Update 1: 20.03.17
Update 2: 16.04.17
I have been advised that my portfolio work should reflect my style as a coherent thematic series. I digress. It is not that I am against that notion of one-photographer-one-style approach for one whole series, but the South East Asian region’s market is quite different from the UK, due to the nature of the small market being saturated and competitive. It is a good exercise to develop series of consistent looking images, but If I were to be a commercial photographer based in Singapore, the mentality has to be that more skills I acquire, the better chance of me getting more work.
On this post, I not only discuss having a style as a coherent series but also share some insights on the website platform other photographers used. These are just some examples to proof my point.
Tan Kay Chin is a Singapore-based photographer. He spent the early part of his professional career at The Straits Times, where he held positions from photographer to picture editor. A vocal advocate of photography in Singapore, he founded Southeast Asia’s first photography workshop, Shooting Home with Objectifs and has exhibited widely and his photographs are collected by Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the European House of Photography in Paris and private collectors. Tay Kay Chin was a lecturer at the Nanyang Technological University for a few years until 2015 and has supervised many final year projects in the areas of photojournalism and illustrated feature.
Though Tay Kay Chin is a photojournalist, we can see from his website that he has done a wide variety of genres from documentary to travelogues to architecture as well as commissioned projects across many industries. The documentary element is still present in the majority of his works, but he has also used a wide variety of styles, from panoramic on one project and black and white photography on another. some colours are washed-out and more toned down, while others are more contrasting. His website is running on WordPress template with small sliding pictures on his homepage and blog entries below. Categories separating genres from his personal and commissioned works. He also separates books from his limited edition prints.
CJWadha is a commercial photographer who provides creative solutions to art directors, designers and business clients. Portraitures are his speciality and highly sought after for his environmental portraits. With a personality to connect with everyone from CEOs to ministers to the common man, he has created iconic images for a diverse set of clients.
For CJ’s website, most likely he used HTML web pages, made by website professionals. from his portfolio works, we could see that even his commissioned portraitures show a diversity of approaches, where the style in lifestyle is done differently from business corporate portraitures and sports portraitures. Yet in his personal works are landscape-based images with different styles. Could we say that his best personal works are not curated coherently? If that is such a case then I think that defeats the purpose of categorising them as “personal”.
Lumiere Photography is a multi-disciplinary photography company based in Singapore, which seems to have a specialisation in events photography. while they may not necessarily have the strongest visual image or the coherent series around, but their experience in many genres of photography and videography makes up for it. Their clientele base is most likely built through event photography with over 100 clients under their belt in both private and government sector and this is what makes them a reliable service. As for the website platform, it is pretty safe to assume that they have used WordPress template, because of the sheer amount of contents and portfolio images they had to manage. I think as a photography business consisting of a team of photographers, this could be the better approach as a commercial service instead of one-photographer-one-style approach.
Stefen Chow is a Singapore raised photographer and artist currently based in Beijing, China. the award-winning photographer has had work widely published and exhibited internationally. Stefen undertakes long-term projects with a social conscience. Stefen is the co-founder of ‘The Poverty Line’, a global visual project that contextualises poverty. He has held group and solo exhibitions as well as being jury for many competitions and held TED Talks. The Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago and the Central Academy of Fine Arts Museum in Beijing has acquired works to their permanent collection. Hs website was most likely HTML web pages.
Having worked in a wide array of genres in photography projects as well as commissions, it is evident that his approach in photography does not stay coherent. As a highly esteemed photographer, does it mean that the broad range of approach portfolio reflects badly of his methodology in curating images? I don’t think so. In my opinion, it simply means his experience in photography has spanned across so many genres, and versatile in many approaches. all these experience has enabled him to take the advisory role in the photography scene.
Tuckys is pretty much an all-rounder photography service which seems to specialise in a wide variety of genres, such as corporate photography, corporate portraits, interior photography, aerial videography and theatre photography. From its WordPress-based website portfolio, I guess these amount of works were amassed through many years in the field. It might also mean that the more capabilities the service can cater, the more diverse clients they can get. It might also mean the harsh reality of the industry in the small market, that everyone is trying to amass as much service capability so as to clinch more diverse clients.
These are some examples from my market region. But having a diverse style as a portfolio series does not only reside within my region; this approach has also increasingly become widespread among other photographers around the world as well. here some of the photographers I admire, to proof my point.
Ming Thein | Trey Ratcliff | Serge Ramelli | Finn Beales | Chris Photo
Ming Thein is a commercial photographer specialising in product photography on location and corporate reportage. He is also the Chief of Strategy for Hasselblad, well-respected by the photographic community.
From the categorisation of the portfolio images on his website, they were not strictly a series, to begin with, though he tries to include some of them. We can see that even the visuals in his series are not that consistent, apart from using Hasselblad most of the time. Yet surprisingly for a high-profile person, he chooses WordPress blog (not a template) for his portfolio website.
Trey Ratcliff is a Photographer, Artist, Writer & Adventurer. Trey’s images and stories have captured the beauty of exotic travel destinations and the humour of the bizarre situations he often finds himself in.
I’m not entirely sure if the term “portfolio website” fits this website, but one thing for sure is that it contains some of Trey’s best works to be sold as high-quality prints and he used WordPress template. Again, his images are not that consistent as a series as his works are not curated in that way in the first place. However, this unique approach works for him, so it works.
Serge Ramelli is a French photographer specialising in landscape and urban photography. He uses Squarespace for his portfolio website, his best images were arranged according to generic subjects, not as a thematic series. By showing his best images this way, he pulls the focus on the singular image as a visual narrative, rather than the series as the narrative. This works for him as a commercial photographer.
Finn Beales Finn is an award-winning photographer. Attracted by his cinematic style and the narrative he weaves throughout his work, he shoots travel, lifestyle and commercial commissions for the likes of Apple, Land Rover, Audi, Barbour and a variety of other global brands. Attracted by his cinematic style and the narrative he weaves throughout his work.
Finn uses Squarespace to showcase his works, and its clean layout really stands out for me. His photographic style was largely consistent, and he does categorise his works in a thematic series. however, in the case of other categories such as editorial and landscape category, the image visuals do not look similar. This is the closest example I can find who has a fairly consistent style present in his portfolio, but then again, he didn’t strictly categorise them as thematic series. he presented them as a bit of both.
James Russell Cant
This is an example of categorising images into thematic series. It is really a good way of curating images according to particular themes and built up over a long time. However, I think this kind of approach does not fit the series of images I am making now. However, for my personal works, this might be the way to go.
In October when I was back home, I met up with an acquaintance whom I met with during my working years. He was in the web consultant agency and was the best person for advice in this area. Though he does not do WordPress templates for his clients, it was his advice that I choose “.photography” as my domain name. It is slightly more expensive, but nevertheless a unique domain. It was also through his network that he managed to could get me a hosting server free for the first 12 months, which would serve as a testbed for my business plans.
Based on the above references gathered and weighing the pros and cons on my previous posts, I decided to go with WordPress template. I did with content management system because I wanted to start my business small first. In the sense, buying a template at a one-off fee certainly beats a monthly subscription hands down. It would also be easier to expand in the longer run such as the e-commerce and other services, and I could tweak HTML codings if I needed to. I was looking for landscape scrolling templates and good ones were hard to find. Initially, I made a small blunder, as I choose a free hosting platform instead of a self-hosted platform. I went on to create a proper business gmail account and directed my original email to firstname.lastname@example.org. This process was called “masking” in technical terms. It was challenging for me at first, and it took me a while to figure it out, under the advice of my acquaintance.
After curating my best images meant for submission, I decided to put that collection, or series as one might call it, into a portfolio page on my website. this was because earlier on when I did it in a thematic fashion I felt it didn’t present my best potential out. I created a “work” subpage under portfolio so those would house the thematic approach, which may also include personal works (at the moment) I am slowly expanding my works and I intend to include more video works as well as my pre-uni works. For now, I do not have any commissioned works, hence I put it as a generic category.
I intend to create a few pages with a more responsive interface. the theme itself has its limitations (and quite a bit of it ). Under Works Page, is a different format from Portfolio, where I can call out project categories based on “year” tags. Most of my older works from pre-uni days are locked in my archive disk back in Singapore. I plan to add them after I graduate when I have the access.
I did not want the work research in my Reflective Journal and Visual Logbook to end after I graduate, hence I have incorporated it as my Journal for my portfolio website. I intend to carry on updates in my journal in future, but perhaps more as a diary journal format.