Your online portfolio .. and music


TPF Noob!
Jul 10, 2009
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Brighton, UK
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I'm a long way away from having an online portfolio outside of flickr, but I was looking at others for inspiration. I came across a local photographer who had a website which was clean and simple, but also had one of those things that is a big no no in web design. He had music in the background (with a pause/stop button in the corner). I was absolutely astounded at the emotional effect this had on his photos, the music wasn't anything special, just almost like long drones you'd find in films. I was wondering if any of you who have online sites do this? Or have considered it? I think whenever (if ever) I have my own I would definitely add some music for emotional impact.
personally, a web site with music is a big turnoff. when i hit a page and it immediately starts playing music, my first priority is finding the mute button.

heres my web site you can check out if you want. really nothing great at all, and i havent updated the photo section in a long time. the other sections arent even done. lol

in other words, here's a link to my incomplete mediocre site...
yeah.. music = cheesy . Kinda like listening to music from the car next to you ;)
is that one track going to evoke the emotion of all your shots?
say youve got a happy baby shot...and very dramatic music...doesnt really fit.

i think music on a web site is an attempt to get me to feel a certain way thru the music, and i would really just prefer to feel what im gonna feel regardless to what 'soundtrack' has been selected for me.

i would say if you wanna put together a very dramatic slideshow with said music, go for it, and even offer it up on your site as something to look at, but i really think that having music going on behind your portfolio is not a great idea.
I know what you are saying. But you have no idea what your clients would like or where they are viewing the website. They could verywell be looking at it at 5AM while the wife is asleep and forgot to turn off the sound.
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^ agreed.
dont force-feed something to people that they may not want. if they come to your site, its because they WANT to see your photos. dont try to evoke extra emotion with music that may even have the opposite effect. let your photos do the talking.

(we havent even mentioned the whole deal with copyrights and whatnot...)
Zenfolio does give you the option to add a music track to your slideshows. This option might also be available for your front page as well, but I'm not sure. They offer 50 tracks of different styles for free. Otherwise, they partnered with some company ("Triple Scoop" I think is the name) to rent you music tracks. You can also upload your own music tracks, however it's your responsibility to upload music that you have rights to use.
Plus music on your webpage turns google's search system away kind of. It's best to stick to basics if that matters to you at all.
I think there are a few pointers concerning music on websites:

1) Most people who surf the net already have their own music playing and nothing is more annoying than having to rifle around a site trying to find the tiny "off" button. So two lessons here:
a) most likely people won't want your music playing
b) if you are going to have music make the controls of it obvious and clear

2) If you use music on your site use royalty free music and always credit the creator (unless its your own music). Using mainstream music can be enticing, but remember most of it will have copywrite which means you cannot use it on your site without paying costs - if you do you are breaking copywrite laws.
There is good free music without royalties on the net that you can use (google around for it - there are a few groups dedicated to promoting this free music) without legal problems - though to remind do credit the musician on your site (a link to their works is the least you should do).

3) Music that plays on your site wants to be background in nature, not foreground - the foreground is your photography so the kinds of music you hear in elevators;surgeries the kind most people end up using because it slips into the background without dominating the persons attention so easily.

4) My own view of music is that whilst it can be used to enhance a viewing experience its better employed for specific scenes/sets within a portfolio rather than the whole thing (unless you have a very restricted display). This is more empowering as it changes it from "horrid music on the website" to a more wholesome presentation.
In practice what I mean is akin to a "video" on your site that showcases your art in a series whilst accompanied by the music - something that the user has to specifically engage with and start (with a mouseclick) and thus is more inclined to accept the music as part of that display.
personally, a web site with music is a big turnoff. when i hit a page and it immediately starts playing music, my first priority is finding the mute button.

+1 :thumbup:

I agree. I hate music on a website, it's annoying and as it was also said, it's like being force fed their taste.

Here is my site - nothing special - but no music. LOL
Music can be very good for slideshows. Why else is music so popular in movies?

I agree though that if its the wrong kind of music it can be bad. Also, I think its best to leave the music off and give the option if possible, or at the very least make it very easy to turn off, since some people dislike the music. Personally, as a musician, I don't think I could make a website without incorporating some of my music. I don't have to pay royalties, and its a part of who I am as a person which ultimately effects my photography.

I would avoid lyrics and stick with simple instrumentals ( think "weather channel" but maybe a little less elevator jazz ). Nice acoustic guitar or piano instrumentals would be nice. Just make sure its not too overpowering or dynamic. Nice droning, calm music would be the best suited for this purpose. If it wouldn't sooth a baby to sleep, its probably not good music to put your pictures to.

Zenfolio allows it, not sure about smugmug, I would think they do, but its not listed on their site.

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