If you’re in the process of making an online photography portfolio to reach potential clients, here are some steps to make sure you got everything covered.
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 portfolio examples to inspire you.
Choose your visual identity and target audience
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.
So once you create a plan and strategy, you can start thinking about the actual design and marketing campaigns.
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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 a different industry and topic, 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. But you shouldn’t in any way neglect the functionality of your website 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 photographer 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 photography portfolios, 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. The best part is that you can also add an online store and other eCommerce options, or a blogging section to accompany your portfolio. 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, you can showcase your work at Adobe Portfolios. Creating a portfolio and hosting are 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 online presence 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.