Today marks the point where I ramp up my quest to remove flash based websites from the photography industry. I’ve spent a long time telling clients (through my web work) that flash based sites are not that great. I think of them kind of like candy. They look great and taste great but they aren’t that great for you.
I wasn’t sure how to first tackle this subject as it’s quite sizeable, but I recently saw some new photographers using free portfolio sites that output a flash website. I’m not going to name names or say the service that they are using. If you are using one then chances are you know who you are. So that is where we begin our journey. An easy portfolio website that looks good.
I had read and heard about Carbonmade for quite sometime but up until two days ago I had never stepped foot past the front page. I bit the bullet and signup was very easy. I originally signed up for the “Meh” account which is free and allows you to setup 5 projects and 35 images. You pretty much get the same features as the paid or “Whoo!” account just on a smaller scale. The “Whoo!” account does give you custom urls, video and flash projects, ad-free, project hiding and tech support, also a few minor portfolio customisation settings which i’ll mention as we move through the setup. I should probably mention that the “Whoo!” is only $12 per month.
Spencer Fry one of the founders behind Carbonmade was kind of enough to hook me up with a “Whoo!” account so I can give you a complete run down. I’ll be writing this as I go through setting up my portfolio. I have logged in a few times and may have changed a few settings but nothing permanent.
Once you have logged in, you are greeted with this screen, which gets you started by adding a project.
Once you click the “Add project” button you get this nice overlay to set you up. As a result of having a VIP or “Whoo!” account I can set the project type to video or SWF (flash) but i’ll keep it at image since that is what we are mainly dealing with here.
I entered in the project title of “Glamour” and pressed “Create this project”.
Lets add some photos. I’ve just grabbed 5 images from my flickr account at their original size for the sake of this tutorial.
Once they are uploaded you can click on each thumbnail and create a caption for it. I don’t think you need a screen shot for that. Let’s move on. In fact everything on the project page has it’s own helpful tutorials that make it easy to change names add information and descriptions. I’m sure you can work it out.
You get three layouts for the project display I have selected the “flipbook with thumbnails” but you also get just the flip book or list. Check out the final product. For “Whoo!” account holders you get the ability to hide the project as well.
So this is what we have so far for the porfolio home page.
This is the project page we just created.
It looks ok but nothing terrific just yet. So let’s dive into the personalisation settings.
This may either be a curse or a saviour but you get two options in most things. Free account holders don’t get the Image size “Big” option.
I’m liking the dark colour scheme so time to change the title and upload a logo.
Lastly some text for the footer of the portfolio.
Now it’s starting to take shape but now that we have a project there are some more options on how the homepage is displayed.
When you hover over the project you can change the icon but i’ll leave mine as the default, which is the first picture. Also if you have more then one project you are able to rearrange them in any order you like. One thing I am going to do is change the “Thumb text” to “Thumb text inside”. I like the look of that a little more then the standard text below the thumbnail. If you only have a 1 or two projects try changing the “thumbs per row” option. This is a great way to alter the look of your portfolio just a little bit. I’m changing mine to “1 thumb per row”.
Lastly i’m going to fill in the about page, and were done! There are some other options but most of them are geared towards those with the “Whoo!” account, like google analytics, custom domains and setting the portfolio to private.
So what are my thoughts on Carbonmade
Initially I thought the lack of customisation might annoying me, since I come from a web design background, but to be honest the minimal options is kind of nice for a change. You don’t get bogged down with the design of your portfolio and you can get back to those important things like finding new clients, searching the internet for that new lens or reading RAW.
The portfolio’s look nice, everything works well together and it’s dead easy. The only thing I think is missing would be to add a link for a blog if you had one, some social networking profiles and maybe the ability for a contact form they aren’t major concerns.
Blogs, Social Networking, anything?
No this is purely a portfolio. Remember this post is starting at the basics with just a portfolio, so you don’t use those free flash based ones anymore 🙂 This post is one of many where I will be discussing blogs, platforms, social networking and tying them all together.
Anyway I hope you have enjoyed this style of post. Head over to my Carbonmade portfolio to see the final result, and remember if your looking for a great way to show of your photos it’s doesn’t have to be difficult, expensive or built in flash. Give Carbonmade a go.