Ben Lowy, the award-winning photojournalist known for his strong editorial images taken in war zones recently launched a new Squarespace website for his commercial work, differentiating his two distinct brands while keeping his photographic aesthetic intact. Lowy, who is one of those extremely prolific photographers, is able to create dynamic commercial work that appears as sensitive as his journalistic work, but for clients like Exxon, The Olympics, Dasani and Sports Illustrated Swimsuit. While he says he’s always going back to his “fighting work and violence in America” projects, his photographic ideology is inextricably linked with storytelling, whether for commercial or editorial interests. We asked him a few questions about launching the new site.
Why was it important for you to distinguish your corporate/commercial work on a separate website?
“After a decade working in the editorial world, I realized that it was really hard to mix two distinct markets. The subject matter and aesthetic of my editorial site was completely different from what I wanted to show in my commercial site and we couldn’t quite reconcile the two. As a photographer who made my name covering conflict, I found that some of the content of my work was inappropriate in a commercial context and even made potential commercial clients wary. I also started getting a lot of comments from art buyers who thought that I would be really serious and brooding because they had this preconceived idea of who I was after viewing my editorial work. I wanted to introduce myself and my personality more into the commercial site.”
What was your process for choosing which images you wanted to showcase on your new website?
“Well we began the editing process by eliminating images from war and natural disasters which is a significant portion of my archive. So right off the bat we wanted to eliminate tragedy. The visible motif in the final edit was color, shape, light, and composition. We looked for market niches where my images could fit such as Industrial, Sports and Travel.
We tried to find the unique thread between all those images that spoke about me as the photographer. In the editorial world I don’t want the images to be about me, I want them to be about the subjects I’m covering. Here on this commercial site, I want them to speak about what I can do, what I can bring to potential clients.”
What template did you choose, and why? Did you do anything to customize the site?
“We used the Frontrow template. It is streamlined and minimalist and the site doesn’t become about the template design. The design allows for the viewer to enjoy the images. We customized the colors and fonts, the size of the menu bar, and logo placement. Really the best part of a Squarespace site is how incredibly customizable it is. An added bonus is the ability to customize the midpoint of each specific image and tailor the viewing experience for the audience.”
How do you think the look of this platform complements the images you’ve chosen for it?
“One of my main selling points as a photographer is that I don’t lock myself down to one specific genre. I like the projects I work on to talk to me and lead me down new roads. What my Squarespace site does is allow me to tailor each gallery to exhibit my work differently. Displaying the image full screen captures the audience, which is important to presenting any work.”
Did you work with a designer or editor on this?
“I worked with only the best designer and editor — my wife and partner in crime — Marvi Lacar. Editing with my wife and business partner was a very ‘interesting’ process, to say the least.”
What makes Squarespace such a good fit for you as a documentary/portrait photographer?
“I shoot every day. That visual exercise is important and often therapeutic for me. I travel a lot as well so since the backend of Squarespace lives on the web, I can get to it wherever, whenever I am and upload new work, new ideas, and send the link to new clients. Since bookings, assignments and print sales are integrated on the site, and my studio and I are aware of new orders in real time. The most important feature is that my images no longer need to live in the proverbial shoebox underneath my bed. I think that is the underling beauty about photography. I get to witness and represent the parts of the world for those who aren’t able to visit and see these places.”