As a photo editor who works on editing websites across a wide spectrum of genres, I always enjoy the challenge of learning the ins and outs of a particular niche in the industry. When Rhode Island photographer Cate Brown came to Wonderful Machine looking for a fresh web edit, I figured I might have just such a chance. Cate works primarily in the marine space with surfing, boating, and sailing as areas of expertise. Having an incredible eye for color and a soft, atmospheric style of shooting life in and by the sea, Cate had a strong visual style and well-defined brand identity from the get-go. Our goal for the web edit would be to push that visual sensibility toward the forefront and to tighten the focus of the edits to maximize the impact of Cate’s work.
Since Cate was already committed to updating her website design, we assessed what aspects of her current site were working well, and what might benefit from a new approach. We both agreed on the effectiveness of the site’s general organization, and many elements of the navigation. However, we also noticed the edits were quite long. Similar images seemed to appear in multiple places within any given gallery. Additionally, we discussed the possibility of changing the title of her regatta work from “Events,” to “Regatta.” This would elevate the overall feel of the website and make a stronger statement about her commitment to shooting in the boating and sailing worlds.
Appearing as an expert in a particular area of photography is hard-earned, and often a tricky balancing act to pull off when you are operating in a smaller photo market. It’s important to define your area of specialization, but you don’t want to alienate potential clients who might be interested in hiring you for something other than that specialty. Although it was most important to prioritize all of the work within Cate’s portfolio that showed her expertise in the surfing, sailing, and boating worlds, she also produces fabulous lifestyle-driven work and can tell brand stories across a wide spectrum of client types. We fleshed out Cate’s lifestyle gallery and introduced a new “Products” section to the website to make this clear. We also took advantage of Cate’s “Projects” section to show off her ability to create dynamic brand narrative work for her clients.
Through a series of meetings throughout the editing process, Cate and I were able to refine the sequences within each gallery. In my experience, this dialogue is a critical piece of the editing process – it allows the photographer to flag images that they think might be particularly important for potential clients to see. The details of the Hinckley yachts, for example, with their carefully crafted woodwork interiors, were something Cate had deep insight into featuring. Another example is the way a particular boat might be at rest versus in motion.
Cate’s ability to share some of her knowledge on how these vessels were made and operated – and to hone in on key features of each – was integral to our process. I was able to push the work that was the most visually impactful as well as emotionally resonating. Then, we were able to weave in the more technical shots and details to create edits that felt driven by story, mood, and atmosphere.
In the end, I think we were quite successful. Arriving at Cate’s new website, one can almost smell the salty air and hear the sound of gently lapping waves along a shoreline. Cate agrees,
My goals for a web edit were mainly to refresh my portfolio. I had been working really hard the last several years to carefully shoot and curate my portfolio. But I felt way too close to my work to make effective culls and had received conflicting advice from multiple creatives and portfolio reviews. Working with Honore could not have been a more perfect match. We communicated well and there was a wonderfully collaborative back-and-forth that left me feeling heard. In the end, I was left feeling incredibly satisfied that I had a portfolio that represented my best work, my favorite work, and my style.