I am not anti-Instgram, nor am I anti-cellphone photography. But…
Travel photojournalist Quinn Ryan Mattingly has been based out of South East Asia, and most recently Saigon, Vietnam for almost a decade. Quinn fell in love with the people there, became captivated by the landscapes, and enthralled by the culture. Over the years, he’s documented many people’s stories and collectively has told his own story via an active blog presence.
When our newest Beam template, Sonnet, was released, we immediately knew that Quinn’s travel images would be a perfect fit for this new, story-telling platform. Sonnet was built with storytellers, photojournalist, and travel photographers in mind, allowing them to show gallery captions, image titles and captions, in a professional and polished portfolio layout. Once Quinn got his Sonnet template up and running, we talked with him about what it was that convinced him to switch over his portfolio to this brand new template.
Right off the bat, what “wow-ed” you the most about Sonnet? What ultimately convinced you to switch your portfolio over to this template?
I think it was just the uniqueness of it; it has a quality that’s different than I’ve ever seen in a website template. When the first batch of Beam templates rolled out, I thought they were all pretty great, but I first chose Shuffle. I really liked the interactivity of the thumbnails, and the ability to display a grid of images, as opposed to a full screen view. Sonnet basically gives me the best of both worlds: grids and larger more full screen views of my images. The theme has a big eye-catching image at the top, and then the thumbnails unfold below it. I think it feels a lot like flipping through a book.
Sonnet was built with story tellers in mind. What types of stories are you trying to share with your viewers?
The stories I like to tell are mostly about people and lives in South East Asia. My personal work focuses on telling the stories of difficult or less-fortunate people I come across here in Vietnam or on my travels around the region, but I also like to show viewers the feeling and sense of the places I travel, as I interpret them.
As a travel photographer, how important are the words that go along with your images? Do you feel that being able to explain more about your images through captions and descriptions will help you get more work?
Well of course, having information about my images is important for quite a few reasons. Firstly, when it’s all done properly (which is always an ongoing process for me), it’s very helpful to clients first finding your website when they’re searching for whatever, whoever, or wherever they’re looking for. If your site is full of great images, but it’s not easily found by those who aren’t aware of you or your work yet, you’re losing a big part of your viewership and potential client base. When all the image information is displayed beautifully, it helps viewers understand your images and stories more, that can only be a good thing.
Do you think you’ll be writing more now that you have a template that allows you to use more text?
Ideally, yes. I always strive to put words to my work to accompany the images whenever I feel the stories are interesting or important. I’ve maintained a blog for some time, but at times find it difficult to allocate the time to keep it properly updated with current work or stories. With Sonnet, I can now have a blog post in the form of a gallery, with the words and images all on one beautiful and responsive page, but without the hassle of having to perfectly produce and edit a post each time. The overview text is easily read just before the images appear, and then images can either be displayed without text, letting the images do most of the talking, or with a quick click, they can be viewed in a few different ways, letting the viewer take control of how they’d like to take in the story.
What do you think your current clients will think about the new design?
I think, and hope, they’ll like the uniqueness of it and also the ease with which the images and the stories can be seen and read.
What new Beam integrations do you find most exciting?
Basically all of them! I love than I can pull in the feed of my blog, Instagram, and Vimeo page, perfectly formatted to fit in with the styles of the rest of the content. It’s great because it only takes two seconds to set up, without any additional plugins or hacks or anything else. Just type in your account, and there it is…pretty magical I think!
How did you find the process of building and customizing your new site?
Just like the integrations, setting up the rest of the site couldn’t be any easier than it is now with the new Beam site builder. The controls are easily found, yet not over complicated. It takes less than a minute to know how and where to change what you’d like to change. Things like the front page image and featured portfolios can be changed on the fly, from anywhere, giving you complete control of the way your site looks at any given time.
Beyond the new Beam website templates, what’s your favorite PhotoShelter feature?
To be perfectly honest, pretty much everything else. I think your team does an amazing, unrivaled job of giving us the control and tools we need to display, deliver, and sell our images to clients. Private galleries with or without passworded downloads, the Quick Send tool, FTP capabilities, statistics in the backend, let alone all the focus you guys put on SEO and helping photographers get their sites found and in front of the audiences we’re aiming for. Finally, all of the time and effort PS spends on creating awesome reports and blog posts to help our industry learn and grow, I don’t know of any other company that has been as helpful for me at least in getting a fruitful career established and ongoing.
Check out Quinn’s new Beam website here.