Thanks Mike for your comments. I intended to make the navigation experience simple and unique ... but I probably need to work harder to make it more "user-friendly" as well
"Simple" is good, but "unique" is very unlikely to be "user-friendly"! Why force a visitor to your site to interact with it in a way which is different from the methods he uses for other sites? Why distract his attention from your photographs by making him learn a new way of working?
There was a pseudo-commandment in currency when I used to write software in C. I forget the exact text, but it enjoined programmers to use a particular style, "for thy creativity is better used in solving problems than in creating beautiful new impediments to understanding"
. I used to ignore it, of course, because when I was 21 I knew better. I don't think my view would be the same now.