Fairly often, we have calls to our audience to show us your websites and present your best photos to us. What most people don’t know though is just how tough it can really be to navigate and find something on a site–and this comes with organization and design knowledge. One of the best ways to make it simpler for someone to navigate a website is to think of it like music. Your iTunes or Spotify library has artists then splits those into albums. To go even deeper, you’ve got songs.
This is the basic understanding behind how a photo hobbyist can create and organize a better website.
Let’s start with the absolute basics. When I see images on a site (whether Flickr, 500px, or your own custom built site) with names like IMG_209961, it drives me nuts and can even be tough to find specific images when in correspondence with the photographer. While what really matters is the content of your image, the naming makes it easier for an editor to find your photo. But beyond this, it tells us that you probably don’t care very much about your photos and instead you’re just throwing things out there and hoping for a bite.
A photo hobbyist and enthusiast surely doesn’t need to make their primary income from photography, but they can at least present their hobby with a sense of pride and thoughtful care.
Before you go on, think about this: Why should someone that doesn’t know you or care about you in any way have any sort of interest in your site? And why would someone stay there and go through the images?
Though Instagram and EyeEm don’t allow photographers to finely categorize their images, if you have a Flickr or 500px page you have no excuse here. Professional photographers that shoot more than one genre often have these split. Some examples are:
– Weddings / Engagements / Portraits
– Portraits / Editorial / Commercial / Lifestyle
– Sports / Football / Soccer / Hockey
– Food / Editorial / Commercial / Lifestyle Food
These will be talked about a bit more in the next section.
When an editor or a person goes to your site and they find a mish-mash of images, it’s tough for them to find what you’re talking about or what they’re looking for. If someone wants to ask for a print of your photo of a cat, then their life will be much simpler if its under a specific category or something similar.
Depending on your categories, your images may need to be in a separate album of some sort. Street photography is one example of a category that can include several albums based on projects. You can have an NYC album, Berlin album, Portland album or an album of just street characters and performers.
Categorization and organization really, really make life simpler for someone who wants to visit your website and check out the work.
Narrowing Down Images to the Very Best
The last thing that we will tell a hobbyist photographer to do is narrow down your images to only the very best. This can be very tough, but remember that content is king. While technicalities can have some sort of effect on how the viewer thinks about the image, you should also never, ever put every single photo up.
Here’s how you can better consider what goes on your site. Ask yourself these two questions:
– If you had to present your images and portfolio to someone tomorrow who would buy one of them for $1,000,000, what would that one image be? Does that image qualify as a probability?
– Does this image elicit any sort of emotion in someone or could it do so at all?