For up-and-coming photographers like the top assistants profiled in the Sept/Oct issue of American Photo, a Website can be a powerful promotional tool -- or a total embarrassment. Ample time, money, and Web design skills are usually needed to build and manage a site that provides a satisfying online experience for visitors yet does justice to your work.
Fortunately, you need only small measures of those commodities to establish an impressive online presence when you use LiveBooks 5.0 software. Some of the photographers whose sites are now LiveBooks-based include Bill Owens and Maki Kawakita. The Magnum Photos agency and Fraenkel Gallery are also using LiveBooks for their Websites.
LiveBooks is actually both a product and a service, which together help you create a visually attractive,
Flash-based Website that's easy for visitors to navigate and simple for you to update. Setting up and
maintaining my own Website took just five basic steps: designing the site; preparing the images; importing the images; taking the site live; and updating the site. Site design is certainly the most important of these.
With LiveBooks Lite and Pro packages (see sidebar, next page), you work directly with a designer to customize your site. If you're not already set on the look you want, the designer will point you to existing LiveBooks sites from which you can cherry-pick the elements you like, including font styles, color choices, title placements, and names of menu items. These sites have a clean, distinctive design that sets off images elegantly, without the fussy clutter that often plagues photographers' websites. Using this approach, I was able to establish the overall look of my site in about an hour.
If you have an existing Website, you can carry over as many of its features as you like. With the less expensive LiveBooks Folio package, you're offered a selection of design styles to choose from, and further customization is billed at a modest $75 an hour.
Once I decided on a design strategy, I e-mailed my requirement to the LiveBooks Web designers. It took them only a few days to create a password-protected preview site for me to inspect. This made it easy to distinguish between my more inspired choices and others that needed further refinement. Meanwhile, I chose several dozen photographs to upload.
Visit Steve Pollock's LiveBooks site at www.stpollock.com.