Photographer Website Tips

Photographer Website TipsGoing along with my photographer tips for Facebook and twitter I decided to talk about some website tips. By trade photographers are not web designers so every tip can help, right? These are my opinion so if you think I’m wrong then so be it but this is how I see it as a customer and a photographer.

My Tips:

  • Flash is great for portfolios but not for an entire website. A lot of people use browsers without flash or use iPhones which can’t play flash. Until that changes websites should be  designed for all people. Fortunately JQuery slide shows could be degraded to pure html when needed. I use the flash-based SlideShowPro specifically for my portfolio but use JQuery for my intro slide show.  Use as little flash as possible!
  • STOP THE MUSIC! This is very simple.  If I am in a quiet room surfing the web I do not want to hear music playing as I browse websites.  A great example.  I’m at work and my brother asked me to help him find a wedding photographer.  Yes I am not supposed to browse the web but it’s my brother and I want to help.  My computer at work has speakers so when I watch webinars I can hear.  I did not want to hear the music blast through the speakers when trying to view a wedding photographers portfolio.  If I wanted music I would have went to Ryan Adams website or Sigur Ros.  I mean come on people… show off your photos, not some other persons music.  Seriously, it’s got to stop.  If you really want music then so be it, but don’t make it auto play!
  • The website should be clean, simple and photographic.  Don’t clutter it with non-photography related stuff.  Blogs can be used to show off photos, give tips (like this one) or share other great information but try to keep it somewhat related to photography.
  • Use WordPress.  It will make your life easier.
  • I use the Canvas Theme for WordPress because of how customizable and SEO it is, but there are many great premium themes out there specifically for photographers.
  • Link to your Twitter, Flickr & Facebook pages.
  • Accept comments on your blog posts
  • Interact with your viewers!
  • Always change content.  The best way to brainstorm ideas for blog posts is to read other photography blogs!
  • If you really want to turn someone off then make sure their are pop-up ads, banners, etc.  No one wants to hover over an image or link just to find a pop-up advertisement.  Keep it clean!  If you want to advertise then write about the company and place an ad in the blog post.

What tips do you have for photographers looking to design or redesign their websites?

Contributors Tips:

“I know it goes in line with the twitter/ flickr /facebook page but some easily identifiable way to contact the photographer would be good too.   Not everyone is comfortable using social media so an email address or contact form is always nice to see.” – Ben Lee

“Don’t use BackType to integrate with Twitter or your comments will be filled with nothing but Retweets” – Matt

Now That You Understand, visit Offbeat Bride’s “An open letter to wedding photographers regarding their websites

For more great ideas, visit Don GIannatti’s website for his series called “10 Web Site Strategies for Emerging Photographers”
Part 1, Part 2

Jeffro shares “A Few Website Pet Peeves I Have” on WP Tavern.  One of which is Social Junk

Tips from Graph Paper Press

  • Make your filenames readable by search engines
  • Complete in your Alt tags
  • Fix images that looks squished
  • Cache your website!
  • Use a CDN
  • Gather Leads
  • Mailing list call to action
  • Resize images before uploading
  • Wordress: Use featured images
  • No Flash

read more about these tips from Graph Paper Press

Updated 4/15/2011

This Post Has 40 Comments

  1. Don't use BackType to integrate with Twitter or your comments will be filled with nothing but Retweets :-)

    1. Matt, thanks for that tip! Time to make some changes.

  2. Great tip. Disqus has an option to turn off their reactions as well

  3. The Lifestream plugin is nice and does a lot but seems to be a plugin that hogs a lot of php memory. In my opinion (and I could be wrong) you are better off sticking with a java script that is hosted from Google or Twitter themselves.

    1. Scott,
      The Lifestream plugin brought my host to it’s knees. I tend to use a lot of social media and the flow of updates was just bad.

      1. Yea, any lifestream plugin can be quite brutal to servers

  4. I know it goes in line with the twitter/ flickr /facebook page but some easily identifiable way to contact the photographer would be good too. Not everyone is comfortable using social media so an email address or contact form is always nice to see. Just a thought, Ben

  5. Thanks Scott. I've spent a lot of time on other photographers sites before I set up mine and it was always nice to be able to contact them quickly – esp. when they replied!

  6. Totally! My favorite WordPress plugins for contact forms are: Gravity Forms (Paid), Contact Form 7 and CForms II. They make it easy to add a form to any WordPress website. Hopefully all photographers reply to emailed they receive even if from another photographer. When they do reply, hopefully they use a legit email address as well.

  7. I'm on squarespace and they have a decent contact form. I would like to make it a bit nice but not had the time to change it about just yet.So far all the photographers I've been emailing me have been legit so all good. Always nice to converse with fellow photographers!

  8. I've only briefly flirted with wordpress so I can't really compare too much. When I was looking round (Jan) I was after somewhere I could host simple gallery's without the need for any coding – at that time I wasn't after a blog. I'm a novice (read: absolute beginner) programmer and squarespace made things very easy for me so I went with them.Also, community in the squarespace forums has been top notch and a great help to me getting everything going too.From what I gather, the experienced web designer/ programmer really enjoys these guys as they have made everything very easy to manage. You should have a look; see what you think.

  9. If they make it easy that is great. I would never switch away from WordPress myself but it's good to know that there are other companies making it simple for people. The one downside to WordPress is that since it is not designed specifically for photographers you need plugins to create portfolios.

  10. I've never used Squarespace. How is their backend system? Is it as easy as WordPress?

  11. Don't change it if it ain't broken! Squarespace advertised themselves towards the photographer and showed off a bunch of photographer's portfolios as examples. Guess, the marketing worked because I've signed up!

  12. So very true! As long as you're happy with the service and system then it is worth it.

  13. Like Ben Lee – my blog is hosted by Squarespace and it can be found at <a href="” target=”_blank”> When I first started using SS, I found it easy to use and set up, however, I had to get some coding help for certain things. I was lucky enough to have found someone who was willing to help me out. I am still trying to fix one issue but I am not worried about it at the moment as I am concentrating on getting new content on the blog on a consistent basis. I intend to use the service for a year and plan to switch to Pro Photo Blogs via WordPress.

  14. Very cool! The Pro Photo Blogs are great themes. Hopefully you get the last bit worked out without a problem.

  15. Great points Scott. As a professional commercial photographer who works for a web design firm I can absolutely confirm that FLASH and SOUND are big mistakes when it comes to websites. I’m not a fan of Flash at all since there are numerous excellent looking photo galleries that are not Flash based; using Flash just limits the potential customers that can view your site. Period.
    Sound is even worse though. A recent study found that over 90% of people surf the web from their business/office computers and virtually all of these people surveyed said that they IMMEDIATELY close a tab to any site that plays music (after all – no one wants other to know what they’re doing at work.) Kill the sound.

    I do like WordPress although I personally prefer Joomla! for it’s increased flexibility and functionality – although this is not worth arguing about unless you are a technical guru. Either work well for photographers.

    Great stuff.

    1. Jonathan,

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the subject. It is always great hearing another perspective. Joomla is nice but not having much experience with it, I couldn’t really share an opinion on it.

      Thanks again for commenting.

  16. Scott, thanks for this nice lists of suggestions.
    I myself, as many who commented here already, am against sound. It is truly one of the most disturbing parts in website design. I don’t mind having a choice to turn the music on, but hate, when I have to quickly look for the “stop” or “mute” buttons.

    And- wordpress all the way! I have tried joomla (it was mentioned in comments as well), but for my wordpress is much easier to understand, more intuitive.

    1. Thanks Joanna! Joomla has some advantages over WordPress but not enough to make it the best choice :-) I think it’s only a matter of time before photographers realize that adding sound was a poor choice.

  17. Great post. I agree WordPress is great for photography websites, flash is rubbish for SEO and takes too long to load. WIth a bit of Jquery you can have some quick and simple slideshows.
    Sound on a website always puts me off, especially wedding photographers (some even using popular songs, which is a bad idea because of copyright). I think a clean and simple site, with a good blog of latest photos is all that is needed.
    Even though I don’t use them, Graph Paper Press make some great wordpress themes for photographers.

    1. Graphic Paper Press does have some fantastic themes for photographers. I agree completely.

  18. I actually am both a portrait photographer and have worked professionally as a software designer and user experience analyst (usability) for web sites.

    Some other tips for photographers – think about the number of clicks it takes someone to do something. It shouldn’t take 4 clicks to get to your portfolio, same for contact information. Everything should be 1 to 2 clicks away.

    And performance/page load time is important. I’ve read studies that show if it takes 5 – 10 seconds for a page to load, your user gets distracted and almost forgets why they came. More than 10 seconds, they left your site and went elsewhere.
    Try to keep page loads, including slideshows to 1 – 2 seconds. Less is awesome.

    I’m also always surprised by the large headers on blog sites, because I’ve learned that the first page/screen of real estate is so important and most photographers sites force you to scroll just to find the real navigation links and the main content is off the screen.
    And don’t forget screen resolutions – how does your site look in 1024 x 768 versus 1280 by 720. If you are curious how much of your site is visible without scrolling in different resolutions, try:

    1. Great tips Carolyn! Thank you for sharing.

  19. Optimize for speed. Yes, its a photography website, but speed is still king on the web and it helps your SEO. You can cut down the size and quality of your photos a ton and still make our look awesome for a viewer/potential client. Add a disclaimer if necessary…but most puerile will understand that you do have higher quality photos offline.

  20. Why do you like wordpress so much? Just curious. I’m having a bear of a time with my blog.

    1. Dru, WordPress is extremely flexible and customizable that it is the perfect CMS for creating websites.

  21. Hi

    Would you recommend using joomla or drupal?

    1. I have never used either but from what I hear Joomla is quite popular.

    1. I think music might be one of the most overlooked, or least thought about, issue.

  22. I 100% agree. I hate auto playing music. And it’s even worse when you can’t find where to stop it.

    I’ve seen wedding photographers who have a song you can choose to play when you read a specific blog post. That seems to work well.

    1. Music, when it is viewer controlled from the start, is completely fine.

  23. The funny thing about music on my website is that I took it off for around a month and had a higher bounce rate, less viewed pages, and less time spent on the pages when the music was off. They have the option to turn it off, but I will be doing a survey of clients who contact me to see what they think. I also have both flash and html on my site so they can chose which they want to view. Thanks, Karen

    1. Did those visitors turn into customers or were they just browsing?

  24. Amen to the music issue. Even if I am not in a public place, that is one thing that bugs me since I normally am playing music or watching tv when I am online.

    Another issue with flash sites… So many of them take forever to load or never do. I have lost count how many sites I have looked at where I sit waiting for so long, that I just leave the site. In some cases, after a certain point, the images just don’t load. Not customer friendly!

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