A couple of weeks ago I was approached for a portfolio site for Carey Management to showcase, and make available for sale, selected images of Canada from their portfolio of commissioned works.. as it says on the About page.. “”Use Canada as your canvas and Canadians as your subjects to capture the essence and values of our company, without showing it, its employees, or any of its activities.” The existing site was built around a wordpress installation and suffered from the problems that can afflict such sites .. i.e it looked similar to many other sites, the admin side was less than optimum for the purposes of managing a photography portfolio and it was slow (wordpress chugs through all those queries for every user configurable item each time a page is requested and the means of serving media was not streamlined/’purposed’ for the display element being served). So with the growing success of the portfolio it was time for something new…
If you’re interested in the nuts and bolts of this there will be a detailed post over on my coding blog very shortly, but for this blog really I imagine you just want to see the pictures.. so more screenshots below and the link to the live site at the bottom.. or you can just click the images )very much recommended if you like photography.. or Canada.. or both :-). I will bore you briefly however by saying that it’s built on my own bespoke CMS that I have developed over the last year and that is optimised for the serving of large media files and streamlines the whole process of creating a gallery , uploading numbers of large images and editing their details. It’s not running quite as fast on it’s final server in Canada as it was on my UK server but it’s still light years ahead of the site it replaced.. and it is serving some pretty big files. On my basic rural broadband connection it’s taking about 1.5 – 2 secs to change images now. It also incorporates my own blogging module. Feedback from the users has been entirely, and effusively positive :-)
The homepage image is selected from within the gallery, it’s just a one-click toggling button selection, any image can be used as the homepage image, and with multiple galleries it’s possible to select a featured image in all, or any galleries, and the homepage image is chosen at random from the selected featured images each time the page is requested. The look of the gallery itself was constrained by having to have the entire frame of a photo visible.. I would loved to have a done a full screen show similar to the home page display but there will always be some cropping of the image unless the user happens to have their browser window sized such that it’s aspect ratio precisely matches the image being loaded.. so instead when a large image view is requested the code just sizes it to make the best use of the screen area while still showing the whole image and leaving room for the caption. On a large screen, like my 27″, it looks fantastic with the photos clear, crisp and sharp. Last week we had it up on a 40″ screen and it just looked incredible. So if you do have a big screen (and even if you don’t) stretch your browser window right out and enjoy Daniel’s wonderful pictures. The gallery is seasonal and will change. Oh in case you’re wondering what the home page camera icon is all about.. I don’t like the way pages look when you’re waiting for a large image file to load, especially if your connection is running a bit slowly, so instead it doesn’t show anything until the image is fully downloaded and then it fades everything into place. Much tidier than looking at a partially loaded page. One caveat is that the browser is being made to work quite hard with all the dynamic scaling of what are some quite weighty elements.. it does work OK in internet explorer (well v8 and above) but I find Safari and Chrome seem to handle it so much more smoothly on a given machine, Firefox is good too. Opera works fine for some reason doesn’t seem to handle the animation and scaling quite so smoothly.
Images are available as prints. The decision was made not to offer online purchase but rather keep the operation personal so although each print has an ‘order form’ what you’re doing essentially is requesting a callback from the photographer. I think it’s a much nicer way of buying something that is a work of art, as opposed to the entirely impersonal process of buying, say, a new pair of socks online :-)
I love doing these short term, very visual designs.. they’re almost a recreational break from code heavy application development.. Just as well as this had to be done quickly so it was no chore to spend evenings and time at weekends working on it. Do get in touch if you want something like this, or different even, for your own portfolio :-)
The site is here: http://www.careymgmt-philanthropyphotos.com
As a footnote Daniel shoots film exclusively.. and I’m with him when he says it confers a ‘depth’ and character that is missing from digital images no matter how highly specced the camera..