A Photographer’s Portfolio – Or A Website Disaster?

A lot of my ideas for blog posts come from surfing online, looking around at what people do. Which is where today’s idea comes from. Without mentioning names or URLs, I found a photographer’s portfolio that I’m sure he’s quite proud of – why else would he have it online? From a photography sense, he is quite talented. From a business and sales sense, it’s a website disaster.

Think From Your Clients Brains
Why do your clients hire you? It can all be summed up with two reasons: they like your photography, and they enjoy you as a person.

When you design your online portfolio, you should use those two ideas in the process. Your website should be filled with content so they can get to know you as a person. Start a blog and talk about what you do and the clients you are working with. Show some videos of you working with clients. Talk about why you love photography. Show your personality. If they love you from your online presence, they’ll be an easy sale when you finally meet and talk in person or by phone.

photographers portfolio

Then fill your website and blog with photographs. Keep them low resolution for easy loading. Don’t stop with one or two images – fill it up. For each of our weddings, we would include 200-300 images that went directly onto our site. This was separate from our ordering program. This was strictly promotional. And our clients loved it. They were just as excited about their online gallery as they were their albums – it was a package deal. It allowed them to send a link to all their family and friends, showcasing their wedding. And of course that also helped bring in a ton of new clients along the way.

Skip The Cutting Edge Technical Stuff
Maybe you’ve talked with your web designer and he’s sold you on a great new idea for showcasing your photographs. The trouble is no one can see your images without downloading a free program, or upgrading to a more current version.

If your designer says he has a great new idea, turn and walk away. Don’t make it a hard-to-use gallery system or a fancy animated program. Keep it simple. Your clients and prospects care about the images, not about the cutting edge technical stuff. They want to see what you do, and determine if they can see themselves in your images. That’s it.

As long as your site looks professional when they open it up, they accept it and move onto what they want – the images.

More Is Better
I had lunch with a photographer awhile back that had a website, but refused to use any of the social sites that exist today. She was afraid of the sharing capabilities, and of the lack of control of being on these sites.

But what she is truly missing is the possibilities of connecting up with clients in the media they prefer. You don’t join Facebook for yourself – you join it for the potential of reaching out to people that love using Facebook. Same with Flickr. Or Twitter. Or any of the thousands of other social sites that exist.

Your portfolio is all about marketing what you do. It should be what your prospects and clients are looking for. The easier and more widespread you make it, the greater your chance of building your business and finding new clients.

4 thoughts on “A Photographer’s Portfolio – Or A Website Disaster?”

  1. I think that the difference is one of a DIY website and a site that is designed by somebody who really knows what they are doing. Save dollars up front, lose them in the long run.

  2. I recently got engaged, and we’ve been looking at wedding photographer websites. Even ones that have been recommended by other family and friends and find horrible website designs and minimal online presence.

    Even though I know this one photographer did a great job and produced a great album, their website is so bad that I can’t hire them. I just cant. It’s something every photographer should be thinking about very seriously. If I jumped onto their website and it was a decent design and updated, there was an opportunity to gain me as a customer in seconds. Yet they lost me in seconds.

    First impressions of a website are big too. I start to wonder that if they make 3K or more from a wedding shoot, how can they not spend $50 or less to make their website look good. Do they have a really old digital camera now too? I duno….

  3. Thanks so much for your input Scott.

    Okay photographers, straight from an engaged person out and about looking for a photographer, your website does matter. It’s your window to the world. If you want to charge a professional fee for your work, you have to look like a professional in all aspects.

    You wouldn’t show up with a point and shoot. And you shouldn’t market with a mom & pop website. It doesn’t take that much to make it look professional.


  4. I have to agree with Scott. I’m only just starting out in the photography business and have spent the best part of half a year getting comfortable with website building software and tools to make my site as professional and accessible as possible.

    Even outside photography, I’m instantly put off by an old and poorly designed website for anything I buy. It makes you immediately question the commitment of the person you are looking at buying from or hiring from.

    Once I start actually getting a portfolio together I’ll be sure to jam pack my website with images!


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