PetaPixel

Photographer Websites: Why You Need One And What To Do About It

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The modern web was made for photographers; it’s such a visual medium where beautiful images have an incredible impact. Text, or copy, is still important for SEO considerations and for those visitors that want to spend more time on your content. Video is fantastic, and many photographers have the capability to produce great videos with their current equipment.

But unlike still images, by its nature video demands time — you need 30 seconds to watch a 30 second video versus a quick glance at a photo that usually communicates the entire message.

For the vast majority of professional photographers and aspiring photographers, having a website is a necessity. There are many social media networks to share images, such as Facebook, 500px, Tumblr, Flickr, Instagram, and Pinterest — and it can be beneficial to have a presence on them. However, the greatest advantage of having a website is that you are in full control of the design, navigation, branding, and information. This gives you an unparalleled opportunity to engage your potential clients and website visitors with your unique story.

Here are some important considerations in creating your website:

1. Ease of Use

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Get a website that you can update easily. It’s important that your content is fresh and high quality, and it’s better if you can bypass your web designer and do it yourself. Be sure that you understand the basic technical information about your website before it’s built. Have your web designer show you an example site and walk you through how you would add content. The goal is to be 90% self sufficient, with the last 10% being major changes that require your web designer’s expertise.

Or, if you’re the DIY type, or don’t have the budget for a web designer at the moment, consider building your website yourself. See the bottom of the article for some recommendations for how to go that route.

2. Get Out of Your Own Way

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It’s easy to have a website grow into an unwieldy octopus with too much content and information. Trim it down to the absolute minimum to communicate your message. Your potential clients don’t need to see 30 albums and 750 images from your 10 year career. Pick your best 10-20 and highlight them.

How many times have you seen a wedding photography website with too many images? The goal is to entice the visitor, not overwhelm them. Respect your potential clients’ time, don’t waste it with anything less than your A+ material. If they didn’t like the first 10 photos, the last 740 are not going to convince them otherwise.

For the remainder of your content keep it simple: provide a way to get in touch, create an “About” page, and have a blog if you can commit to it.

3. Create The Mousetrap

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Your website should close the deal and make you more efficient. Utililzed properly, it qualifies potential clients before they call or email you. This is key. You’re not trying to get everyone in the world to contact you, just the people that are likely to sign a contract.

If your website clearly communicates your capabilities, your personality, your brand, and your fees (either explicitly or implicitly through design elements and word usage), then it makes your operation more effective. You don’t want your time occupied by dealing with people that don’t have a clear understanding of what you do or don’t have the proper budget.

4. Be Bold and Beautiful

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It bears repeating, the modern web was made for photographers. Smartphones have the resolution that 30 inch monitors used to have 5 years ago. So make your images front and center and seduce your audience with beautiful high resolution photos.

You still have to optimize the file size of your images, but there’s much less concern about bandwidth than there used to be. If your website is several years old and still has tiny thumbnail images or a slideshow that looks miniscule on modern devices and monitors, then you need to get a new one. Sites like the new Flickr, 500px, and even Facebook’s full screen lightbox have changed the expectations of your audience about what photos should look like online.

We’ve got you excited, now what? Should you make the website yourself? If you have the budget to outsource it, do that, you should be a professional photographer and not a web designer. But, if you don’t have the budget, or simply want to do it yourself, there are web creation tools that are easy to use, inexpensive, and gorgeous. Here are two great options:

Squarespace

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One of the easiest and most elegant ways to create a website, Squarespace seems like it was made for photographers. It has a very intuitive interface that’s very visual and a gentle learning curve. There are beautiful templates to begin with that do an excellent job highlighting your images. You do not need any prior HTML or CSS experience to build with Squarespace. The help documentation is robust and the community very active.

Virb

virb

Another web building application that’s very easy to use, Virb let’s you start with a template and then add your content and make design changes. Like Squarespace, prior web design experience is absolutely not necessary, and you can very quickly create a beautiful web presence.

Both Virb and Squarespace templates are mobile ready, so your website visitors will have the optimum experience regardless of what device they view your site on. They are also self-hosted solutions, so your fee pays for both access to their Content Management System as well as web hosting, so the only other thing you need is a domain name.

There are dozens of ways to build a website, and all of them are valid possibilities. Virb and Squarespace are just two that are relatively simple to use and setup. What’s important is that you have the proper online representation for your photography and your business, one that showcases your beautiful photos and helps you be more successful.


 
 
  • Antonio Carrasco

    This is a great post. The reason you don’t wanna point potential customers to your flickr or 500px page is that there are too many other distractions on the page and it’s easy for the customer to click away to a photographer that might even be better than you.

    Definitely edit down your portfolio and always be getting rid of the images that aren’t good or don’t fit your current style. Remember, your portfolio is only as good as the worst shot in it. If you show people ten images and one is not good, that is the one that will stick in their mind.

  • Alex Ignacio

    Thanks for the reply, and you make an excellent point about 500px. These days potential clients are a click away from anything else on the web. Think about how many tabs many people keep open in their browser; it’s so easy to navigate somewhere else to find something better or more interesting. That’s why you have to really focus on making that positive and quick first impression.

  • Benicio Murray

    very well said and great tip on linking to flickr/500px

  • Aaron R

    Despite the obvious downsides of flickr and 500px, isn’t whats most important is to have a presence? If you’re not there, its certain no one will see you. Those accounts then have the potential to lead people to your site

  • http://www.thisisjoe.net YJawhar

    What about Behance pro sites?

  • http://byazrov.ru/ Byazrov.com

    Try Zenfolio.

  • Gman

    This is good, I see way too many photographers putting every shot they’ve ever taken in their portfolio (that’s how it seems anyway). Top 10 is all you need. Show them more when they meet you for an appointment.

  • steve

    So you go against the conventional wisdom that a blog is an essential part of an online presence? Interesting.

    To be honest I think that this advice is a few years out of date and that the days of brochure type sites are numbered.

  • Alex Ignacio

    Very true, however, there are two main ideas about having an online presence:

    - Only be on 500px, Instagram, Flicker, etc. if you can commit to posting high quality content frequently. If you can do this, then they can be a fantastic source of traffic and attention. However, there are too many people that end up having too many social media accounts and then get burned out or distracted and stop posting to them. It’s better to have no presence than a bad presence.

    - Unlike those social media networks, your website is an opportunity to be 100% unique. Besides the photos, your profile on 500px looks pretty much the same as anyone else’s. On your own website you can stand out and differentiate yourself, and that can be very persuasive and powerful.

  • Alex Ignacio

    Using Behance Pro Sites, or something like Krop, can be a fantastic option. Being tapped into a large network where people can find you is a smart move. But, if you can create your own website, there are two advantages:

    1. You use networks like Behance, 500px, Flickr, and Instagram to drive traffic to your own website.

    2. Your website is the chance to present your own unique brand, story, and capabilities “one-on-one” with your audience. There’s no 500px brand or design or another interesting profile distracting your viewer. Your website is where if someone is interested then they can really get to know you.

  • Alex Ignacio

    I don’t advocate against blogs, I advocate against poorly maintained or ignored blogs. A blog is a very big commitment, and too often I see people get excited about their shiny new website with a blog and post prolifically for a while then…nothing. They can’t think of things to post about, or get busy and ignore it, and it dies on the vine. It’s better to not have a blog then to have one the is a poor representation. A bad blog raises more questions than it answers in the minds of visitors.

    Why would brochure sites go out of style? Why would you pass up the opportunity to present your unique story in a completely custom fashion? On 500px or Flickr, you could argue that you’re just another profile on 500px or Flickr. Aside from the photos, your account looks like anybody else’s. On your own website you can stand out, make a positive impression, and engage a potential client in a way you can’t on a social network.

  • Virb

    Thanks for recommending Virb! There’s some really great advice in here. Definitely helpful for a photographer to have a branded, up-to-date site. Hope we can help more photographers do that.

  • Daniel Yubi

    Have anyone tried 4ormat?

  • Gavin

    Hi Daniel. I have ended up using 4ormat after demoing many others. It really is a good value site and easy to set up. It’s also good cos you can change the layout regularly. To be honest though, I am using it as a stepping stone to get a feel of how I want things. I change my content and the look fairly often till I feel I have it worked out. I’m sort of happy with what I am trying to put across now and am looking at maybe moving across to something like aphotofolio to get a more refined site…..anyone have thoughts on aphotofolio?

  • http://ChipKalback.com/ Chip Kalback

    I’ve just recently switched to 4ormat after leaving liveBooks and I couldn’t be happier. Their customer support has been awesome so far and my site was easy to set up but still customizable enough for my liking.

  • Gavin

    Hi Chip

    just looked at your website and it’s pretty impressive!! Can you tell me which theme you used with format or is it some custom design?

    Thanks

  • http://ChipKalback.com/ Chip Kalback

    Hey Gavin

    Thanks for the compliment about my site. I’m pretty sure I used the Monocle theme as a starting point and then made a bunch of tweaks to it.

  • dave

    good stuff except for having fewer pics. as a photography consumer the only time ive ever found there to be too many on a photog’s site was when the photographer was unskilled/bad. 10k shots well sorted and categorized? awesome. better than just 20. gen-y and gen-z ers prefer information overload. we browse 200 shots on a pinterest page in 30 seconds, and that’s how we shop and consume the Internet. less is not more, it’s less.

  • Attachepr

    Lovely and liked it.

  • Jewel Saha

    Very Helpful.