How to Create a Photography Website

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Author Kevin Ngure
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We all have a different perception of what photography is. To some it’s a form of art while to most of us it’s a means to keeping memories alive. Be that as it may, one thing that’s inherent with all humans is the appreciation for beauty.

Yes, people love stunning photos – and as a photographer, your services will always be on-demand. But, get this – photography is a competitive field and more photographers are spanning the world than ever before – which means getting noticed can be onerous.

As such, you need to craft a way that will effectively sell your brand and assist in the acquisition of new clients. And that’s by creating a professional photography website.

I know you’re probably thinking, “I’m just a photographer, and I don’t know how to code or understand the technical jargon. So, how I’m I supposed to create a website?” That’s a tall order right there – but hey, don’t fret. You don’t need all that.

Creating a knock-out photography website has never been easier as it is today. Thanks to the various website building platforms and website builders that offer plenty of customization options, visually compelling layouts, and a whole lot of professional tools that will help your site stand out from that of other photographers.

In this guide, I will take you through the various steps you need to follow to create a photography website that epitomizes your unique style – and that’s compelling and impressive as your work. But before we dive into the details of the matter, let’s see why you need a photography website.

Why Create a Photography Website?

The idea of building a website might sound obsolete for photographers. One major reason being the proliferation of social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram where photographers can showcase their work and get likes and comments. And don’t forget these platforms are free to sign up.

But let’s face it. With social media, only your followers, friends, referrals, and direct customers will “presumably” know about your services. However, with a well-designed and responsive photography website, you will not only build an online presence of your dreams but the entire internet world will become your market. This essentially means that at some point even your social media audience will want to visit your site for more.

You will also give your clients a one-stop destination where they can get information about your business, view samples of some of your best works, and the list of services you offer all in one central place.

Speak of control. You’ll have total control and freedom to exhibit photos that you deem fit for your audience without fear of getting banned. Something that Facebook and other social media accounts are notorious for.

That said, we can both agree that creating a photography website cannot only help you show off your vibrant and unique photography skills to the masses but also help in establishing a foothold in this highly competitive industry. 

Of course, you knew all this benefits and that’s why you are here, right? Now, let’s skip the chit-chat and get down into the nitty-gritty.

How to Create a Photography Website

To get you started, here a sneak peek of what you need to create an intriguing photography website.

  • Research
  • Curate your best works
  • Choose a platform
  • Decide on your website’s layout
  • Plan your website's growth
  • Promote your website

I’ll walk you through each of the above steps in detail and share relevant examples and analogies where need be. So, without further ado, let’s get started.

1. Research

Benjamin Franklin, in one of his famous quotes said, “lack of preparation is a recipe for failure.” I cannot stress enough the significance of these wise words. 

So, whether you are an amateur or an established photographer looking to put up a new website, it’s vital to take up some time and properly strategize before you test the depth of the water with both feet.

Remember your website will not be built in a void. As a result, you will have to ponder on the vibe you want to bring across, the type of products or services you will offer as well as how you’ll position yourself in the market.

Other important things you’ll have to ask yourself include:

  • What is the ultimate goal of launching a website? Is it for just displaying my latest masterpieces or for attracting new clients or a bit of both? We’ll, there are instances where you might have a huge set of projects – which might force you to create separate websites. 
  • Which platform should I use to build my site? Website builders or WordPress?
  • Will I be branding the website as a company or as a portfolio? Also, who is my audience and what type of clients am I trying to attract? Are they publications, companies, or individuals?
  • What type of photography am I best at? Is it landscape, black & white film, portrait, or Photoshop retouching and composting?
  • If I were to choose from a series of photos, which ones would represent my work?
  • Do I want a single-page website or one that is navigable? How about the color palette and structure? Will my site create a memorable user experience?
  • What are other photographers doing – and what other things have they incorporated on their websites that you haven’t yet thought about?
  • In what other new ways would I be of service to my audience?

While there are many more questions to ask yourself, we cannot lay them all here. Nevertheless, we can undoubtedly say that conducting some level of research – including some visual research is fundamental to the success of your website.

Not only will it arouse you with ideas and inspiration that will help you create a unique website that’s completely your own, but you’ll also get accustomed to the current web design trends.  Needless to say, researching can make the whole process easy to execute.

2. Curate your best works

When it comes to choosing photography for your portfolio, your preliminary objective should be to show off your most brilliant shots. Remember, your work speaks volumes about you. It’s also what will attract people to your website.

However, one challenge that most photographers scuffle with is that of deciding which images to include in their portfolio. Often, this decision can be biased based on the photographer's personal preferences and emotional attachment.

While it’s only natural, the best way is to approach the matter as objectively as you can. By this, I mean prioritizing images that show off your technical skills, artistic abilities, and emotional resonance.

In other words, prioritize quality over quantity. For instance, if you specialize in fashion and urban photography, go for the cream of the crop in each category. Select at least 10 diverse samples that speak to your intended audience and are commercially viable. More is not better.

So, don’t go overboard. A few engaging shots will leave the visitor yearning for more and wanting to know more about you. Besides you do not want your portfolio to look like a digital warehouse of every image file in your hard drive – unless you want your potential clients to view you as a dreary, and an uncreative photographer.

3. Choose the right website building platform

With your enthralling and hypnotizing samples ready, the next thing is to choose a web building platform.

Whereas there are a ton of website builders and CMSs out there –all great in their own way –you’ll want to pick a platform that will provide you with a substantial level of flexibility when it comes to design and overall appearance of your website.

However, this will be dependent on a significant number of factors. For example, some platforms will require you to have moderate to advanced technical skills such as the ability to tweak CSS and HTML.

So if you are a photographer with little to no experience in web design or website coding, you might prefer to use a website builder such as Wix or a simple to use CMS such as WordPress.

In addition to technical savviness, you’ll need a platform with a rich inventory of themes, eCommerce options, great support, resources, and one that will allow you to implement SEO best practices.

In this guide, we’ll look at the two obvious web building platform categories to choose from. Hosted and self-hosted website building platforms.

Hosted Website Builders

For many discerning photographers looking to redefine the way they monetize their photography skills, hosted website builders are the easiest options.

With these platforms, you can create a website without having to write a single line of code. The code runs on the backend, while the frontend features a friendly user-interface with plenty of drag-and-drop functionality that lets you customize and adapt page elements whichever way you like.

Typically, you’ll pick a template from your web builder’s library that best suits your needs, edit the built-in elements with a click, upload your photos, and add content. Think of it as working with PowerPoint – but through your internet browser.

In addition to this, hosted website builders – just as the name suggests – offer an all-in-one website building solution. By this I mean you do not have to go through the hassle of purchasing a domain name or hosting from another provider. The platform handles all this for you. All you’ll have to do is pay an all-in subscription that can range anywhere between $4/mo and $35/mo depending on the website builder.

However, if you are a newbie looking to learn the ropes of creating a website with a website builder, you’ll be pleased to learn that some website builders offer completely free plans. But one main problem with free plans is that they come with limitations.

For instance, you’ll not get your own domain name. Instead, you’ll be given a sub-domain such as yourname@wix.com. While this may be good for a personal blog, it may make your photography website look unprofessional. Other limitations include unsightly ads, limited bandwidth & storage, and lack of eCommerce features.

I researched and tested some of the best hosting services for photographers and here are the 3 irresistible providers that I prioritized for this guide.

Wix: Best all-round photography website building platform 

Wix is one of the biggest and well-known players in the web design and building landscape partly due to its budget-busting marketing campaigns starring stars like Gal Gadot and Jason Statham. 

Designed for small businesses and artists such as musicians and photographers venturing into the realms of website design for the first time, Wix offers a wide array of awe-inspiring mobile optimized templates, preset palettes, and color schemes to ensure that your images, as well as the overall design of your website, stand out.

The platform uses an excellent drag-and-drop site builder – which makes it a breeze to build your site. Photo editing is also not a problem thanks to the no-frill image editing tools that help enhance and sharpen your images for the web without losing their quality.

But despite its visually compelling layouts, intuitive UX, and the free for life plan, Wix has its limitations. For example, there is no option to change your template once your website goes live. Also, if you need professional features such as your own customized domain or eCommerce functionality, you have to purchase a premium plan.

What’s more, the 500MB maximum storage space offered with the free plan won’t hold for long especially if you’ll be uploading high-quality images. I also found the 50GB maximum storage space to be insufficient especially if you’ll be uploading several photos for each client.

Squarespace: Premium website builder for creatives and photographers

One thing that sets photography websites apart is the visual appeal – and Squarespace pays ample heed to ensure that you get what you pay for. Think of it as the Apple of website builders.

The platform is pretty cool to start with – and comes with an easy to use website editor that allows inline editing. This means that you can edit your website content live without having to switch back and forth between the site manager and preview mode.

Better still, Squarespace offers 100 plus flexible, award-winning templates that fully adapt to mobile devices. Unlike Wix, you can switch templates or customize the layout even after your site goes live. In other words, Squarespace gives you the freedom to tailor your website to your satisfaction.

To top it all, the platform offers multiple gallery effects and integrates an image editor with effects such as cropping, resizing, rotation, and brightness. You also get full e-commerce functionality even with every plan.

But like everything else, Squarespace isn’t all hearts and roses. For one, you cannot upload photos larger than 20MB – which means some bit of resizing will have to be done to put them up. While scaling down might interfere with the picture quality, it can help lessen the web hosting space needed by your site as well as help boost load speeds.

Apart from that, I think Squarespace is a very good platform for photographers looking to put up a website in one place.  They have no free plans but their plans are very competitive.  So if you are on a budget maybe you should try Squarespace.

Pixpa: Best all-in-one website builder for photographers

Pixpa is different from other website building platforms. Unlike most other site builders that cater to different kinds of websites, Pixpa doesn’t pretend to. The platform is solely aimed at photographers and creative professionals looking to showcase their work and build an online presence away from the likes of Instagram and Flickr.

The all-in-one platform offers a plethora of tools including a drag-and-drop editor that allows you to create your photography website in a jiffy. The themes are modern, responsive, and visually appealing which ensures that your site looks good in different devices. One thing I loved about Pixpa is that you can monetize your galleries thanks to simple eCommerce functionality. This means that your clients can place orders for the prints they like.

Also, you can upload images of up to 100MB – meaning you don’t have to scale down your photos as you would do on Squarespace. The platform also offers a generous storage space of 10GB even with the regular plan.

Overall, Pixpa has all the bells and whistles you’d need to create a photography website. It’s also economical –stating at $6/mo for the most basic plan, and you get a 15-day trial period.

With that said, now let’s look at self-hosted website building platforms.

Self-Hosted Website Building Platforms

As you’ve seen above, there are many different tools that you can use to build your photography website.

However, the above tools do not give you the ability to customize your website the way you’d love to – and in most cases, you’ll find that your website may lack the uniqueness you crave for. Worse still, your website would look similar to that of your competitor.

As such, the solution is to go for a self-hosted platform and build your website on a content management system (CMS) such as WordPress or Drupal. Both offer more flexibility when it comes to design, layout, and customization. But for Drupal you will require some level of technical savvinesses such as the ability to tweak CSS and HTML – I’d thus recommend WordPress. 

WordPress is easy to use – and being an open-source software – you can tweak the source code to your advantage. Well, I’m not recommending that. And of course, you are not a developer so some things would rather just be kept as they are.  All, I’m saying is that WordPress is very customizable.

You also won’t even need to write a single line of code to get your site up and running. Thanks to an endless variety of photography website themes in the WordPress theme directory and a seemingly infinite assortment of custom plugins that you can tack onto your website.

However, unlike website builders such as Squarespace or Wix, WordPress’s learning curve is a bit steep -so you will be required to learn a few ropes. But as soon as you get the hang of it you’ll be surprised at what you can achieve with this platform.

One thing, however, is that with self-hosted platforms, you have to incur some very basic costs such as domain name registration and web hosting. You can choose to purchase a domain name from a company such as Namecheap and buy hosting from Bluehost or buy both domain and hosting from the same company.

Most companies will offer both services. I recommend Bluehost for several reasons including great uptimes, fast page loads, competitive pricing, free domain & SSL certificate for the first year, and great support. They also have shared, VPS, and dedicated server plans.

The plan choose will depend on your website’s needs. Once you settle on a plan. You can install WordPress in just one click – install your preferred photography theme and the necessary plugins.

4. Create Your Websites Layout

 I’m assuming by now you’ve already settled on whether to use a website builder or WordPress to create your site. If you have, that’s excellent! Now it’s time to piece the cake.

Remember you want your website to have that visual appeal and also be easy to navigate. That said, you’ll want to scribble down the architecture of your website strategically. Take a pencil and paper – and in order of importance – list down the sections and pages you’d like to have on your site. Most website builders will allow you to adjust your plan later but it’s good to get it right from the onset to ease your workload in the later stages.

A photography website doesn’t need to include so many pages. But some are an outright must-have. They include:

  • Homepage
  • Gallery
  • About page
  • Blog page
  • Contact page

While there are different ideas, most professional photography websites follow this structure as their base.

Homepage

The homepage is the gate to your virtual home. As such, it should have an eye-catching design that will immediately seize your audiences’ attention.

Away from the visual aspect, it should include some powerful descriptive texts. Most talented photographers put only an image and hope that it will do all the talking.

This is a huge misconception. Some few sweet, catchy texts on your homepage could help stir up some curiosity not forgetting that it could help boost your SEO – helping your site rank higher on Google.

Another useful tip is to avoid using too many images as this could slow down your website’s load speed and also dilute the user’s attention. You should also try and scale down the images used on your homepage to help with faster loading.

The core of your website is hidden in the gallery. This is an extension of the homepage and where your visitors will discover your work.

Characteristically, this is the section of your website where you’ll showcase your skills and creativity to the world. So, make sure you only expose your strengths in this section. By that I mean your best photography.

One important aspect to keep in mind is that your gallery should be easy to get to through the navigation menu or homepage. There are numerous tools you can use to create a photo gallery depending on the platform your website is built on. If you are on WordPress, for instance, you could use Modula, NextGen Gallery, Envira, or the Jetpack plugin. Wix users can use the Wix Pro Gallery.

About page

As the name suggests, the about page is where you’ll provide a summary of your bio as well as any other relevant information about your business.

Prospective clients will be more gripped into your values and ideals when it comes to art and life. So, be more charismatic and make everything as enticing as you can. However, make sure you avoid redundant information.

Remember your website is about you. So, one useful tip is to ensure that you keep everything in the first-person narrative. It’s a more intimate way to keep your readers interested to know more about you. Also, don’t forget to add your photo. This will not only show credibility but also help strengthen your brand.

Blog page

If you want to grow your photography business online, I highly recommend that you invest in a blog page. While not everyone can be able to craft content, the benefits that befall having a blog section are immeasurable.

For one, a blog can help drive good traffic. Google loves good texts – and by publishing great content you could help boost SEO – which could in turn increase conversions. And by conversions I mean – new visitors hiring you for your services.

You can use the blog section to share articles about emerging trends in photography, news, and techniques. Also, you could share information about a past client’s project and what you were able to achieve.

Contact page

Of course, you’ve left your visitors dumbstruck after seeing what you can do. But how are they supposed to reach you and request for your incredible services?

Adding a “contact me” section will allow prospective clients to reach you fast and hire you. You can include your phone number, email address, or social media buttons.

However, a professional website should include a “contact form.” For WordPress users, there are numerous plugins that you can use to implement this task. Website builders also offer very effective tools. 

5. Plan Your Website’s Growth

You don’t want to get comfortable with the first version of your photography website. So, with everything where it’s supposed to be, it’s time to get ready for the next challenge.

At this stage, you’ll need to do some refinements to make your website feel sleek and alive –while at the same time engaging. Here are some of the things that you should prioritize.

Speed up your website

One of Google’s key determining factors when it comes to ranking and performance is your website’s loading speed. Research also shows that a significant proportion of your site visitors will be prompted to exit your site if it takes more than 3 seconds to load.

As such, you do not want your visitors to spend several seconds waiting for your website to load. There are a few things you can do to optimize your website for speed. They include:

  • Minimize the image file size before uploading it to your gallery. Consider using JPG instead of PNG image file formats.
  • Use of content delivery networks (CDN). A CDN helps minimize delays that are normally experienced when loading content on a web page by decreasing the distance between the user and the server.
  • Use of caching. Caching helps bypass PHP requests by creating a temporary file of your site on the web browser. This helps increase page load speeds since the content loads from the browser's cache. WordPress users can install a cache plugin.

Install an SSL certificate

Google, through a recent update, requires that all sites with HTTP install an SSL/TLS certificate or they risk being flagged as unsafe on Chrome and other browsers. This automatically implies that such websites will have a difficult time ranking well on Google.

Also, if you intend to sell images through your website, you’ll need to install an SSL certificate for you to be able to accept payments without risking your client’s credit card information.

Improve Your SEO

As aforementioned, SEO is one of the most important aspects when it comes to the growth of your website. While you might take some time to learn how it works and how to implement it effectively, it’s all worth it in the end.

Some of the things you’ll need to do as a photographer with regards to SEO include, having image alt tags and adding photo descriptions. Along with that, you’ll need to create a series of blog posts with well-researched keywords.

Optimize your website for mobile

Its 2020, and mobile devices are taking over the internet. You do not want to be in a situation where your site is inaccessible or looks decadent on mobile.

Ensure that that the theme or template you use to design your website reformats to look great on mobile. Most website builders have such as Wix and Squarespace offer some of the most mobile-responsive templates.

With WordPress, you have to make sure that the theme and plugins you use are properly coded and are mobile responsive. Also, make sure you download them from the WordPress theme directory. 

6. Promote Your Work

While it’s not technically a step, promoting your work is key to getting the most out of your efforts. Besides, the website won’t help you land more clients if there is no one to look at it.

One of the easiest ways to get ratified for your work is by sharing it on social media platforms. Another way is to join an online photographer’s community and share your ideas and samples of your work with other photographers.

Communities are a great way to network and receive feedback from others. This could help you look into areas that you can improve.

Conclusion

There you have it, the ultimate guide to building your photography website.

As you can see, there is so much to do when it comes to creating an awe-inspiring photography website. So, don’t lose your focus. My advice to you is to ensure that you conduct thorough research before diving into the project. Once you do, stick to your specific goals and remember to only showcase your best works. Remember, your website will be the ultimate promotional tool. And if done correctly, it could help land you that dream job that you’ve always been yearning for.

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