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Top 10 Tips for Creating a Photography Portfolio Website

Michael Graw
Man taking a photograph
Creating a stunning portfolio website for your photography is one of the fastest ways to get more eyes on your work. Whether your goal is to sell prints online, attract new business, or showcase your work, it’s important to make your online portfolio the best it can be.

To help, we’ve put together our top 10 tips for building a portfolio website for photographers using at-home website builders.

1. Make a Strong First Impression

The most important thing you can do with your photography website is to make a strong first impression. From the first moment that visitors land on your page, they should be immersed in your images and want to see more.

To achieve that, you need a great homepage. Pick your very best image—the one that makes people gasp when they see it—and size it so that it takes up most or all of the screen when a new visitor arrives on your site. If your photography spans multiple themes or categories, you can also use a slideshow or collage to show off the full range of your work.

However you approach your homepage, it should put the visitor’s focus on your work. This is your best chance to impress them, so use it to your advantage.

2. Get Creative with Your About Page

One of the first places that most visitors will go after an initial look at your photos is your About page. People want to know about the person behind the camera, especially if they’re considering buying a print or hiring you for a photo session.

Your About page needs to be as much a work of creative expression as your photographs. Tell visitors who you are and why you do what you do. Don’t be afraid to get creative or quirky. Adding a few fun facts about yourself, even if they don’t have anything to do with your photography, can help you connect with your visitors on a more personal level.

No matter how you approach the About page, make sure it includes a photo of you. Giving visitors an opportunity to see your face is essential to connecting with them.

3. Include Only Your Best Images

It can be tempting to use your portfolio website as an online repository for your photography. But don’t give in to that temptation!

Your portfolio should display only your very best work. Ideally, you’ll only include around 20-30 images per gallery and no more than 2-3 galleries on your whole website. Adding more images than that is likely to leave visitors feeling overwhelmed when what you really want is to leave them asking for more.

When choosing what images to include on your site, it’s a good idea to let others do the picking for you. Show a selection of 50-100 photos to friends and family, and ask which ones they like best. Friends and family are likely more representative of the people visiting your site than you are, and you might be surprised at which images make the cut.

4. Focus on Your Galleries

When it comes to building your galleries, you can take many different approaches. The best place to start is to figure out how you want to organize your images. Do you want to use a grid? If so, how many photos should you include in each row? Do you want spacing between images? 

A great way to answer these questions is to look through the portfolio templates available in your website builder. Wix has dozens of templates for photographers, each of which uses a slightly different style to display your images. You can use one of these templates to make creating a gallery simple or use the templates as inspiration for a custom design.

5. Add Captions to Your Photos

Every image has a story behind it, and you can use those stories to draw visitors deeper into your work. When someone finds a photo they love, including a caption that tells them more about it can be the difference between making a print sale or not.

You can use captions however you like: to give your photos a name, reveal the location they were taken, or give behind-the-scenes details about what went into creating that image. Just remember to keep these brief—if you want to tell a more complete story, you can do so with a blog post.

Another benefit of adding captions to your images is improving your website’s search engine optimization (SEO). Search engines index the text in your captions, so users looking for a photo from a particular location can more easily find your work.

6. Use a Blog to Talk about Your Work

Another great way to enhance your portfolio website is to launch a blog. You can use a blog to give the full story behind an image, talk about a recent photo shoot, or even show off images that didn’t make it into your portfolio galleries.

Adding a blog has 2 major advantages. First, it’s yet another way to engage with visitors. People who are interested in your photography can follow your latest work, learn more about your business, and find out more about their favorite images.

Second, a blog can dramatically improve your website’s SEO. Blog posts are naturally filled with keywords related to your photography, which helps your site rank higher for search terms relevant to your business. In addition, search engines tend to rank sites that regularly add new content higher than sites that sit static.

Adding a blog to your site is easy with most website builders. GoDaddy, for example, includes a blog with every website and offers custom layouts, email updates, and more.

7. Keep Your Navigation Simple

A clean, easy-to-follow navigation menu is key to a good portfolio website. Visitors should be able to easily find all of your galleries, your About page, and your contact information without searching through drop-downs. 

The easiest way to keep your navigation simple is to keep your portfolio site simple. If you’ve limited yourself to just a few galleries, an About page, and a blog, this should be no problem. On the other hand, if you have more than 5-6 items in your navigation menu, you may want to consider whether all of those links are necessary.

8.  Clearly Explain What You Offer

If you’re using a portfolio website to sell prints or advertise your services, it’s important to be clear about what you offer. If you sell prints, for example, include a page or a page section explaining how prints work. If you offer photography services, explain what types of clients you work with or what types of projects you accept.

It also helps to be upfront about pricing. You should have a standard price list for print sales, and your prices should be easy for visitors to find. Offering custom prints is fine, too, but even customers interested in unique prints will be happy to have an idea of your price range.

For services, quoting prices upfront can be more tricky. Whenever possible, give a price range or starting price for the services you advertise.

9. Make Sure Your Site is Mobile-friendly

These days, more than half of your site’s visitors may be looking at your website on a smartphone or tablet. That means that you have to be aware of how your site will look on these smaller screens throughout the design process.

Most website designers offer mobile-responsive templates, so the hard work of developing your site for you is done automatically. Some website builders also enable you to customize your mobile site directly, which is well worth doing. In any case, make sure you preview your site on a smartphone throughout the design process to ensure all the content you add displays correctly on any screen size.

10. Give Visitors an Easy Way to Get in Touch

All the hard work you’ve put into your photography website should have visitors engaged and excited to learn more. The last thing you need to do is give them a way to follow up with you.

Add a contact form to your About page or your services page, and make sure that new submissions are directed to an email account you check every day. It’s important to respond to requests quickly before potential customers lose the emotional attachment to your work that you’ve fostered.

You can also add call-to-action buttons at key points across your website that take visitors straight to your contact form.

Summary

A stunning portfolio website can help your images get the attention they deserve and create a loyal following for your photography business. Check out our reviews of the 10 best website builders to get started building your photography website today!

Michael Graw
Michael Graw is a freelance writer and journalist based in the Pacific Northwest who writes for top10.com.