Busi­ness Mat­ters – How To Cre­ate An Online Pho­tog­ra­phy Port­fo­lio

Dis­play­ing your cre­ative tal­ents online is now an es­sen­tial part of mar­ket­ing a pho­tog­ra­phy busi­ness. Rose­mary Ann Ogilvie pro­vides some ad­vice about how to do this most ef­fec­tively and ef­fi­ciently.

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Pre­sent­ing im­ages online is an in­creas­ingly im­por­tant com­po­nent of any pho­tog­ra­pher’s mar­ket­ing strat­egy. Rose­mary Ann Ogilvie pro­vides some ad­vice about how to cre­ate an ef­fec­tive online port­fo­lio.

To at­tract new clients, it’s es­sen­tial to have an online port­fo­lio of your work. To sell your­self to prospec­tive clients, your port­fo­lio must be strong. So the first rule in cre­at­ing your gallery is to be ruth­less when se­lect­ing the pho­to­graphs – choose only the most su­perb ex­am­ples of your work.

If you have mul­ti­ple spe­cial­ties, sep­a­rate your work into sub gal­leries to en­sure each is prop­erly high­lighted. Limit each gallery to a max­i­mum of 12 im­ages as this is far more pow­er­ful than hav­ing 20 or 30 pieces that are just OK. Un­less your gallery is telling a story – such as a wed­ding from be­gin­ning to end – po­si­tion the strong­est of these strong im­ages at the be­gin­ning and one or two at the end, as these are the points where they hit the viewer hard­est.

As you se­lect the im­ages for dis­play, keep your ideal client – or clients for those with mul­ti­ple spe­cial­ties – in front of mind to en­sure those you choose are tar­geted to them and ad­dress their needs.

Back­ground Colour

In many in­stances, im­ages work best when show­cased against a black or grey back­ground as this pro­vides greater con­trast and also helps bring out the colours of the pho­to­graphs, mak­ing the im­ages ap­pear more vivid. How­ever, black may not work as well with any form of out­door pho­tog­ra­phy or with por­trai­ture, so experiment to see whether your im­ages look bet­ter against a white back­ground.

If you do use black, be sure to leaven it with a splash of colour – your logo may be suf­fi­cient, or you might use it on the nav­i­ga­tion but­tons. On this sub­ject, en­sure your site nav­i­ga­tion is as easy and nat­u­ral to use as pos­si­ble. Nav­i­ga­tion is not the area to take your cre­ativ­ity to the limit. Keep it sim­ple so the viewer’s at­ten­tion re­mains on the pic­tures.

Be care­ful about us­ing coloured text against a black back­ground as it can be very dif­fi­cult to read if the con­trast is poor – and screen res­o­lu­tions vary hugely. Re­mem­ber, peo­ple don’t have the pa­tience to per­se­vere with a dif­fi­cult site.

Im­age Pro­tec­tion

High-res­o­lu­tion im­ages re­ally show­case your work, but there are some down­sides to us­ing them. They’re more tempt­ing to ‘lift’ and the site will take longer to load, which may test the viewer’s per­se­ver­ance. For this rea­son, avoid Flash in­tro­duc­tions as they fur­ther slow the load­ing process. More­over, Flash is not search-en­gine friendly and can’t be used on cer­tain de­vices. An al­ter­na­tive op­tion is to post low-res ver­sions or thumb­nails, but pro­vide links to high-res ver­sions.

Un­less you’re happy for your pho­to­graphs to be shared across the Web, you’ll need to add some pro­tec­tion. The first and most im­por­tant thing is to make clear on your port­fo­lio site – or any web­site where your pic­tures ap­pear – that your im­ages are copy­right and that some, or all, rights to their use are re­served. Fail­ing to state that you are re­serv­ing rights may lead peo­ple to be­lieve they have open slather to do what­ever they wish with them.

Another op­tion is to em­bed wa­ter­marks onto each photo so if they are stolen, the water­mark is al­ways there – and the big­ger the water­mark, the more dif­fi­cult it is to re­move. But the down­side is this does im­pact the qual­ity of the im­ages. You may even con­sider us­ing copy­right in­for­ma­tion – such as ‘Copy­right 2015 All Rights Re­served’ – as the water­mark. So, if the im­ages do make their way else­where, the copy­right no­tice sticks.

Another pro­tec­tion mech­a­nism is to dis­able the right-click us­ing JavaScript (http://rain­bow.arch.script­ma­nia.com/scripts/no_right_ click.html) which pre­vents right-click ac­tion any­where on the page.

High-res­o­lu­tion im­ages re­ally show­case your work, but there are some down­sides to us­ing them. They’re more tempt­ing to ‘lift’ and the site will take longer to load, which may test the viewer’s per­se­ver­ance.

How­ever, those with the knowl­edge can easily go to the nav­i­ga­tion menu and se­lect ‘ View Source’ to find the im­age path.

Some pho­tog­ra­phers tile their im­ages, crop­ping them into four or more ‘tiles’ and putting them back to­gether. The dis­played im­age still ap­pears to be a sin­gle photo, but if some­one tries to drag-and-drop or right- click it, they get just a small part. It’s ef­fec­tive, but time-con­sum­ing if you have nu­mer­ous im­ages to load.

Or you can post a trans­par­ent im­age and use CSS to put your photo in the back­ground (info about this in­cluded in the pre­vi­ous link). If some­one right- clicks or tries to drag-and-drop the im­age, they’ll get only the trans­par­ent graphic in the fore­ground. How­ever, once again it’s easy to view the source of the page to find the im­age path.

Es­sen­tial Ex­tras Be­fore a Web de­signer makes even the first mouse click to set up a live Web­site, they typ­i­cally cre­ate a ‘wire­frame’ which is an ini­tial rough sketch of the lay­out of each page to share with the client and oth­ers in­volved in cre­at­ing the site. This is sound prac­tice that ap­plies equally to build­ing an online gallery as it helps en­sure you re­main fo­cused on your ob­jec­tives. It can also high­light where you may need to make changes to im­prove as­pects such as the lay­out, the num­ber of photos in a row or the size of the pho­to­graphs.

An ‘About Us’ page is es­sen­tial as, while your work tells your prospec­tive clients a great deal about you, they still want to know some­thing about the cre­ative tal­ent be­hind the cam­era. De­tail your rel­e­vant ed­u­ca­tion, back­ground, ex­pe­ri­ence and aes­thetic, a list of publi­ca­tions and clients, along with one-line ex­tracts from a cou­ple of glow­ing tes­ti­mo­ni­als.

In­clude links to some of your online work used in Web­sites or blogs, as this en­ables po­ten­tial clients to view ex­am­ples of your work in con­text.

Ideally, dis­play your con­tact de­tails on ev­ery page to make it easy for po­ten­tial clients to con­tact you. At the very least, cre­ate a ‘Con­tact Us’ page and in­clude a link on ev­ery page. En­sure this link is clear be­cause peo­ple quickly lose pa­tience if they have to search for key in­for­ma­tion.

SEO Search en­gine op­ti­mi­sa­tion (SEO) is vi­tal to en­sure clients can find you. We’ve cov­ered this sub­ject in de­tail in the past, but ba­si­cally SEO is about match­ing key­words within your con­tent to the key­words that prospec­tive clients type into search en­gines. To find out these terms, see Word­tracker (www. word­tracker.com) and the Google Adwords Key­word Tool (https://adwords.google.com/ Key­wordPlan­ner).

One of the most ef­fec­tive SEO tools is to add ‘Alt’ and ‘ Ti­tle’ tags to ev­ery pho­to­graph dis­played on your gallery – meta tags that tell Google what the photo is about. This is the text dis­played when you hover the pointer over a pic­ture on a Web­site.

Feed­back Once you’ve com­pleted your site and fine­tuned it to the great­est ex­tent pos­si­ble, ask oth­ers to re­view it and pro­vide hon­est feed­back. Fam­ily and friends can be in­volved, but be­cause they may be bi­ased be sure to also ask peo­ple out­side your im­me­di­ate cir­cle.

Aim to have your gallery viewed on as many de­vices as pos­si­ble – desk­tops, lap­tops, net­books, tablets, hy­brids and mo­bile phones – to en­sure it works well on all. And keep in mind that peo­ple now are more likely to con­duct their pur­chas­ing re­search on a mo­bile de­vice, so it needs to show­case bril­liantly on these de­vices.

Ideally, show your gallery to an in­dus­try pro­fes­sional as well, as they can pro­vide in­sights into omis­sions or ar­eas that need to be beefed up, or bugs you may have missed.

Re­fresh Regularly Fi­nally, keep the gallery fresh by re­plac­ing a few photos ev­ery cou­ple of months. Ex­tra work, yes, but es­sen­tial to keep peo­ple re­turn­ing – so it’s im­por­tant the plat­form you choose al­lows for easy up­dat­ing.

How­ever, there is a caveat: up­date your port­fo­lio only if the new work is even stronger than the old. Con­tin­ual im­prove­ment de­fines a good pho­tog­ra­pher, and your port­fo­lio needs to demon­strate this.

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