About This Site
This site was conceived as a replacement for my Fotopic site after the collapse of the Fotopic system in March 2011. The collapse was not totally unexpected as it seemed to me that the service had been getting worse for some time prior to it, and I had been considering a new site on an independent domain anyway. In the end my railways site came to my rescue; the hosts of that site (1 & 1) upgraded my account and I found myself in a position where I could host both sites on the same account. This immediately reduced the costs involved as I was now only paying one annual subscription for site hosting instead of two.
The next problem I had to solve was the issue of photograph sales, as I knew I would have to sub-contract this one way or another. My initial searches of the internet did not provide anything that I felt offered the level of service that I wanted; in this instance it was the "Railway Magazine" that came to my rescue, when an article mentioned a service called "Photobox" that published photograph books from uploaded photographs. After checking them out I discovered that they offered a similar (if not actually better) system of purchasing prints and items to Fotopic, and they only took a commission on anything sold (which Fotopic did as well as charging an annual subscription for the service). The end result was a Photobox gallery where the full version of any photographs I wanted to sell were uploaded, and a link placed from the corresponding page on this site; perhaps not the smoothest of solutions, but one that would result in a lot less administration for me. However, the facility was withdrawn in summer 2016 in favour of a subscription-based system which I felt was not economical to use, and I decided to withdraw the sales facility until I could find an alternative that was more reasonably priced.
So why did I not just use the Photobox gallery on its own? Firstly, although it's a good sales platform (I've ordered prints and other items from them, and I was impressed with the results), I don't think it works as well as a promotional platform. Secondly, and probably most important reason, the loss of the Fotopic site lost me four years of work and it took over two years for this site to be brought up to something close to the level of its predecessor (In the end, I decided to draw a line under the recovery process in Spring 2013 and concentrate on new material from that point onwards). I never want to be in a situation where a host fails and I have to start from scratch again; constructing my own site means I have control of the source code. It is not absolutely ideal, but short of paying someone to build me something better, I don't think I can do much better with the resources I have to hand at present, and the situation described above has justified my decision.
March 2013 has seen some more work on this site, mainly to stop search engines listing my buttons in image searches. Although the code to stop listing GIF images was relatively easy to install, I discovered that due to an incorrect "Build" setting in my source files, the buttons were built as JPG files and not GIF, and as a result I had rebuild the entire site. However, this also meant that I could do some tidying up at the same time, and I also managed to solve an FTP issue that created problems with transferring my larger collections at the same time. I've also added a new gallery called "Performing Arts".
Early 2014 has seen some further tidying up of the collections as well as installing higher resolution photographs converting most of the images installed at 600x400 to 750x500 dpi. For the most part this has only been applied to the DSLR images; most of the 35mm scans remain in their original size (with the application resizing them during compilation of the collection's source code).
Late 2014 and early 2015 has seen installation of a "navigational aid" at the top of the individual photograph pages; this is to give a clearer idea to users of where they are on the site (especially useful where I've installed links between collections). This was completed by the end of 2015.
2016 has seen a rebuild of the top layers of this site:
- The title graphic has been updated.
- The top layer of the site has had the menu buttons replaced by drop down menus.
- The collections can now be accessed directly from the home page via these menus (previously, visitors had to access the collections via the relevant gallery page, if there was no link available in the "Recent Sessions" section of the home page).
- The top layer pages have been re-arranged to compact them, and eliminate unused space (this has resulted in the "Featured Photographs" section being removed from the home page in favour of an extension of the "Recent Arrivals" section).
- The "Events" and "National Trust" collection index tables have been changed to show two collections per row instead of one. As a space saving measure, I have reduced the visit scoring on the latter to just the number of visits, with the dates of the visits removed (which probably would have had to have been done at some point anyway to prevent formatting issues).
- The Google Map facility, removed in 2014 due to changes made by Google in the setup of the facility, has been restored and updated. However, I've decided not to show the locations of the "Nature" gallery photographs as most of the locations are covered in other galleries, or can be found relatively easily on a map search.
- I have added a page dedicated to an overview of my photographic history and ethos.
These features are intended to (hopefully) make the site more attractive, easier to use and on the whole, save me some work going forward.
2016 also saw the implementation of a "mobile-device friendly" version of this site. This acts as an alternate version of the main site, and was intended to share as many resources with the main version (mainly image files) as was possible, in order to save on hosting space. This solution was not ideal as I was effectively managing two versions of the site, and I have since begun the implementation of a better solution (see below).
September 2016 saw the introduction of a replacement sales facility hosted by 3XM, which offered most of what I required from a sales facility at a more reasonable cost than what was offered by Photobox, which at this point had decided to charge for hosting sales galleries, rather than just taking a commission on sales. The solution to this issue came about in part due to the Vale of Evesham Historical Society asking for a photograph sales solution of their own, and I discovered 3XM while researching a solution for them.
March 2017 saw some more changes to the top layer of the site:
- A greater emphasis has been placed on the sales aspect of this site. However, in order to make room for a menu relating to sales, the "River Festival" menu has been removed as surplus to requirements.
- The "National Trust" gallery has been renamed "Heritage Properties". This will allow any visits to non-National Trust properties to be included in this gallery, which may be of use in the future, and hopefully avoid any impression that my work has any official National Trust sanction (which it doesn't).
- Some tidying-up has been done.
From February 2018, the site is being rebuilt to HTML 5 standard and at this point most of the collections and the top level indexes and information pages have been completed. The remainder of the work is expected to be completed at some point in 2020.