How to Make a Photography Website

A photography website is ideal whether you are professional, student, or just have a passion for taking photographs. Having a place where people can view your work is an asset regardless of your level of expertise. Sure, sites like Flickr, 500px, and even Tumblr are great resources to display your work, but these also happen to be community-based networks, designed to bring out creativity through competition for attention. Having your own website directs all that attention on your images, whether it be to attract new clients, provide a polished portfolio to potential employers or schools, or simply to showcase your artistic endeavors as a photographer.

As a professional photographer, a website can be central to marketing your commissioned product and entice new customers to employ you for your specialized skill set. You will want to build your brand around what makes you stand out in such a broad field, your particular niche that you would like to develop and expose (no pun intended). Think of the goal you would like to achieve before you begin to structure your site. If you plan to use the site to gain new clients you will want to gear the site to basically guide the user through to hiring you. Keep this in mind when you are mapping out the layout with respect to how the viewer of your website will eventually end up on your contact page.

If you are seeking to display your talents to a potential educational institution or employer, a stylish website can be just the thing to give you the edge over the competition. And if your goal is simply to present your images for the world to see, this can be a great tool to share your photographs in a space you can truly make your own. No matter the reason that motivates you to complement your photography work with a website, the following outlined process will help you to take your vision to the next level.

Expenses to get Your Website Up and Running

  • Purchase a domain (usually between $7 – $15 for a non-premium domain)
  • Purchase a hosting plan (usually between $7 – $9 per month)
  • additional updated themes or plugins to strengthen the appearance of your site (optional)

Initial Purchase of Domain and Hosting

The First step you will want to take is obtaining the perfect domain name for your purpose and budget. A domain name is a URL where your website will be located. An easy to use a site to buy a domain that I tend to use is GoDaddy.com. If you need to create an account go here. If you already have an account, feel free to find the domain for you and make your purchase.

 

When selecting a domain, there are more than a few things to consider including in your name. Your photography company name (if you have one) or your professional name you wish to use with clients or employers is a smart place to start. Another possibility could be inserting the word ‘Photography’ or ‘Photo’ within the title. As a rule of thumb, you want to make the name as simple as possible. Sometimes premium domain names can get expensive, so experiment with your domain searches to find a fit for your budget without having to sacrifice too much in the realm of getting your desired name. And remember, as far as Google is concerned, .com, .net, and .org carry the same weight in the SEO world. So, if the domain of your dreams is at a premium of upwards of $2,000, maybe opt for the .org at $7.99.

Next, you will want to find hosting for your website. There are several hosting companies out there, HostGator.com, SiteGround.com, and BlueHost.com to name a few, but when using GoDaddy.com, you can also just as easily make it a one-stop transaction and go through cPanel directly during or after the purchase of your domain. You can add it to your cart when prompted or wait until after the purchase and click on ‘Hosting’ at the top of the page.

 

Connecting Your Website to WordPress

Once you have purchased a domain and secured hosting for your site via cPanel, you will want to set it up with your domain. If you go to ‘My Products’ under your Account Menu, you can then select ‘Manage’  just under ‘Web Hosting’.

 

 

Upon reaching your cPanel Settings for your hosting, you will want to install a platform to build your website. There are many easy-to-use platforms out there, however, WordPress is an advantageous choice and is also easy for someone new to website creation. It is a straightforward professional tool to get your site customized to whatever specifications you may be looking for. Click on ‘WordPress’ under ‘Web Applications’ and then scroll to the bottom to begin the installation of the application on the following page.

 

 

When you have completed the installation of your server, the link to your admin will be displayed for you to select after the installation is complete. It will appear as your domain address followed by ‘/wp-admin’. Alternatively, you can also type in your website address followed immediately by ‘/wp-admin’ into your web browser’s address bar. After you arrive at your admin page, it will prompt WordPress quick setup guide for you to finalize.

 

 

Here you will have the opportunity to pick the essential customizations of your site before adding pages and content. The first option to determine is what type of site you want, a blog, a website, or a website with a blog. Depending on your needs this could vary. As a photographer that would like to take advantage of a website aimed to grow your client base, a website and blog can be very beneficial. This can stand to keep your website current and give you an edge, but this really only applies if you have the time and discipline to keep it circulating. For a photographer that would like to utilize a website more for portfolio purposes, a website alone will be more than sufficient. Naturally, the title should be either your name or the company name of your particular photography business. As for the tagline, if you are a professional trying to get work, maybe a slogan-type phrase that highlights the region in which you are willing to travel within to provide your services. If you are using the site as a portfolio,  you could include a culminating sentence or phrase from your artist statement or even just a piece of information that speaks who you are as a photographer. You can always leave this portion blank as well to work on later when inspiration strikes.

Within the contact portion of the setup guide, you want to provide your professional email, phone, fax (if you have one) and address. It’s probably for the best to use an email that is in some way linked to the site, whether it matches the domain name or your own personal branding or information. Below the address field, there is a convenient space to link your social media accounts with your site, should you choose to do so. Before linking any social media account, its always a good idea to review your posted content and consider the impact it may have on the viewer. For example, if your personal Instagram account has some images that may be more explicit that you would wish to show a potential employer, it’s probably best to just pull those images to display in your sites gallery instead.

Choosing a Theme

Determining a theme to present your photos is key in drawing in more users to your site. Within the initial quick setup, you can take your time to search the photo portfolio themes, or wait to do so once the quick setup is completed. You have the freedom to change your theme multiple times before you add content, just be aware that different themes can alter the look of your site if you already have content in place. A couple of major factors to focus on in your theme selection, is to elect for a minimalist look that will draw the viewer’s eye to your photos. Positioning the prints to the center of the space will also yield the same effect. All black or all white background themes can really make your images stand out. There are completely free themes available to utilize on WordPress, free with the option to upgrade to more advanced customizations or themes that you pay a premium right from the start. If you can’t seem to find a usable theme for free, a good place to start your premium theme search is themeforrest.com or elegantthemes.com, they both boast a wide array of minimalist themes designed with photography websites in mind. Once you have found the proper theme for your needs, click the ‘Select’ button.

 

 

Once you have determined which theme is right for you, you will want to customize your site further. You can access the ‘Customize’ features by hovering over ‘Appearance’ and selecting ‘Customize’ under the submenu.

 

 

Customizing Your Site

Under ‘Customize’ you have the opportunity to make several changes to your site. The only adjustments that will need to be made at this stage are to complete the ‘Site Identity’ and ‘Header Media’ portions. Simply click the ‘Site Identity’ Button.

 

 

From there you will want to make desired adjustments to the following components:

  • Logo – If you have a company/professional logo, here is the place to load it to your site.
  • Site Title and Tagline – If your Logo contains the name of the company or your professional name, you may want to omit it from ‘Site Title’ field, and if it also contains your company slogan or ‘tagline’, simply uncheck ‘Site Title and tagline’. If you don’t have a logo, you can alternatively input your company/professional name into ‘Site Title’ and your slogan into ‘Tagline’ to display the two on your website
  • Site Icon – Another branding tool, it is a small image that appears in the browser bar next to the page title. When taking advantage of this, make sure your image is square and larger than 512 x 512 pixels.

 

Next, Click on the ‘Header Media’ tab under ‘Customize’. Here you can select the Media you would like to appear on your homepage. You can choose to add video, a photo, or multiple randomized photos to display at the top portion of your main page. To add a Video to your homepage header, you can click ‘Select Video’ and then locate the video you wish to use on your local drive. To feature a photo or more than one photo, click on ‘Add New Image’. You can Add more than one if you would like to give some variation to the image viewed by the visitors of your site. To present a different image each time the home page is loaded, select ‘Randomize Uploaded Headers’. When this feature is active, ‘Randomizing Uploaded Headers’ will be stated just below ‘Current Header’.

When making alterations to this section, make sure to save your changes by clicking on the ‘Publish’ button before moving forward.

After you make any changes to the ‘Customize’ section of your website, one adjustment to double check before you decide to start promoting your site is to optimize accordingly for all devices. One place you can check the various views that will be displayed is at the bottom below the ‘Customize’ categories.

 

 

The Focus of Your Site

Initially, when building your photography site you want to jot down your ideas and create a plan. Who will your audience be? What do you want to present to those who will be viewing your site? Do you want them to see a professional with a layout that effortlessly guides them through your production leading to your contact page? Or do you wish to present yourself in a way that attracts attention with promoting the sale of your art? Is this site strictly to showcase your talents to propel you in your career? Your focus is best to be determined and your website mapped out ahead of time with your main purpose in mind. No matter what your desired goals are, there are a few pages that are crucial to have for any photography website.

Pages to Create for Your Photography Website

 

  • Home 
  • Gallery
  • About Me/Bio
  • Contact
  • Suggested Dependent on Your Focus:
    • Services
    • Testimonials
    • Online Store
    • Blog

Adding a New Page

Once you have determined which pages you will utilize on your website, you will need to create them one by one. From your WordPress Dashboard, hover over pages, located in the left menu bar, and click on ‘Add New’.

Once you get to the framework of your new page, you can then input a title and any content you would like to appear. Your site will already come equipped with a homepage/main page, so you will then want to make a separate page for each section of your site, one for Galleries, one for Bio, one for Contact and so on, to build to your own desired specifications.

When making a photography website, you may be tempted to add media to your gallery page, but a more aesthetically pleasing solution will be to add a Gallery plugin. This will be explained in the next stage, but if you want to add media such as a photo or video to your Bio or Contact page, click on the ‘Add Media’ button.

This will bring you to a screen where you can select the media you want to insert into your page. You can use stock photos, browse your media library or upload a new file. To add a new media file click on the ‘Select Files’ button.

Then, browse your local files for the media file you wish to select, when you have done so, it should appear as ‘selected’ in the right bottom corner. It may take a few moments to load the chosen file, once this is completed, click the ‘Insert Into Page’ button.

This will insert your media file into your page.For any text you would like viewable on a particular page, you can make adjustments to the text within the highlighted section, in order to change the look, color, or paragraph properties. This is also where you can create bulleted or numbered lists or insert a hyperlink. Once you are done, you can either save the draft to publish at a later time or click on the ‘Publish’ button to make it go live.

An important step in securing your place within the SEO world is to make sure you have a clean permalink. after the backslash after your URL of your website homepage you want to have the simple name of your page uncluttered by numbers. This allows for you to rank on Google, as it meets the criteria they require to do so.

Creating a Menu for Your Pages

Once you have created each page for your site, the next step is to build a Menu. First, click on ‘Menus’ under Appearance in the sidebar.

Once you have the Menus Manager up, you can select the page or pages you wish to add to your menu and click ‘Add to Menu’. You will already have a primary menu setup for whichever theme you initially chose for your site, so this will be the one you want to add to. If you decide to, you can also add additional menus in other locations on your site for different featured functionality.

When structuring your menu, you can just drag each specific page to the sequence you where want it to appear. You also have the ability to add sub-categories to each menu item. To add a subcategory, drag the selected item underneath and to the right, the item will then indent out slightly more than the main categories in the menu. When your menu is ordered to your preferences, you can then click the ‘Save Menu’ button.

Creating a Social Menu for your Website

Chances are you will want to connect your website to your social platforms to provide your visitors with more of what you can offer. An easy and professional way to present a centralized area where your site viewers can obtain links to follow your social accounts is with a Social Menu. To begin to create a Social Menu for your site, click on ‘Menus’ under Appearance just like when managing your Main Menu. From there, you want to click on ‘Create a New Menu’.

Enter the name you would like for your social menu in the box next to ‘Menu Name’. Under the ‘Custom Links’ tab, enter the full web address of your preferred social media account page, followed by the name of the corresponding social media platform name underneath. For example, if you enter the URL for your Youtube Account Page, you will want to type ‘YouTube’ for the ‘Link Text’. When you type YouTube into the link text it will automatically create a YouTube icon for your social menu. Once you have entered the data for each of the social accounts you wish to include, click on the ‘Save Menu’ button.

When completed your social menu should appear somewhat like this, depending on the theme you have chosen for your site.

Adding Content

Your content is the centerpiece of each page on your website. To have an aesthetically pleasing display speaks volumes to your visitors, but if what you say about yourself or company in your bio is weak or the photos you choose to promote yourself are sub-par, what is the point of the website? When adding content, its a good idea to fill in the essentials within your pages. Here is a list of things to remember to include for each of the basic pages you will want to include.

  • Homepage

This will be the first impression for everyone that arrives at your website. The first thing they should see is your best photographic work. A randomized header photo with your top 3 photos that best represent you is your best bet. before anyone eve scrolls, they should see one of your best images, your name or company name, and logo. Another addition you may want to have visible is the word ‘photographer’ in any form, ‘media’, ‘visuals’ or anything to convey the fact that you produce photos. The main menu should be accessible from this page, and if you decide to create a blog on your site, displaying a few summarized views of your latest blog posts on this page can draw the reader in further.

  • Contact

Your contact page should have your name, number, email address, and even the physical address to your studio or art space. Your social accounts should have links on this page as well, even if located in a social menu that appears on all pages. A contact form is also essential. As a consumer, I rarely use a contact form unless I have to, but for those who do use them, it can be a perfect way to connect with a potential client or employer before they even leave your website.

  • About Me/Bio

Include a few key facts first and foremost. Who you are as a photographer, your specializations, main goals and regional area you do business in. The rest should be short and sweet in explaining why you should be hired over the competition, what makes you stand out in the local industry as a professional or as a prospect to an employer or educational institution.

  • Blog

If you chose to create a blog to go along with your website, it can be a great way to show your newest work without having to update your galleries. You may want to consider making a title for your blog that will make you rank higher on google. ‘Amazing Boston Wedding Photography’ is a good working title. Incorporating an adjective that people look for with your region and specialization is a great way to narrow down your crowd during a Google search.

Creating a Contact Form

First, from the left side menu, hover over ‘Plugins’ and in the submenu, click on ‘Add New’.

In the Plugins Search bar enter ‘wpforms’. When ‘Contact Form by WPForms’ appears in the results, click on the ‘Install Now’ button.

Once you have finished installing the plugin, the button will change to read ‘Activate’. Click on the ‘Activate’ button.

This will prompt the WPForms guide to begin. Click on ‘Create Your First Form’.

The next screen will provide a box for you to input a name for your form. For this form, ‘Contact’ or ‘Contact Us’ is a good choice for a header to appear on your form. Then click on ‘Create a Simple Contact Form’.

 

On the next page, you will see a preview of how your contact form will be displayed on your website. This form comes equipped with a first and last name field, email field, and comment/message field. If you want to add another standard field, click the blue box with the field you wish to add. Once you have made your desired changes, click the ‘Save’ button.

 

After you save your new form, click on the ‘</>Embed’ button.

When you click the ‘</>Embed’ button, it will bring up a box with a shortcode in it. highlight and copy the shortcode.

In a separate tab or window, go to the edit page on WordPress for your Contact page. Here you will take the shortcode you copied and paste it into your Contact page. Once you are finished, click the ‘Update’ button.

Then you will want to click ‘View Page’ to proof your new form. Check for any spelling errors and appearance to adjust to your standards.

 

Creating Galleries

When creating galleries for your website, there a few tips to ensure you have a professional catalog to showcase. First and foremost, less is more. Try to put forth your very best work and try not to overexpose your style or product. Not to mention, putting too many photos on one page could actually slow down your site and potentially deter your visitors from continuing to browse. break your images into categories, ‘professional work’ and ‘personal work’ or ‘wedding photography’ and ‘family portraits’. You have free range to make sub-categories within these groups if you so chose to give an organization to your site that can speak to your professionalism as well as give an ambitious perception to your artistic inventory.

As a photographer, this is where you will get the opportunity to truly shine. within your Gallery pages, you will now get to post links that will lead your viewers to the galleries you will build in a separate plugin on WordPress. The particular plugin you choose will determine how your photos will display on the page, so when making a selection as to which one is for you can be key to your success. When building this sample site, the plugin chosen was the best rated and most popular gallery plugin available, Envira Gallery. Here is a quick way to install the plugin and get your galleries going.

First, from the WordPress sidebar on the left side, hover over ‘Plugins’ and click on ‘Add New’ in the submenu.

This will bring up the ‘Add Plugins’ page. Within the Plugins search bar, type in ‘Envira Gallery’. That will bring up all results, that match your query, including the Envira Gallery Plugin. Click on the ‘Install Now’ button.

After Installing the plugin, the ‘Install Now’ button will transform into an ‘Activate’ button. Now, click on the ‘Activate’ button.

 

Now that you have installed and activated the plugin, it will be added to your left sidebar with any other active plugins, somewhere just below your settings button. You will then want to hover over your newly added ‘Envira Gallery’ category and click on ‘Envira Gallery’ within the submenu.

 

 

From the Envira Gallery control screen, click on the ‘Add New’ button.

 

 

This will bring up a template for a new gallery, you can enter the title of your choice in the top portion. Next, you will select the photos you wish to include in this particular gallery. If they are located on your computer, click on the ‘Select Files From Your Computer’ button.

 

 

A separate box will appear where you can browse your computer files to select the photos for this gallery. Feel free to choose as many as necessary, you can always delete an image if you decide later that it does not fit your needs. once you have selected your photos, you will want to edit the metadata for each photo you will display on your site. To do this click on ‘the blue square with the pencil’ to edit.

 

If you would like a title to appear on your image, you can add it to the top input area, otherwise, you can just leave this empty. The next box can be very important to drawing visitors to your site. The ‘Alt Text’ is what allows your images to show up in Google Image Search queries, and an important fact to moving you up SEO-wise. Enter a description for your photo here. You also have the choice of editing your URL and opening a browser in a new window here. Although opening a new window in your browser may be an optimum choice for you, many web users prefer a website that will do only what they want it to do, so it may not be in your best interest to check this box and force it upon a viewer that may not desire this type of experience. When you are done with your edits click on the ‘Save Metadata’ button at the bottom and proceed to the next image to edit.

 

Once you are pleased with your photos and edited the metadata, copy the shortcode to your clipboard given to you for the gallery. Then click on the ‘Update’ button.

 

 

Now bring up edit page in WordPress to the page you on which you want to display your newly created gallery. For this example, I want to put my ‘wedding gallery’ created with the Envira plugin into my ‘Wedding’ page. Here you simply want to paste the shortcode from your clipboard into the content area of the page. After entering the code, click on the ‘Update’ button.

 

 

The easiest way to proceed to fine-tune the display of your images within the gallery is to open a separate tab in your browser. Enter the web address for the actual page you have inserted the gallery into your browsers address bar. From here you can rearrange your photos and add and subtract photos in the same category on the Envira plugin gallery edit page until they organize in a form that appeals to your design approach.

You will want to repeat this process for each gallery you wish to display, until all the images you want to present have a place to be viewed. After completing this step, the essentials of your website should be up and running. However, there is always more work to be done on a site to update with trends and new ways to reach your audience. You can freshen up your look for returning visitors with various up to date blog posts and adding new galleries as time goes on. One other thing to remember is to upgrade WordPress and any plugins you have activated for your site periodically when required.

 

 

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