Behind the New Website…

So I’m done taking my hiatus, and am ready to get back to work.  For those just tuning in, my fam and I just moved into a new home that we had purchased several months ago and then flipped it.  LOTS of hard work, stress, and more. But totally worth it now that we are all moved in.  I’m loving it.

It’s nice to be back in the swing of things, and now that I’m back to working on my music, I’m back to blogging about it as well.

I have a lot of exciting things happening for me this year.  Or at least, I hope they turn out to be exciting.  Releasing my brand new website was just one of the things that needed to happen along with my upcoming cd release, and other things…Here is a behind-the-scenes look at my thoughts behind my new site and why I chose the design that I did.

New Website

So new website. Same URL, just new design.

My old site was something I created on my own in 2006, and have been updating it as needed over the past 6 years.  Not being a web designer, I’d say I did the best I could, but let’s face it. It’s 2012 and websites now are much more sophisticated than 2006 and I was feeling a little amateur.

So I hired a designer.

Creating a new website design took a lot of work! I spent an enormous amount of time looking at hundreds of other musician websites, writing down things I liked and disliked about them, getting ideas, etc. until I finally came up with the whole concept for my own site.

One thing I disliked about my old site was that it was too cluttered. That is solved in the new design with a very minimalist approach.  Instead of having like 20 menu buttons all on the homepage, I now have 5 main ones with drop-down menus underneath.

I also had all new photos taken specifically for the use on the website. I hadn’t had a formal photoshoot since my debut album, and frankly I was getting really tired of using the same photos year after year.  I had definitely changed and so had my music, and I was just wanting something very new and fresh.

Now I always love knowing the behind-the-scenes stuff about other peoples’ projects, so I’m going to share with you all that went into this photo shoot…

I knew that I wanted a 100% site (meaning the background takes up 100% of the monitor screen), and therefore needed a photo that would be simple enough to allow text overlaying. Since my upcoming album concept has so much to do with my dad’s beautiful landscape photography, I wanted him to take my website photos as well.

As I searched around for inspiration on how I wanted the photos taken, I found this really great photo of Stephan Moccio (who is a fabulous composer and pianist, by the way):

Let’s face it, when you are trying to be photographed next to a grand piano, there are only so many ways you can pose.  You can pose at the keys, standing next to the piano, through the lid (like the photo above), or if you’re brave enough you can lay on top of the piano (I’m certainly not that confident I wouldn’t break it LOL).  The photo of Stephan above was really great because it told the viewer “Yes, I play the piano”, and yet it gave enough space in the photo for text, or whatever else.

So we did our best to take this concept and expand on it in our own way. My dad came over to our home, and we set up a big backdrop in my living room behind my piano.  He brought his studio lighting, and other fun toys.  It took about 2 hours to get the room finally how we needed it for the shoot.  Here is my cute 3 year old posing for some test shots 🙂

We also used a fan blowing on my hair to get sort of a whimsical look.  This really didn’t make it easy on my dad.  We ended up having lower lighting in order to get the just-right shadowing in the photo, but because the lighting was low it was difficult to capture my fast-moving hair that was blowing in the breeze.

I know you will totally laugh,but the following picture is a pretty good representation of how 98% of the photo shoot turned out.  Pretty funny huh.

Also, you will notice the after-editing we had to do on the photos that did make the final cut.  The photo above is raw from the camera. You notice the lighting is off (too dark), the backdrop has crinkles in it, and also was not wide enough to make it reach clear across the keyboard (notice the black strip down the right hand side). Those were all things that were fixed in all of the final photos.

We did manage to get a couple of photos that were good, one in particular where my hair wasn’t doing crazy things, or in my eyes, or blowing straight up to the sky, and it was this one:

As you can see the color differences between the raw photo and the edited one, you can see what goes into the after editing.  My dad did all of the lighting editing, being that he was the photographer. He was very particular and even edited things I would not have noticed – like he removed some of the dust from under my piano strings!  Amazing right? (and I thought I had done a good enough job dusting my piano before the photo shoot – ha ha).

Also another funny thing I can tell you that you would probably never realize, is I had to spread my arms WAY out for the photo. When my dad took photos of me playing the piano normally, my arms were right at my side which made my mid-section appear very wide and it was not flattering.  Therefore, I ended up having to place my arms out (one hand at the bottom of the keyboard, the other at the top) in order to give me more waist definition and to create some space there.  Betcha didn’t catch on to that I wouldn’t actually look like that while playing the piano.

Even though that photo above turned out, unfortunately we couldn’t use it for the website.  It was taken in a portrait setting, and needed a landscape orientation.  This was such a bummer! None of the landscape photos turned out – too much hair in my face, blurred, etc.  Who knew it would take so much to get ONE perfect shot, right?

So a few days later, we did photo-shoot #2!

Again, we re-created the room and got it all set up.  Problem though – the sun was out that day.  Usually that would be a wonderful thing but it was casting some really bad lighting on the backdrop. We had to drape blankets over the window and stuff pillows in order to block out the sun.  In the end, the room turned out much darker than the other photoshoot.  So yet again, we were dealing with dark lighting, fast moving hair, and a shutter that wasn’t fast enough to operate in that low of lighting with the moving hair.

Again, we took numerous photos (I think around 200?).  In the end, we were lucky to get a few photos that would work for the website. It was very tricky for all the elements to come together – hair out of my face, me not doing a cheesy smile or laughing because I had hair in my face, also if I turned my head too far one way the studio lighting would pick up too much of the white of my eyes making me look totally drugged.

In the end, it came down to two photos:

There was a third, that I really liked because I was smiling in it, but the orientation of it didn’t allow for enough room for website text to overlay it and not be too busy. It was this one:

Out of the two above, I had actually originally chosen the 2nd one, but then decided against it because I felt it was a little too sultry 😉  “Sexy” was definitely not the message I was trying to send to my audience. I wanted to be taken as a serious musician.  My parents as well as many friends also really preferred the first photo.  So in the end, that is the one I ended up choosing for the website.

After debuting my website yesterday, I had many comments on the beautiful site. However, there were a few people who felt that the photo was “aggressive”, or “unfriendly”, or one person said I seemed to be “disinterested”.  Even though I received so many positive comments, of course I was still bothered by the few negative ones.

If it helps, you should know that my entire motive with my new website was the minimalist approach. You notice I don’t have any in-your-face ads on the homepage, or very much text at all.  All I really want is for the music to speak for itself without the sales pitch.  Most artist websites out there are very sales-driven.  You will find yourself being bombarded with sales pitches left and right.  Although from a marketing standpoint, any web designer will tell you that this is the correct way to build a retail site where you are selling goods.  In fact, that is originally how my own web designer suggested we build the site.  Nothing wrong with that in my opinion – all of us musicians want/need to sell our music in order to make a living. But I  wanted my website to be “artistic”, not “retail”.  I want people to come to the site and have an artistic experience, and enjoy their visit without the added pressure to buy.

When I also considered what my music most represented, what it sounded like – the best descriptions people often find are “emotional”, “cinematic”, “dramatic”.  It was my hope that the photo that I chose for my website best coincided with the feeling my music presented.  I wanted something that represented class and professionalism. And lastly, I feel that my music on my upcoming album is also very dramatic, which also coincides with the website’s feel.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the new site.  I’ve added some new things (short fun bio, as well as new formal bio), new photo gallery, a “listen” page, and more.

I’ve got a lot of other exciting things in the works that I will go into further detail later, such as a prize drawing for all pre-orders on my new album. My amazing dad will actually be offering one of his beautiful photographs (valued around $400) to the winner.  We are going to put together a video for that for the official announcement.  And then speaking of videos….oh boy I have lots to share on that front as well.  But it would take an entirely new post.  All you need to know for now is MUSIC VIDEOS this year! LOTS of them.  The good kind too 🙂  You know – with awesome filmmaking and storylines.  But more on that later!

That’s all for now! Here’s a few more photos that didn’t make the final cut but were okay…

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One response to “Behind the New Website…

  1. Pingback: Real_Estate | Real Estate_Home_Buying_Information_Real_Estate_Advice

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