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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Where are My Fine Art Weekly Posts???

Good Question. Where indeed are the Fine Art Weekly posts...They've been unintentionally pushed aside while, for starters, we work some website updates. More accurately, as we reinvent the wheel and completely overhaul the Driftwood Photography Studios website.

For one we've got a new web address we're going to start pushing soon. DriftwoodFoto.com. Shorter, simpler, no dashes involved. Hey, what's your website? DriftwoodFoto with an F. That's easier than Dee Double-U Pee (yes, we wrote pee) dash studios, or Driftwood Photography Studios, or Driftwood Dash Photography, etc.

Moving along, for those of you who have visited our current website, blogs (blogger/wordpress), tumbler page, twitter, and facebook fan page, you'll have noticed a progression of logos over the years. And you may have noticed that our website has stayed static despite those new/revised logos. We started out with our namesake (literally). A piece of driftwood photographed on the beach in Barbados.

The story goes: after a winter living in Boston, fattening up a little too much riding the T or driving to work, drinking lots of beer (Harpoon is better than Sam Adams, but both breweries are worthwhile going to, especially Harpoon for their 100 Barrel Series), eating out, etc, a trip to Barbados was in order. This of course involved plenty of more beer drinking and food gorging, amongst other things. On our second or third day a little swell filled in. Paddling into the first couple sets was an awkward endeavor at best. Turns out a beer belly is not a stable paddling platform. After a bit of floundering around, the comment was made: "I felt like a piece of driftwood out there!" Lo and behold, later that day the fateful piece of driftwood which would become our first logo was discovered and photographed.

We loved that logo, but it made a bit of a awkward watermark. It was such a unique piece of wood. Clearly some sort of tree that had once toppled and found it's way into the ocean (yeah, duh we all know all wood was once part of a tree). This wasn't just a branch or small log, but clearly a part of the main tree truck, complete with remnants of branches. Washed up on the shores of Silver Sands Beach, it was partially submerged in the sand well below the high tide line. Various sea grasses had begun to grow on it, which at low tides (when exposed) hung down with gravity. Branches stuck out at odd, alien angles, trapping seaweed. The sun bleached the top. Pounding wave action smoothed and tempered the wood, that classic driftwood look and feel. Half the people out there recognized it for what it was, while unfortunately the other half had to ask, or just shrugged their shoulders. We were asked for a cleaner, simpler logo for collaborative projects, where all our logos would be watermarked onto the image. So, the designing and redesigning began.

Our latest rendition is the light blue on dark brown wave logo, which for those who will allow a little creative license doubles as a lowercase "d." We like it. Fun aside, it takes it's general shape from a Maori carved jade (green stone) necklace we brought back from New Zealand; not that we expect people to know that! One of our graphic designers (more specifically a graphic designer we consult with/review with, as we do all our own graphic design in-house), hates this logo. We're disappointed in her. Overall it's been widely well received! Of course now that we have a set logo and color scheme, our website is a bit out of date, both in color and logo.

Web design, for those of us who were not computer science majors or idiot savants of the digital age, is a daunting task. Especially when designing/coding a site from scratch. There are many, many templates out there, but when a layout idea takes root, sometimes compromising to a template just wont cut it. Though then you may be left with awkward, unintended spaces between graphics, images or text that can show in one browser, but in another might just be blank, or worse a little gray box with a question mark in it (signifying to everyone that there's been a fuck-up somewhere in the process). We're currently looking into various templates. Our current site looks nice and is functional (we created it in InDesign), but it lacks the bells and whistles.

On the surface, web templates seem like a good idea. There are so many out there now, and so customizable, it's hard to justify stumbling through the coding yourself if you're not a web developer. They're really not so simple though, are they... Most outstanding photography web templates utilize flash. They're clean, effective, and have a bit of pizzazz. But they're not compatible on the Mac mobile iOS -namely iPhone and iPad. That's a real pain in the ass, because so many people have an iPhone or iPad. [Despite using a MacBook Pro, we have a Samsung Galaxy tab. It's great. It has Flash. It doesn't sync up to our Mac. We can't directly transfer files (pictures, music, whatever). We might switch to the iPad]. Yes, there are certainly HTML templates out there geared for photography. Unfortunately more often than not they're significantly more expensive, and/or part of a coding package from a company that primarily offers flash sites, with lesser options in pure HTML.

What to do, what to do! We're currently experimenting with a few different templates, both Flash and HTML. There are many cheap, or even free flash templates, but the biggest problem with these is their file management. More accurately complete lack there of. Say you want to create 5 galleries with roughly 50 images in each. That's 250 images. Not too bad. But, these cheaper, though beautifully laid out, flash web templates/galleries more often than not have only one level of file management. Meaning all 250 images will be in the same upload folder, and unfortunately more often than not in random order, despite being sequentially named. Oh, and they're only viewable in the file manager as small thumbnails with incomplete names displayed. Good luck getting all 250 images into their respective galleries, let alone in the desired order!

As you can imagine, this has taken up a significant portion of our time. Not to mention we still have to be out there taking photos, processing/editing, delivering to clients, submitting editorials, hunting down new commercial contracts/ad placements, marketing, and so on.

The biggest thing is that while we often talk in the plural form, day-to-day we're really just me. I. Ben. I do this. There is an amazing team of people to draw on. Need some specific web coding, sure, our team has a guy for that. Need some business advice or strategies, take a meeting with one of two. Blogs getting stale, or not generating the hits expected? -we've got a girl on the team for that (an aspiring writer and college english professor, we can always rely on honest critiques and discussions of what we've put out there -what I've put out there- and advice/suggestions on how to improve it, or a myriad of authors and bloggers -not necessarily mutually exclusive sets- to investigate, read, and be inspired by), and a guy for the SEO side of things. Creative review on new work? A team of readily opinionated compatriots. A new project or trip, a whole crew willing to jump on board and act as assistants, guides, gofers, and traveling companions. So it's a team, but it's also an I. And as that I, there's a lot to do!

Photography is a creative endeavor. Posting a Fine Art Weekly image with an entertaining story every Monday just doesn't flow. What if we've gone out trekking and shot some amazing photos, posted Monday, but after reviewing more photos want to post again that following Tuesday? What if we're away on a shoot and don't come back until Wednesday? How about if we don't review/get images ready to post from that mid-week shoot/trip until Friday? Or, what if like a magpie we're distracted by something bright and shiny?

So, we're considering altering our weekly fine art series to just a photo series...not necessarily weekly, but as the muse inspires us. Or me, however you want to look at it. The idea is to throw some clever name on it that suffices for any and all photos we'd want to share. At any time. For example Surfline.com has (in addition to their surf-news postings) what they call F-Stop, where they show the best submitted images not used in their news stories. F-Stop is a photographic term, indicative of aperture controlling the depth of field, and therefore the potential artistic quality of an image (*after having first found that artistic scene or element in the first place). Surfer magazine calls their rendition Exposure. Sci-Fi writer/blogger John Scalzi entitles his "Whatever," in that it's whatever strikes his fancy: a picture of his cat, some political tirade or sage advice, thoughts on parenting, notes on a new book, a poem, new short story, character development; literally whatever. Video guys love to call their versions "off the cutting room floor," eluding to a time when you had to splice strips of negatives together from different reels, showing different angles, scenes, takes, etc to complete a whole movie. The resultant scraps, which could actually be gems in their own right but just didn't make the final theatrical cut, are what they'd then share, or make bonus scenes from. What to call ours? It'd be nice if it was photographic in origin, but doesn't necessarily have to be. Rest assured, there's a team working on it.

So, to all you pining away for our weekly fine art series -don't fret, they will resume! But they very well may be under a new, modified heading that allows us the flexibility to show images how/when we are creatively inspired on a non-linear path.
*bg/dwp-studios (driftwood photography studios, driftwoodfoto, etc, etc, etc!)

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