End of an era (sort of..)

Over the last few days I've been tidying up and taking down photographs from my now defunct portfolio site on Zenfolio and simulteneously tinkering and making adjustments on my new site on Cargo (link on the menu above.) The new site is a work in progress and will probably take a few months to take final form.
So the question is why do it? Why not save yourself all the effort and just let a compatent hosting site continue to keep your site online? And keep the logos and design intact. It's fine the way it is. Plus nobody cares about that stuff anyway right ?

1) Let's start with the money argument first. Zenfolio is not cheap. Sure for what it does in terms of hosting space it's better than most and is certainly not the most expensive. And also what they do is supply a product that's catering exclusively to one client group, namely photographers, so what they supply in terms of extra products and support is going to be relevant to most of the subscribers.
As a user, I did make use the extra space I got and enjoyed having larger, higher resolution images to display and point people towards.
But you know what, that's not the way the internet is going now. And hasn't been for a while now. More and more content including high def content is being viewed in different ways and on smaller devices. The viewers like me and maybe some of you too who have larger displays, and who really care about larger higher resolution photographs are now probably a minority audience, and shrinking. The idea that bigger is better is just not necessarily true anymore.
Re: money, there's also a more practical reason for jumping ship. I'm not in a position for the foreseeable future to know that I'll able to afford a more expensive hosting solution. It's more than double the cost to host on Zenfolio each year than elsewhere, including Cargo.

2) Now for the other part of the argument, that photographers don't care about spending time on design matters. I'll be blunt. Using templates supplied by a host makes you creatively lazy. It just does. Unless you have some design skills, most photographers pick a hosting solution because they want to put their photographs online as quickly as possible without fuss. Nothing wrong with that. After all, I hadn't been bothered to tweak or adjust my layout for several years. It just sat there as it was and I was OK with that. But that was simply due to my own inertia & laziness as it is for many. After all there are only so many hours in the day and taking photographs is the important element right?

3) Now to the heart of the matter. I confess that I've never really that comfortable with my work appearing alongside amateur, semi-pro or working commercial photographers. In other words, the main target audiences for specialist photography hosting services. NOTE: I said I'm not comfortable not that I have any negative judgements on photographers in those categories and their work.
And here's why. There's a uniformity to the work produced on masse by many photographers. And this is made worse (or maybe more evident) by the way the work is presented using very similar templates.

But lets be clear, for anyone doing what I'm advocating for myself, across the online platforms I'm using is going to cause me a lot of work. Sleepless, restless nights and research - made worse by the fact that I'm quite obsessive about detail and layout.
Here's an example to share with you. Since planning and tweaking the template used on this blog several weeks ago. It's still annoying me that I can't isolate the element on the live demo template that gives the spacing for one part of the page. All the code seems to be identical. But I can't as yet find the right combination of tweaks to give me  the spacing I want for the navigation element (right image) and not the spacing I've currently got (left image).
But here's the thing about obsession. Good work comes out of a challenge. Solutions that wouldn't have come to you otherwise. Different ways of presenting work - maybe even ideas that seemed wrong at first try.

On my new site my work is on a hosting service alongside designers, painters and many other different forms of creative work. For me, it stops me being lazy and raises the bar on how I could present my work. Don't get me wrong, this service also provides a range of templates to use, even for users of the limited free service. However users are encouraged to edit them and experiment and given tools to realise their vision.

I am a photographer yes. I'm also not a snob about photography in all its forms. Each to his own. But in a world of creative work of all forms, I no longer feel I want to go for the easy solution. Or have assumptions about my creative needs being made by companies who don't care or want find out about my creative bottom line.

I simply want the freedom to light the creative touch paper in a different kind of space and then see what happens next.

Should be fun. Eventually…..


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