Thursday, January 8, 2009

Ten Commandments of Photography Websites

I encourage every photographer trying to market themselves to get their own web page. It's a great way to let prospective clients see your portfolio online without the distractions of advertisements and other people's work. It's also a good step towards "branding" yourself - for instance I've chosen to be known as "Stephanie Elizabeth" with my photography, so when I am online I am either that name or selizabeth, hence my website It's short, sweet, to the point, and most of all easy to remember and spell.

As much as a website can help you though, if done wrong it can hurt you just as much. Here are a few tips to keep you from straying into the path of cheesy, slow, annoying websites.

1) KISS - keep it simple, stupid. I could have had my website be but that is FAR too long for a web page name. I get tired of typing it halfway through. So keep your domain name short and easy to remember.

2) Music. If you set music to play on your web page you may as well send your clients to your Myspace to see if they'd like to book you. Music on web pages makes them slow and is annoying and distracting. The focus should be on your photos, not your musical taste. If you absolutely MUST have music on your page, do not make it play automatically. Opting in is always better than opting out.

3) Advertisements. I saw someone with advertisements on their website because they were too cheap to pay $5/month for Godaddy hosting, so they went with the free hosting that has advertisements. It looked cheap, tacky, and I didn't bother looking at any of their work.

4) Flash, animation, scripts, and other frills. There are lots of options out there for adding pretty bells and whistles to your page, but going back to #1, simple is best. Having a lot of animations means longer loads times, and for someone who is on a slow machine or connection they probably just won't bother. Again, the focus should be on your work, not what cool scripts you were able to find online.

5) Organization. When someone visits my page they go immediately to the "home" page and from there can go to any gallery they wish, along with my about me and copyright sections. I do not have any "nested" galleries - that is to say that when you click the Fashion and Glamor gallery, you'll be immediately brought to a gallery to view photos, not another screen to subdivide more. Try to categorize your work into a few broader groupings instead of tons of smaller nested galleries. The fewer clicks and loads a person has to go through the better chance they'll see and enjoy your work.

more website tips after the jump

6) Appropriate content. Be aware of what audience you are catering to and choose photos to showcase accordingly. I do a wide range of photography from nature to artistic nudes, however soon I plan on looking into school event, senior portrait, and wedding photography. To present myself the best I can I'll be replacing the "personal" gallery with my nudes with an "events" gallery instead. Domains are so cheap that you can always create another one to separate different types of artwork.

7) Text. Any worded areas of the site should be checked for grammar, spelling and punctuation. txt spk or tYpInG lYkE dIs is just flat out stupid and makes you look like a 5th grader. I also prefer to take a neutral tone when writing my bio (which you should include to let people know more about you); instead of saying "stephanie elizabeth is the best upcoming fashion and nature photographer in new england" my bio is more along the lines of "Stephanie is an up and coming photographer working out of the Southern and Mid-Coast Maine areas. She works in nature, fashion, and portraiture photography." It is positive while still staying modest and factual.

8) Optimize your photos. I upload my photos at a height of 440px saved as high quality jpegs. The size of your photos depends on how large they need to be to be effective, while keeping in mind how much space they take up on the page and how long they'll need to load. My galleries are small and are running on horizontal tables right now, but since they are growing I am now converting to flash galleries made in Adobe Lightroom 2.

9) Consistency. Pick a color scheme and style and stick with it throughout the entire website. The galleries should all be the same in coloring and how they work, so that viewers don't get confused trying to figure out a new gallery each time they look at a different section.

10) Viewable. Choosing limegreen text on top of a white background sucks. Try not to use absolute whites or absolute blacks over large areas. This tends to hurt eyes and can look bland and boring. My website is white but not a pure white - if you check out the color it's actually #f1f1f1 instead of a pure #ffffff. It makes the black/gray text stand out well without being overly harsh.

Hopefully the tips above can save your website from a crummy demise and help you build a great online portfolio. If you have any questions about anything on my site (the coding, why something is the way it is) feel free to comment here or email me.

1 comment:

stephanie elizabeth said...

"anonymous" please stop being a grammar/spelling nazi - I don't need an editor for my blog at this time.