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Author Topic: My website, and some general points to debate  (Read 5400 times)
Doug Peterson
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« on: April 20, 2008, 07:58:56 PM »
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1) What role should blogs take in the website of a working professional photographer?
I find the use of a blog which is disconnected from the main website to be disconcerting, the equivalent of having a resume on one type of paper, and a cover sheet on another, which is one of the reasons I worked so hard to incorporate my wordpress-powered blog in such a way that it would be transparent to the user. Was this futile and unnecessary or does my website benefit as a result?

2) Link distribution / getting target eyes to your page
Clearly, photographic forums are a great way to get an initial seed of viewers and links (or else we would not have such traffic on this forum!), but what is the next step? If the end goal is to get your website in front of the eyes of art directors what are the ways to approach this problem? Search Engine Optimization can go a long way towards helping you show up when someone searches for you or your services, but many in your target audience (high-powered art buyers etc) may not be actively searching! Can a direct mail campaign get someone to actually log on or does the immediacy of a link in an email trump even the unusualness of quality snail mail?

3) How big a portfolio?
Old rules would suggest that a print portfolio should be no larger than a dozen prints (feel free to substitute whatever number you've heard or decided on in that sentence, the point is the number is small). Yet, I see nearly every photographic website containing hundreds of images, clearly because it is free, easy, and maybe expected to have a large number of images. But often these massive portfolios violate the guidance that your portfolio is only as strong as your weakest image. Some balance has to be struck between conventional wisdom and adapting to a new medium. What do you think?

Any comments or criticism on my images, my website, or my writings (especially my most recent treatise on the future of digital photography would be greatly appreciated!

Doug Peterson Doug Peterson's Weddings, Portraits and more
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DOUG PETERSON (dep@digitaltransitions.com), Digital Transitions
Dealer for Phase One, Mamiya Leaf, Arca-Swiss, Cambo, Profoto
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Doug Peterson
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« Reply #1 on: April 22, 2008, 09:49:41 AM »
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No one will discuss my questions or critique my design and portfolio?

Did I ask in the wrong way?

Doug
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DOUG PETERSON (dep@digitaltransitions.com), Digital Transitions
Dealer for Phase One, Mamiya Leaf, Arca-Swiss, Cambo, Profoto
Office: 877.367.8537
Cell: 740.707.2183
Phase One IQ250 FAQ
DarkPenguin
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« Reply #2 on: April 22, 2008, 10:40:20 AM »
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Never saw your post.

No comment on your questions but I like your wordpress template a lot.
« Last Edit: April 22, 2008, 10:42:28 AM by DarkPenguin » Logged
Justinr
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« Reply #3 on: April 22, 2008, 11:09:51 AM »
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Seem to have got into the habit of duplicating posts somehow!

Justin.
« Last Edit: April 22, 2008, 01:09:57 PM by Justinr » Logged

Justinr
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« Reply #4 on: April 22, 2008, 12:22:13 PM »
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Quote from: Justinr,Apr 22 2008, 05:09 PM
Websites are a whole new way of reaching potential customers but they have now passed out of the novelty factor phase and now have to earn their keep. The questions you raise are ones that I have also been struggling with and indeed, I have been shouted down on another thread (Selling photography) because I dared to suggest that pages'n'pages of galleries are pointless as nobody is going to look at them all, certainly not in any detail. It is vanity publishing, pure and simple.

The web thing is a mighty useful and powerful way of doing business but it is no longer sufficient to simply bung a few piccies up, have an argument over some obscure point about the absolute greyness of the background or floating point of a hyperlink (whatever that's all about) and wait for the world to knock at your door. This chap here talks a lot of sense when it comes to the actual website design and I'm going to take a lot of notice of what he says as my site evolves -

www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/01/31/10-principles-of-effective-web-design/

But that still leaves us the problem of getting people to the site in the first place. A quick and memorable domain name is essential as is putting that name in front of people. I use 'Justinseye' on all my correspondence, cards, emails etc. Try Googling it and see what you get. I have also got into hot water for relying on old fashioned things like flyers and letters to customers, but how are they going to know I'm around if I don't point them in the general direction of where I can be found and what I do? To me the website is as much an on-line brochure as it is a primary selling tool but I have to press that brochure into peoples hands for them to take notice.

Selling yourself via the net is still a young art and I simply don't believe that we really understand just how best to approach it.

Justin.

Edit. Some real nice work on your site, which is probably why people aren't talking to you!
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Stuarte
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« Reply #5 on: April 22, 2008, 12:36:28 PM »
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For starters, just reading the Home Page copy, I'm confused about your "true artist" comment, followed quickly by talking about yourself as an artisan, then your artistic devotion.

So I don't know whether you are an artist stooping to do commercial work, or an artisan with artistic aspirations.  Either way, if I were buying, I would be concerned.
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kaelaria
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« Reply #6 on: April 22, 2008, 02:16:15 PM »
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It has some nice images, but I don't get the feeling that it's a pro - it looks like what it is, a blog template with pictures everywhere - gives a kind of myspace or flikr feeling to me.

You have so many sub catagories, and so few examples of each, it's like you are showing snapshots.

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?  

As far as blogs go - they are great if you like to write to other photographers.  Don't expect any results from blogging to potential clients.
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mikeseb
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« Reply #7 on: April 22, 2008, 02:46:07 PM »
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I agree with kaelaria; too much bloviation on the home page and in the blog. Honestly, it'll be the rare visitor who tunes in for a dose of your philosophical ruminations or recent quotidian happenings; most are there to see the work, cleanly and simply presented so they can decide whether to buy from you, or to hire you. The work should speak for itself, and it feels like I'm trying to look at work at a gallery with the artist at my elbow, constantly seeking my approbation. Pity, because the work deserves attention.

As for phrases like "photographic artisan" and "true artist", they sound rather pretentious. A bit like photo captions--the work should establish those credentials in the viewer's mind without help from the "artisan."

In offering this critique, I'm on shaky ground given the current disrepair of my own site as I struggle to transition to a new design; but I think your site is just too busy overall. Too many images and thumbnails; too much jaw jaw.

Please consider this in the constructive spirit intended. Designing a good website is not easy, and seems to be an ongoing and arduous task.
« Last Edit: April 22, 2008, 02:49:06 PM by mikeseb » Logged

michael sebastian
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« Reply #8 on: April 22, 2008, 03:04:06 PM »
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Here is something where the photography speaks for itself and the text is kept out of the way until you want to go and find it-

www.josefhoflehner.com

Good clean and simple.

Justin.
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luong
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« Reply #9 on: April 22, 2008, 03:04:38 PM »
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The reason why some photographers (including myself) have many images is that it is very difficult to make a small site visible to search engines. Search engine traffic accounts by far for most of the traffic on the internet.
« Last Edit: April 22, 2008, 03:06:33 PM by luong » Logged

kaelaria
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« Reply #10 on: April 22, 2008, 03:07:13 PM »
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Lots of images don't get you search engine placement - keywords and inbound links do.
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jule
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« Reply #11 on: April 22, 2008, 03:12:39 PM »
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Quote
1) What role should blogs take in the website of a working professional photographer?
I find the use of a blog which is disconnected from the main website to be disconcerting, the equivalent of having a resume on one type of paper, and a cover sheet on another, which is one of the reasons I worked so hard to incorporate my wordpress-powered blog in such a way that it would be transparent to the user. Was this futile and unnecessary or does my website benefit as a result?

2) Link distribution / getting target eyes to your page
Clearly, photographic forums are a great way to get an initial seed of viewers and links (or else we would not have such traffic on this forum!), but what is the next step? If the end goal is to get your website in front of the eyes of art directors what are the ways to approach this problem? Search Engine Optimization can go a long way towards helping you show up when someone searches for you or your services, but many in your target audience (high-powered art buyers etc) may not be actively searching! Can a direct mail campaign get someone to actually log on or does the  immediacy of a link in an email trump even the unusualness of quality snail mail?

3) How big a portfolio?
Old rules would suggest that a print portfolio should be no larger than a dozen prints (feel free to substitute whatever number you've heard or decided on in that sentence, the point is the number is small). Yet, I see nearly every photographic website containing hundreds of images, clearly because it is free, easy, and maybe expected to have a large number of images. But often these massive portfolios violate the guidance that your portfolio is only as strong as your weakest image. Some balance has to be struck between conventional wisdom and adapting to a new medium. What do you think?

Any comments or criticism on my images, my website, or my writings (especially my most recent treatise on the future of digital photography would be greatly appreciated!

Doug Peterson Doug Peterson's Weddings, Portraits and more
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=190875\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


Doug, you asked for comments ....so mine will be candid.

Your initial opening paragraph comes across as condescending towards other photogaphers. "Especially in the wedding and portrait market there is a deluge of individuals who are taking snapshots rather than constructingimagery."   You give the impression that you think that your photographs are in a 'different league of constructing imagery" and that theirs are just "snapshots". Fine to think that, but slagging other professionals is not considered highly in my country.

"In case you are wondering the work you see on these pages are from dozens of cameras both digital and film. It is my hope you will not spend too much time wondering which images were captured by the latest 39 mega-pixel digital backs and which were captured using hand processed film from a plastic-lens Holga toy-camera" 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.

"Instead, I hope you focus on the story each image tells." I don't like being directed to what to focus on. I actually quite liked a couple of you bodyscapes you linked to in another post, and if I concentrated on the "story each image tells" I would have not been open to just appreciating line and form in these images. I don't think it is a good idea to direct a viewers response.

"and would love to hear which images on this site excite you".  ...Asking for customer feedback is only asking for trouble. As soon as I read this I thought that you do not have enough confidence in your own work that you have to resort to feedback from the masses. Let your feedback be sales or gallery representation.

"and I wish him a happy birthday." ..OMG... I'm sure you are a very nice guy, but this comment is way too familiar for a professional artist. It gives the impression that you are trying to be the nice pal who is personal friends with everybody.

I don't think that there is a place for so much 'blogness" on a professional photographers website. As others have stated it seems to have the same connotations as a flikr site. If you desperately want to have blogs,  I would put a small link to it, but get the whole 'guy next door' feel off your site. I don't think you will be taken seriously unless you do, unless you are targeting the low-end mass cheaper market.

I too have shaky credentials with regard to a website - mine in the too hard basket at present, but I am able to respond from a fellow photographic artist's perspective.

Julie

edited - added quote to reference
« Last Edit: April 22, 2008, 06:17:56 PM by jule » Logged

jule
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« Reply #12 on: April 22, 2008, 04:03:36 PM »
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1) What role should blogs take in the website of a working professional photographer?
I find the use of a blog which is disconnected from the main website to be disconcerting, the equivalent of having a resume on one type of paper, and a cover sheet on another, which is one of the reasons I worked so hard to incorporate my wordpress-powered blog in such a way that it would be transparent to the user. Was this futile and unnecessary or does my website benefit as a result?

Doug, I was wondering also about whether you have assessed the effectiveness and hence the need for your 'blogs". You state on your homepage that you want feedback and responses to your images, and obviously through your blog are trying to promote discourse, yet I note that during 2006 and this year, out of 22 categories there have only been 7 responses in total.  "like your hat" : "love to be there"...etc. Do you consider this to be meaningful feedback?

I personally think that there is no point in a 'transparent' blog, it is futile, unnecessary and your website does not benefit at all.

I have revisited your images, and some I quite enjoy. I think you have a lot to offer but as I stated above there is an incongruency with the 'guy next door' image and the 'art director' market you are trying to establish.

Julie
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Doug Peterson
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« Reply #13 on: April 22, 2008, 09:44:22 PM »
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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.

kaelaria,
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.
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DOUG PETERSON (dep@digitaltransitions.com), Digital Transitions
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Justinr
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« Reply #14 on: April 23, 2008, 02:12:37 AM »
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If nothing else all this very useful discussion demonstrates that websites are best seen as living entities and not fixed features that only undergo occasional (and often expensive) rebuilds or updates.

Regular refreshment of ideas, content and appearance is more important than the finite precision and correctness of presentation which is what so much critique centres on. Most visitors will looking for the trees as much as the wood itself and so allowing them instant access to what we are trying to sell should be given the utmost priority. At the end of the day a website design has to have some guiding philosophy behind its construction and I think it is here that many of us fall down. I for one am off to tear mine down and start again.

Justin.
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Chris_T
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« Reply #15 on: April 23, 2008, 06:56:16 AM »
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Any comments or criticism on my images, my website, or my writings (especially my most recent treatise on the future of digital photography would be greatly appreciated!

Doug Peterson Doug Peterson's Weddings, Portraits and more
[{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
If you haven't done so already, check out this thread:

[a href=\"http://luminous-landscape.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=13890]http://luminous-landscape.com/forum/index....showtopic=13890[/url]

Many comments there apply to your site as well. Such as web/blog objectives, legibility, navigation, loading speed, large galleries, etc.

Many of us like this simple site: speedy, easy to navigate, and to the point.

http://luminous-landscape.com/forum/index....showtopic=19369

Viewers come away with a feeling that this is a photog with sincerity and humility.  Perhaps coded in html by hand keeps the site clean and simple. Apps like Dreamweaver, etc. offer numerous bells and whistles, and some site builders just dump them in because it is easy. Kind of like gorging themselves at all-you-can-eat buffets.
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Justinr
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« Reply #16 on: April 23, 2008, 03:30:51 PM »
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Having taken note of all that has been said around here of late I have come up with a new theme for my site. Homepage only at the moment but if it works then I shall gradually tear down and rebuild the lot over the next couple of weeks. I may have been an argumentative sod but I have been listening.

There are still some minor niggles with this page (horses nose is one) but it needs to change now that the novelty of actually having a functioning website has worn off.

www.justinseye.com

Justin.
« Last Edit: April 23, 2008, 03:32:42 PM by Justinr » Logged

LoisWakeman
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« Reply #17 on: April 25, 2008, 10:51:20 AM »
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1) What role should blogs take in the website of a working professional photographer?
Well, the coherence of design certainly shows you have taken trouble and improves the user experience (horrid term) - probably impresses me more as a web designer than it would the average Joe though. It definitely doesn't harm your brand: but some of the frippery (votes etc) lowers the class. Put as much focus on the images and what you do as you can, and lose everything else. Make it as un-blog-like as possible: you need to be personal to a degree to engage your audience, but not sentimental or mushy at all!

2) Link distribution / getting target eyes to your page
Word of mouth is still king when it comes to getting work, as I am sure you know.

3) How big a portfolio?
The tradeoff between focus and variety is difficult to manage on the web. Your guess is as good as mine! But definitely be as self-selective as you can - one bum image would be a disaster.

PS "Artisan" is always followed by "cheesemaker" or similar in my mind. And "infared" in your header needs correcting.
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Justinr
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« Reply #18 on: April 25, 2008, 05:01:05 PM »
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Doug

Having just looked at your site again I'd simply cut out 90% of the text and let the pictures do the talking. You're only as good as your last photo, not sentence, and what you have to show should be quite sufficient to convince anyone that you're up to the job. To be honest, if I were a bride I'd worry that the day would end up revolving around you rather than than me, it's a grand life being a twenty something but that doesn't mean to say that we all want to know about it.

BTW, don't forget that there are still folk on dial up, the site was a long time in loading. I wanted to look at more but didn't have the time to wait. But everyone, including myself, (and I have to upload on dial up) is guilty of this.

Justin.
« Last Edit: April 25, 2008, 05:02:26 PM by Justinr » Logged

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