Keep It Simple: Fashion Shooter Billy Kidd's Advice on Designing Your Site

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Courtesy of Billy Kidd/Squarespace
Kidd's Coney Island shoot for Numero #156 sets the tone for the rest of his website. Check out his template, Atelier, on the Squarespace templates page.

When visiting the website of Brooklyn-based fashion and beauty photographer Billy Kidd, viewers are greeted with the catchy tagline "I Was Shot by Billy Kidd," along with a list of shoots and projects that have quickly grown in number and prestige. A recipient of several PDN honors—including PDN's 30 2014: New and Emerging Photographers to Watch—Kidd has seen his client list flourish since he moved to New York City from Scottsdale, Arizona, in 2009.

A growing interest in his work required a fresh presentation of his portfolio, and in 2012, he decided to revamp his website. "I needed something new," he says. "So I decided to try the Squarespace format, and I was amazed at how simple it was to deal with the design and formatting." Kidd was so impressed with Squarespace that he leant his page to the site's tour page of photography-geared templates, joining fine-art photographer Dina Goldstein, National Geographic photographer Paul Nicklen, among other acclaimed photographers.

When we chatted with Kidd about his website design, he emphasized his preference for a clean, white background with a single-frame presentation for his images. "My style has always been minimal," he says, "and I felt that white makes it easiest to read the text. Though I don't include a lot of words—I like to let the viewer bring what they want."

While Kidd's taste in website design is minimal, his imagery is not; Kidd prefers bold colors or contrasting black-and-white, and there is a level of expressiveness (and often, intensity) that commands attention from viewers. A simple, clean layout and easy navigation was crucial to allowing his portfolio to speak for itself, and an easy-to-use backend to keep his content up to date.

"Blue Note" menswear shoot for Details.

"For my previous website, I hired a professional coder and designer," Kidd says. "The trouble was, it was all Flash-driven. A lot of people would visit the site but they couldn't do anything, especially if they used a mobile device, and after just a few seconds you tend to lose people. So I wanted to create something that was simple and immediate."

He took a DIY approach, selecting a template from the Squarespace offerings and modifying the fonts and format to his own taste, for his new site at billy-kidd.com. "I worked on it for a couple of weeks, fine-tuning the esthetics, before taking it live," he says. "It was easy to tweak things; it was pretty intuitive."

Kidd posts a lead story that pops up when you first visit the site; this changes periodically when he gets new material. When we spoke with him, the lead story was a shoot for Details featuring Armando Cobral in a series of dashing blue suits. "He's a model and also an entrepreneur," Kidd says, "and he's very charismatic." Other recent work includes a breezy black-and-white series of beach scenes from Coney Island for Numéro, a luminous set of exotic faces for Vogue Italia Beauty, and portraits featuring exotic outfits modeled by Maggie Laine for OOO magazine's Prada Special.

"In a Crazy Mood" beauty shoot for Vogue Italia Beauty.

"Sometimes I'll just switch out the lead story for variety," he says. "I'm always adding to the site. You don't even have to downsize your images; they do it for you. If you have the JPEGS, you just load your images and Squarespace makes them the right sizes for the screen."

In addition to exhibitions, awards, and information about his collaborative book project with model Heather Huey, Kidd's website contains a bio that's long on humor and short on clutter. It starts out simply, summing up the first thing you need to know about Kidd and his tenacity: "I'm self taught."

You can check out check out Billy Kidd's site, and other layouts from professional photographers on Squarespace's tour page. The publishing platform emphasizes the ease of creating your own online identity with its customizable template options, powerful social integrations and all-in-one service for content management, hosting, domains, e-commerce, and 24-hour customer support.

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