How to Create an Online Portfolio for Photography Studio
No matter where you are in your business journey, creating a way for new clients to connect with you is extremely valuable for long-term success. If you run a photography business, having an online platform to showcase your work and talent becomes even more important. Although there are many ways to create an online portfolio, you might feel overwhelmed by starting from scratch.
Your skills as a photographer are as unique as you are, which means that your online presence, website, and portfolio should feel personal. But how do you create a digital hub for your work that’s both creative and functional? What steps should you take to ensure that visitors not only feel captivated by your online content but have clear direction on how to work with you?
In this comprehensive guide, you’ll learn 10 practical steps to follow when creating a professional photography portfolio.
Here’s What We’ll Cover:
Why Do You Need a Photography Portfolio?
When you first begin your photography business, you may be more concerned with gaining experience and booking jobs than you are with establishing your online presence. As your number of completed projects grows, however, you’ll have plenty of incredible photos to show for your efforts. What better way to build momentum than to place these photos in an easily accessible digital portfolio?
If you don’t have much web design experience, it’s easy to feel stuck. Fortunately, there are many ways to simplify the process from both an entrepreneurial and artistic standpoint. From templates and branding to social media, you can easily learn everything you need to know.
Digital vs. Printed Portfolios
As is true for any creative industry, photographers can showcase their work across multiple platforms. In fact, you might be wondering whether you really need to create an online presence if you already have a strong physical or printed portfolio.
You may want to set up a digital portfolio over a physical portfolio for your photography business if any of the following reasons apply:
- You have a large number of photos and projects to showcase at once
- Your target audience primarily makes buying decisions online
- You are striving to connect with potential clients who can’t meet up in person
- You are applying for opportunities that require an established online presence
- You want to provide access to your photos anytime and anywhere
Although your business offerings might change over time, these qualifying factors can help you understand the pros and cons of having a digital versus physical portfolio.
Why Professional Photography Portfolios Are Important
As a photography professional, your completed work serves as one of your greatest business assets. This is because it helps potential clients recognize true value, sometimes before they meet you in person. With the boundless scope of the internet, you can reach more people than ever before with your skills, message, and brand.
Having a professional portfolio for your photos is vital to your business because:
- It allows potential clients to get to know you before personally interacting with you
- It’s a living platform that allows you to constantly update and make improvements
- It’s representative of who you are as an artist, business professional, and individual
- It showcases positive client experiences through imagery and visual proof
If these reasons aren’t enough to convince you that a portfolio website is worth it, consider your favorite business or photography role models. Have they invested in building amazing portfolio websites for their own businesses? Chances are, the answer to that question is yes, and that you can learn a great deal from their examples.
10 Steps to Creating a Winning Portfolio Website for Your Photography Business
While you might already be on board with the idea of having a polished portfolio website, perhaps the thought of creating one is stressful. Where should you begin, what elements are essential, and how can you create the best experience for your ideal customer?
The ten simple steps included below will help you feel more confident and equipped to create your portfolio website as soon as possible.
1. Gather Inspiration from Existing Photography Portfolios
To begin, you might need to gather creative inspiration from outside sources. Who are the photographers that you admire for the quality of their images and for the experience they provide to clients? Glance at other professional photography portfolio websites, and record which elements stick out to you.
If you have questions about how or why certain aspects are included in the photography portfolio, don’t be afraid to reach out. Fellow entrepreneurs are often more than willing to lend a hand by providing valuable insight and advice.
While it’s never OK to copy another business owner’s work, it’s important to get familiar with what exists in your market. This could help you put together inspiration and make important decisions about your own professional portfolio.
2. Select the Work You Want to Highlight
It’s often helpful to think of your portfolio as your digital resume. If you have a limited amount of space and words to use, how would you sell your relevant experience and unique qualifications? Think about your photography portfolio in similar terms.
Sometimes, well-meaning photographers get tripped up by thinking they have to showcase everything all at once. Although it’s nice to have variety, it’s also important to be strategic about the images you include in your portfolio.
When deciding which images and projects you want to include on your photography portfolio site, you can use the following qualifying questions:
- Which images can I naturally organize together in a series?
- Which images am I most proud of for their uniqueness?
- Which images illustrate my client’s satisfaction at a job well done?
- What style most matches what my ideal client is looking for online?
3. Set up a Self-hosted Website
Once you’ve gathered inspiration from relevant sources and narrowed down the list of images you want to include, it’s time for the technical piece. This involves setting up a self-hosted website where you’ll actually store your images and design your portfolio experience.
Getting a self-hosted website for your photography portfolio includes the following steps:
- Choosing a domain name
- Selecting your hosting provider
- Setting up a basic theme for your website (depending on the platform you’re using)
- Installing the right plugins to optimize your portfolio
- Adding customizations
If your budget allows, you may choose to hire a web developer or designer to get your site up and running within a matter of days. Although this is an extra investment, you may want to hand over the technical portions of website design in order to devote more time to choosing your images.
4. Choose a Design That Matches Your Personal Brand
As a creative service provider, it’s extremely important to know the goals of your brand. If you’ve never thought about branding strategy, now is the time to brainstorm and develop a plan.
Think about the specific words, descriptions, and the aesthetic you want to display through your photography website and business. Would someone glancing at your portfolio be able to pick out these descriptions and know what you’re about? If not, make small changes to your template, colors, and copy until it feels just right.
5. Determine Your Goals and Strategy
Releasing your portfolio into the world is about more than having a billboard for all of your best images. Instead, it’s the way that you’ll communicate and grow your business. Start thinking like a true business owner in terms of goals and performance indicators.
As you build your photography portfolio, consider the following questions to help your business reach potential clients:
- Who is my target audience?
- What photos should I include to attract my ideal customer?
- How many customers do I want to reach in the next year?
- What work experience do I want to add in order to grow personally and professionally?
Understanding and defining your goals will enable you to implement the right business strategies to reach those goals.
6. Improve the User Experience
At the end of the day, your photography portfolio may be a way to showcase your skills and talents, but it’s also designed for an audience. You might know exactly why your portfolio is set up the way that it is, but would that be easy for a visitor to understand?
You can improve the user experience of your photography portfolio website by taking the following steps:
- Select a portfolio platform designed for photographers.
- Improving site speed so that photos load quickly and effortlessly
- Grouping categories of work together to help visitors find exactly what they need
- Improving website copy for simple, straightforward reading
- Clearly labeling navigation and tabs to encourage visitors to explore your site
These factors, along with many others, will make website visitors want to spend more time browsing your photography portfolio. In turn, this can contribute to more sales.
7. Implement a Transparent Pricing Page
Once you showcase the type of work you can do, you’ll hopefully have a long line of interested customers who want to work with you! If that’s the case, then your digital photography portfolio has certainly accomplished one of its main goals.
Some future clients may have more detailed questions about the type of work you offer and how much it costs in terms of personal investment. Take the guesswork out of the equation for them by linking your work samples to an honest and clear pricing page.
If you feel uncomfortable with this due to having higher price points, encourage visitors to contact you directly for custom projects and work. While they may not have an immediate answer, they’ll know that you’re open to discussing the scope of your work and involvement.
8. Highlight Your Best Work
Before you start uploading photos and images to your new photography portfolio, categorize your previous projects, and make sure to select your best work. Making your portfolio too inclusive or large could detract from a new customer’s ability to completely scan all the way through.
At first, it may be difficult to narrow down your top choices. If you’re struggling to decide, request input from another business owner, friend, or photographer. An outside perspective can help you realize which options are most appealing to someone interacting with your business for the first time.
If you offer several different styles or types of work (for instance, lifestyle portraits and family mini sessions), highlight your best work in each category. Not only does this showcase your diversity as a service provider, but it helps future clients visualize what they can expect for their own photography needs.
9. Connect to Social Media
In such a socially connected climate, don’t miss out on the chance to connect your photography portfolio website to other platforms through social media. These separate profiles can even act as their own mini portfolios, giving you a place to show off many images to an entirely separate audience.
If the thought of maintaining lots of individual portfolios seems intimidating, don’t stress. Chances are that you’ll be able to recycle or even automatically sync new updates between platforms. Not only does this provide more exposure, but it also opens up channels for people to find you wherever they already spend a good amount of time on the web.
10. Provide Contact Options
Although you might have a strong photography portfolio, what happens if your ideal customer has no way to reach you? Remember, your photography portfolio is the bridge between you and potential opportunities. This means that including methods for contact is extremely important.
Whether you use a standard contact form embedded on your website, or direct visitors to contact you through your social media platforms, make sure to provide clear and concise directions. What are the next steps that you want your visitors to take? Making this process as easy and straightforward as possible can reduce confusion and allow your portfolio to serve an even greater purpose.
Adding Value to Your PhotographyPortfolio
Modern-day entrepreneurs are finding increasing success in using their portfolios as a launching point for other business offerings and opportunities. Although your first priority should be to fine-tune the components of your actual photography portfolio, there are plenty of ways to further leverage your new site in order to scale your photography studio.
Once your photography portfolio site is established, you can explore other business opportunities that connect directly to your photos. These offerings might include:
- A virtual store where customers and followers can buy physical prints
- A mentorship program where you provide training to less experienced photographers
- Informative courses that students can buy and complete virtually
- In-person workshops where you teach specific skills found in your digital photos
Mistakes to Avoid in Creating Your Photography Portfolio Site
Creating a working portfolio is something that you tweak and adapt over time. Designing the ideal portfolio could mean that you request feedback from others, or that you change the images you showcase.
When you take the leap and put together a digital photography portfolio for your business, here are some of the most common mistakes you’ll want to make sure to avoid:
- Designing a website that’s visually appealing but extremely hard to navigate
- Feeling pressure to showcase all of your work at once, when only a sampling is needed
- Having a website that’s saturated with explanations and copy rather than strong images
- Bending the truth about your clients, work history, or editing abilities
- Choosing a confusing set of images that don’t blend together or add to your brand
No matter where you are in your business journey, it can be tempting to fall into one of the above traps. However, keep in mind that less is more when it comes to portfolios. When you can provide a simple and unique experience, you’re bound to attract more clients by showcasing your work in a more positive light.
Create Your Stellar Photography Portfolio Today
As you get started in your photography business, you should realistically expect to put a great amount of time, dedication, and resources into making it successful. Having a unique and captivating photography website that showcases your work and represents your business goals can be a major factor in making your dreams a reality.
By now, you’ve hopefully learned the value of having a well-designed, professional photography website to showcase your work and attract new clients. By following a simple 10-step roadmap, you can create a portfolio that represents you and the amazing work you do on a daily basis.