Website Critiques

Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by squee, Aug 12, 2010.

  1. squee

    squee TPF Noob!

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    Alright here goes...

    My website/business has been open since July 25th of this year. The website started out non-flash and REALLY sad looking (we're talkin freewebs template and stuff). That first week, I somehow got three clients (two portraits, one event). Since I updated my site to flash the calls and emails have come to a sudden stop. I didn't change any of my outside advertising patterns or prices, I just changed the website. I get, on average, about 10 different visitors a day that I don't already know but they're not biting anymore!

    So give me the good, the bad, and the ugly. What's going on? Do I need to touch up my portfolio? Should I tweak my prices? Any and all suggestions are welcome. I'm too poor to hire a professional marketing advisor (actually I just have an expensive addiction to buying new lenses.)

    TIA :hug::
     
  2. HikinMike

    HikinMike No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    For me, having a Flash website AND music are two things that make me click away and never return. I'm sure I'm not the only one.

    If you want to be found in the search engines, read this: SEO for the Photographer.
     
  3. Aayria

    Aayria TPF Noob!

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    +1 to the previous poster about flash websites and SEO.

    I currently have a flash website, because I only take on a very limited number of clients and being found on the google engine isn't at the top of my priority list. However..I would like to take on more down the road, which is why my DH and I are working to write my website in a better format.

    Couple of comments...First, your flash "box" is up in the top left corner of my browser window. You need to get it centered or it looks haphazardly tossed on there. The black box in the corner of a white browser is also a bit hard on the eyes. You need to either lighten up the background of your box, or find a way to make the surrounding area of your page match the black.

    It looks like you have some good layout ideas, but (and I'm not trying to be mean at all...I just want to give you my honest impression) there were a lot of things that just made me..uncomfortable trying to view your page.

    First, the butterfly is distracting. The little wing flapping animation makes the viewer want to shooo it away to better view what the website is supposed to be about.

    The transition between images on your portfolio is realllyyyyy annoying IMO. I know it's "neat" and it might be a taste thing, but the bounce is really harsh and feels unstable.. which makes the viewer feel almost tense flipping between pictures.

    It just feels too busy in general. You have a nice layout idea, but it makes your eyes want to go all over the place, without a clear focal point in each section.

    Finally..there's the portfolio in general. I don't want to put you down, because I think it's great to go out there and take pictures. If people like what you do and want to come to you, that's great! But I would really consider the choice of images you put in. Maybe put a few up for serious C&C to help out. The processing is a bit distracting in many, rather than complimentary. The backdrops are wrinkled, and in one image you can even see that the backdrop cuts off in the middle on each side, with the wall behind it. The man in bright sunlight has really harsh shadows on his face, especially with the mustache, so you can' t really get an idea of what he actually looks like- especially with the contrast bumped so much. The random beer bottle is...out of place? The boy with the basketball is a cute idea, but with him in the middle of the frame taken from a high angle it just feels like a point and shoot shot. The girl looking down at the camera with her lip pierced (one of the first pictures) is an "up the nostril" shot and not flattering.

    There was one image I did really like...the girl climbing through the window. It was creative, well composed, told a story, and wasn't overly processed. It was definitely in the right direction. I also rather liked the one that was shot from high up with the girl wearing a hat, glancing upwards, with a half circle on the floor (black and white).

    I'm sorry for being so negative..I really hope you'll take what people have to say and use it to improve instead of feeling discouraged.
     
  4. JamesMason

    JamesMason TPF Noob!

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  5. squee

    squee TPF Noob!

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    Thank you both for your comments.

    To respond, Aayria, that all was wonderful advice. Some of the shots that you mentioned where the backdrop is wrinkled etc. was done on purpose. The one where the girl's bubble wand is in focus and the wall corner shows is a mistake though! I also always tended to do high contrast (emo, if you will....) shots. I'm thinking I have a style problem? I guess when I get in front of the computer I just do what feels right but I have some brushing up to do.
     
  6. squee

    squee TPF Noob!

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    Holy cr@p James. Thank you. I am planning on registering my own domain soon because sales have been steady enough to justify now, but I'm waiting to see feedback (like this thread) before I make any move.

    For instance, it's been suggested I shouldn't do flash so I probably won't buy my domain through Wix. :er:
     
  7. Aayria

    Aayria TPF Noob!

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    One bit of advice I was given on these forums a while back was to focus on getting it right first. Focus on the technique, practice, improve, and the style will flow. If you focus on find your "style" first, you'll have a harder time going back and figuring out how to make it work technically.

    Shooting "Emo" is fine..if that's what you want to go for. But shooting "Emo" with the right technique under your fingers will make the style shine more, because the "problems" won't be there to drag it down, if that makes sense.
     
  8. JamesMason

    JamesMason TPF Noob!

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  9. squee

    squee TPF Noob!

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    That does make sense. The last structured photo classes I took were in high school and they were film classes where we edited everything in the darkroom but didn't really have any human projects.... and that was 3 years ago. Glad I signed up for digital next semester. :mrgreen:

    Honestly, I don't really focus on anything when I'm shooting but lighting, composition, and ISO/depth of field.
     
  10. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    Domains cost about $12 a year.
     
  11. KayleighKins

    KayleighKins TPF Noob!

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    My first impressions:
    - Music is a huge no, it's a good song, but no one wants to listen to music on personal websites. We all have our own MP3's.

    - It's a wix site. You will have customers who are web designers and programmers. Just like foodies, we turn our noses down at poor quality. You'll be better of with a CSS template then you would a wix site. I would def forgive someone who at least tried, but wix is drag and drop and I personally never hire a service with a shady web design. Right there you're alienating a client that uses the internet to find services more then anyone else.

    - Your photographs are great, but I couldn't pay attention to them because I was too distracted by the butterfly, the music and the obvious wix bar.

    My recommendations:
    - Learn HTML and CSS. Seriously, it's easy, I promise. My boyfriend and I both taught ourselves from a very early age. Because you're looking for something professional right away, google free CSS templates, and then edit it to your needs.

    - Try not to have things that are to distracting, think minimal. Your customers care about a few things. They care about your experience, they care about your pricing, and they care about the quality. Beyond that is filler and extra. Keep the design and the information simple and coherent. Big photos, small about me and pricing section and you should be golden.

    Sorry if any of that sounded harsh, I don't mean to be mean or anything I was just trying to be honest.
     
  12. kkamin

    kkamin TPF Noob!

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    The music or flash doesn't bother me. I'm not aware of what Wix is or the connotation involved with it, so I thought the site design looked impressive. The butterfly is cool too, to me--it could be seen as distracting to people critiquing your site design, but to the average viewer, I think it's a nice accent.

    I think you have some nice images in your portfolio, but overall you need to work on your subject matter, lighting, composition and processing. A lot of your subject matter are very young people, as I imagine you are, but it is off-putting because it looks like you just took a lot of pictures of your friends--better suited for Flickr or Facebook, not a professional photography site. This is just my opinion, but your overall quality of work needs to be raised. I like a lot of your work and see a creative eye behind the lens, but I would recommend to voraciously study anything and everything you can about photography. Go to college, 2, 4, or 6 years. Start assisting commercial photographers. Take my opinion with a grain of salt.

    Your prices are very low. You are probably operating at a loss. You are essentially paying your clients to take pictures of them. Google 'cost of doing business for photography'. Essentially you need to figure out how many 'jobs' you can take in a year. You sound like you are a student and you might work a regular job too, but let's say 50 to be ambitious--one every week. Your business costs are everything related to photography:

    not a complete list:
    •camera
    •gear
    •computer
    •supplies: (batteries, memory cards, etc.)
    •software (Photoshop, Lightroom, Word, etc.)
    •camera repairs
    •computer repairs
    •website costs
    •memberships
    •student loans for photography
    •photographer insurance
    •internet service
    •office supplies

    and if you depend on photography money to live on:
    •rent
    •utilities
    •food
    •clothes
    •etc. you get the picture

    But let's say you don't depend on photography to live currently. The annual cost of the first list is hypothetically $3000 a year. You'll get a new camera every couple years, new computer, upgrade software, repair things, etc. You need to really think about every penny you spend on photography.

    $3000 divided by 50 jobs = $60

    If you are not making at least $60 per job you are losing money. If you make $60, you are just breaking even and are not profiting at all. If you make $100 per job and the job takes you 8 hours to finish (pre-planning, the shoot, travel time, post-production, delivery) you are making $5 an hour ($40 divided by 8 hours) after your $60 in expenses (Cost of Doing Business) is initially deducted. I'm not saying you need to make $200 or $1000 per job, it's complicated because you need to consider what the market will bear along with the perceived quality and service you offer.

    This is a big problem for many photographers. Not knowing what they are actually making or actually profiting. 99% of photographers are freelance and are required to be small business owners. I recommend taking business classes in school and start getting books on the business of photography so you can figure out rates that will work for you in the long run. I am in the same boat as you. I didn't take business classes so I'm required now to research it on my own and find mentors to assist me.

    Again, everything is just my opinion and is worth only 2 cents. Good luck and keep shooting, you have a creative eye!
     

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