*How to make a photography portfolio that will impress clients? There’s more to it than selecting your best work. Here are some must-follow tips for creating a stand-out photography portfolio online.
If you are a professional photographer, you probably know by now that without a portfolio site, it’s very difficult to reach new clients. Luckily, Instagram is a great social media to showcase your work and platforms like Behance and Pinterest can too be a free and easy place to reach the eyes of interested people. However, your amazing photography paired with a great website design can be better than any promotional asset.
Here are some important steps you need to take in the process of creating your photography site, accompanied by real photography portfolio examples to inspire you.
Ensure you have a large body of work to showcase
How to make a photography portfolio? Well the first step is actually having the material for it. There’s a reason why the best photography portfolio examples online look the way they do. Someone worked hard to select only the top percent of their work.
Don’t wait for paid gigs to create stunning photos. Do what you love and gather lots of great photos you can choose from and use in your portfolio.
Define your visual identity and target audience
How should a photography portfolio look? There’s no single rule. As with any marketing process, the first thing you need to do is set a target audience, goal and a visual identity that represents your brand personality.
Let’s say you are a wedding photographer. Your style and visual design is probably floral, colorful, full of elements, bright and happy pictures from your clients’ wedding days. You need gentle and romantic typography, lovely colors, slideshows with lots of pictures.
Your target audience is, naturally, newlyweds-to-be. Advertise accordingly and on the right channels. Where do most brides-to-be look for inspiration? Probably on Pinterest, Instagram and wedding planning magazines and blogs. That’s where you need to pin, post and advertise.
On the other hand, a fashion photographer portfolio would have a cutting-edge, minimalist web design, crisp typography, and a simple one-page design with not too much scrolling. The placement of ads would be in fashion magazines, fashion blogs, and Behance.
There are tons of amazing fashion photography portfolio examples on the web, including major fashion magazines like Vogue and Harper’s that can be a great starting point. However, when looking for inspiration, you should also try to find examples of work similar to yours to help you create the right “feel” of your online portfolio.
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Select your best work
When working in professional photography, having assets to post is no issue at all. However, the problem is in selecting the best images. Your portfolio shouldn’t be drenched in millions of photos that influence the loading speed, selection process and hence, the user experience of whoever is visiting your site.
For this reason, you should select only your best work, and display it on a scrollable homepage. Compile editorials under the best photo as a leading cover, or post albums of events in subpages. However, never make a mess out of the front page.
This also applies to themes and colors: stick to one aesthetic that best suits your photography style and experience.
Here is an example of photographer and director Dave Hill’s website. Although all of these projects are in different industries and with different topics, the cover photos are colorful, dynamic and show motion. It is a very simple layout, with just four pages: Work, Films, Info and Lightbox, where he’s compiled all his best works in an easy-to-browse and informative manner.
Make sure you take care of functionality
Sure, the aesthetic aspect is the most important part of your photography portfolio websites. But you shouldn’t in any way neglect the functionality of site either. This is most important because of your potential client’s experience when visiting: if photos don’t load, aren’t properly cut and displayed, some pages are buggy, they can’t find contact information, and many other possible issues with the performance of your website, can cause a bigger bounce rate, and hence, horrible SEO.
If you go the custom-built website way, tutorials won’t help you much and you’ll probably have to hire a web designer and developer to make sure of everything. However, if you use a website builder, most of these issues will be pre-fixed. We’ll talk more about good websites that offer beautiful photography templates and good functionality for an affordable price in the next chapter.
Find a suitable photography portfolio website
If you aren’t knowledgeable about website design and want a proper and functional portfolio, you’re in luck. Many website builders offer ready-made templates suitable for a photographer website, and most of the time they are pretty affordable.
WordPress is undoubtedly the most popular website builder, however, you’d need some knowledge of HTML coding to design a good website.
Wix is one of the most popular drag-and-drop website builders, and they have plenty of templates, inspiration and tips for portfolio building. It can be one of the best photography portfolio websites since you can also add an online store and other eCommerce options, in case you want to sell your photos in digital format online.
We have a detailed guide on starting a blog on Wix (you can follow the same steps, but instead of a blog, choose a portfolio at the beginning), and a guide on building a Wix landing page. You can also learn more about pricing there.
Photo: Wix templates
Behance is not a place where you can build a website from scratch, but you can showcase your one-page portfolio there nonetheless. The good thing about Behance is that graphic designers, interior designers, design and marketing agencies and all sorts of creative professionals are hanging out there, so you can be easily discovered.
Pixpa is also a popular all-in-one website builder that allows photographers and artists to build a stunning portfolio with an e-commerce store, blog, client galleries, and much more.
Format is another place offering breathtaking templates and simple steps to build a good portfolio.
Finally, one of the best photography portfolio websites you can choose is Adobe Portfolios. Creating a portfolio and hosting is free forever if you have a Creative Cloud license. You most likely do, since it covers Photoshop and Lightroom too, so this might be the cheapest option.
Update your photography portfolio regularly
This comes as no surprise, but you have to update your portfolio regularly. Not only that you’ll probably progress as an artist and redefine your style as you learn and grow, but trends also change.
You need to show your potential clients that you are a diverse, capable artist that also follows the latest trends and technologies.
Still, you should never be trendy just for the sake of it. You can never please everyone so your photographer portfolio should always reflect your personal style. If you’re serious about establishing yourself as a wildlife photographer, chucking in wedding portfolio photos will be off-putting for prospective clients (although, yes, we’ve all been to that “wildlife” type of wedding).
As with any other business, your ultimate goal is to build a loyal client base, and you can only do that by creating a consistent brand image.
Seek a second opinion
It’s really easy to get so engrossed in the details that you forget about the big picture with creative work. Do you have an answer to the question “how should your photography portfolio look”? Awesome. Now let’s see if others can get the point.
Ideally, you’d get a fellow photographer or, better yet, a person who matches your target audience. Ask them about general impressions about your portfolio, as well as details that most stand out.
We hope our tips guide you on how to create a photography portfolio that will land you some new clients.
Although you might be tempted to just “get your work out there” on any social media platform, it pays to put some effort into creating a high-quality photography portfolio website that will serve you for years to come.
We know you’ve already got all the high-quality website photos you could ever need! But should you need a bit of help with the graphic design side of creating your website, we’re here to help.