Just a little over two years ago, I started a small online gallery with some photos I took for a friend in France. About 5 days later, I left the company I’d worked for for almost 10 years, flew to Hong Kong and Australia and took a gazillion photos, some of which were stunning. The online gallery grew. It continued to grow, until earlier this year I decided to rebuild, to structure what was there into something a little more organised and visitor-friendly. And here it is.
I’ve had a little analogy at the back of my mind while working on this project, which goes something like this:
Imagine, if you will, that my image library started out as a collection of printed photographs, gathered into stacked boxes and stored in the garden shed. All the photos were there, and people could look through them if they really wanted to, but it was quite hard work and most people couldn’t even find the shed. And over time, the boxes piled up, higher and higher.
A little over two years ago, I made a small leap forward by actually taking some of the photos out of their boxes and arranging them on the walls of the shed. This was a great improvement, as people could now see at a glance a fine array of images, all neatly stuck around the walls. If they wanted to, they could take a photo off the wall to keep, leaving some coins in a tip jar next to the lawn mower. But the boxes continued to pile up as new photos arrived (I just can’t stop taking them…) and pretty soon the shed was full to bursting. Many, many people still weren’t exactly sure where the shed was anyway.
And so to this year’s project. I’ve built more rooms onto the shed, with smooth white walls and great lighting. The rooms are endless, able to beautifully display an unlimited number of photos on the walls, arranged into travel sections like The Australian Outback, Cyprus, Wast Water and Manhattan; and themed sections like people, winter, urban signs and animals. There are areas for live gigs, stock images, London landmarks and aerial landscapes, and many more. Even Rapperswil gets its own space on the wall. There’s a private room round the back, where clients I’ve photographed for are able to view their images away from the crowds. There’s a new cash register replacing the coin jar, and I’ve even added a computer – if you don’t have time to browse, just ask it and you’ll be shown exactly where that photo is that you’re after. Magic.
In front of all of this is a large but comfortable reading room, packed with helpful and informative literature. Visitors can sit and read articles about faraway places, and handouts about recent photography sessions, all illustrated by beautiful photographs which can be viewed much larger on the gallery walls afterwards. You’re in the reading room right now.
The photographs themselves have all been reprinted on much higher quality paper – it used to be that One Hour Photo rubbish, now we’ve gone really posh – and they’ve all been catalogued, labelled, and entered into the computer so that it knows where everything is.
Only one room remains under construction, and that’s the photo session booking room. It’s not far off. That’ll have all the useful information such as rates and availability, which I’m very excited about! For now, though, people seem quite happy just leaving me a note. That works.
And the shed? It’s still there, right at the back. The lawnmower’s long gone and the boxes of new photos keep piling up, but they’ll make it through the cataloguing and hanging stage faster now that there’s a bit more space and the building work’s almost complete…
Still with me? Great! Of course, these vast rooms are virtual, the photo galleries are all online but the idea holds true – there’s an ever-growing image library here, with currently over 2,000 images on the “walls” and several thousand more in the “boxes in the shed”. The bookings and rates information will be online very soon, but for now there’s a Contact menu option with a variety of different ways to reach me if you have an enquiry.
The area you’re in now is indeed the “reading room”, for which there’s a dedicated menu with index at the top of every page on the site. There’s just a few articles to get you started, but now the “building work”‘s near complete I can get on and write a whole lot more. When I’m not taking photographs, of course.
Each article is illustrated by at least one of my photos; clicking a photo will take you through to one of the photo galleries it’s in, and show you a larger copy with all the relevant information such as when and where it was taken. While you’re there, if you love the photo and would like to buy a print (and make me happy!), there’s a really rather handy “buy this print” link just underneath – click it and up pops a list of all the different print formats available for that photo. Options vary depending on the size and shape of the photo – some are more “widescreen” than others – but the print formats available generally fall into two categories: Fine Art and Canvas prints, which I produce myself in A4 and A3+ sizes, and “regular” photo prints which are produced by an external printing company. Until very recently I used to print my own regular prints too, but my range was limited. Now I can offer photo prints ranging from your normal 6″x4″s right up to an absolutely staggering 40″x30″! Just imagine what this photo would look like that size…
Of course, you may not want to order a print but instead would like to have an actual JPG copy of the photo on your computer right now, for your “personal use” – there’s a link for that too, with a variety of file sizes to choose from. And if you happen to be a photo editor and would like to use one or more of my images in a publication, that’s also perfectly and quickly possible via the same link.
Assuming you’ve clicked through to a photo but would like to see more – where to go next? Above the photo is a “thumbnails” link, which will take you back to an overview of the gallery containing that photo. Or just scroll down the page, there’s a thumbnail slider right there, showing you the gallery without leaving the page.
Almost all photos are now fully keyworded, too, and a list of keywords relevant to the photo you’re viewing also appears down the page near the thumbnail slider. Clicking a keyword will take you to a page showing all matching photos, as if by magic. So if you’re looking at the Sydney Opera House and want to see all my SOH-related photos, just click the “Sydney Opera House” link in the keywords section. Brilliant. As mentioned above, there’s still some further keywording to be done, but it’s 90% there. Give it a try.
There’s also a search box at the foot of every page – scroll down, there it is – which lets you search the entire site, either for photos or for text within articles. And menus at the top of every page, linking you to both the reading room and image library and sections within each. If I’ve taken photographs for you, or you’ve purchased a print or image file from me, then the Client Area menu links you to your very own area where you can view your photos privately and see a list of any purchases made.
Enough of the guided tour – feel free to get comfy, read some articles, and even comment on them if you’d like. If you enjoy a particular article or its photos, and are a Facebook or Twitter user, please do use the Facebook or Twitter buttons on the page, as it will certainly help me to gauge which articles people enjoy more than others. And if English is not your mother tongue, now is probably rather late to point out the “translate” button below, which gives you the ability to instantly convert all the text – in place – on this and other pages into 51 other languages, courtesy of Google. Awesome. And if you have any questions at all about the image library – say, for example, you really like a particular photo but would prefer it in black & white – please visit the Contact menu, and get in touch.
Welcome to my website – I do sincerely hope that you like it.
Nick Anderson, December 2010