This was an exciting weekend for me, because I crossed a finish line, of sorts. In the fall of 2009, I wrote down the following photography goal:
Create a comprehensive photography website with the following:
2) Client proofing section
As of the weekend, I’ve accomplished my goal. A while back I bought a ProPhoto blog and installed this as my main website at kevinhail.com. That’s the landing site you are on right now. A year ago I purchased a SmugMug Pro account for my client proofing/printing service, and I love it. The missing piece for months has been a solid portfolio site. I’ve researched for awhile and there were several critical needs that arose to the surface like:
- Easily customizable, WordPress back-end
- iPhone/iPad friendly, non-flash presentation
- Seamless integration with existing kevinhail.com blog
When time came to really make this happen, I found a site fairly easily, but it was the work of customizing it and integrating into my existing site that required a bit of thought and effort. I’m telling you all this, because for all of you photographers out there who are overwhelmed by inadequacy when you look at other photographers’ websites in comparison to yours, I want you to know that you can put together a comprehensive site with all of this for under $350. A portfolio, client proofing/ordering solution, and blog are all vital components for any working photographer. I remember realizing this about a year and a half ago, but no one that I talked to had any solid advice on how to make all the puzzle pieces fit together. Well, if you’re in this same spot, just ask me. I’ll help. There’s nothing worse than not having someone to ask for help.
When putting together a portfolio, here is some of the advice that I’ve implemented from others, including photography instructor Zack Arias, who frequently does online portfolio reviews:
- Put forth your best work, only your best. Best first. People may not go more than 3 or 4 photos deep and they will have already made a judgement about you as a photographer.
- Target no more than 15-20 images per gallery. You should never have more than one photo from a photoshoot in the same portfolio gallery. It makes it look like you don’t shoot very often.
- Showcase the kind of photography you’d like to keep getting hired for. I am a portrait photographer, so I lead out with my portrait photography. That is my first gallery, and one of only two galleries total.
- Make the navigation simple and intuitive. If people can’t quickly jump to other pics or see thumbnails, they will get frustrated and may leave your site.
- No music! This is kind of a bummer ’cause music and photography go hand in hand, but someone may have their speakers cranked, or they absolutely hate the song/genre you selected and that will reflect on their opinion of your music. I’ve heard so many professional photographers and editors complain about hearing music when they’re reviewing photographers’ sites. Note: You may want to make a slideshow with music for your client. Make sure you know what kind of music they like. But for the general population, just let your work speak for itself.
- Brand consistency. If the colors on your blog are green and yellow, your portfolio should reflect that. People shouldn’t feel like they’re on two separate sites, just because they are.
- Keep it clean! So help me, if you have a Google ad on your portfolio site, I’m going to smash your server with a bat. People are walking through the Louvre, except it’s just your work hanging on the walls. Don’t clutter that up with anything that will distract them.
So feel free to go check out my new portfolio and tell me if I took my own advice. If not, feel free to rip on me in the comments section! Click on the “Portfolio” button at the top of this page to check it out.