn't really hang out with other photographers... most of his friends were other types of artists: painters, sculptors, writers. He said he loved the inspiration they were all able to draw from each other.
I think about that a lot. There's some real wisdom there.
Unlike what others might say and very unlike what others might do-- there's no formula to becoming successful as a photographer. And there's no one way to establish your web presence or to show your work. You don't need a certain type of camera or a certain blog template or fancy website to make it in this business.
You just need a little creativity and a lot of authenticity. And just shoot what you like.
At least....that's what I do, and so far it's been working pretty well. I'm just gonna keep posting my pics and making random updates and hope that sooner or later, I get it right.