Dreaming about a career as a professional photographer? With the right guidance, practice, skills, network, and portfolio, you can make your dream come true.
Developing the necessary skills required to be a professional photographer cannot easily be summed up in a single blog post, let alone many. And networking… well, if you are like most artists, that can be nightmarish, but nevertheless, is absolutely critical. As your referral network grows, so will your business. But that can take years.
So, you may ask yourself, how do I start?
Step 1 – create your portfolio. This is a great starting point to help launch your career as a photographer.
Here are eight tips to get you on the right path to creating an online photography portfolio and securing those potential gigs.
1. Show off your work:
In other professions, people use their resumes to apply for potential jobs. However, as a photographer, your portfolio will act as the resume and will showcase the breadth of your work. It will give potential clients a deeper look into your particular forte and expertise.
Your breadth of work should be arranged according to theme or subject. If your work is presented in an organized and easy to navigate way, chances are, potential clients will appreciate the curation and level of professionalism that went into putting your portfolio site together. It also makes their lives a lot easier when looking through your work.
3. Show your best work:
Remember, this is your portfolio site, not your external hard drive. So, you want to make sure that only the best of the best goes up. No one needs to see every single thing you ever shot. Clients need to know what you are good at, so make sure to show only those images that truly count. You may also want to put your best work at the forefront of your site. Most clients are busy and don’t have the time to scan through every photo in all of your galleries, so make sure the work that you are most proud of is at the beginning of your photo galleries.
4. SEO, SEO, SEO:
Often times photographers create beautiful sites and then wait around hoping that clients will see them. However, they forget that they need SEO (search engine optimization). How will anyone hire you, if they can’t find you in a search? Use a portfolio service that enables you to take control of your SEO, and includes search engine friendly URLs, crawl-able content, and unique meta tags. These features will drive traffic to specific places on your site and build links to more than just your homepage.
5. Website Builder Versus Custom Website:
You may have good intentions to build your own custom portfolio site, wanting it to be a representation of your own unique brand. However, make your life easier and focus on your work, and leave the coding and technicalities to the professionals. Portfolio builder sites will take the guesswork out of the process and will allow you to quickly put together a working, professional site in a short amount of time, so that you can focus on creating and refining your photography.
6. Choose a platform that makes your life easier:
Nowadays, there are so many portfolio sites to choose from that it can be overwhelming. Some highlight cheap services, various levels of efficiency, and different features. For an aspiring photographer, you want a site that is easy to use, and has a large selection of customizable and flexible templates, so that the site you create truly reflects your personal branding and style. You may also want to use a site that includes unlimited photo proofing. As a professional photographer, you may find yourself uploading thousands of visuals, and you don’t want to be stuck paying for each upload. Stick to a platform that allows you to do this without charging exorbitant fees.
7. Choose a platform that makes your client’s life easier:
Look for a platform that makes it easy for potential clients to use. The platform you decide to go with, should make it easy for clients to navigate your portfolio using a desktop computer, tablet, or smartphone. Using a portfolio website service, with responsive design, will allow your clients to see your site perfectly formatted to their device. Also, if you plan a career as a commercial photographer, like focusing on weddings, kids, etc, you may want to give your clients the option to purchase certain images directly from your site. Look for a site that has a built-in e-commerce function that clients can use to easily choose and purchase the images they love.
Lastly, you want a site that helps you to connect all your social media pages with your portfolio site. This way, visitors can share your photos on social media platforms with just a click, allowing you to gain more visibility for your brand. You also want to look for a platform that helps you manage your client email list, so that you are ready and organized for sending mass emails.
It may at first seem overwhelming all the things you need to do to get your portfolio together. However, if you really sit down and get your plan together and choose the right portfolio website builder, you can create a beautiful, professional site in days. Now get out there and start putting your site together!
More tips on making a portfolio here:
- Turning Pro Part I: Portfolio and Persistence
- How To Build A Portfolio Without Clients
- How to Present Your Photographic Portfolio and Get Photography Work