How many pictures per page?
Several small, cropped pictures per web page is often good for a journal.
Page "howmany" last modified: 13Aug99

As I see it, web photo journals are about telling a story or sharing an experience. They are not about showing individual pictures that stand as independent pieces of art to be hung on the wall. Many of the pictures us nonprofessionals take only make sense when viewed with explanation or in context with other pictures.

In the old days, when pictures were expensive (namely they were paintings) one picture was often used to tell an entire story. For example, here is a piece of a painting that tells an entire story:



It shows who was there, what happened, how they felt, etc. This is a detail from a painting many feet in each dimension, not something to fit well on an 800x600 computer screen.

We are used to slide shows and documentaries, when pictures are intermixed with narration. A story or a segment of a story can fit on one page. How you tell the story can determine the number of pictures needed.

Therefore, in answer to the question of "How many pictures per page", I often say that I like several. I think scrolling is better than "next, next, next" when you are telling a part of a story that goes together -- one "scene" in your journal.

I like smaller, tighter cropped pictures that let you get a feeling of what the journal is about rather than one big picture.

I find that the interruption of clearing the screen and waiting for another, single picture is too jarring. I find that it is better to wait a little longer once, and let several related pictures load, with narration, and then scroll down through them. That way I don't feel as ripped off when an individual picture isn't so great. The whole is often greater than the sum of its parts. For this purpose I find 3 to 15 pictures per page works well, with 5 being great. I find more than that (with a 3 minute or more load with a 28.8 modem) only works when the whole story must go together. If you are really interested in the pictures, as most of your viewers should be with personal web journals, they are very tolerant of long downloads if they get a lot of pictures at once. Also, if they are reading and looking carefully at each picture, the first image on a page usually is loaded first and appears quickly, and the others come in during the reading, so it doesn't seem as long.

When I mention a "3 minute" download, many people reading this will say "that's way too long -- everybody knows that if a page doesn't load immediately people turn away." While a 5 or 15 second rule may apply to people who are randomly surfing the web, this is a different situation. The people reading your web photo journals are (hopefully) very motivated. They really want to see every picture. As long as they can start reading in a few seconds and determine that the page has material that interests them, they'll wait a little while longer to read more. If you were sitting next to them showing them the pictures, it wouldn't be much shorter. Despite this, there is a limit to most people's patience, so I would try to keep the photos small. Waiting a minute for a high-resolution picture that you only look at for a few seconds is no good. Waiting a minute for a few paragraphs of text with 8 small pictures and one medium sized one is fine.