Design Image / Slogan ...
/forum/topic/1179117/0

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RustyBug
Registered: Feb 02, 2009
Total Posts: 12545
Country: United States

Each year I decide on a new goal agenda for my photography. One year it was exploring lens drawing styles, another year was learning "layers".

This year it is going to be working on some web development goals. I've kicked around some ideas over the past few years, but I'm starting to feel like I'm getting into a vibe & rhythm that I'm "almost" comfortable with putting my name on. That being said, here is what has come to me most recently, so I'd appreciate your input / feedback ... no patronizing (not our style around here).

Those of you that have been here for a while probably have a feel for my perspectives, philosophy and photography a bit, such that you have likely developed your own idea @ who you think "Kent" is. With that in mind (and in general) ... you honest thoughts are requested.

This is of course only a draft and a "work in progress" ... but "fire away".

Thanks.



AuntiPode
Registered: Aug 05, 2008
Total Posts: 6646
Country: New Zealand

I don't claim to know beans about web site creation and development.

I'm curious. What do you wish to accomplish with a web presence?



Eyeball
Registered: Jan 11, 2005
Total Posts: 3721
Country: Mexico

Like Karen, I also was curious about your objectives. You may not want to share them in detail but I do think an understanding of the business/artistic objectives are helpful in giving you feedback on your (what I assume is) your "home page" design.

Some other observations:
- If I had seen that image somewhere else, I would not have thought of you. I really like the shot, it just doesn't seem to me to be representative of what I normally see you post here on FM (and I mean type/style of photography, not quality ).

- Slogans are always a tricky thing. My normal first thought on this type of thing for a photograper is: A picture is worth a thousand words; is it really critical that you add another seven?

After that my over-analytical side kicks in and questions "Is perfection an art or an aspect of it? ". I know the phrase is used but when you think about it, doesn't "The perfection of art" make more sense?

Also, it appears that you are going for some "visual word play" between the slogan and the image. For me though, the image sends me the opposite vibe of the slogan. That wing is the "finishing touch" of both the car and the image.

Of course, you can make a case that it is exactly this type of incongruity that can catch peoples' eyes. You just never know in the marketing/ad world.

You knew what you were going to get when you posted the query in THIS forum.
Seriously though, hopefully our comments will help you reflect on and refine YOUR vision. You're never going to please everybody.



RustyBug
Registered: Feb 02, 2009
Total Posts: 12545
Country: United States

Thanks guys ...

+1 @ usage for Home Page. Likely matching business card, etc.

As to objective of website presence, it isn't clear/fully developed in a "business snese" ... but mostly @ identity / portfolio. I all too often run into scenario's where I really need to present myself to others as a legitimate serious photographer. For me, this has been an issue with police and others who find my peculiar methods and locations of concern.

For instance, even the shot of the post office raised concern by the public and created an "altercation" with people telling me that my activity was "pretty suspicious" ... and get this ... to the point that they were photographing my truck / license plate to report me to the police. Heck, I've even been told by Sheriff's Dept. that I was being put on the "anti-terrorist" list for taking pictures of trains... to which I spent time inquiring with the FBI on the matter.

I've had stuff like this happen so many times (written much about it in the Pro Forum) that it has taken its toll, and I've greatly reduced my outings, and it "gets in my head" in such a way that it encroaches upon my "mojo" / "zone" / "vision" ... etc.

So, that's a bit of that's a bit of the back story on the driving purpose regarding "identity

In this realm there are a couple of dynamics that are in play ... one is to present something that can help legitimize the peculiarity of my actions as I strive to work on my craft. In today's world of a zillion people taking pictures with everything from cell phones to P&S to DSLR, that it seems like the world thinks they should all be taken so quickly and easily ... but I don't work that way. (Kaden, I'm thinking @ you a bit here.)

Rather, I study and think and ponder and view way more than people are comfortable with ... they find this with such peculiarity that they associate it with "no good" ... because they don't "understand" why anyone would need to spend that much time looking at something in order to "take a picture".

My goals for this piece are to be able to show & explain that my work is integral in intent (i.e. I'm not the "bad guy" here), striving beyond the ordinary, and the ongoing process is a necessary part to the creation.

I realize that most of this will be "couched" and so sublime that no one will ever make the connection on a literally or conscious basis ... but more on a subconscious level that simply helps them come to realize that I'm no threat to them. Sounds kinda odd, I know ... but it is what it is.


I guess in a way, it is supposed to say, (i.e. "What's the point?" or "What's the message you want to convey to your viewer?") ...

"Please respect that my peculiar ways are an ongoing means to an end."

But hopefully in a "classy" way.


RustyBug
Registered: Feb 02, 2009
Total Posts: 12545
Country: United States

Eyeball wrote:

- Slogans are always a tricky thing. My normal first thought on this type of thing for a photograper is: A picture is worth a thousand words; is it really critical that you add another seven?

Sometimes you gotta help the viewer a bit more than you otherwise would think. Generally this is where a tight crop, selective focus, etc. comes in to play to help guide them to your message. If my message was targeted toward the folks here ... no words would be necessary. But for the mainstream, they don't seem to make the connection as readily.

After that my over-analytical side kicks in and questions "Is perfection an art or an aspect of it? ". I know the phrase is used but when you think about it, doesn't "The perfection of art" make more sense?
That kinda goes back to our discussions at the definition of "art" ... in one regard it is the object produced. In another regard, it is the skill being utilized in the execution of a given task. While the task is to produce "art", it is the (hopeful aspiration) skillful efforts that work toward perfection (as if it were ever possible).

"Developing the necessary skills to produce creative art to levels of perfection is an undertaking that is never fully achieved ... thus we must accept and embrace this notion of perpetuity at 'never finished' as we continue to grow."


Yeah, philosophical hogwash to many. But to the masters of yore, it was an inherent truth they instilled into their apprentices (regardless of craft). That is something that I believe strongly @ "old school" and has been greatly lost by many through our marvelous technological advances. But, that is a bit more than seven words.

Also, it appears that you are going for some "visual word play" between the slogan and the image. For me though, the image sends me the opposite vibe of the slogan. That wing is the "finishing touch" of both the car and the image.
+1 ... which hopefully serves as a prompt to "reverse thinking" at what level of effort and workmanship must have occurred in order to make such an artful car.

Of course, you can make a case that it is exactly this type of incongruity that can catch peoples' eyes. You just never know in the marketing/ad world.
+1 @ could go either way.
I think I'm trying to convey a message that makes them "think" ... (yeah, good luck with that).

You knew what you were going to get when you posted the query in THIS forum.
Which is EXACTLY why I asked you guys.
Bring it on ... you guys rock with much goodness in spirit and integrity ... "Iron Sharpens Iron".


Seriously though, hopefully our comments will help you reflect on and refine YOUR vision.
They always have ... and they always will. Hopefully, others can say the same of my comments that I offer up in the forum as well.

You're never going to please everybody.
Amen to that.

But, I think my objective for this piece is not to be trying to "please" anyone ... but rather to offer an introductory "visual explanation" of myself (philosophically), on a few different levels.

Beyond that ... my words (in person) and other images (on line) will continue to expand things for further understanding.

Not sure if any of that helps make more sense of things (as if) ... but, your C&C remains highly valued whether or I not I made much sense to anyone along the way.



Eyeball
Registered: Jan 11, 2005
Total Posts: 3721
Country: Mexico

That helps a lot, Kent.

How about something simple like "Kent Southers - A Photographic Journey" or something along those lines. "journey" has the connotation of exploration and of enjoying the experience perhaps more than (or at least as much as) the destination. I suspect it is hardly a unique phrase on the Internet but I do think it would be a simple and quick way for visitors to get a feel for what you're about. Probably several different versions possible using synonyms and combinations.

Now regarding what seems to be the real motivation behind this (the questioning and suspicion), I have a feeling you are going to need more than a web site. Here are some ideas, some of which you have probably already thought about:

- What do you wear when you go on these photography jaunts? That could make a big difference in how people react to you. A sport coat and semi-business attire when working around town could help. A photographers vest could help. Getting a shirt or jacket with custom printing (Kent Southers - A Photographic Journey www.website.com) could help with advertising but having your name visible on your clothing could also help allay suspicions. I think most people would think if you have your name on your shirt, you're probably not a member of the Taliban trying to plan the bombing of the village post-office. Probably not the best idea if you're trying to be inconspicuous for people shots but I suspect it would help for other work.

- I think you're already doing this to some extent, but if your jaunts are normally in the same general area, start striking up relationships with the locals. Maybe give a free print to someone if you took a shot of their property. Based on what I have seen in some of your posts you already have some type of relationship with local law enforcement but maybe some kind of free photo shoot with those folks could take that relationship even further and really get the message across regarding what you're about. That type of networking won't stop every busybody out there but when the busybodies start shouting "terrorist!", it will be more likely that someone will inform them that "Nah, that's just Kent. He's a little crazy but harmless."

Just some thoughts.



RustyBug
Registered: Feb 02, 2009
Total Posts: 12545
Country: United States

Dennis,
You're spot on .. thanks.

I do plan to somehow incorporate this into my apparel (visor, shirt, jacket, signage @ truck, etc.). This is a "branding" matter ... one that I need to feel comfortable in. Currently, I'm a bit "reclusive" (and slightly defensive, go figure) in my relationships with others. I'm hoping that through this effort, I can self-instill some ability for me to "open up" a bit as well.

In the "old days" I could go anywhere and everywhere and people would marvel and inquire with genuine interest or admiration at what I was doing. Today ... it is all too often met with fear, suspicion or "their rights to privacy in public".

The other day (post office shot) ... I got a little "politely snarky" with the woman taking pictures of my license plate. I told her (politely with positive tone) that she was welcome to take my picture as well (i.e. I've got nothing to hide) ... and local law enforcement have seen me enough to make some connections. Of course, she was "put off" by this.

But, I went on to tell her a few things and she finally rested a bit. Then as she was walking away ... it donned on me, that she could go to the local museum and see some of my work on display there (concept of legitimizing my efforts & intent). She didn't quite know what to make of that.

Realizing that it put me in a "different perspective" for her, I then longed for everyone to be able to go see my work (to help relieve their suspicion) ... to realize that my "not normal" approach actually has merit (to some at least).

And that kinda brings us up to speed at the current effort for the piece.

"Nah, that's just Kent. He's a little crazy but harmless."
You got it ... although I might prefer words like peculiar, eccentric or eclectic.

Another point ... oddly enough, whenever I'm speaking with law enforcement they typically want to know about my business (i.e. sales) ... as if the fact that I were selling my work would legitimize my presence for creating it. Whenever I tell them I shoot for myself ... they often have a change of attitude that it would be best if I just "move along".

BTW ...

"The art of perfection ... is never finished."

It is also, kinda my (hopefully subtle) way of saying ... I've not achieved perfection, yet I'll never quit, and you may see me again.
The only way I can ever grow toward getting better is to continue despite any obstacles or objections the world presents.

I guess one of my questions for you guys is ... does this convey the message of "serious" or "professional" photography ... rather than some "whack job" with a camera? If not, what/how/why can it be improved upon to strengthen that message?

Maybe some refinement:
"The art of perfection ... until it is finished."



ben egbert
Registered: Jan 31, 2005
Total Posts: 6119
Country: United States

Hi Kent. I started my own blog about 4-5 months ago. It was not for image presentation or selling, just for essays and discussions. I can say now what my experience has been and what I expect to happen in the future.

1. My goal was to have a place for travel photographers to visit, this seems an undeserved area of photography. My essays are descriptions of the icons (where when to go) and some technical tips etc. Plus a lot of philosophical rants.

2. I have no idea how to promote it. I would have even less on how to sell stuff from there.

3. I have almost 40K visits, but I suspect 90% is spam. There are only 30-40 real comments and most are from friends. I had to add a spam filter, one of those irritating capcha thingies. I still get span.

4. The lack of feedback and genuine discussions lead me to the conclusion that I will probably not renew my host contract when it is up.



Steve Wylie
Registered: Feb 13, 2007
Total Posts: 1152
Country: United States

Kent,

I don't know you (though I always respect your perspectives in your thoughtful posts), but I do have an opinion on your original question. If your website is designed as a marketing piece to attract potential clients, then slogans and other text designed to convey some sort of message to potential clients are more distractions than useful. Normally I see these kind of things and my eyes glaze over. If you want to tell your story, do so on another page, not the home screen. Let the image speak for you (in this case, it's a killer shot; I remember it from your original post and loved it then and still do). As to the message itself, "The art of perfection is never finished" conveys to the potential client that "I'm a good photographer, but I'm not there yet." Or, "The photo I make for you today won't be as good as the one I might make for you later on." That's a positive message for you to live by, but not a good pitch to a client. If on the other hand, it's more of a portfolio site, then that message conveys more of a path of growth you're on, so okay, but again it's still not a message I'd be comfortable with. It's humble, so is that the first impression you want to make?

Final point, technically: I'd simply lower the opacity of your text layer to 85%. As it is, it's a bit hot.

Hope this helps.



RustyBug
Registered: Feb 02, 2009
Total Posts: 12545
Country: United States

Ben & Steve ... thanks.

The points at "client" perspective are well noted (not today's primary objective but with an eye to the future, very valuable insight), and as you've gone on to present the other side of the coin @ "not there yet" ... you are spot on there also.

Somewhere between humble and confident and arrogant @ personal vs. client (not there right now, maybe someday ).

The point at tomorrow might be better doesn't instill confidence to others, I suppose. Yup, part of this is going to be figuring out where I'm comfortable in my own skin ... and likely that will be an evolutionary process as well. Right now, it is a "this is me" kinda thing ... knowing that that doesn't necessarily translate well for client/business perspectives. I'd like to be able to "harmonize" them ... looking forward a bit.



Good points ... thanks much



Steve Wylie
Registered: Feb 13, 2007
Total Posts: 1152
Country: United States

part of this is going to be figuring out where I'm comfortable in my own skin ... and likely that will be an evolutionary process as well. Right now, it is a "this is me" kinda thing ... knowing that that doesn't necessarily translate well for client/business perspectives.

Then let your images speak for you. They'll do so eloquently.



RustyBug
Registered: Feb 02, 2009
Total Posts: 12545
Country: United States

Steve Wylie wrote:

If on the other hand, it's more of a portfolio site, then that message conveys more of a path of growth you're on, so okay, but again it's still not a message I'd be comfortable with. It's humble, so is that the first impression you want to make?


Hmmm ... not so sure @ humble/lacking confidence ... mostly "serious" (but not arrogant).

If you want to tell your story, do so on another page, not the home screen.
Better place for my philosophy ... IF ... someone is interested enough to look. Hmmm.

Final point, technically: I'd simply lower the opacity of your text layer to 85%. As it is, it's a bit hot.
+1 @ draft/wip

Hope this helps.

+1 ... it does.

Does this wording change convey the message differently?
Thinking promo / business card usage where it is a "single shot" only.

Message to be conveyed:

"I do it ... till it's done."



ben egbert
Registered: Jan 31, 2005
Total Posts: 6119
Country: United States

Your slogan is a philosophy, how you approach things. It belongs in a philosophy section. What your home page needs most is your overall objective. What is this blog all about. What are you selling, doing etc.



RustyBug
Registered: Feb 02, 2009
Total Posts: 12545
Country: United States

ben egbert wrote: What are you selling

Me.

Our good friends over in the Pro Section have long espoused that we ARE the brand. (Hence, JohnDoePhotography.com vs. CreativeName.com) I've never before been able to embrace that before, but am starting to get more comfortable with it conceptually. It isn't that you are getting a "Pretty Pic" ... it is that you are getting MY VISION.

Anyway ... I'm not asking anyone to "buy" anything with their $$$ (not today). I'm not asking anyone to "like" my work. I'm not asking anyone to want my images. I'm asking them to "buy" into the appropriate credibility of my seriousness (and thus the liberty to continue) as a photographer/artist. Part of what makes me/my photography what it is ... is the perspective that I approach things from. That is an inherent attribute of my work. I love my leading lines, foreshortening, positioning, etc. ... and I aspire to have the diligence to continue to work to that end, until I get it.

The message I'm "selling" is ... me ... let "me" do what I do, and when I'm allowed to do so, this is what can happen.



ben egbert
Registered: Jan 31, 2005
Total Posts: 6119
Country: United States

In that case, your blog is basically about a philosophical approach to your work. I suppose mine is as well. Your slogan sums it up, what would be the next thing to say? How to do it? What are the limits of your blog?

I suppose if I were looking at your front page, I would want to know why I should get deeper. Where is it going.




RustyBug
Registered: Feb 02, 2009
Total Posts: 12545
Country: United States

ben egbert wrote:what would be the next thing to say?


Go see my friends in the land of the "micro-nits" @ FM Photo Critique.



ben egbert
Registered: Jan 31, 2005
Total Posts: 6119
Country: United States

You can write what you want, but getting somebody to read it is another whole thing. Or if they do, getting some signal that they have.



RustyBug
Registered: Feb 02, 2009
Total Posts: 12545
Country: United States

Likely just portfolio. Blog, sales, other not determined, not imminent, not driving force ... mostly just collection / reference ... evidence of credence. Something that others can see beyond a single image (if they are so inclined) for corroboration.

It will probably serve as a gateway to long term industrial project. I'd like to do some "docu-art" work, but have nothing at present to distinguish my credibility for such undertakings that will foster additional access and cooperation. Hence, the goal to sell "me" as credible & serious.

A couple of awards from the Mitchell Museum (both for similar "docu-art" work) and a (different) piece being added to their permanent collection have given cause for me to consider the feasibility that I should more actively pursue such endeavors ... and to do so, we're back to the issue of credibility that I can convey to others along the way.






AuntiPode
Registered: Aug 05, 2008
Total Posts: 6646
Country: New Zealand

Ah, the utility of creating a brand!

Hmmmm.... perhaps I shall ponder creating a more official brand, "Auntipode"



ben egbert
Registered: Jan 31, 2005
Total Posts: 6119
Country: United States

Kent, my point is that I think you need something beside the slogan to get people to go inside. Leave the slogan, but add something that provides a hint about what they will find. Give them a reason to proceed.

Maybe the mystery is enough, but it would not tempt me.



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