I'm an artist and amateur web designer.
On my portfolio website, I've grouped my work into projects. Most of my projects contain few (20 or less) images, so I just display them in full size and let the visitor scroll (example) because this is how I prefer to browse other artist's work as well.
For projects containing more images, I use thumbnails which link to the full-sized images, because, again, when I browse other artist's portfolios, if there are lots of images on a page it's kinda cumbersome to load.
Recently I wrote some jQuery to implement a lightbox effect (modal window overlay) so when you click on a thumbnail, the full-sized image appears (example).
My main reasons for implementing this:
- it's much more presentable than having a direct link to the image, which is what I used to do
- if the visitor shares the image on something like tumblr or Pinterest, the link back will be to the project page instead of a direct link to the image
- if the visitor wants to right-click on the thumbnails to load several images in several new browser tabs/windows, they can still do so (the lightbox is triggered on left click)
I did not include a close button because it seems like more work for the visitor to have to look for a close button, than to simply click anywhere to close the lightbox (which is what I did).
What are your thoughts regarding lightbox interface for this particular use? The goal would be the best way to showcase visual art/design work, and the target audience would be, well, anyone who wants to view the work. The display method, in this case a lightbox interface, should be efficient, useable, and presentable (it should highlight, not detract from, the work).