SquareSpace

5 REASONS I CHOOSE SQUARESPACE

The Homepage offers a slideshow gallery that advances automatically and displays photographs that do not appear anywhere else on the site.  UPDATE:  October 22, 2015. Added an additional category and Homepage now features a photo from each.

The Homepage offers a slideshow gallery that advances automatically and displays photographs that do not appear anywhere else on the site. UPDATE: October 22, 2015. Added an additional category and Homepage now features a photo from each.

Until the move to Squarespace, I was a hand-coder. Yes, I can admit it, I hand-coded my website. Even over many years and many iterations of jfwphoto.com I continued to hand-code. Most recently it was a fairly simple site, one page deep and featured a java slideshow, my twitter feed and links to everywhere else you could find my work. It wasn't horrible, but it also wasn't anything I was particularly proud of or special and more to the point, I wasn't really driving anyone to the site.

I realized a while ago that it was time to get serious and finally have a website that I actually wanted to share with others and for that reason I made the move and relaunched my presence on the web.

Here are five reasons I made the switch from hand-coding to Squarespace.

1. One location for everything. It gives me a true presence, one URL, that I can now share which will highlight my photography, provide some information about myself, AND still provide a launching point to social media. There is still one BIG thing I have not yet moved, though. This blog. I do plan on eventually incorporating it and Squarespace offers step-by-step instructions on how to transfer most popular publishing platforms, including Blogger, into their framework without breaking links, etc. I just need a little more time.

I'm using the About page to also provide links to tear sheets and my affiliate links. 

I'm using the About page to also provide links to tear sheets and my affiliate links. 

2. The content management system. I'm already an admitted hand-coder, therefore I know HTML and can build a website from scratch, but the reality is my skills will only allow me to build sites circa 2005. The web is so much more dynamic these days and having the ability to update a site quickly and easily was important to me. Squarespace makes it easy through their CMS and once you understand how it works, you can update or make changes in only a few minutes. I admit that I dove right in during the two-week trial and became a bit frustrated. However, once I took a step back, watched some tutorials, and looked at other Squarespace sites that used the same template I choose, the process of building my site became very easier. 

3. A wide selection of templates. The first thing that drew me to Squarespace was seeing other photographers using the platform. I liked the variety of templates, how most designs were clean and simple. One downside to temples, of course, is that all sites can begin to look the same. To make your site stand out, Squarespace gives you the ability to use custom code which I've started to incorporate and eventually is what I hope will make my site stand out. Also, switching between templates, even after your site is built is really easy to do and makes it possible to experiment with different looks.

This is typical of my gallery pages where I offer both navigation arrows and thumbnails. However, the commercial gallery seen here is the only place I offer full caption information on every photo.

This is typical of my gallery pages where I offer both navigation arrows and thumbnails. However, the commercial gallery seen here is the only place I offer full caption information on every photo.

4. Mobile devices. While I don't have current metrics on jfwphoto.com as proof, it is my belief that most people will be accessing my site on their phones or tablets. While not always ideal, having a website that scales and displays properly on a small screen is critical. Squarespace does a really nice job with this and I love how it looks on my Samsung phone and Apple iPad 2. I already have shared my site with others in this manner. 

5. Support. Let's face it, it's nice to be able to call someone when you have a problem. It's also nice to be part of a user base that offers inspiration, advice, problem-solving and provides customization tips when needed. Squarespace is well established, hasn't stagnated and continues to be one of the leaders in providing website services to photographers and other creative people.

With all the previous versions of my site, I would build it then and mostly forget it. However, with Squarespace I find myself revisiting every couple days, making small changes, or adding more photographs, or experimenting with styles. Why? It's easy.

And that's what it really comes down to after all, ease. A website that doesn't change or one that you don't use because it is too hard to update is a waste of a URL and does nothing to promote you or your photography. So stop putting it off and give Squarespace a shot.

THE RELAUNCH OF JFWPHOTO.COM

The homepage of jfwphoto.com using the Squarespace Ishimoto template.

The homepage of jfwphoto.com using the Squarespace Ishimoto template.

It's taken much longer than it should have, but I relaunched jfwphoto.com using Squarespace and finally have everything in one place*.

I've been thinking about this for years and now that the new jfwphoto.com has been public for several weeks and I've had the chance to work and refine it, I'm glad that I did this and question myself as to why I waited so long.

In a subsequent blog post, I'll go into the details on why I choose Squarespace and offer some insight into the process along with my experiences in building the website, but for now, I hope you take some time to view my site, offer some feedback, and most importantly, ask questions.

Landscape gallery page using slideshow with  Show Thumbnails  and  Show Next and Previous Controls  selected. I'm still trying out various gallery styles.

Landscape gallery page using slideshow with Show Thumbnails and Show Next and Previous Controls selected. I'm still trying out various gallery styles.

If you are thinking about using Squarespace, they offer a full week 14-day free trial with no credit card required. I would also recommend you watch a few of the tutorials.

*Everything except this blog. Also, I currently have a redirect on the domain jfwphoto.com through GoDaddy. Both of these will change.

UPDATE: On October 20, 2015, Blog was incorporated into this site and Domain was switched.

5 TIPS TO UP YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY TRADE SHOW EXPERIENCE

Sports Illustrated photographer

Robert Beck

gives a presentation at the Nikon booth.

Last week I attended

Photoplus Expo

at the Javits Convention Center in New York City and thought I would share a few tips on getting the most out of your trade show experience.

First, many conferences, such as

Photoshop World

or Photoplus offer free access to the expo or trade show portion, so even if you are not attending the conference sessions themselves, you can still get access to camera manufacturers and vendors.

And it's not just hardware and software. Many booths have speakers throughout the day offering presentations on how they use the latest gear or software.

So how do I approach these opportunities? Below are five tips on attending a trade show.

1. Take the time to make a plan and do your best to stick to it. I normally find out which photographers will be presenting at booths and make a schedule of who I want to listen to, either for inspiration, or because they will be demoing software or hardware I'm interested in. With that speaker schedule set, I can move on to the next step.

2. I look over the list of exhibitors and put a check next to those manufacturers or vendors I want to engage with. Looking at the floor plan, I then decide where I will start, normally on the outside edge and then move up and down the aisles stopping at the vendors I've marked while making a note of additional booths that I might return to. Unless you are at a show the size of NAB in Las Vegas, you can normally make several passes around the entire show floor.

3. Do a little homework before you go. While you may see something that is completely new, most of the time, you'll have an idea about what will be on display and have read the press release and followed user reviews. The purpose of visiting a booth then is to get your hands on a piece of equipment as well as the direct access to those that should be able to answer your questions. However, sometimes the first person you meet at a vendors booth is not a subject matter expert and may not know more than you can read online. Be nice, but if you really want an answer, ask if there is someone else present that you might be able to speak with. And if that person is swamped, see if you can make an appointment to return.

A chance to check out video capabilities and get my hands on a D4 and a D800.

4. Don't avoid exhibitors of products that are competitors of what you are currently using. Normally on the second trip around the show floor, I will make a point of visiting other camera manufacturers just to see what they offer. Knowledge adds credibility when talking with clients or answering a question from another photographer. Even though I had a Nikon over my shoulder and a Think Tank bag around my waist, I still checked out Canon, Panasonic, Lowe Pro and Kata, for example. And I do own some of those products as well. Also, if you are completely satisfied with a piece of equipment, let those at the booth know. This is your chance to offer positive feedback or make suggestions.

5. Finally, make sure to take care of yourself. Your comfort will go a long way in making this a positive experience. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes. Eat and drink throughout the day. Get off your feet (booth presentations are a great time to do this but get there early). Bring a camera so that you can capture products or ideas that you want to investigate further.

If you leave the show frustrated and tired, then you haven't done it right. You may be tired, but you should also be energized and ready to get out and take photos. I came away inspired after listening to Robert Beck and

Corey Rich

at the

Nikon

booth. I received a $500 off coupon from 

DriveSavers

 and a small

GorillaPod

from

SquareSpace

, both services I'm planning on using now.