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Black vs. White?
Eric Jones, Photographer
Greenville | NC | USA | Posted: 11:10 AM on 02.09.09
->> I just finished re-designing my website a few months ago and I’ve been playing around with the background color. I know this really isn’t a big deal but after looking at hundreds of different websites from sitewelder and also from fellow ss members the majority is either black or white for the background color. The logo I have works really well with both colors. I guess what I’m looking for is a background that is going to flow with my images as I have some that looks good with the white and some that looks good with the black. I’m trying to focus a little more attention to family portraits and I would think that the majority of the people would be women vs. men that would want to have portraits of their family as I’ve already had several contacts from the mothers vs. no men so that looks to be my targeted audience for now. Not sure if black is a little to harsh or cold looking vs. a warmer white color for the background when you are looking at family/baby portraits. I’m just trying to see who my targeted customers would be and how they would portray the black vs. white…see what I’m trying to do? I’m sure I’m over analyzing this whole thing. I know everyone will have a different opinion as all my friends have done so already and half of them like the black and the others like the white. I originally had it black at the beginning and then changed the site back to white. How silly I know, but I want the background color to stand out for the majority of the pictures and I do have quite a bit where I shot with a black background but coming up this spring I will be hopefully shooting more family shots. I know it’s solely my decision but just curious what your thoughts were.

Here are two of the sample links with one being black and the other being white…these are the only two pages that I’ve changed.



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Shelley Cryan, Photographer
New England | CT | USA | Posted: 11:35 AM on 02.09.09
->> I vote for the black background.
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Eric Canha, Photographer
Brockton | MA | United States | Posted: 11:37 AM on 02.09.09
->> Ok so why not go somewhere in the middle?? For me white is TOO strong on the eyes. On my 21" display you have too much white that glares back at me and just plain makes me want to squint. I can understand that black may be too moody for a for someone looking to do upbeat family portraits so why not shift to a color that balances between the two?

Various shades of tans, deep maroons, or shades of orange or yellow. My old wedding site had a base color of a deep Goulden's mustard.
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Dave Breen, Photographer
Somerset | PA | USA | Posted: 11:37 AM on 02.09.09
->> I prefer the black version; it makes the photos POP. Even the high-key shots work amazingly well with the white, but I think the black forces the viewer's eye into the photos.

By the way, the page seems to take quite a while to load (I have a reasonably fast connection); this might be a problem.
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Mark Sutton, Photographer
Herndon | VA | USA | Posted: 11:42 AM on 02.09.09
->> Eric
Although I think both look good, I think the white looks cleaner and works well with your design layout. I use black and I hate my website. I just haven’t found the time to redesign it. But I love the white back ground, but that’s just my 2 cents. Good job….
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Lane Hickenbottom, Photographer
Omaha | NE | usa | Posted: 11:46 AM on 02.09.09
->> I've always preferred white backgrounds for web pages. I think it looks more fresh and contemporary.

Design-wise I don't like your keyline border. If you keep it, you need to find a way to have more consistent margins. The top should be the same as the sides. Right now, the top margin is super tight, the sides look pretty good and the bottom is way loose. Looks like an accident.
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Mark Davis, Photographer
Decatur | AL | USA | Posted: 11:56 AM on 02.09.09
->> Eric, I use a black background for one of my websites geared toward local folks that know me well, and a white background geared toward those that don't know me which is geared toward commercial and industrial clients.

The feedback I get from locals is they dislike a black background. They say its just a dreary color. I use it because it does make the photographs standout on the page and I think is best for my photographs.

I also use a white background along with some blue on the commercial site just for something different and to add color, although I use a dark shade of gray around the photographs. I may change the shade of gray though.

Both versions of your site looks good and both will serve you well. It will come down to personal preference.

No noticable slow images from my viewing.
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Mark Sutton, Photographer
Herndon | VA | USA | Posted: 11:58 AM on 02.09.09
->> Eric,
By the way. Your portraits or sportraits are awesome. Might have to call you someday when I get a brain fart and can't come up with something if you don't mind. Your work is GREAT.....
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Alicia Wagner Calzada, Photographer
San Antonio | TX | USA | Posted: 12:21 PM on 02.09.09
->> I vote for the white background. I looks more polished to me. White is the new black anyway.
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Tom Knier, Photographer
Lancaster | PA | USA | Posted: 12:27 PM on 02.09.09
->> What about a really dark gray? Maybe a little darker than the little frames surrounding our posts here...
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Rob Bye, Photographer
Winnipeg | MB | Canada | Posted: 12:40 PM on 02.09.09
->> I just went through this with a forum I administer. We found that men usually preferred black, and for women it was white. Identifying your target audiance will usually make the choice for you.
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Walter Calahan, Photographer
Westminster | MD | USA | Posted: 12:52 PM on 02.09.09
->> 18% gray, it is SO photographic. HA!
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Jody Gomez, Photographer
Murrieta | CA | USA | Posted: 6:38 PM on 02.11.09
->> I say black

Sorry Rob, but I have to respectfully disagree. When I had this same question about my website, all the women I know preferred the black background to the white one. Maybe that means I hang out with a bunch of tomboys?

Another thought would be to go with a deep navy if you feel people will find the black too dismal.
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Danny Gawlowski, Photographer
Bellingham | WA | USA | Posted: 7:23 PM on 02.11.09
->> There's an infinite number of other choices, consider more than just black or white.

Remember what you already know from photography - the viewer's eyes are typically drawn to the brightest part of the frame. If you float your image in a sea of white, the viewer's eyes will be drawn away from the photo.

There is an exception to the rule, of course. When the image is predominantly white, the viewer is often drawn to the darkest part of the frame. In those cases, surrounding it in black could be distracting.

If you were going to buy mattes or frames would you always go for black? Would you always go for white? Most frame shops stock more options than that.

Play around with various shades and tones. You might find something that works better with your images than 100% white or 100% black.
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Grant Gartland, Photographer, Assistant
Bloomington | MN | USA | Posted: 9:16 PM on 02.11.09
->> Depending on how advanced you are in your website design you could leave this burden up to your viewers.

I know that there is a way to use CSS (cascading style sheets) to allow your viewers to make the choice of what the BG color is. It is the same principal that many news organizations use on their websites to allow you to choose the size of the text. Unfortunately, I don't know how this is done yet, maybe another member can step up and enlighten us.

I have just recently began getting back into web design and I know that the use of CSS is now a major part of design. I am working to revamp my website ( using CSS.

The nice thing about it is that you use CSS to separate the content from the style. Want to change the font site wide? HTML=go to every page and change the code; CSS=go the the *.css file and change the font, done.

I think this might be the best way to open up to both sides.
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Ron Scheffler, Photographer
Hamilton (Toronto area) | Ontario | Canada | Posted: 2:10 AM on 02.12.09
->> While I normally think black makes images stand out better, I'm starting to lean towards white for websites, and I feel your site is nicer in white.

A few thoughts: if you decide on the white layout, reconsider the border. Either get rid of it completely or make it a much lighter shade of gray. I think a very clean, simple white page would work well. I'd also prefer a middle gray for text over black to take the edge off the contrast. On the black page I think the border is ok, perhaps because it looks to be gray (difficult to tell for sure). What bugs me most about the black page is the row of thumbnails at the bottom. Specifically, it's the washed out white to hide the ones not being viewed. The white is just too stark against the black page and draws my attention away from the main image. Could that be changed to a darker gray wash, or all of them at normal opacity but with the active image highlighted somehow?

Unrelated to black vs. white is an issue when I view your site on my laptop (13" MacBook). The page is taller than the screen height. Perhaps it would fit if I turned off my browser's address bar, bookmarks bar, tabs bar and status bar... but I prefer to have those settings active. Anyway, it means the positioning of the main photo and thumbnails forces me to scroll a bit. But at least once I've got it to where I want it, it stays that way as I go through the photos (as opposed to an html gallery that would reload with each new image). It's probably not an issue for those using 15" laptops or large desktop monitors...
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David Bailey, Photographer
Flower Mound | TX | USA | Posted: 4:30 AM on 02.12.09
->> White looks better with the photos you have on the first page.
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Corey Perrine, Photographer
Hudson | NH | USA | Posted: 5:49 AM on 02.12.09
->> The white one looks so much cleaner.
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Steve McLaughlin, Photographer
Middletown/Hartford | CT | USA | Posted: 8:57 AM on 02.12.09
->> I never chime in so here goes - I like the white because I'm tired of black. But I don't really think it matters too much because the work speaks for itself. You do wonderful work.

And the page does load a little slow the first time through. There are a lot of images to preload.
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Thread Title: Black vs. White?
Thread Started By: Eric Jones
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