After five years of running my website almost entirely on the Photoshelter Beam platform I decided it was time to change things up and redesign my website. There were a number of factors that went into my decision. One reason is that Photoshelter is best served as a search and transaction tool but mediocre for customization and search engine indexing. I knew that going in but with less time on my hands for web production work I needed to go that route at that point in my life. Photoshelter will still be a component of my site but not be the site anymore. The second reason was even more difficult but I’ve gradually moved away from shooting stock photography and want to focus on creating just for the sake of creating. While I license more photos than ever through agencies, the revenue has either been in decline or flat for several years now. It’s just not worth the time anymore and quite honestly my wife and I make a good living from doing other things so I’d rather focus my energy on creating photography that moves me. No more arbitrary rules about editorial standards or post-processing limitations, just whatever I want to do. Peer pressure can be a weird thing in that you might start off with an open mind to doing things but sometimes get steered into directions you didn’t intend until you wake up one day and don’t recognize yourself anymore.
Money can be quite seductive which is why I started down the stock photography path in 2005. I would shoot any and everything basically because it could sell. I’ve never really put much effort into editing my galleries on my website as a result because you can’t sell what people don’t see right? Quite frankly most of the prints I have sold in the past are photos that I personally wouldn’t hang in my own house but business is business. It’s time to go for a different approach. My new redesign was intended to showcase work that I’m passionate about and to provide better user experience for people, not merely Google. If we’re making all of our decisions based on a machine or algorithm then we’ve got it backwards. Google is great for what it is but never lose sight of who your audience is. I’ve started with three tightly-edited galleries of distinct themes. These three themes represent the most common themes of my favorite personal work. I may add more later as I spend more time going through my archive of photos but I didn’t want to water it down with filler material so less is more.
While I’ve done my best to keep the typography consistent across two custom WordPress templates and Photoshelter Beam, I haven’t decided if I am going to fully integrate my blog into the new design yet. I really like this blog template but it makes for a terrible storefront website template and vice versa. I’ve also been creating content for this blog since 2004 so I’m not keen on consolidating down to a single database which would require redirecting my blog posts and not to mention requiring QA work that I don’t have time for. Before making this decision, I did consider a handful of other CMS systems including Squarespace, SmugMug and WideRange galleries but ultimately settled on good ‘ol WordPress after getting feedback from numerous photographers on social media. Finding a template that I liked took some time though. There are so many great templates out there but most just didn’t feel right for my needs. I’m still ironing out the kinks in this new design and barely scratched the surface of how to use it but I like how it turned out. I hope you do too.
Check out the new redesign at www.rwongphoto.com