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Critique of Photography Website: Motor Sports, Sports, Portrait and Wedding

Mike Spinak

pro member
Joe Schiavo said:
Thank you Asher.

you can see a lot of our work at www.seeyourreflections.com

this is our business' web site. if you go to our "client login" you will be able to see some of the motorsport events we have shot and some "other" stuff... our Portfolio is bare right now... been VERY busy.

in the past 2 months, we have shot about 12000 images in total, had a high success rate and have also been experiencing an increase in business due to the AZ heat remitting.

i will read the other postings you listed. i think i may have to get a faster/better laptop and a couple of monitors to display photos and take orders. i suppose Printing can wait for a bit

Hi, Joe,

I've now had a chance to look through your website; I'm going to offer you some criticism. But, before I do, I need to qualify my statements: Keep in mind that, regarding website design, I'm a blasted fool whose sensibilities can't be trusted. If you need proof of that, just look at my own (incomplete) website, and see for yourself. So, please use your own judgment, and/or get second opinions about any issues I raise.

Okay, having said that:

1) I think the Reflections Photography logo on the front page is a little too small, and the chosen font and the reflection combine to make it a little too hard to read.

2) I think the white text on dark background is a little straining on the eyes.

3) I think there would be better aesthetic balance on the front page if the Best Buddies logo was in the lower right corner.

4) People might find it more personable if you have pictures of yourselves on the About Us page.

5) You might want to consider putting clickable "contact us" buttons on most every page.



Last edited by a moderator:

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Joe Schiavo said:
Thank you Asher.

you can see a lot of our work at www.seeyourreflections.com

this is our business' web site. if you go to our "client login" you will be able to see some of the motorsport events we have shot and some "other" stuff... our Portfolio is bare right now... been VERY busy.

in the past 2 months, we have shot about 12000 images in total, had a high success rate and have also been experiencing an increase in business due to the AZ heat remitting.

i will read the other postings you listed. i think i may have to get a faster/better laptop and a couple of monitors to display photos and take orders. i suppose Printing can wait for a bit

Since it was mentioned that your website might be optimized, here's my own, non-expert take.

Initial Impression: Great color scheme, good basic design and impresive slide show presents enough of your skills to show you can do a job.


Price list: I'm not sure I'd present your price list openly the way you do. In some case it might be best to frontload your fees as people today can simply copy your prints in Walgreens or Costco. However, the pricing layout looks good and you will work this out yourself.

Packages: I don't see wedding albums. You can include different ones in different packages.

Upfront fees: front-loading of charges and packages will define a minimal profit for you and the after sales should be generated ASAP after the weddding with a slide show and book of proofs with a few blow ups.

Cheap Extras: Except for sports, the tea shirts and mousepads are degrading to a magic photographer of weddings, IMHO and should go!

Front page:

Best Buddies: "Best buddies link does not belong on front page but maybe on the "Contact" page.
As kind as it might be, mental illness is totally out of sync with a bride to be looking to have normal children with great success that they never had.

The home page should be simple with no details, just a message. The pictures themselves are O.K. However, "O.K." is not superb, stunning and magic. You need one picture, that's all and it should be wonderful. Get a beatiful model, work all day at a bridal dress store with a makeup artist and hair stylist and do a fantastic job. if they have a background use it. Or else, buy flowers bring your own b.g. Of coorse, if you already have that picture, then just use it! However, it must be your own work! BTW, doing 2-3 jobs with an experienced top wedding photographer is always a great investment.

You must have several websites: "Weddings and portraits" and "lifestyle", "Motor sports and cars." Certainly, wedding planners want to see a site focussed on the magic of the bride. Bikes and sports don't belong! Ugh!!

Look at wedding websites: they use uncluttered backgrounds. The bride and groom are always handsome. Shots of bride looking at her shoes, in the mirror, him fixing her bow etc are all standard and maybe "kitsch", but that's what you are sellling, "magic" invented and constructed memories for the bride and her mother!

Your Heading Reflections Photography is to whispy. Perhaps, get a graphic artist to design one. It is a good investment. BTW, Marine claris of M&N Clairs Organization in Bordeaux is very talented, but there are many artists available and it is not a big job.

Your Opening Message is not the best you can have and sounds amateur.

"We perform all our duties with integrity, passion, and professionalism. It's all part of how you'll see your memories in a whole new light... "

One short phrase, for example:

"Memories captured for a lifetime"

Don't write you are professional or you have integrity.

It sounds like a restaurant saying they don't use cat's meat or recycle the bread!

We assume you are professional. you site must reflect that.

Structure and composition of each page: Clean, sparse, one message at a time.

The page must scan from left to right in 10 seconds or less to get the idea of what you specialize in.

Cheapening factors: They pictures on the right and the cars say to me, low priced weddings done on the side. Mention of sports or bikes and cars! The cat, Never that!

All a bride and her mother are looking for is someone who will make them look wonderful and their day was perfect!

This must be "captured" no matter what! Yes, even if she is overweight, breaks out in a rash, it rains or Aunt Millie fights the brides father again.

It can't look like you were on the track in the morning! You are only a capturer of magic and a story teller on the wedding day. Don't break that spell by letting them see cats, cars, bikes or football. They all distract and IMHO, show you might not be really serious about weddings.

Motor Sports: Others can tell you about that. But I do like the pictures.

Sports: Again others can comment.

Portraits: Some are nice non-formal shots with great interestand attitude. Others could be removed. So you might go through these very strictly. Only show your very best. Four less-than-O.K. pictures can damage you and negate the great ones.

Anyway, portraits are big investments in time. If you show one perfect portrait or even 4, you'll impress more.

Anyway, these are my tough comments, but I believe most are valid.

You have made a great start, but thank goodness, there's a lot you can do that's easy to make things so much better!

Good luck,


J. Schiavo

New member
hey there

hi guys...

boy, you guys are THOROUGH... first of all, we sincerely apologize if anyone was upset by my post or the discussions created from it.

For those who were comfy sharing ideas, we thank you and will post for an opinion poll again when some changes are made.

Items we sell = mostly laid out for motorsports clientele right now. but, as this will change, perhaps i can rearrange the price list. again, great suggestions, great ideas, wonderful feature ideas...

as for teaching styles, subtlety is an art as much as photography. i completely respect anyone's way of teaching... Alain, my marketing scheme is being looked at and can certainly be improved. eventually, i will hope to put together a better collage of results to have critiqued. in the mean time these are great basic items to get repaired. we thank you all for looking and for helping.

as for the header... well, that's the header... i'm working on my Admin. what can i say? LOL...

if anyone would like to PM me or e-mail me suggestions, this would be completely acceptable as well. thanks for taking the time to do so.

r1800 - cool machine.

Ray West

New member
Hi Joe,

I'd get rid of any links off site not to your stuff. (best buddies - once they've gone, they ain't coming back.)
I'd make the pages resizeable.
I'd ensure my logo was consistant, the same for every page, maybe every photo, and make sure it is clear to read. I am selling me.
I'd link from every thumbnail, every news item on the front page, everywhere. (html default for links is blue underscored text)
I'd avoid changing images too quickly if doing a slide show type thing
I'd try and get some consistancy of design /layout running through most pages
I'd have a link to contact us, home page, on every page. Probabaly to every gallery
I'd ensure I'd put up the very, very best pictures, change some weekly, update the news text weekly.
I'd try and hit on a unique feature that I could promote and sell.
I'd keep it as simple, as clean, as possible. (single style of easy read text, etc.)
I'd put a few things up for free - not a valueless pdf reader link, but maybe a sample copyright free high res landscape image or two, or a bit of my advice on taking motorsport shots, say.

I've phrased this in a way about how I would do it, but I've never bought or sold an image on the web, but I have sold loads of other (more technical) stuff. It may be your intended customers are impressed by more 'modern' geewhiz flash/music etc., in which case ignore most of the above.

Although you may need to, showing prices is a two edged sword. You will need to get them dead right. I can't comment on those, you will charge whatever your market will stand. If they won't pay what you need, best do something else. (e.g. add value, or change career)

Best wishes,


edit - I posted this having spent five minutes perusing your site. I've now read Asher's and Mike's comments, we more or less are saying similar, fwtw. (not the three wise monkeys, more like 'the good, the bad and the ugly' ;-0

J. Schiavo

New member
oki doki

Well, i re-did and addressed a lot of the comments (mostly on technical error things that i have control over) by repairing, adding, and deleting. sorry for the "Best Buddies" stuff. i hate to sound like a jerk, but working with those kids for the short while we worked with them really put life into perspective. 'nuff said.

as for making links to different items... well, i have my admin working on it.

you guys are great. and Mr. West, i think your suggestions were hysterical (and practical)... very much my style.

i re-did the slide show also... added some of my favorite Porsche shots from the past weekend (right now some of my favorites anyways, it changes weekly )

thank you all again... it is great to be in a forum where you can speak intlelligently about IMPROVING, instead of complaining about how dim an LCD is or how the 5D gets dust in it.

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief

I'm glad you are moving on this. Now remeber that weddings can bring in a good income. So now think of splitting your site to make two!

Let your good wife, (whose name we don't yet know), reread what I wrote about weddings!

With two of you, you should be able to handle anything. Just walk in to a gown shop with your new weddinf photographer card, and offer to take free pics of birdes in their gowns if they provide the hair stylis and makeup artist. You must get a wonderful bride. Just one great picture! That is the minimum. If you can have her hold flowers, look at the material etc, you will have a lot of great shots to at least stasrt your new website.

Good luck,


J. Schiavo

New member
second site

you know, multiple sites would be a great idea. i have to ask my admin about that as well... he may have a solution for me that will work for the interrim. Weddings are nifty, money-wise. not so sure i want to deal with Bride-Zilla i have read about in many wedding discussions, however. i suppose we can discern between who we feel we can service and who we can't. either way, we're moving in the right direction - FORWARD.

we're not able to fork out a ton of cash right now. unfortunately. still paying off the g5 quad we bought and we're recuperating from a loss we incurred due to an owner of a motorsports club "not being forthright" with us... i'd like to say something else, but don't want to get banned. he made us believe we were "exclusive" for a very high dollar event, and we lost $2,000 (US) due to his "buddy" undercutting and belittling us. needless to say, if i happen to see that person again, i think i may have to introduce his face to another part of his anatomy... but then again, at least we don't have to deal with them again.

My wife's name is Mollie. she's the best friend i ever had. she's not quite the computer whiz, but she's eager to learn. another challenge is getting her up to speed. i'll think of posting a photo of us in the About Us page of the site... but, for personal reasons, we have not yet felt comfortable enough to do so. my cat is going to be out of there soon, i agree he's not the best choice...

yeah, i am not one to sit an do nothing. i listen to everything, and take the parts of what i can use and implement them ASAP when possible.

can't wait for the weekend. get to head out to the track again, FAST track, lots of twisties for the motorcycles. i used to ride and it's a treat for me to get to shoot for those guys. they love our stuff too.

Ray West

New member

Flippin heck, Joe, you moved fast! Changed the site while I got a few hours kip. Obviously still work in process. Unless you ask me again, I'll leave you to do your own thing, 'cos else I could drive us both nuts.

But, just a couple of things.(may have been mentioned by others.) re your www site

The best buddies - I thought it was a link to a site sharing sort of thing for photographers. I clicked on it, but didn't wait for the window to open. I either have a pc problem, or isp problem, or the internet has slow reactions in the last few days. However, since it now appears from your recent post that they have some importance to you, then I would put up a separate page, linked from your home page, of course, saying why, but without making out you are something special - by that I mean it will be a cultural thing to match in with your customer's perception of your qualities in your area - we sometimes do things differently this side of the pond - and link to them from there.

Your logo - I tried to find the one I liked, fwiw, it was a sharp outline blocky text, with a clear angled outline, a bit clearer than what you have now, with a sharp reflection. I think as you are more towards the technical side of your craft, as opposed to 'arty' side, then it may sit better, but no real big deal, your choice of course.

As you're starting out, you will get loads of offers from marketers, advertising agencies, etc. imho, they will do nothing for you, other than steal your money. Borrow as little as possible, live frugally, if your car is a heap, park it around the corner, and walk into the site, or hire a van.

I had a guy early on who wouldn't pay. I took him to court, cost him twice as much. I used him as an example - not mentioning names - to other possibly tardy payers. If possible, as early as possible, get 'customers to put their money where their mouth is'. You can then afford the time to give real quality to the folk who matter. What goes round, comes round.

Have a hectic weekend,

Best wishes,


J. Schiavo

New member
hectic weekend.

actually, i like all your ideas. between you and Asher, i have my admin going insane. he's glowing with the prospect of more $, and so am i.

yes, still a work in progess. text i can change, photos - i can change, graphics i can SORT OF change, but i can't change placement of the objects on the page or sizes. therefore, out of curiosity, what am i typically looking at to have a design made for our logo? i made something for our t-shirts and safety vests that i had screen printed onto them. i'll see if i can get that on there instead. might be worth the savings right now. give me a few days to get it how i want it and i will let you know when i would like some more "direction". sincerely appreciate the help from all of you.

we drive a decent car. nothing too fancy. but we only have one vehicle which makes things difficult at times. cheaper, but difficult. we've been living cheaply for a while now. no eating out... no driving excursions (gas = too much), no a/c - which is a bad thing in AZ,

i have also been looking into getting a Small Business Loan so i can buy some equipment and travel to LA, Nevada, and New Mexico to shoot events there, since AZ is not always the creme de la creme. we shall see how that pans out. most of all, i believe that reliability, consistency and just shooting the way we do will make us our money... but exposure needs to happen before film will capture an image...

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Hi joe,

Yes we can get testy here, but I do this for a reason. That is to share experience so we can deliver that great image. We want you to succeed.

Oh and don't forget fun. Layback cafe should be humorous. For your cat, only put him in The pet section and it better be a good picture, since we are trying to be serious about pet photography. They deserve it and so do we! The photograph should be your best.

I look forward to you delivering your experience to someone else, but from a studio while two assistants are getting the next executives ready.