3 Priorities Photographers Often Ignore When Making Their Websites

3 Priorities Photographers Often Ignore When Making Their Websites

Your online portfolio is one of the most critical tools you have at your disposal when looking to make a sale. Clients are looking to your website as a sign of both your skill and professionalism. The customer wants to find a photographer who is the perfect fit so your website needs to be built to enable that feeling. Below are four priorities that photographers often overlook when designing their websites.

Their Photos

This one feels so obvious that it almost seems absurd to be on the list. However, I have noticed a trend that makes me put it at the forefront. Photographers who forget to prioritize the actual photography on their website amaze me. The moment you make a viewer hunt to find your work you have created a losing situation. Your photography is the most important part of the website. It should go without saying that it is the purpose of your website. Don't lead with a giant logo or long rant of text talking about what you do. Don't hide your work behind complex navigation structure. Your absolute best work should be the first impression that grabs a viewer's attention upon arrival to your page. If, for any reason, that isn't the case, you need to make a change.

Their Location

If I had a penny for each time I visited a photographer's website and was greeted with the words "international photographer" I'd finally have the means to satiate my gear obsession. I know it sounds awesome, as if you are some rock star traveling the globe available to virtually any client at any time. I have a secret for you though, the clients who have the coin to hire photographers and ship them around the globe generally aren't randomly browsing photographer websites on Google. Furthermore, they know that the words "international photographer" mean squat. Meanwhile any local client who can't afford big travel budgets will take one look and assume you would be too expensive. So cut the crap. If you are actually an international photographer, you don't need to say it. If you aren't, tell people where you are so they can actually hire you.

Their Brand Identity

When most hear the word brand they think a color scheme and logo (which can be important). A brand, however, encompasses more than that. It is a reflection of a consistent vision throughout your dealings. Most photography sites that I encounter simply don't leverage a brand in any real sense. Instead, they feel like a scattering of ideas and guesses. Simplify yourself, define what your brand is, and cater to it. Everything from your photos, to the text, to the design should reflect that brand identity so that a potential customer can feel comfortable in trusting that you are the photographer for them.


It can be very easy to get hung up in the technical grind of creating a website. Things like search engine optimization mean nothing if you don't optimize your page to project a confident, professional brand to the world. Your website is the reflection of your work to those who haven't worked with you yet. It is the first impression and chance to build trust so tighten things up and make sure that your prioritize what is most important. Take a good, long look at your website and make and ask yourself: Am I one of the photographers described above? If so, time to make some changes.

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Anonymous's picture

One of my biggest pet peeves is people who don't put locations on accounts/websites. And then I have to go to the trouble of looking for a phone number so I can see the area code. And even that isn't accurate

Guillermo Fierro's picture

Good article. I have a doubt. Many experts in web site design said that you MUST have a Benefit Oriented Statement and a Call-to-Action button in your HOME Page and in the first 550 pixels to work in PCs, Laptops and Tablets screen. Does it works in photographers web pages too??? Or showing only your photos in the home pages is better???

Ryan Cooper's picture

That is more important when you are trying to target broader, more generic, users to capture a lead. Its the same way that a brick and mortar store will be covered in sales signs. Its about triggering a potential customer to take immediate action because you know if they leave, they probably won't come back. With photography though, like any expensive, premium, service, it becomes more about cultivating the relationship. Rushing call to actions into the user's face actually diminishes that connection you are trying to build.

Guillermo Fierro's picture

Thank you Ryan!!

stir photos's picture

All very good starting points, indeed for any website. A few of my thoughts:

- Different genres of photography should be considered to be marketed in different channels (glamour goes in a different domain than wedding photography, but head shots and portraiture might work together), just consider it.

- Along with branding, don't forget that you as a person is part of your branding, everything from your picture (or lack of), your written tone, or news that gets out there about you. Most are aware of what Jake Olsen is dealing with currently due to some of his branding mistakes related to him as a person. On the other hand, I met photographers at WPPi that built a brand with us before some of us even saw their website(s).

- When planning your website, consider if you're gonna need or want to update it frequently, if so, make sure it's easy to update. Ideally your photos are drag and drop and your copy is updated with pre determined styles and any corner case copy has a text editor tool like eWebEdit Pro or TinyMCE for formatting.

Nomad Photographers's picture

Ryan, I agree with pretty much everything you say. Although some of us actually do live in many places (we change our address on our head logo), and also Google is very bad at understanding photos. I would have definitely add to your list to blog directly from your website. You can check our website www.thenomadphotographers.com which you will perhaps find to fall into some of your categories if only for our brand name ! Compromising when designing a website is a complicated thing...

Ryan Cooper's picture

I'd say that you are probably an exemption to the rule given that you actively move around constantly. ;) The vast vast majority of photographers wouldn't fall under that category.

And yes its important to have text for SEO reasons. The key is that it shouldn't be a priority. ;)