For the past few months I’ve been casually working on a new website for my friend, Ben Birk. He is a snowboard photographer who I met a couple years ago during my involvement in the Pennsylvania ski/snowboard scene. He spent this past winter in Lake Tahoe, snowboarding and shooting photos every day. Ahhh, the life! He has had many photos featured in popular magazines such as Transworld Snowboarding, Snowboard, Playboard, and East Coast Snowboarding. Almost 3 years ago I built Ben his first website to showcase his photos. Since then, Ben’s photography skills have grown immensely and my web design skills have also improved (claim?). We decided it was time to release a fresh, new site to showcase his work in the best possible way.

Ben wanted a simple design so the photos were the main focus. We decided to go with a plain white page with a simple header and menu. The site is entirely JavaScript and is fun to interact with. The photos are loaded on-demand via AJAX calls to back-end PHP resources. For many of the photos, Ben also has them uploaded to his Flickr page. His website knows about these photos and provides a handy “see this on Flickr” link to provide more details about the photo and help spark discussion. I used the Flickr API and created a tool which allows Ben to upload a photo to the site and have it automatically uploaded to Flickr as well. In fact, I used the PHP GD library to dynamically add copyright information onto the Flickr photos before uploading! It turned into quite a task.

The gallery I used is called JqGalScroll which was created by Benjamin Sterling and based on jQuery. I heavily modified the gallery to speed things up and allow for multiple galleries to live on the same page. I fell in love with the simple animations of the gallery and as a result I decided to write the rest of the site using jQuery as well. It was my first time working with jQuery and I really like it so far. I definitely plan to use it for future projects if possible.

Ben and I are both extremely happy with the way his site turned out. I’m still working on some tweaks to speed up load times and some other usability improvements. The project was a fun one for me and a great learning experience. Please head over to Ben’s site and experience it for yourself.

Ben Birk Photography – http://benbirkphoto.com


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