How to Create an Online Photography Portfolio (with Tips!)

Hi, I’m Tony Northrup and for chapter one
of my book Stunning Digital Photography, I’d like to talk to
you about making your own online portfolio. Now it’s not something just for
pros either, everybody needs to have a portfolio because this is key to tracking your progress
and improvement as a photographer. A portfolio is how you
show your best work to the world but its also how you
keep track of your best work for yourself and that’s really
important. Whether you’re an amateur or a professional photographer
because like all artists, photographers aren’t
competing against each other, I certainly would want to take on Ansel
Adams, right? We compete against ourselves. We’re constantly trying to take a better
picture than we took yesterday and how do you know if you
don’t keep track of what your best work is. So many times when I meet a new Photographer,
they sent me to their Facebook or their Flickr or even worse like
their Twitter or Tumblr. And that’s fine, that shows me there
recent work, but sometimes your recent work isn’t your
best work, right? What if you’re a wildlife photographer and you have a couple of
rough days chasing down birds, and all you have are some seagulls and sparrows, well I might not
dig through enough of your work to find those beautiful bald eagle pictures And of course if you’re a professional
photographer or you want to be a professional photographer, even
if you just wanna sell prints, or give that a shot portfolios are how you do that. That’s
the website you set up where everybody can go see your work and be super
impressed and want to hire you Or browse through your pictures and find
something that they wanna buy a copy of. For that reason pros absolutely need a
portfolio site but like I said I feel like all even
moderately serious amateurs need one too because it’s such
a critical part of becoming a better photographer. For a long time setting up an online
portfolio has been kind of a challenge like either it ended up looking kind of ugly or you had to have a good knowledge of
HTML and CSS Well I found a new website, Squarespace, that
makes this much much much much easier and I
recently moved my own portfolio over from my old hosting provider to Squarespace and I’ve
been really happy with them. So I’ll walk you
through my process of setting my portfolio so
you can see just how straightforward it is. First I’ll visit to get that 10 percent discount. I’ll click get started in the
middle here They have a variety of templates here to choose
from and you can see they offer templates for
more than just portfolio websites; stores, restaurants. I’m just interested
in portfolio so I’ll narrow it down and then we can browse through the
different templates and get an idea of the type of style that we like. And don’t worry, if you change your mind you can
always switch it later. So for me I think I like this Wexly one
here you can preview it by clicking the view button and get a live preview and this gives
you an idea of what it’s going to look like This is nice because it shows thumbnails
right away, you can scroll through quickly and click something to get a larger
preview: and it allows you to quickly jump through so, I like
that design a lot and if you scroll down a little bit you
can see all these different portfolios made with that same design, you can see
how other people are using it. And you can see
even within a given design you have a lot of different options for how it’s
going to be laid out. So let’s browse through a couple of the other ones Forte here starts with that one single fullscreen image, it doesn’t give you
that kind of immediate gratification of browsing through
the pictures but it would engage somebody more as you can
see the different design leads to a very different style When you choosing your site’s template
you should pick something that vibes with your style of photography. So if you’re a family portrait photographer pick
something nice and friendly And if you’re a fashion or commercial
photographer, pick something sleek and modern. Whichever style you use
I want you to grab your cell phone, your smartphone
and grab the smartphone of everybody around you and make sure that the site loads and
displays okay because Mobile Compatibility is an absolute must. You can see the Flatiron site
provides kinda the best of both worlds fullscreen immersive image with the
ability to browse thumbnails for the impatient. I think Flatiron matches my
style pretty well. So I’m going to click create a site like this and here you just log in providing your name
and email So here we are at the Content Manager page, and this is where you’re going to configure your site and add pictures to it. And as you can see
they don’t leave you without help at any point there are little wizard dialogues that pop up and tell you
exactly what you’re doing and where you are Each template starts with a set of example
pages, but you have complete control of it so I’m gonna choose make a page like this
and customize it myself and we can see within the portfolio this
particular template has multiple subfolders So course we don’t want this photographers
pictures on there, though they’re lovely So I’ll choose “make a page like this” and add my
own and I think I’ll start with commercial Now to add my pictures I’ll just click the
“Add items” button here and you see I can just browse my thumbnails so I’ll pick some of my
commercial pictures. Now I’ll create a second gallery for my wildlife shots and I’ll add some of those
pictures in I can already tell I’m going to have way too many wildlife shots
and I’m going to have to do some weeding. Now click “view gallery” to see how
everything is looking so far I can already see one challenge is that
the photos are sized so that they’re scaled
from left to right and that can cause parts of the picture
to be cut off. Thats one of the challenges that you
deal with with these full screen immersive interfaces. Now as you can see I
squeeze the window in from the left here the template automatically resizes it and
now that the window isn’t as wide its scaling it from top to
bottom. I can change that by selecting the
options down here, right now it says full bleed, and maybe I’ll just go for center and I’ll click “save” to save it. So now we can see the pictures are no longer being cut off
but they are also no longer fullscreen, that’s a choice that you have
to make regardless of how you set up the site because
people have different shaped windows people will be browsing this on their iPhone and tablets and smaller screens
and wide screens. If you decide to stretch rather than
center your pictures go into the Squarespace interface and
drag that little circle around to put it over the focal point of the picture. This will allow Squarespace to
better center it and better decide what parts of the
picture need to be cropped for the best effect. As I click the mobile app’s link
here, you’ll see an interesting feature of squarespace which is the
ability to control everything from a mobile device This also gives you the really
powerful ability to view your portfolio from your iPhone or
iPad Now all these colors that you see are
completely configurable as well as the fonts and just about every
other element of it. So as you can see this right
now has a white background maybe I wanna go a little more dramatic,
I can pull this down and go black Ooh, stark and modern. Not too hard, right? If you want to try Squarespace out on your
own use this URL: go to and that gives you your first month free
and 10 percent off of that. You don’t even need to put in a credit
card for the first month, so even if you just wanna play around and set up a site just to see how your
pictures might look you can do that and they won’t possibly
charge you a penny cuz they won’t have your credit card number, right? It’s pretty
easy to do So let’s talk a little bit more about how to pick your pictures. It is so hard to narrow down your body of
work to 10 or 15 pictures and I know this because I see a lot of people’s
portfolios and they have like 50, 100 pictures in there and nobody has the
patience for that anymore. Maybe back in like the fifties when people didn’t have
television and the Internet they’d sit there and they’d flip through
page after page of photos but nowadays you’re lucky to get people to
look at five or ten pictures so you want to, say, put 15 pictures in your
portfolio? Don’t go over that, I tell people
ten because I know they’re not going to be able to narrow
it down that far but I do not want to see twenty pictures, at least in one category, on
your portfolio. That’s too many and people won’t get through
them. So as you’re going to your portfolio what I like to do is use Lightroom and I flip through and I rate pictures from
one to five stars and I reserve 5 stars for only my very
best work then I can filter the view to see just
my five star pictures and at that point I
start to narrow it down further. I pick at most one picture from any given set. I don’t wanna see two
pictures taken on the same day. Forget it! You need as
much diversity in your portfolio as possible. If you have two pictures which are
similar in any way you need to pick the absolute
best one Even though I know it’s going to be painful.
If you’re a wildlife photographer that means you put in one picture of any given species, tops. If you’re a landscape
photographer that means putting in one picture of any given
location just pick your best one The sequence of your pictures in your
portfolio is very important but I can make it easy for you. Your first picture should be your best picture Your second best picture, make it the last
picture in the sequence. The first picture needs to grab somebody
but as they progress through their gonna linger on the last picture because that’s
when the slideshow stops. So you don’t want to put it from best
to worst or they’ll be lingering on your worst picture For everything in between, as much
variety as possible. Besides varying subjects, it is a
great idea to vary processing styles too. So put in some natural color pictures in
there put in some kinda over processed HDR-style photos if you
like that stuff mix in some black and white, maybe some sepia.
Especially if you’re a portrait photographer and looking to attract some
clients you’ll want just at least one picture in there
that’s gonna catch everybody’s eye and everybody has a little
bit different sense of style. So there are a lot of people out there who
like this kinda modern Instagram style heavily filtered picture and you should
have at least one of those in your portfolio if you’re willing to do that. Just so that
people know ‘hey I like this type of picture this guy does this type of
picture’ Generally, in your portfolio you want to use horizontal
pictures rather than vertical pictures because most people,
right now, will be consuming your portfolio on a PC with the horizontal monitor, so they’ll
just look better. There are some pages that
everybody needs on your portfolio no matter who you are. Of course you’ll need a photo page
and you might have multiple different pages if you want to show
multiple different categories of photos. You should also have an “About”
page that says a little bit about you if you’re a professional you also want a contact page that tells people where
they can go and how they can get in touch with you In fact, even for amateurs it’s a great
idea to have a contact page because I’ll find that a lot of people will stumble
across your pictures and they might want to buy or use one of the pictures. If you’re a pro you really need to put up a
pricing page. A lot of people avoid this because they don’t like to talk about
money or they don’t wanna put a price that’s too
high or too low so they want people to call them so they’ll
negotiate, but people don’t do that They’ll look for prices and if they don’t
final them they move on to the next guy. So put down some kind of pricing or
you’re risking losing eighty percent of potential
customers. One of the most important part of your
portfolio is the domain name, and this is the place where a lot of people
mess stuff up. Some people have a really long names and
they make their domain name, I don’t know, “” And guess what, I’m sorry Jonathan Weissmuller, if
you’re out there nobody knows how to spell Weissmuller and if you have one whose names where
you’re always spelling at the people on the phone and you’re having to repeat yourself over and
over again, then it doesn’t make a good domain name. You should choose something simpler,
something that you can relate to and I dunno, “Babbling Brook Photography” or “Waterford” If you’re a
professional fine arts or stock photographer, if you want to
be able to sell you the digital downloads or prints, you’ll want a separate store on your
site. I went ahead and set one up on my own
Squarespace site and it works really well And you know what, it it’s not that hard. It used
to be setting up e-commerce required like a team of people, but I really did it in like
half an hour despite dragging and dropping some stuff in and figuring out the prices. Once you set up
your portfolio, you’re not completely done. Of course the fun part is taking a picture
that belongs in your portfolio Revisiting your portfolio, getting rid of
the worst picture and putting in your new best picture. But you also need the kinda
revisit it on a regular basis to make sure, 1) that the designe holds up, because design styles change on a regular basis. If you’re a portrait
photographer you should make sure that you know the people in your portrait
still have modern looking clothes. You know I’m people with like mullets
and acid washed jeans in there anymore it’s going to make a whole portfolio
look old. But you’ll want, on a regular basis, to
update to the latest templates too, to insure that your website
remains compatible with all the different new browsers and all
the different mobile devices. That’s pretty easy to do with Squarespace it’s not so easy with some other portfolio providers. I think the best place to get a
portfolio is Visit that exact URL and you’ll
get 30 days free and then ten percent of for the rest of your subscription if you
decide to subscribe, it doesn’t cost you anything. If you liked this video check out the
rest my book, Stunning Digital Photography. This is just part of chapter one and I have a ton of videos in there. Most of which you won’t
see anywhere else. You can also see just free videos without
paying anything by clicking that subscribe button down below
and give me a like if you don’t mind. If you have any questions, of course you can contact me
by posting a comment down below on the page or sending an
email to [email protected] Thanks

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