1) Determine your purpose
A portfolio is a collection of artwork, in our case – photography. While it is true that a portfolio must contain ones best pieces, when you create an online portfolio, you must also consider your target audience. Who do you want to see your work and why? Most photographers advertise their photography in portfolios with the purpose of attracting customers. I believe the trendsetters for this conception are the wedding photographers. So, if you want a portfolio that will bring you customers for event photography, you won’t show too many object stock photos, even if you have some great ones. I think you get the picture. There is nothing stopping you from having two or more portfolios: one for nature, one for portraits, one for stock.
2) Opt for a personalized domain name…
…not a mass-photo site such as flickr.com or 500px.com. OK, I get it: it’s easier to use a platform that has everything in place and all you need to do is upload your photos. But let me tell you that lately, some cool people developed WordPress themes that work wonderful as photography portfolios. I will write an article about these soon. For now, I just want you to do not be lazy and do not worry about costs. Buying a domain name and a hosting is not that big of a deal, and then all you have to do is install WordPress.
3) Get a clean simple theme for the website
There was a time when photographers used to show-cast their photos in a webpage created entirely in flash. Not anymore. Forget that. You need a html/php page that has an easy script to load fast. Like mentioned above, WordPress does that for you in the simplest yet personalized way.
The website theme and colors must be as simple as possible because you want draw the attention towards the photos, not the webdesign. Leave cool webdesigns for small business sites and bloggers who write about their hobbies. The theme should be easy to navigate also, but normally, a clean theme falls automatically under this rule.
4) Have a page dedicated to a short biography
List your prizes, when you started photography, who inspired you, collaborators, publications, etc. BUT don’t start rambling about irrelevant things – this is not your CV, neither your diary! A good biography is no longer than 250 words. Usually an article is between 300-500 words, so your bio should be shorter than that.
5) Choose only your best photography
Like I said in the beginning, a portfolio consist of the best of someone’s art pieces. Therefore, I suggest a maximum number of 15 per category. The most important think about a portfolio is to follow the saying “quality above quantity”. The visitor will only have little time and patience to brows through your entire collection of photographs, especially if you have stored years upon years.
6) Sort your photos by category and/or event
When I say category, most people think of thinks like portrait, nature, wedding, stock. Yes, you could consider those as categories, but, think outside of the box for a minute. You can have a separate category for Black&White shots. Also, let’s suppose you are a wedding photographer: you can have categories based on the names of the bride and groom. Let’s suppose your specialty is portraits: you can have male photos, woman photos, child and baby, even pets. A category might have sub-category. Let’s say you are an event photographer, but some of the events you go to are weddings.
7) Upload high quality but small size images
You want the visitor to be impressed, so you need quality. However, the visitor will get bored quickly if he waits forever for a large image to show up on the screen. Therefore, reduce the size to a reasonable resolution before uploading.
8) Label your photos
Every photography has a tile. Something you had in mind when you pressed the shutter button of your camera. Make sure that thought is visible somewhere on the page where the photo is shown. It doesn’t hurt to add a quote that fits the image. While the visitor is not interested in what camera you used and which settings you applied, you can make his visit more enjoyable with a few – but just a few – thoughtful words.
9) Have a page called “contact”
Your visitor liked what he saw and wants to get in touch with you. This is what you wanted, so, have the CONTACT written in uppercase as a visible link on your site. This page should contain you email address, but, for spam related reasons, do a trick and replace @ with (at) or use spaces. Also, it doesn’t hurt to give your actual mail address and a phone number. The more real-life details you provide, the more professional it looks and more confidence for the visitor.
If you are varied photographer, you can place here the links towards the sites where other photos of yours are shown. Example: If you want to see my nature photography, click here.
10) Update your portfolio
While a portfolio is not like a photo-blog where you update very often with new photos, once in a while you can review your photography collection and take the following two actions:
- add new best shots
- remove old shots that don’t seem to be so good anymore
Don’t just stop after the first action – you don’t want to overload the portfolio buy increasing the number of photos, what you really want is to raise it’s quality while your experience increases.
And now in the end, here’s an example of a professional quality photography portfolio that follows most of these rules: http://www.erikalmas.com/