By Yvan Cohen
Having a beautiful, professional looking, photography website can no longer be considered a luxurious extra for aspiring photographers. In fact, it’s essential.
Your website is a virtual visiting card, your brochure, gallery, and a place to define your personal brand and showcase your talent. The good news is that the tools for creating a beautiful portfolio websites are now widely, and often cheaply, available.
There are many solutions out there but we could hardly pass up the opportunity to point you in the direction of LightRocket. Using our platform you can create a beautiful portfolio website – and go live – in minutes. With no hosting costs and the added benefit of free photo storage, transfer, and management tools included.
With the shameless pitch over, let’s get straight to the heart of this post. Here are five key reasons why you should have your own portfolio website.
1. Be seen
Ok, it’s blindingly obvious, but it’s worth saying nonetheless. You need to have a portfolio website because if you are to build your photographic identity, if you are to carve a niche for yourself in a very competitive market, your work needs to be seen by as many people as possible.
Your photography website will become a shop window for your work. In the world of theatre and entertainment the common wisdom is that it’s all about ‘bums on seats’. In the online world of photography your renown and career is about getting eyes on the screen; looking at your work.
2. Define your style
Your photography website is an ideal forum for you to define the essence of your photographic style. It’s all very well posting your pictures here and there, but the risk is that the presentation of your creative style becomes fragmented and disjointed over time.
Rather, use your website to create a coherent collection of your work that will stand as a definitive statement of your style. If you meet a potential client, or gallery owner, your site will serve as the most powerful, and hopefully stylish, statement of your photographic style.
3. Showcase your talent
The simple beauty of having your own photography website is that it can serve as the ideal space to showcase your talent.
As you build your site, it’s worth thinking about the scope of your photographic skills and how to present them in their best light. Your website should be constructed as an eye-catching showcase for the full range of your skills and talent.
There are different ways to approach this. You can go minimalist and present a carefully distilled, pared down, selection of your absolute best images. Or you can aim for something broader in scope; presenting a wide range of work that gives a sense of just how active and productive you are, emphasizing the breadth and diversity of your talent.
Remember though, whatever you display will represent you and your talent. If you do decide to make your website a broader statement of your work, always be rigorously selective. Visitors will judge your talent by what they see.
4. Create a space for your creativity
There are of course, different ways to approach a photography website. On the one hand, you could see it as a static statement, almost like a printed brochure that remains largely unchanged, a definitive showcase for your skills and talent.
Alternatively, you might want to use your site as a fluid forum for you to express your ever-changing creative vision. As such, it will become a space that is alive and evolutive – reflecting the changing ‘seasons’ of your personal creative journey.
If you adopt this more creative approach, your website can become much more of an experimental space; a place where followers can track your work and career. If you do decide to go for this dynamic approach, you’ll probably want to change the content of your site frequently, actively promoting each new collection of your work as actively as possible.
Lastly, if you’re going to be changing and updating your site frequently, take care to select a website builder that is intuitive and fast to use. It might help to link your website to your archive too, a feature that our LightRocket website builder offers.
5. A tool to market your photography
As you approach the challenge of creating a photography website, you should naturally see it as an opportunity to market your work and build your personal brand. Think about the direction of your photographic career and construct your site to reflect your priorities.
If you’re aiming to sell prints, make sure you find a website provider that includes print services in their offering. However, if you’re looking for assignments, think about how best you can showcase your skill and experience as an assignment photographer.
For example, you might want to include samples of published work (usually called ‘tear sheets’) to serve as proof that you’ve successfully completed assignments for paying clients (the more high-profile the client, the better). Examples of published work are a fantastic way to boost your credibility.
Let’s not forget about the leveraging the power of the internet. A big part of your marketing approach should also be driven by Search Engine Optimization (SEO). After all, if your site can’t be found, then you’re unlikely to make many sales or get any assignments. Most providers include specific SEO tools in their website builders and LightRocket is no exception.
Written by Yvan Cohen | Yvan’s been shooting documentary photography for over 30 years. He’s a co-founder of LightRocket and continues to shoot photo projects around South East Asia.
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