You have a photography website or have thought about creating one. Sure, Instagram, Facebook and other social media offer platforms to share your work. Viewers spend a few seconds seeing, liking and commenting on your image.
Then, well, they move on to the next image or story in their feed. It's the world we live in. Or, they stop, view your profile and potentially click on your website.
Other scenarios and human interactions drive viewers and customers directly to your website too.
As photographers with part and full time businesses, websites showcase three things.
- You, the photographer
- Your work, style and artistry
- Your products and services
Do you need a photography website?
Are you building your business, adding clients, have great work to share? Do you offer products and services.? If you answered yes, then a website complements your work.
A successful website is not just about selling prints and products. In some cases photographers have a website combined with an Etsy or other e-commerce site that host artists. This offers an additional reach to find your work.
Websites introduce both you and your work. They engage your audience with what you offer and what you're about as an artist.
What Does an Engaging Photography Website Feel Like?
When we shop at Amazon or other big retailers, our mission is to get in, find what we're looking for, order then exit. If something else flies in and grabs our attention, we probably check it out and maybe add another purchase (or two). We're there, but the experience is to shop and there's distractions.
With a website, your customer chose to enter to see your work. To learn about you. It's up to you to provide an experience that makes them want to stay, peruse and return again. Or, even better, share your site with others.
5 Elements of a Strong Photography Website
For starters, websites showcase your work. But, what is your work?
Your images, how they look, your techniques and presentation comes together in a website. Your services and how you engage with your customers is also a huge piece of your work.
Your site is about your work, your services shared through your persona.
There's 5 critical elements in a website. 1) About, 2) Services, 3) Products, 4) Blog and 5) Your voice throughout the website.
While there's quite a bit of detail below, the message is not to boil the ocean. Clean and simple with a theme holds viewers longer than too much to absorb.
#1: About: Before the Images – It's You!
Your work is your brand and vice versa. Viewers and customers look to connect to you and your work. Whether it's buying art for their wall or hiring you to photograph the most important day in their lives. You, your approach, your voice in your website sets the tone.
You validate your authenticity.
A visible, easy to access section about you, accessed from the main menu provides street cred from the get-go. Go check out your favorite, well-known global and local photographers. Their “Bio” or “About” is either on the front page or accessed from the main menu.
Here's a few links: Richard Bernabe, Anne Belmont, Jackie Kramer's Luvblooms, Jackie Kramer's Wedding Photography. (Note: Jackie has two distinct websites for 2 completely different services & brands – flower photography and her wedding photography)
As your audience is viewing your site, they're interested in your work and you. Your “About” or “Bio” section highlights a few (not all) of the following:
- Your artist statement : What is the meaning, your purpose for your work? What motivates and inspires your best work? Check out: Natureviews feature of various landscape artists and their official artist statement.
- Your bio: Shares your history, your evolution as a photographer.
- Commitment to ethics (as it relates to your respective field). As a nature photographer, I wrote and published My Commitment: Nature & Photography Ethics that is accessed via my website and blog.
- COVID actions (especially for wedding and people photographers)
- Awards and credentials – share your highlights, features, links where you work has been noted or used.
- Images/action shots of you in the field, with your clients
#2 Your Work
When your guest enters your site, the first impression needs to reflect your best work. Period.
Some websites share one image on the front page, others a screen show, while other sites have a tile of many images.
As you look at photography websites that have held your interest what did you notice? A common theme, a flow? Well organized imagery? A few images? Many images?
Check out Sarah Marino and Ron Coscorrosa's website Nature Photo Guides. The initial look and feel is symmetry and calming nature. Plus it reflects the photography work and services they offer.
What are you selling?
The variety of prints, photography products, ebooks and gifts is almost limitless. The products, pricing and merchandise selling on your website impacts your brand. Consider both your business objective and client when curating your offerings.
Is your business is centered on prints and gifts? A large selection of product and pricing options may be the right approach to reach your audience.
Focused on workshops, ebooks, large prints and licensing? Fewer items and higher price points. Lower priced gift items won't reflect your brand on your key website.
Your products and services on your website are your gold. Staying focused (pardon the pun) is one of the hardest things for creatives. If starting your site, simple is stronger than a busy mess. If revisiting your current site, take a look at current trends for inspiration. Also, ask a few photographers that you trust to offer their feedback on your site and products too.
#3 Your Services
Professional (full and part time) photographers support their craft through the sales of their work and services they offer within the industry.
Dedicating sub-menu items to specific workshops, ebook types or other services makes it easy for potential customers to find details needed to make a decision. Support your overview with images of you with your customers in addition to what they'll experience first hand.
If you represent brands (products, stores, merchandise), transparency to maintain trust with your user and your brands is a must. Noting that in your blog and site (if appropriate) is a requirement for affiliate relationships.
#4 Blogging on Your Photography Website
A blog offers a form of consistent communication to share what's coming, tips, techniques. It's more than a newsletter. A blog, with its narrative voice shares who you are. In some respects, your uniqueness is shared through blogging. Your blog provides your customer's a reason to return to your site.
Blogging about the fab, recent wedding along with images, showcases your work with your clients. Your wedding client then share's their photographers blog about their big day. They're thrilled and it's visibility for you too.
This is the sincere, good word-of-mouth that translates to reach and more customers.
If you're not a people or event photographer, blogging still provides value. For photography workshop leaders, showcase your last trip.
Selling your images? Share a behind the scenes look of you in the field.
Blogging is work and it takes thoughtful time. It's better to have fewer posts with quality content than too many posts with a fuzzy direction.
If you're getting started with blogging, it is trial and error. It helps to start with a plan that will evolve with time and your business.
Be patient with you.
#5 Be You in Your Website
For some of us, it's hard to find our voice (or confidence) in our website. For others, it naturally shines through. Whether you're creating or revamping your website, it's not a case of build it and they will come.
A website requires care and attention. Adding and purging images. Updating content. And, yes. Marketing.
Your website requires pushing in a non-pushy way. Here's a few tips and suggestions for getting the word out about you:
- Your website address needs to be branded to you. For example: www.yournamephotography.com or www.yourbrand.com.
- Include your website address everywhere. Yes everywhere. Email signature line, social accounts, business cards, social posts on facebook when posting images, profiles.
- Link to your website in blog posts (without overdoing it).
- If you give photo gifts at holidays (i.e Calendars), include your website.
- Online sales outside of your website. Other online market places offer opportunities to sell your work. If you sell there, include the link to your website.
- Local art associations. Joining and networking with fellow artists – painters, fiber arts, sculptures expose us to other art forms in addition to expanding our reach. Many associations offer exhibits, gallery shows, online events and other methods of exposing your work. Include your website in their informational bios and materials.
In summary, a website organizes and shares your body of work. But in all these elements – keep it simple.
There's quite a bit of detail above for ideas. As your building or updating your site, always consider the viewers experience when they enter your world. The look, the feel and the connection to you and your work.
For related reading: 5 Easy Ways to Promote Yourself as a Photography by Jason D. Little
A really well put together article! I really like the 5 elements you have suggested. I have had a portfolio site for a few years, and it never crossed my mind to add an ‘About’ section structured as you suggest. Also the tip on blogging has made me reflect. I have a seperate blog which I link to, but there is definitely a benefit in having organic content on the blog itself.
Thanks for a great piece of work.
HI David! Thank you for the feedback. Your website is lovely. I love your image of the Blue Tit, I hope to see one someday. Keep up the great work.