Ask an Agent / Improve Your Website And Get More Clients!
Ask an Agent is a regular monthly column that answers all your dilemmas about the business of photography – a sort of photography agony aunt. If you have anything you'd like to ask, just drop a line to email@example.com.
I often get asked for advice by photographers on their websites and portfolios, unfortunately I often don't have time to respond to individual enquiries (although see below for an exciting announcement!) However, I did help out Othello recently after I met him at my recent Live Ask an Agent session at Somerset House and he has kindly given me permission to share the results.
I am in the process of redoing my website and would appreciate your advice. My main work is people, working on gallery commissions and some commercial work. I also do my own projects.
Othello De’Souza - Hartley. Photographer and Visual Artist. London
I believe the singular most important factor to the success of your business is your website. You may think it’s your photography or how professional and likeable you are, but if you think about it, you won’t be given a chance to prove any of these things if your website is not looking its best.
So, what do you need to consider to make sure your website is working effectively?
There’s the usual rules that apply to every website whatever industry you are in, whatever service you are offering: it needs to load quickly, be well designed and easy to navigate. Aside from this a photographers website needs to give a clear and confident message about the service on offer, it needs to shout out :
'This is who I am!'
'This is what I shoot!'
'This is the reason you should commission me!'
Are you a fine art photographer? A corporate photographer? A portrait photographer shooting editorial and advertising? Choose what it is -it could be none of these or all of these - and present this information so others know too. This differentiation will determine which categories and images you should include. Get this wrong and you’ll end up sending a confusing message to your potential clients and hinder your progress.
Using Othello's website as a case study, let me show you what I mean.
First a bit of background. Othello D'Souza -Hartley is an award- winning portrait photographer. He has had commissions from several galleries including the National Portrait Gallery and the V&A, worked for publications such as The Guardian and has undertaken corporate and fashion shoots. He would like to build on this success whilst attracting commissions from international galleries and securing more advertising shoots.
Now we know this we can get down to the nuts and bolts. This is my checklist for a better website.
1) Make sure it’s well designed
The original design, although simple was probably a bit too simple. It lacked any consistent graphic element, used different fonts and looked a bit all over the place.
Now, I’m not a designer but the After example is easier on the eye. All the fonts are from the same ‘font family’ and the columns are aligned. I like the addition of Othello’s monogram logo and the only thing that might be a nice addition would be an image on the home page. Generally it looks slick, neat and professional.
2) Images should load quickly
Anymore than 5 seconds, forget it. Commissioners of photography are usually very busy people and haven’t got the time to stare at their computers for ages waiting for images to load.
Othello’s original website did load quickly. Although there were too many overlapping sections and layers which might also cause frustration, we’ll come to that next.
3) Get the categories right
They should be clear, relevant and condusive to securing you the type of work you want. This was also an area where I could see room for improvement.
Apologies if you can't read the text, I couldn't make the screen grabs any clearer on the blog(?) they say: Home/Commercial Fashion/ Fashion/ Portraits/Gallery Commissions/Personal Projects/Bio/ Film/ News/ Contact
Othello has and does shoot for fashion clients, however he didn’t want to position himself primarily as a fashion photographer. I didn’t think it was a good idea for him to have two sections dedicated to fashion as he originally had therefore. (Fashion and Commercial Fashion).
Commissions/Personal Projects/ Portraits/ Film/ Exhibitions/ News/Bio/ Press/ Contact
Originally Othello’s blog was separate to his website, I suggested incorporating his blog in the website and calling that News and also taking Exhibitions out as a category and including this list in Bio.
Looking at it again at this stage, I think we could still make these further changes-
Stick to News, Bio and Contact at the bottom and take out Press, Although Othello has been interviewed for magazines I’m not sure this warrants its own section by the name of Press, I would just put this in News as and when it happens.
This is just personal preference but I feel that Commissions should come after Portraits and Personal Projects as a section as most commissioners want to know about the photographers work and personal vision before finding out who they have been commissioned by
4) Include a well edited set of images with appropriate content in the different categories.
Othello wants to attract interest from international galleries but also continue to shoot portraits and people for editorial and advertising clients. So we need to be careful here not to show a strong bias towards one industry area in particular and risk putting the others off.
It was originally my idea to change the section ‘Gallery Commissions’ to ‘Commissions’ however the content and image edit should include commissions from other client areas e.g editorial, portrait and commercial clients. At the moment its showing a bias towards galleries. If an advertising agency, for example, were to look in this section they might be put off by the heavy ‘fine art’ bias.
The image edit over all is very good, this is usually an area that photographers need a bit of help with, often being the worst judge of their own work!
The personal projects ( see below) are interesting and much of the subject matter would be appealing to potential commercial clients . The advertising world is very literal, so if they have an idea for a shoot against a red background, Othello's the man! Aside from this though, he shoots good portraits with memorable subject matter.
Before the improvements the projects were dated ( as in given a date!) which I didn’t think was necessary:
and this layout is much better now with the new design.
5) Make sure it’s easy to navigate
Make it easy for the viewer to move around and go back and forward. They want to find what they are looking for without getting frustrated. The new site works well.
6) Include well written, relevant information
As mentioned above I think the blog now incorporated into News is much better, and there are some interesting posts that give a fuller picture about the photographer. However, make sure all the posts have titles and that they are snappy and attention grabbing, like headlines in a newspaper. Also, make sure there are no spelling or grammar mistakes. Understandably Othello was a bit reluctant for me to include this bit, but I see so many photographers making this mistake on their blogs he agreed it was a point worth making!
Nice post, but no title and a few typos!
One final word on information content, the addition of the social media links on the new site is good as long as your social media networking is active.
7) Is regularly updated
Returning visitors want to see new work or they’ll stop coming back. So make sure it’s kept updated, and that includes the blog.
8) Is easy to find when you Google.
Make sure you are active with Search Engine Optimization.
So to conclude, it’s definitely a new improved version, and perhaps would benefit even further from just those few extra tweaks. Thanks for letting me share this Othello, keep me posted on any further developments!
All images © Othello De'Souza-Hartley
LPA CONSULTANCY launching soon.
Due to an increased and constant demand, we are pleased to announce that Lisa Pritchard is now offering a restricted amount of exclusive one to one website and portfolio reviews per month. Spaces will be limited and offered on a first come first served basis.
We receive several emails a day from photographers asking if we can give feedback on their websites or wanting to arrange to pop in with their folio for a chat, we figured this would be a good alternative to saying no or ignoring the emails altogether. Just being honest!
At the moment LPA Consultancy is offering:
The LPA Website Review and the LPA Portfolio Review.
Prices start at £150 for an hour and a half one to one review with Lisa.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to book a slot or would like some more information. Watch this space for more details on LPA Consultancy.