Don’t Lack Pzazz

Stetsasonic, Brooklyn 1998 ©JanetteBeckman

– JB

I shot the cover for the Stetsasonic album in 1988 in East New York By that time I had been photographing hip hop artists ‘stylin’ and ‘profilin’ since I arrived in NYC in 1983. Coming from London the attitude of the hip hop culture seemed so positive, it had a we can do and be anything feel. Kind of like punk but without the negative spin.

The Beginning

Our conversation was like being at the doctor. How are you? What are you here for? 😂

– Mike

There are some basics I think all websites must fulfill to be good:

  • they must both have impact and provide an overview of scope;
  • they must be easy to use;
  • they leave control of the experience in the hands of the visitor;
  • the visitor should not have to navigate the navigation;
  • they should be built with a structure that supports SEO;
  • they should work well across all screens (not just mine and Janette’s, also the 1500 other screen sizes that exist);
  • they should be bookmarkable and shareable;
  • they should be updateable by the owner!
  • and most importantly to have pzazz, they should have a strong primary focus that features throughout the design.

– JB

Right off the bat he gave me homework, a lot of it.

– Mike

Janette was brave. She knew she wanted something that reflected her not Squarespace, she knew that might cost her, she knew she had to have a strong focus.

The Edit

Who do you want to be?

– JB

Know your audience. Try not to bore them. Edit to who you want to be.

– Mike

The Concept and Design

I wanted the site’s impact to come from an image bleeding to the browser edge, as big as the browser window. Given the range of screens the site would be seen on, I had to reconcile that some screen shapes would break JB’s artistic vision: when bleeding to the edge of the browser, depending on the browser and screen shape, parts of the image are not displayed. We discussed what photographs work well in this content (those with a strong focus at the center) and at what point JB’s artistic vision was compromised. We designed and built the site to allow JB to specify (for each image) what screen sizes (desktop, tablet, mobile) an image could be displayed full bleed, as opposed to contained within the browser.

– JB

I loved the idea of full bleed, even though we had to discuss specific images that worked (and didn’t work) within that format. It was a learning process.

– Mike

JB had really liked a timeline on Herb Ritt’s website. I thought this was a super way to cement JB’s cultural significance: she shot punk and hip hop, she shoots youth culture and rebels. How do you work in a Stiff Little Fingers cover? Using a timeline. It says a lot about the cool.

– JB

After a few months of intense meetings, discussions about design, content, research, reflection, editing, cups of tea, reviewing Mike’s many design drafts — we came up with a format that was unique. I loved it. My next task was to provide the formatted images for Mike to create the site.

We Go Live

How to let everyone know about the new site ?

– Mike

Links to your site are as important as what’s on your site, position yourself, hone your point of view and tell stories using a blog and social media so that people have a reason to link to you.

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Janette Beckman

Janette Beckman

I shot UK punk and NY hip hop at the beginning. New York based photographer shooting rebel cultures, art, music & NY editor Jocks&Nerds mag