Full-width images. Subtle overlays. Elegant fonts. Effortless usability.

Exposure is getting our vote for the best-designed service of 2013. And since it’s blogging software, it passes the great design on to you.

Exposure is a brand-spanking-new CMS (content management system) from product shop Elepath. Built to showcase photos, it places images front and center in clean-as-a-whistle layouts that allow for creative, picture-based storytelling.

Simply drag and drop single pictures or photo sets, add your titles and a few sentences, and Exposure generates a jaw-droppingly pretty single-edition digital magazine for you. It’s so easy a tech blogger could do it.

Flickr, Facebook, and WordPress — even flashy premium themes — don’t really hold a candle to Exposure. (Note: I’ve written three books on photo-blogging and have seen more photography-oriented premium WordPress themes than there are snowflakes in Alaska. I know the lay of the land here.)

But enough of the jibber-jabber. Check out some favorite Exposures, or take a step-by-step look at how these posts are created:

Exposure is the brainchild of Elepath’s Luke Beard. He said the service was created for hobbyists, semi-pros, and professional photographers alike. In a brief beta period, he’s “been blown away by the response from both the users creating narratives and the people just enjoying the great stories,” he told us via email last week.

“[Exposure is for]anyone with a camera who wants to tell a decent narrative,” he said.

“We spent a sizable about of time making the entire experience as easy as possible, and people are really getting it.”

Visually speaking, Exposure provides the perfect degree of set-dressing for photographs, neither sparse nor fussy. It’s a difficult line to walk, and Beard said he looked to high-end print publications and design firms for inspiration.

“During the design phase, I spent a lot of time looking into photography quarterly publications like Kinfolk,” he said.

“The almost design-less layouts with full focus on the photography and elegant typography really made me wish I could experience this on the web. I drew a lot from that and tried to create an almost publication feel. ”

He also pointed to Visual Supply Company as a source of inspiration.

Exposure is still in a beta period, so invites will be going out in waves and will be available through current beta testers.

“After that, we make a continued effort to turn Exposure into a full-fledged, prime time-ready product,” said Beard. And at that point, we can imagine pro options emerging for paid users (Beard poo-pooed the idea of ads and sponsored content, thank goodness).

Looking broadly at the landscape of online products for self-expression, we can see a few trends. First, everybody has the tools to be a writer or photographer or storyteller or filmmaker. For better or worse, the production means have been democratized. And the price of hardware has only accelerated that process.

“The habit Instagram and Twitter have created of ‘one photo and a tiny description’ per story is kinda toxic to humans’ nature of telling tales,” Beard posited.

“We have an incredible amount of high quality cameras available to pretty much everyone. But 99 percent of the time, people are taking a great quantity of really decent photos to only ever post one or two. It’s a waste of people’s compassion to document their experiences.

“I want Exposure to be a place people can get lost in story after story of incredibly immersive narratives and where authors can create these stories so easily that it inspires them to shoot more frequently and thoughtfully. If we can nail that experience (and I think we have so far) then it will be the go to platform for a lot of people.”

Stay tuned for more on Elepath, the little web/mobile shop that could.

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