Last fall, Philadelphia-based photographer Mark Tassoni reached out to Wonderful Machine, looking for some help with his website. Having established his name in the area as a sought-after education and portrait photographer, Mark was looking to refine his presentation to reach a wider audience. Though he had relied in large part on word-of-mouth referrals and relationships with local schools established over many years, Mark realized that if he wanted to reach a larger commercial market, he would need to commit to pulling apart the retail and commercial sides of his business and fleshing out his commercial portfolio.
My job would be to develop an approach to the gallery navigation of his commercial website that is more clearly aligned with potential clients and edit the content of these galleries with this sharper focus while showing off Mark’s unique strengths as a photographer.
As with any of our consulting projects, the first step for me was to set up a phone call with Mark to get a deeper understanding of his business and to discuss in more detail what types of clients he was hoping to reach with this edit. Although conversations with photographers are something that I always enjoy, Mark was a particularly fun and dynamic conversationalist whose insights into his own relationship to photography and his business were particularly astute.
This rapport allowed us to dive deep into discussing some big issues at the start of the project, such as challenges related to separating his retail and commercial brands —particularly regarding brand names and all the connected issues such as SEO and established name recognition. Although some of this would fall outside of the scope of what we were addressing with the edit for his commercial website, it helped to establish a road map for where we were going with this project — and hopefully gave Mark a better sense of what the next steps would be after the web edit was complete.
Mark’s existing commercial website had two main challenges: the first was that it lacked a clear navigational structure that would be visible at all times. The second was the general need for a more refined edit with strong distinctions between the content of each gallery.
Since Mark had so much educational work, we needed to come up with a way to showcase the various facets of this deep body of work and expertise without limiting its potential relevance to other types of clients. Showing off Mark’s incredible ability to capture moments and to shoot lifestyle-type imagery in real situations was going to be key. Focusing on this type of work gave me a clear sense of how to create continuity across the website with my edit. Mark’s sports gallery, for example, has a unique quality that prioritizes capturing emotion as much as action. As I worked on my edit for Mark’s sports gallery, I tried to weed out images that didn’t support this heightened sense of emotion or that felt repetitive.
In addition to having a gift for finding moments within the classroom or on a sports field, Mark Tassoni also had many very strong school portraits. Although our recommendation is often to keep this type of work separate from your commercial website, Mark’s school portraits were very candid and full of personality.
By creating a portrait section of Mark’s website that had two subcategories — one for school portraits and the other for corporate work — we were able to share this work in a way that emphasized it as portraiture and an ability to put subjects at ease in front of the camera. By including a gallery of corporate work within the same portrait section of Mark’s site, the navigation also helped to emphasize the versatility of Mark’s approach to portraiture.
After working through the education and portrait sections of Mark’s site, a lot of the heavy lifting for this edit had been done, and the look and feel of the new site was coming into focus. Through a few follow-up phone calls to discuss revisions and an edit to an Overview section and development of a Kids gallery, we pulled some of the final pieces into place.
Before we completed the edit, we also discussed the About page and how to craft the bio and headshot seen here in a way that allows potential clients visiting your site to learn something about you and your photography. The bio is always important, but especially for someone like Mark. So much of his personality is already expressed through his work, capturing kids engaged in vibrant moments of joy and experiencing the world together. These days, something like this is at least as valuable as technical proficiency.
Did Mark think his expectations had been achieved?
Absolutely. The website is pretty tight now.