Best Practices for Presenting a Photo Portfolio Online
Having a professional website to showcase your photography is an essential tool that every photographer needs. However, finding the right platform and means for presenting your work can be a headache. Thankfully though, the guys at Zenfolio have developed a series of tools that allow you to create a personalised online portfolio, giving you everything you need to run your photographic business.
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A Site that Suits your Needs
If you’re anything like me, then when it comes to presenting your portfolio, taking the pictures can seem like the easy part! Developing and constructing a website is not something that comes naturally to me, however, Zenfolio offer your a series of packages that require no coding whatsoever, which is music to my ears.
You can select one of their pre-made Flash and HTML templates, and get started right away. Alternatively, you can export pre-made sites or sort your own hosting solutions. All you need to do then is to attach your own domain name, which they’ll walk you through, so your site is personalised according to your business name.
Even if you’ve selected one of the Zenfolio templates, you can still customize it according to your preferred style and imagery by using the built-in tools. By selecting a theme, colour palette, choosing the typography and arranging the layout, you can make your site unique.
You can then add your own logo to complete the personalised feel of your site. So whether you want a modern clean, crisp and white site, fancy borders, or a themed site to suit wedding or children’s photography, it’s all there ready to go.
It’s All About The Photos
Once you’ve begun designing your site, it’s time to start thinking about the images that you want to display. Now unfortunately, even Zenfolio can’t create a tool to help you with this part, and image selection is a notoriously difficult part of putting together a portfolio.
The golden rule here is quality over quantity. No one is going to spend hours viewing your images to find the best few, so it’s up to you to select the highest quality shots. My favourite way to select images is to have them all printed out, just as cheap 6x4 inch prints. By doing this, you can see them all at once and arrange them on the living room floor, much easier than sifting through files on a hard drive!
Think about how you want to present your shots, do they fall into natural groups, stories or themes? If so, try to organise them in this manner so it’s easier to consider images in sets. Have a target figure in mind, for example you could have 5 sets with 10 images in each, so 50 in total.
If you start with 100 shots, whittle it down to the best 75, then the best 60 and finally the best 50. During the process, ask a fellow professional to take a look, they’ll be far less personally attached to the images and should be able to offer you a useful second opinion on which are your strongest images.
Uploading Your Images
So you’ve got your images ready, now all you have to do is upload them to your Zenfolio site, made easy with integration for Lightroom, Aperture or the Zenfolio app. You’re able to upload an unlimited amount of full resolution files and once they’re uploaded, then simply select the display size of each image.
Arranging Your Images
You’re now ready to organise and arrange your images into folders so they’re ready for display. You can add tags and descriptions to make you images more searchable and select a cover image for each folder.
Another excellent feature that Zenfolio has is the ability to password protect or make certain folders private. This is something I’ve been waiting for someone to do for a while, as it gives you the ability to showcase a selection of high resolution images to specific clients.
This avoids having to send clients large downloadable folders of low resolution images and instead gives access high quality files.
It’s crucial that your images are secure. As the photographer, you maintain full copyright of your images and you can protect your work by applying a custom watermark. Zenfolio has also thought this through very well by ensuring that your images cannot be right-click saved or dragged to the desktop, giving you some peace of mind.
Make Your Portfolio About You!
A vital part of any portfolio is that the viewer can know more about you as a photographer, but also as a person. An "About Me" section may feel slight arduous to fill in, but it helps others build a personal connection to you and your work.
Let people know who you are, what experience you have, where you’re based and what makes you and your work unique. You can also include information on any awards, commendations you’ve received and where you’ve exhibited your work
Be sure to include contact information and a photo of yourself, which is crucial for that personal connection with the viewer. It’s surprising how many photographers don’t think to include one!
Reach New Clients
Up until this point, you’ve designed your site, presented your images beautifully and written who you are, but all that’s no good unless you get people looking at your site! Zenfolio has integration with all of the major social networking sites, so you can showcase your images to your new fans and build a customer base.
Zenfolio also priorities SEO so that your site and image tags can be easily found through Google and other search engines. They’ve also included a tool that allows you to collect registration information from viewers and potential clients in order to build up a mailing list.
Alongside your portfolio site, Zenfolio also offers a blog that you can use to upload recent images, pieces about current jobs and stories you’re working on to keep clients up to date.
Designed to showcase your images at their best, it’ll save you the stress of having to keep your separate blogs and portfolios up to date as they’ll all be in one place!
The most important thing about maintaining a blog is that it keeps people coming back to your site. Your photography portfolio probably won't change very quickly. People may feel that if they've visited your site once, they've seen everything. If you're updating a blog regularly, it gives them a reason to keep visiting. This keeps your name fresh in people's minds.
Your Personalised Store
Zenfolio’s "Cart" feature gives you the option to apply your images to over 500 products, including a large variety of direct printing options. They also allow you to sell digital image downloads so you can operate your site like a stock photography business.
The "Cart" accepts credit cards and PayPal, making it easy for clients to make purchases, which keeps the money coming in for you! You also have the option of offering marketing tools such as coupon codes and gift certificates to bring people into your online store!
As well as offering you all the ready made tools that you need to get started, Zenfolio offers a range of support tools to help you if you ever run into trouble. As well as their support centre, they have a selection of video tutorials and live webinars, offering training on how to get the most out of your site and build your business.
Get Your Site Up Today
So there you have it, everything you need to create a professional online portfolio. Zenfolio offers you the tools to make a unique and secure site that displays your images at their best, gives you ways to connect with clients and allows you to give yourself a much needed online presence.
Having already won ‘Best Website Builder 2013‘ at The [F] Awards and named as ‘Hot One 2013’ by Professional Photographer, Zenfolio is starting to receive some serious praise. Now is the time to check it out for yourself.
Your own customizable portfolio and online proofing website is ready as soon as you open an account. Use the code ZENCROWD and enjoy an exclusive 20% off a new subscription until Feb 28, 2014.