10 Tips for a Picture-Perfect Photography Website

1. Professional, Artistic Web Design

The design and layout of your photography website is an important first impression for visitors and potential customers. Especially for those folks who don't know you, your website is the first indication of your taste and style. Many visitors can be turned off to the goods or services offered on a site simply due to poor design or layout.

Modern web design programs offer a wide variety of design templates and site-themes, ranging from light and casual to toned-down and professional. Make sure the layout and design you select is conducive to your business objectives and the message you hope to convey to your visitors.

"I chose my particular design as it doesn't look like a ready-made template and it also offered the flexibility to be adapted to include one of my own photos."
~Peter Thody, photographer and travel reporter

(In this article we'll be using examples from Sandvox, the easy web designer for the Mac from Karelia software, though these tips should apply no matter what tool you use. Feel free to visit our gallery of Sandvox-built websites, where several photographers have entered links to their websites.)

2. Flash Introduction of Your Work

Just like many other artists, your site may contain too many pictures or types of photographs for a visitor to get through in a single sitting. A Flash animation can help highlight your favorite aspects of your work. As with any images displayed on your site, it is highly recommended that you cover each image with a watermark. Picture thieves are quite adept with the screen capture button. It is also recommended that your homepage is not fully flash, as this can hurt your search engine rank.

Are you looking to show your full range of photographic interest and abilities or simply show off some of your best work? Either way, the Flash introduction allows your visitors a preview of your work without requiring them to first browse your entire site. This may help retain some of the more casual browsers and thus deepen their interest in your work or services.

To incorporate a Flash animation into your site, you will have to be somewhat selective in choosing your web design program. Some programs help you display Flash animations by use of a video page or "pagelet" (a sidebar to the page that includes its own supplemental content).

"I do wish that I had designed the site to use flash to show the photos or watermarked each image on my site from the beginning. I recommend flash or watermarking for all photos to protect the photographer."
~Wendi Schneider,
fine art photographer and web designer

"It should be used in a software design class as an excellent example of an intuitive user interface.
~Andrew Soh, portrait and landscape photographer

3. Introduce Yourself

Be sure to include a page about yourself, the artist, on your photography site. Customers are often interested in the person behind the great work they are seeing.  You can include a timeline of your interest in photography, a listing of your current or favorite equipment, even a write-up on any inspirations you may have in your field.

Some web design programs will help you customize such a page with raw HTML.  This option could help you add that extra personal touch or highlight specific areas of your bio as you see fit.

4. Photo Gallery

This page will be the bread and butter of your site. Depending on your preference, you can display your entire line of work, separated into albums based on date or type of photography, or you can offer a selection of your work and areas of interest. Again, it is highly recommended that you protect your work by adding watermarks.  You also have the option of including a few high resolution versions of some images (no watermark), allowing visitors to better evaluate your shots.

It is here that you can also offer items for purchase directly from your website (prints, posters, cards, etc.). The web design program you choose should incorporate PayPal, or similar online payment systems, for a seamless addition a purchasing page to your site.

BONUS: Color Management for the Web

This bonus tip is courtesy of Joseph Holmes, landscape photographer

A big problem for pictures shown on the web comes from the general lack of good support for color management among browsers. Windows browsers are totally devoid of color management support. Macintosh browsers often partially support color management, sometimes only if their preferences are altered by the user from their defaults.

Good color management support by browsers would include the reading of HTML tags on web pages which say, for example, "this entire page's graphics files (JPEGs and GIFs) are in such-and-such a color space (e.g. sRGB)", however, not one single browser that I know of does this.

Good color management support by browsers also requires that the browser read ICC profiles inside of JPEGs or GIFs used on a page and utilize operating system support to combine that profile with the current display profile of the computer to create a correct simulation of the color in the displayed image file, which takes the user's own monitor into account to show the color so that it's not too dark or too light overall (mainly in the midtones) or having a variety of other and usually more modest color shifts due to differing red, green and blue primaries of the display, etc. (compared to the color space into which the image files were encoded by the creator of the web site, usually sRGB).

So what you need to do is to make files which are a best-guess for typical displays, meaning you should convert your image data into sRGB, and then either save the image files for web use with the profile embedded or not embedded, depending on the situation. If your page design is simple, and has only a couple of image files, and does not use a drop shadow, for example, or would not suffer from a page being only partially color managed (some files shown right, and others not), then you should embed the sRGB profile in the JPEG or GIF when you make your web pages. On the other hand, if your page is a thumbnails page with many, many small JPEGs, you might not want to have to include many, many copies of the sRGB ICC profile, just because it bulks up the size of the page which must be downloaded before it can display.

This is why it would be better if the browsers would respect the simple HTML tag which basically says "Just use sRGB for the whole page" (you dummies! -- this situation has persisted for many, many years now and the browser makers are still not catching on to this very easy solution to a big problem, especially those living in the Microsoft world, which has apparently chosen to have zero instances of accurate color as their preferred standard).

5. Portfolio of Published Work

If you have been lucky enough to have your work featured in magazines, books, or online, then you would be remiss not to include these items as a part of your advertisement.  These are examples of your contribution to the photography world and help display your skills and talents.  Depending on whether you are posting the images yourself, you may want to consider watermarking these images as well.

If you are in possession of digital images of your published works, then you can simply create an album similar to the photo gallery mentioned above.  If your works are displayed on outside websites, some web design programs will assist you in building a list of links to your work.  This will also help increase your reputation through the mention of professional organizations or publications on your site.

BONUS: Photoshop Files

This bonus tip is courtesy of Joseph Holmes, landscape photographer

When saving files from Photoshop for web use, be sure to choose the Save For Web option, not a regular save, because it not only leaves out the often quite bulky preview files from a JPEG -- files which may be bigger than the JPEG itself -- but it also leaves out some other stuff and results in much smaller files for faster page loading.

"What a thrill to be able to say thank you for doing a wonderful job on my covers! I went to your website and had so much fun looking around. Very impressive!"
~Client review on Wendi Schneider's fine art and commercial photography website

6. Testimonials

 Whether they're customer references or professional reviews, posting testimonials regarding your work can help set you apart.  Customers like the reassurance of reading all the good things folks have to say about you.  Aside from seeing samples of your work, testimonials are one of the most important items for consumer confidence.

The right web design program can help you display your testimonials in an eye-catching fashion.  You can incorporate them into each page with pagelet callouts or build a linked list to the websites of those providing professional reviews.

7. Traffic Monitoring

This is absolutely essential for any business website. Traffic monitoring services such as Google Analytics allow you to keep track of several items, including your number of visitors, average time spent on your site, and the sites that referred your visitors to your site. This knowledge is very valuable when you begin attempting to market your site with various online advertisements or social marketing approaches.

Some website authoring programs are designed to integrate seamlessly with Google Analytics (the most popular of the traffic monitoring services). This pre-packaged integration saves you quite a bit of time, allowing you to move on to the all-important marketing of your site.

"One of the things that I wish I would have started from the beginning is Google Analytics. [It] lets me know where I need to focus more on marketing."
~Jacob Zellmer, landscape and portrait photographer

 

8. Do Some Blogging

Customers and other visitors to your site like getting to know the person behind the camera. By starting a blog on your photography site, you can pass along informal stories and write-ups of interesting photo shoots or locales. Or maybe you are particularly inspired by a certain image or subject matter. Telling these types of personal stories helps connect your customers with you as an artist, rather than simply a person looking to sell their work. Relevant content and frequent content updates (i.e., blog articles) are also among the many tips for helping your website get noticed by the search engines and your potential customers.

Establishing a blog on your photography site can be very simple with some of the better web design applications. The best of these programs even allows you to create podcasts or videocasts, which could be an exciting addition if you travel quite a bit and have "stories from the road."

9. Contact Form

Despite all the great content and information you already have on your site, some of your visitors may be left wanting to know more. You definitely do not want these folks to leave empty-handed. Instead, provide your guests with the means to easily contact you via email or phone.  You can even setup a new email address with a good spam filter specifically for your photography site.

Some web design programs allow you to create such a contact form either as its own page, or as a pagelet alongside your other pages. Contact forms can also be a convenient means for your customer to get a hold of you or leave positive feedback.

10. Calendar of Events

Do you have upcoming shows or exhibitions of your work at the local gallery?  Let your visitors know of any opportunities to check out your photography in person.  Not only does this give them another chance to evaluate your skills and creativity, but it allows you develop connections and a larger network of clients.

Web design programs often offer the ability to customize pagelets to include any number of Google Gadgets.  Among these are a variety of calendar choices.  You can use your website's calendar to display any important upcoming event in your photography life.

Comments 21 comments

Logicbench profile image

Logicbench 7 years ago from Arlington, Virginia

5 stars! Its great to see that people are applying themselves to create better web design to help others with their websites. It really saves us a lot of time and effort trying to learn it ourselves. If you have a chance check out my blog on wed design work at http://www.webdesignwork.traffic4pros.com


Camping Dan profile image

Camping Dan 7 years ago

What I did for my photography site was use ktools software and then created new graphics to be inserted into the generic template. This gave me a cart where I can sell digi and print, create galleries, and so much more.


tday01 profile image

tday01 7 years ago from Oregon

Fantastic Hub, I'm very impressed. Thanks for sharing.

Terry Day @ http:www.howtosellmydigitalphotos.com


ocbill profile image

ocbill 7 years ago from hopefully somewhere peaceful and nice

very good hub. hehehe..a designer would never think of using a PC

how about a dark background for those beauty and model sites though. I've seen that a bit and it seems to work.


Increased Website Traffic 7 years ago

Excellent article Karelia. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.


paulgc 7 years ago

Great hub,would love my own website, thanks for the info,


Cairns Photographer 7 years ago

Great article, you have put alot of work into this topic, thanks for the advice.


g.d. mack profile image

g.d. mack 6 years ago

Sorry to have discovered this so long after your posting. Some neat little tidbits in here. Eager to try some...


fashion catalog 6 years ago

Thank you for sharing those tips, that was a very useful hub. now I know how to improve my photography. Keep it up and God Bless.


photocoursesuk 6 years ago

Great info, thanks for sharing


photoproofing profile image

photoproofing 6 years ago

Another great asset for a photography website is an online proofing integration, which can easily be done with a proofing service such as http://www.shootproof.com to integrate seamlessly to your website (in a url such as proofing.yoursitename.com) so that clients can view their proofs on your site; in addition to convenience and sales, this keeps them coming to your site and seeing ideas of your other work (like looking at your great maternity photos when proofing their wedding shots, it reminds them of other photo session opportunities)


shkeel 6 years ago

Hello Linda! Wow - Thanks for the kind comment! Yes, Flickr is a great way to drive traffic. You may also consider using Photobucket. Thanks again, david


shakeel5 6 years ago

This has to be one of the MOST USEFUL hubs I have ever seen.

Thank you very much for your efforts and hard work.


mohammad sajid 6 years ago

Hello David :-)

So when you say you get more free trafic from flickr

that means that these pictures appears in the search engine results and people who see the writing for more information

search hubpages.. might go and search for you in hubpages.

It is not direct transformation to your hub,right?

By the way can i do it with pictures that are not mine but common creative?

Thank you again :


moh rafiq fd 6 years ago

UK Tabloid newspapers have a picture segment on page 3 of a topless model. Jordan shot to fame through her page 3 pictures, her career rocketed, she became a supermodel, TV personality and has made the front cover of many magazines including Vogue and Playboy.


ditta haa 6 years ago

vNow the Nitty-Gritty - Uploading your image to Flickr

Once you're on Flickr click on Upload Photos and Videos. Now click on "Chose Photos and Videos." Find the photo you want to upload on your computer's C drive. Scroll down and click on the pink icon that says "Upload Photos and Videos". One quick tip here - be sure to call or "label" your image file with the key words of the title of your HubPage or blog post. This will help it to appear in the search engine results.


sabahat gul86 6 years ago

UK Tabloid newspapers have a picture segment on page 3 of a topless model. Jordan shot to fame through her page 3 pictures, her career rocketed, she became a supermodel, TV personality and has made the front cover of many magazines including Vogue and Playboy.


abhipsitabose profile image

abhipsitabose 4 years ago from India

liked ur hub http://tamlography.blogspot.in/ check out this hope u wl like it


CaptureSafari profile image

CaptureSafari 4 years ago from Westerham, UK

Really useful hub..I will certainly apply some of those recommendations to my own..


Elisita Photos 4 years ago

These are great tips, not only from the author but from all the comments as well :) Thank you!

www.elisitaphotography.net

www.elisitaphotographyblog.net


Becca 2 years ago

I agree with everything, but I'd caution you on #8, #9 and #10.

If you choose to include a blog or a calendar on your site, make sure it isn't working against you. A potential client wants to know that they wouldn't be the only one to hire you that season. An empty calendar or a blog that hasn't been updated in two weeks are red flags. If you can't commit to regular posts, don't include a blog... no steady stream of work, skip the calendar. Also, make sure you're including enough paid client work in your blog — using pictures of your own kids or pets as filler won't fool anyone.

As for the contact form, it may be easier for the site owner to weed out the spam by doing this in lieu of posting an email address, but it's frustrating for anyone who needs to keep a paper trail for their business. I hire photographers for a magazine and if I can't have a copy of my sent messages, I can't do business with you. If it's someone I really want to work with, I have to do a lot of hunting to figure out an actual email address to circumvent the contact form, but in some cases I've had to just look elsewhere.

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