So much useful feedback has been given in just one page here that is incredibly valuable to me. I am extremely grateful for your responses.
First let me say that so much of this depends on your target market is, and I am terribly confused about which markets I want to target with this website. I think Jule said it best: "there is an incongruency with the 'guy next door' image and the 'art director' market you are trying to establish.". Frankly I'm not yet sure which image will be more beneficial (the guy-next-door image being better for portrait/wedding/direct-print-sales and the art-director-targeted-image being better for all advertisement gigs)! There is no doubt I have mixed these two images instead of picking one and the result has not been great.
Many of your comments center on the effect of blogness on how a website is perceived. Here are some markets and how I think they might respond to blogness. The following are VERY much up for debate and I would love to get your feelings on how right or wrong they are.
The fine-art market for high-end print sales: too much blogness destroy the feeling of exclusivity and the "pureness" of the artists intentions.
Advertising: too much blogness reduces the feel of professional execution
Wedding/Family: I think even the high-end wedding market is eager to see a personal touch which blogs promote. The decision makers are "ordinary people" who want to see images that appeal to them and understand who it is they will be hiring and why they are different than the other 10 photographers they've found on google.
Senior/Sweet16 Portrait:: Can't possibly get enough of the web 2.0 / Blog feeling.
Part of this may be demographics, and I can easily imagine that when the teenagers of today are the art buyers of tomorrow that some of this desire for the blog feel will persist.
So in conclusion the central challenge for me will be trying to find a way to maintain an exclusive/high-end/professional aura while not closing the door on those looking for something more personal.
To respond to a few of the specific comments:
Justinr, I really like the use of a branded keyword such as Justinseye that creates a likely link to your web presence. This was actually the motivation behind the repeated use of the word artisan given that the google-landscape for artisan is not entirely crowded. By using your name in your branded keyword you've accomplished a heck of a lot with just 10 characters!
mikeseb, I take your comments and the rest on this forum as constructive and well-intended. You all have taken time to help me as I struggle to form the right image on the web and I appreciate your time.
You have so many sub categories, and so few examples of each, it's like you are showing snapshots. - This is partly because I believe philosophically and practically that portfolios should be limited in scale. It is also partly because I am a young and my portfolio doesn't have much depth.
I just don't get a clear understanding of what the point is. Are you a studio? Are you a GWC? Do you just like taking photographs and will do it for a fee if asked? This is probably the most revealing criticism I've received and highlights that my front page doesn't do an effective job of concisely introducing myself and what I do. Part of the confusion is that I myself don't know exactly what I want to do. I am working right now as a technician (product tester, web master, tech support) for Capture Integration and so am pursuing photographic work such as portraits and weddings only on the side. I could only handle a few weddings a year. That said, I want to place myself in the market such that any and all work I do get is high end.
luong, one thing I really appreciate in your site is the fullness of your caption / image-title information. I might suggest you look into the php utility "lightbox", which is what I use when someone clicks on a thumbnail. It would still let you place your links for license and order a print without requiring a jump away from the thumbnails to view a larger image. I am also curious what relationship you draw between absolute size of the website and it's visibility on google. From everything I have read and researched google (the only search engine I optimize for) cares very little about the absolute size of your website and much more about inbound links, keywords and page specificity (that is how specific a page is to a particular topic). If you know differently could you please provide some reference so the rest of us can benefit?
jule, thanks for your candor. I definitely come off more arrogant than I am in this paragraph and I am going to revise or remove it. I'm from rural Ohio and I stick by my words that the wedding and portrait market (with which I am familiar) is full of really poor quality photographers who have almost no redeeming qualities other than being in a market with limited competition (as with anything there are exceptions). The major markets are teeming with photographers with WAY more talent than I, so this paragraph will probably not ring as many bells with my target audience in my new location.
This paragraph seems to try to justify your style and fuels thought about film vs digital rather than dispelling it. I didn't give that consideration until you mentioned it. I would personally scrap the whole paragraph totally and let your images speak for themselves. I completely 100% agree. I had not thought about this, but now that you mention it, this paragraph is utterly self-defeating and should be removed.
Doug, I was wondering also about whether you have assessed the effectiveness and hence the need for your 'blogs". The entries (and hence comments) that are there already were imported from a previous blog. I have only had this website up for a month. That said, I don't expect to gain many comments. The problem is a chicken-and-the-egg problem since users comment far far more when they see comments then when there are no comments. In the VERY long run I hope to attract enough traffic and attention to reach critical mass for commenting. For now it is not doing anything for me, but I don't see any reason to remove it.