Building an online portfolio is now the first step in marketing photography skills. Yes, you’ll still need a big, physical book filled with well-chosen images but these days, a buyer’s first contact with a photographer’s talent is more likely to be online than in their office.
So what should you consider as you’re putting your online portfolio together?
1. Who’s Your Audience?
One of the most common mistakes — especially among photographers who do a range of different jobs — is to think of photography buyers as a homogeneous mass. In fact, clients can range from singles looking for better dating site profiles to schools looking for team photos to magazine art directors searching for cover shots. Each of those types of clients will be hoping to see different things in the portfolio — and they’ll expect to see them displayed in different ways. Clickbooq, for example, a website creation service for professional photographers, lets its customers choose between portfolios aimed at businesses and those aimed at consumers.
“The business target most likely has large monitors, which was why we developed the top-down version for larger screens. The consumer audience may have smaller monitors or be on laptops, which is better suited for the left-hand version,” explains Jennifer Wu, a company spokesperson. “Research your audience and tailor your site to fit their needs.”
2. Choose The Right Images — And The Right Number Of Images
Choosing the best pictures to put in your portfolio might look like the toughest decision you’ll have to make, but deciding which pictures to leave out is likely to be even harder. The result, as any browse through a Flickr-based portfolio will show, is hundreds of images in which the outstanding shots are hidden by the mediocre photos.
One option is simply to be disciplined. Make sure that each image displays a skill, a technique or a subject that you like to photograph. And make sure too that the whole gallery tells a story.
An alternative though is to create different sets of images with each set showing off one particular theme. “I recommend breaking photos into smaller groups and organizing them by theme, recency, or what-have-you,” Todd Dominey, creator of SlideShowPro told us. “A gallery of smaller albums — to me anyway — is more engaging and easier to navigate than one album full of images, which would feel like more work to browse than smaller clusters.”
3. Write The Captions Carefully
It would be great to be able to say that the image can speak for itself. But it doesn’t. Depending on the buyer, viewers will often want to know at least what the image shows and often why you shot it too. Again, the temptation is to write too much — in which case, the viewer won’t read anything and will probably skip past the pictures too.
“There isn’t an optimal length for captions, but short and to the point is generally a good rule to follow,” says Jennifer Wu. “All captions should try to cover the basic descriptive information: who, what, when, where, why and how; but the amount of detail and format will depend on your intended audience. Always include descriptive keywords that can help you and your clients find the image.”
And that’s when you reach the really tough stage of building an online portfolio. Bringing people in to see it.
[tags] photographer portfolio, photography portfolios [/tags]