The following post is brought to you by Squarespace, the leading Web site-publishing platform built with professional and amateur photographers in mind.
As a photographer, your Web site is your most valuable asset to promote yourself; it is the fastest way for a potential client to get a sense of your style, your experience and your brand. As Maren Levinson*, founder of Redeye Reps, puts it: “It’s the single most visible sales tool these days.”
Levinson is an acclaimed authority within the photography community (PDN photo editor Amy Wolff notes, “Everyone wants her to edit their work.”) and her advice for how to utilize your Web site as both a tool in itself, and the starting point for your overall branding, can be broken down into four things to consider.
1. The First Impression
Levinson says she learns a lot about a photographer’s style and attention to detail based on how he or she presents him or herself online. “The design or template selection should match the aesthetic of the photographer or their work,” she explains. “It should be a framework that mimics, complements, supports or plays off the work itself. So, it can be loud and colorful, quiet and elegant or bold and simple, but whatever a photographer chooses, they should choose it thoughtfully and with purpose.”
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2. Your Web site’s Functionality
A good Web site loads quickly, with clean organization and navigation, and no guesswork involved as to where your contact information is located. Beyond the basics, photographers need to continually update their site design and functionality to stay ahead of the curve. Levinson urges photographers to stand out from the crowd by being amongst the first to adopt new technology and platforms into their online presence. She points out that professional photographers who utilized Instagram early on are “very happy right about now.” All social media pages should be integrated with your website.
3. Your Photo Edit & Gallery Organization
Take a critical eye to your work. Levinson says she asks photographers to consider the same question on every image: “Is this a photograph that only I could make?” She says, “Don’t include [a photo] because you think it’s what people want to see. Include the pictures you are most passionate about; the pictures where someone would say ‘that is such a you picture.’”
When organizing your galleries, lead with the group that is the most robust or will have the most impact. She notes that viewers will form an impression of your work from the first gallery, so choose something that represents you and the direction you want to go in. Within each gallery, choose your order carefully. “The first image is the defining image and carries the responsibility of saying what the rest of gallery will be like.” She suggests, “ Start on an upbeat, get into the thoughtfulness and beauty of the series, then end with a contemplative or uplifting punch. There’s a lyricism to it, in the best-case scenarios.”
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4. Align your brand through consistent, thoughtful and personal promotions.
Whoever is viewing your site, your potential clients are “highly visually literate,” says Levinson. They have experience in communications design, creative direction, or photo editing and buying. She emphasizes that these potential clients are looking for someone who can execute their vision, so consistency is the fastest way to gain the trust of creatives. For example, inconsistency in your logo from Web site to mobile, to book to promo cards, can imply a larger sloppiness towards business practices or quality of imagery. She advises, “Use your branding and presentation to show who you are, not only visually, but as an artist, businessperson and collaborator.”
In her experience, the best promotions are personal: postcards with a strong image, a quarterly newsletter sent out to a list of people you have met (and would have an interest in what you’ve been working on), and custom letters, booklets and print promotional pieces. Avoid impersonal emails, and make sure printed pieces are flawlessly printed. Overall, Levinson says, “Show what makes you exceptional.”
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Get started on building or improving your brand. Squarespace is a Web site publishing platform that provides an easy way to create galleries, portfolio sites, blogs and more, without touching a line of code. The completely inclusive, all-in-one service provides content management, hosting, domains, social integrations, e-commerce, and 24-hour customer support.
*Maren Levinson is not affiliated with Squarespace and was interviewed independently.