The FWA Review is an ongoing series of articles providing a snapshot of each year at FWA and occasional specials focusing on certain styles and categories. These articles will be highlighting the main focus of the FWA project… websites who use cutting edge technology, together with inspirational ideas, that lead the way for future generations.

The FWA Review will act as a history of cutting edge web design and a reminder of those future-thinking sites, companies and individuals who have paved the way so far.

This seventh article in the series takes a look back at the best ever cutting edge photography websites to launch on the web.

Nearly all of the following sites boast unbelievable photography, some of the best you will ever see.

Some have been selected due to their original and progressive design and navigation alone, whilst others have been chosen for their innovation and depth of functionality.

The following list represents the twenty best photography sites ever to have been featured at FWA since 2000. The list is in chronological order, with the first in the list being the earliest featured at FWA.

eccentris (http://www.eccentris.com)

The legendary website of Sacha Dean Biyan and what better way to start off this best of photography sites list.

With an unforgettable introduction and progressive navigation, the shots are about as cutting edge as you will see.

Dirk Lambrechts (http://www.dirklambrechts.com/)

Edgy, atmospheric and loaded with deliberate interference, this site for the Belgian fashion photographer is truly timeless.

Jimmy McGrath (http://www.jimmymcgrathphoto.com/)

Mixing photography with illustration, quite literally, giving a unique and unforgettable experience, still unmatched years later.

Tony Garcia (http://www.tonygarcia.com)

The addition of background audio makes the user feel like they are eavesdropping a friend’s get together, bringing to life the photography with a difference.

Afterlife (http://www.afterlifeseasons.com/)

A series of animation enhanced photographs shot over a two-year period at Stretham Cemetery in England and capturing all four seasons.

The tranquillity a graveyard has is fully captured, with the audio and sound effects giving that extra, extraordinary, lifelike ambience.

Yann Arthus-Bertrand (http://www.yannarthusbertrand.com/index_new.htm)

Categorised browsing of some of the best photography you will ever see, with the “Earth from Above” section being awe-inspiring.

Carl de Keyzer (http://www.carldekeyzer.com/)

One of the best photography websites ever produced. Right down to the last detail, a rare website that even incorporates an unmissable introduction.

The work of this Magnum photographer is completely captivating and thought provoking.

Jac Ziesmer (http://www.jacziesmer.com/)

With the audio immediately capturing your attention, the money shot for this site is the innovative keyboard navigation… simple yet clever. QWERTY.

Miles Aldridge (http://www.milesaldridge.com/)

Stunning shots, atmospheric soundtrack and a bio that is hands down, the most creatively seen in its time.

Forests Forever (http://www.forests-forever.com/)

More thought provoking shots in this continuously growing project, aptly showcasing the world’s greatest forests.

Sit back and watch in awe as you realise what nature brings to this sometimes muddled world.

99ROOMS (http://www.99rooms.com/)

Interactive photography at its best and most original. Eerie and addictive… you can not leave this site until all 99 rooms have been explored.

Escape Route (http://travel.escapelab.com.au/)

The 3D experimental and advanced navigation of this site is what makes this a worthy candidate for this “best of” list.

The ability to add and show captions as well as changing the colour mode makes this a one-of-a-kind.

manipulator (http://www.manipulator.com/)

Where to start? The shots are simply breathtaking; the website design is subtle and un-noticeable, whilst making the portfolio on show easy to browse.

The monkey and ape section gets me every time… amazing.

Matthew Mahon (http://www.matthewmahon.com/)

Personality packed, with plenty of hidden treats and audio commentary seamlessly incorporated. The zoom interface and flip-photos really add an extra edge.

Leslie (http://www.bernhardwolff.com/)

Big photos, yellow site and highly scripted. In your face and with attitude.

Albrecht Gerlach (http://www.albrechtgerlach.com/)

The progressive navigation for this Brazilian photographer takes this portfolio right to the max. Point and click, just the way it should be.

green (http://green.colorize.net/)

The unique world of green explores an aquascape of underwater plants and creatures, where size really does matter.

Who would’ve though that small could be so big?

ashes and snow (http://www.ashesandsnow.org/)

An experience which engrosses you in a world where humans once lived in perfect harmony with animals.

neovision (http://neovision.jp/)

A lightbox application produced right at the cutting edge. If you have more than one monitor, it’s time to maximise your browser.

Designklicks (http://www.designklicks.de)

A photo community which boasts immense usability and in-depth planning and logic. The 3D flythrough is noteworthy in itself.

Final thought

Photography websites remain among the most beautiful and eye-catching experiences to be had online.

Whilst the photography itself should not be overshadowed by the website design, it’s innovative and clever ideas that can turn a photographer’s portfolio into an exceptional experience like no other.

Masterfully crafted photo-folios can take a photographer’s work to an audience of sometimes hundreds of thousands of people.

The web is awash with photo-folios but very few of them can hold a candle to the ones listed in this special edition FWA Review.

About the author, Rob Ford
Founder & Principal, FWA

Robert Ford is FWA’s Principal. Born and bred in England with a background in finance, sales and project management, working for companies like Halifax PLC and American Express. He oversees the day to day running of the FWA project.

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