Your Photography website..

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by cacadepollo, Jan 29, 2016.

  1. cacadepollo

    cacadepollo Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 6, 2015
    Hello yall, I got some website-related questions - if any yall could chime in, I would apppppreciate.

    So for whatever reason, building my website has been one of the hardest things for me to do. I think it's because I'm just not sure how I want market myself as commercial photographer - a topic I definitely need to deal with.

    For a photographer's website, how would you present your work if you actually have more than one type of photography you like and can do - for example, I love people-related projects, as well as landscapes and architecture, and I would love to get gigs in any of those categories..if I can even land them. Do you think it might be better to make separate websites, or is there a way to showcase all of your work on website, without diluting the strength of your talent and abilities in any single genre? Or should I just pick one genre, like let's say portrait work and other people-related work, and just really focus on that?

    I'm also having difficulty in figuring out which route I should take in building the actual site. Have any yall have ever used such services from Aphotofolio, livebooks, smugmug, zenfolio, or any other services? How difficult or complicated or easy are they to use? Which services have you used, what are your personal experiences with them, and ultimately, what would you suggest?

    Thanks for your help.
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2016
  2. John M Flores

    John M Flores Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 7, 2011
    Somerville, NJ
    If your primary interest is people, then make that 80% of the site, and leave architecture and landscapes on the margins. Many photographers create separate sections of their website for the variety of genres that they shoot, but they risk looking like a jack of all trades yet a master of none.

    I use Wordpress. Purchased a template that met my aesthetic, technical, and functional needs and went from there.
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  3. Richella

    Richella The Wandering Scotsman

    Aug 21, 2011
    Kuala Lumpur
    Jimmy, Great question and one which I contemplated for quite a while. I really enjoy travel and sports photography and ultimately decided to host them together on a single smugmug site and just create a menu drop down for each theme.

    I did however decided to make the landing page a slide show of my sports photography because this is currently my primary interest.

    Link to my site below.

    The Wandering Scotsman
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  4. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    In reading your post, it raises more questions than answers. Most importantly, is this going to be your primary occupation? What type of photographic services do you plan on offering? There are literally a million "Uncle Bobs" and "a mom with a camera" out there advertising there services on Craigslist for very little cost. Reduced technology costs combined with reduced expectations has dramatically killed much of the market for photographers trying to make a living these days.

    Given the current market, ask yourself why should somebody hire you? Now, I know there are buyers and sellers at all price points with all levels of expectations, but unless you are in a geographically isolated area, what distinguishes you from your competition? Unfortunately, success these days seems to be a mix of talent and marketing, with probably more of the latter than the former. Branding is more than a just a web site. Are you prepared to spend a large amount of time on various social media networks trying to build a name and reputation? And if so, I would suggest that you pull your two existing web sites as they do not do much to help your "brand". Reading your About Me page may be an interesting story, but it does nothing to make me want to hire you. I do not mean to be harsh, and I applaud you for the work that you have done in trying to photograph people, but I am not sure that this presents me with reasons to hire you (and I am still not sure what services you are offering - weddings/protraits, event work, architecture, product photography?)

    I suggest that you spend a lot of time surfing the web to see how "successful" (at least at marketing) photographers are marketing themselves to give you an idea of what they are doing and how they are doing it. I would also recommend reading John Harrington's books Best Business Practices for Photographers and More Best Business Practices for Photographers, as well as other similar books. There is quote floating on the internet that says something to the effect of "I am a professional photographer, I photograph with a camera about 10% of the time".

    Good luck,

  5. You'll get a bunch of different ideas and opinions here on just the basic question of where to host. I'm no pro, although I've gotten published consistently in the same magazine for the last 9 months. From the limited experience I have with getting exposure, your web gallery is a very key piece. Making it look good and easy to navigate should be a priority, as most people don't take a lot of time to view pictures and skim through a few..and are on to the next big thing..unless they're really focused on something specific. Having tried Flickr, Ipernity, and that order..I can wholeheartedly recommend SmugMug. It's very easy to use, reasonably priced, and you can customize the daylights out of it. Customer service is also good. You start with a home page and add galleries for the different types of subjects and there's a thumbnail that can be chosen to all the galleries show on that home page. Keeping things simple and easy to navigate is important and you get that with SmugMug. $8 a month gets you right click protection and the uploading process is simple. One generalized piece of advice..if you have, or are planning on a featuring a lot of images, you probably want to move toward photo hosting sites. Blog/text intensive sites are not usually as image friendly for larger volumes of pics. The split seems to be around whether you're a writer who wants to insert a few photographs..or a photographer who wants to still be able to say a few things about your pictures. This isn't written in stone, but tends to be the way it is..although I'll probably attract some nay sayers on that.
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  6. JBoot

    JBoot Mu-43 Regular Subscribing Member

    Dec 4, 2012
    Scotch Plains, NJ
    @cacadepollo@cacadepollo, it's a tough question without a clear answer based on what you've told us so far. Apologies if I go off track from your intented question.

    What is your goal? Are you trying to go 'pro' or just share your work? If trying to go 'pro', what does that exactly mean to you? Recognition? Money? I know many photographers who are 'pro' level but just don't happen to do photography for a living/income. Per @WithOpenedEyes@WithOpenedEyes, John has been published a bunch but it not a working pro per se. I also know pros who don't even have websites!

    if it's just for sharing, segment your site by genre and share as much as you want.

    If it's to sell yourself, I would suggest to focus your site on the genre in which you seek to expand. IMO, being too broad will dilute your brand even before you start.

    To the question on website/marketing, I use Zenfolio and don't do any formal marketing, though they have tons of related tools. I like Zenfolio for the built in templates, online store, phone apps, selling tools and they cater to photographers. There are a number of sites like this out there.

    Here is my website:

    I'm a part-time pro for almost 15 years. I've always focused on people and had no intention of 'going pro' but people started asking me to do work for them after seeing the work I did for a friend... and it took on a life of its own.

    However, if you are really asking how to break into the business for income, that is a completely different discussion... and photographers are notoriously bad business people. If that is the case be warned though, that doing photography as a business on your own (even part-time) is VERY DIFFERENT than doing this as a hobby/enthusiast. Once money and contracts are involved EVERYTHING changes.... BUT it's still a lot of fun for me and helps me fund my GAS.

    If I had started younger, I likely would have become a full-time pro ... but you can see why many 'pros' would remain as assistants/2nd shooters to avoid having to setup their own business yet still get to work as a pro.
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  7. A few things you might want to look at first...Are there other photographers in your area working the subjects that you would like to do? It's good to know the competition and have an idea of the markets that are open to using images. If you're area isn't too large, see who's shooting what. That's tough in a bigger setting. In my small city, I learned by watching local web sites and publications and looking for by-lines and credits. Several photographers here specialize, but with my area being a major wedding destination, there are a ton of wedding photographers that are doing odd shoots during the off season to pay the bills. But you look for ways to get exposure and look for areas that need images. Find someone that wants what you can do. But a good web gallery is great thing to have for people who want to see what you can do. That's your make it look good.
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  8. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator; Photon Wrangler Subscribing Member

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California

    I've got a few photos in 500px (link in signature below), and I've built several non-photography sites in WordPress, some with product photo galleries.

    I've found that WP is far harder to manage photos in than sites such as 500px... in 500px, you can drag images between galleries, etc.; I think WP would be too painful unless you're going to use it as a blog vs as a gallery.

    Another thing I've come across is this:
    Jack's Adventures - Inner Mongolia
    Take a look, it's lovely.
    The code is free, but it's not a CMS per se and it looks like a lot of work if you want text on top of the images, etc. However, it's gorgeous (and free) and this would be almost impossible to achieve in CMS's such as WordPress. It handles videos very nicely as well.
    Code and docs are at Jack000/Expose: A simple static site generator for photoessays

    Last edited: Jan 30, 2016
    • Informative Informative x 1
  9. davidzvi

    davidzvi Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 12, 2012
    Outside Boston MA
    I'm also a fan of Smugmug. One reason is I use one of their preferred labs for prints and albums. So all my prints look the same. Another reason is the templates/customization are good and extensive.

    As to site format, focus? From my personal experience, training, and recommendations from others is site focus specific. An event site (weddings, parties, etc) might have floral patterns, music, etc that would not make sense on a commercial advertising site or nature site. One option I've seen used is one landing page with say 3 large blocks / links for different areas. Then each of these act almost like a separate contained site.
  10. cacadepollo

    cacadepollo Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 6, 2015

    Ken, thanks for the response. Currently my flickr is just for all the random images I take in general, and my other site "" is a tumblr blog I set up so that I could just easily share the images of those people I photographed. I don't promote either site to attract any photo jobs, and actually hardly anyone knows about them, except for you guys. But I would like to build a completely separate and new website that tells the world that I am for hire as a photographer. That being said, I'm still not sure how to approach it all, which is why I created the topic in the first place. The photo jobs I've had so far have been word-of-mouth jobs which has been focused on BTS and Set Photography, with a few occasional live event coverage. But as I snap more and more pictures, the more I want to try to do this full time, and I want to start marketing to people who don't know me.

    how do I do all that? I have no damn clue....
  11. Repp

    Repp Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jan 27, 2011
    Seoul, South Korea
  12. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    Thank you for this additional information. It helps put a bit more context to your initial question.

    Word of mouth is a great short and long term brand investment as it is still a key foundation in decision making. If you think about it, a big part of social media is word of mouth, just amplified. And networking is probably the sibling to word of mouth. What is LinkedIn but networking amplified? The underlying principles have not changed much over the years, it is just the tools and reach that seem to have changed with technology. Building a brand is as much about reputation as it is about hype.

    Having said that, working off of a solid media foundation to help spread your reputation is a good place to begin. There is nothing worse than to build a bit of good will while networking or from word of mouth, but not be able to direct folks to a place where they can see more about you and your work. I would recommend looking at as many photographers' web sites as possible to see both the good and the bad, especially those that are today's FOTM.

    Another thing to consider is specializing in a niche, and getting a reputation for it. This approach can help, but it needs to be one that can support your business goals and allows you some room to fill it. For example, do you like BTS? Do people like your BTS work? Are there others already doing that kind of work, or is your potential competition somewhat limited?

    Also remember that in today's online environment, things change quickly, and if your website is not to your liking, you can tinker with it. And most likely, you will need to tinker with it over time so it does not appear dated.

    So, grab a domain, open something like a Google Apps account for mail and other services, and find a host that offers the services that you want/need. If you are not wanting to tinker, use a service like Squarespace, Zenfolio, Smugmug, etc.

    Good luck,

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