Editor’s Note: You can jump over to the all new LukeCopping.com now and peruse it as you read through this post, or wait till the link at the end. Either way, make sure you trammels it out!
I was really bad well-nigh updating my portfolio during the pandemic. Really really bad.
I felt an overall lack of motivation for marketing in general, and many of the projects I had been excited to share with clients had their releases pushed when — by a year or increasingly in some cases (some are still tied up with indefinite release dates). I was sitting on some spanking-new work — images that I loved — and I had no idea when I would be worldly-wise to let the world know well-nigh them. Plane new stuff I was shooting for regular clients seemed to be on a longer, increasingly extended release schedule. While I did add some small commercial and editorial projects to my website and social media, It had been a LONG time since I’d washed-up a full-scale re-work of everything.
An influx of new assignments in mid-2022 and the eventual release of a lot of those images towards the start of the new year made me realize that now was a viable and timely moment to make an update to my site that could have some significant impact and provide a lot of marketing content for the next several months as I worked on current projects.
The final impetus was that as 2022 came to a close, I made a massive transpiration to the visual components of my brand. A new logo, verisimilitude palette, and overall squint came with a shift in the philosophy of how I wanted to present my work. I redesigned the site to put a lot increasingly accent on impact and color, letting the bolder images I had been working on stand out.
It was time for a change.
For years I’ve used A Photo Folio to manage my website. I’ve unchangingly found it a simple and efficient way of handling various essential tasks, including setting up and managing galleries, SEO management, and hosting subconscious galleries so I can show small collections of relevant work to clients privately. It moreover gives me a ton of fluidity in interchange the site’s design. It allows me to transpiration a variety of the site’s diamond parameters without having to do a total rebuild so that I can constantly evolve the wits for visitors and the presentation of the images as diamond trends transpiration and new features are released. Since I’m still delighted with the platform without all these years, I decided to protract using them for this site iteration.
The first step in updating the site was the easiest — sitting lanugo and assessing what was working and what wasn’t with the current mix of work. What could I leverage, and what needed to be reevaluated? Did I need to recategorize work? Add content focused on specific areas to make the site increasingly well-flavored to unrepealable clients? Were there any images that I knew deep lanugo I needed to retire?
The next step was to start going through all of my work, old and new. This was fun considering it meant going when through years of images and examining them to see how my perceptions of them reverted with time. It was moreover interesting to see how they paired with new work when I started constructing the very final galleries. I’ve washed-up this two variegated ways in the past.
The first is to rent someone to do it for you. There are some fantastic portfolio consultants who have a hair-trigger eye for industry trends and know how to view imagery from the client’s point of view, and have ZERO emotional zipper to your work. The idea of someone with no emotional involvement helping to edit your website may seem off-putting to some, but it will often result in a tighter edit and removes the bias associated with choosing images you finger proud of or like the most. They moreover tend to take a “less is more” tideway that serves as a nice weigh to the photographer’s impulse to show EVERYTHING to demonstrate the range of their talents — which usually results in including images that weaken the hodgepodge overall. This tideway has yielded some solid portfolios, in my experience. I strongly recommend this method for photographers who are early in their careers and occasionally for those who are increasingly experienced but need a hair-trigger eye to squire them in recalibrating the direction of their work every few years.
The Solo Route
The second method is the one I chose for this website update — the good old punk waddle DIY method. Get a tuft of small prints of your work made, and start to physically lay them out on the floor or wall — move them around, play with the order and uncork to section them into groups based on their themes, style, verisimilitude story, and subject matter. See what works and doesn’t, and go from there. I guess you could do this in Lightroom or something similar — but I think my method is much increasingly fun.
Whatever you do, don’t decide this all in one sitting — take a day or two to live with your potential portfolio edit to see how it ages. Do some images seem out of place? Is the spritz of imagery off? Would you be largest served by showing fewer images and culling out some weaker ones? This tideway is largest for photographers who have been virtually for a while and have an established soul of work. Having a much increasingly ripened point of view on where you are trying to take your career moving forward moreover helps.
There are moreover variegated TYPES of portfolios to consider, and you may want to include multiple types on your site to weightier tell the story of your work. Here are a few that I’ve utilized over the years:
These are portfolios that are grouped virtually a specific type of subject matter or theme. For instance, you may have a hodgepodge of sports imagery, a corporate gallery, and a street photography portfolio on one site. These separate persons of work are unmistakably specified and labeled so clients visiting your site can navigate and view the job most efficiently.
Story or Project Based Portfolios
In this portfolio style, you may have a top-level gallery that substantially serves as a directory of stories or projects you have worked on. Each item would take you to an in-depth sub-gallery of that soul of work. This is an spanking-new option for photographers that work on long-form projects, photo essays, and editorial stories where the overall narrative of the story is just as important as the philosophy of any single image.
The F%@! You Portfolio
I originally learned well-nigh this concept from Doug Menuez, and I really liked the thought and philosophy overdue it. This is a highly personal tideway to towers a portfolio in which you slaver your hodgepodge of imagery lanugo to an scrutinizingly confrontational level, putting forward a small and tightly curated hodgepodge of imagery representative of your style and beliefs as a photographer. Substantially you are saying, “F%@! YOU! THIS IS ME IN 20 IMAGES! TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT! This can be an spanking-new tideway for an initial overview of your work or a powerful thought exercise for photographers to practice occasionally to help them refine and pinpoint their vision. I know this contradicts the idea of not editing from a place of emotion, but if you are going to do it anyway, this is the way to 100% commit to towers a portfolio with feeling and decisiveness.
Regardless of which type of portfolio you ultimately segregate for your website, it’s essential that the content is compelling and that the user wits is pleasant. I full-length both thematic and story-based portfolios on my current site:
Makers Doers — Portraits of artisans, chefs, designers, and other creative professionals
Work Hustle — Corporate Portraits
Grit — Portraits of farmers and those that work with their hands
Sweat — Portraits of athletes, sports culture
Portraits 1 — Darker toned portraits that don’t fit a specific theme
Portraits 2 — The same as whilom but for lighter-toned images.
Messy Food — A long-term personal project
Northern Vietnam — A travel diary featuring street photography and landscapes
Cuba — Flipside travel diary focused on a trip to Havana Cuba
Animals — A hodgepodge of portraits of shelter and rescue animals I’ve worked with
Reenactors — A short-term personal project
Refugee Women’s workshop — A hodgepodge of images from a specific assignment
Bomb Squad Boxing — A short-term personal project
Blue Cross Blue Shield Live Fearless — Images from a commercial vivification campaign
Panoramas — Wide format images featuring a variety of subject matter
This may seem like a lot for one site, but it gives a focused overview of the variegated cadre facets of my work— primarily when split into these two groupings. If my portfolio were a movie, I would think of the thematic portfolios as the full-length presentation, while the project portfolios are increasingly like the bonus features — something uneaten for viewers to swoop deeper into once the thematic portfolios have grabbed their attention. I moreover make it a point to try and trim every one of these portfolios lanugo as much as possible; some contain as few as 8 images. Keep it relevant and easy to rewording for your viewer. If you get bored looking through a massive hodgepodge of your work, they will get bored plane quicker. The one guiding rule when editing your portfolio should be, “If it’s not a hell yes, it’s a no.” Don’t overthink or try to justify including flipside image you know doesn’t make the grade just to stuff one increasingly photo in there.
Having a website is a unconfined start, but it will only do you good if someone is looking at it. Having an spanking-new SEO strategy is good (and way too much to imbricate in one post), but it isn’t unchangingly the most constructive way to momentum traffic to your site if you are focusing primarily on commercial photography (especially if you are trying to land projects with clients outside of your firsthand geographic area). Plus, the contacts you proceeds may not unchangingly be relevant to the type of work you are trying to get — not a week goes by that I don’t have someone contact me well-nigh wedding photography, which I’ve never offered.
Having a variety of channels feeding into your website is a comprehensive and well-rounded strategy. I use a mix of targeted Email marketing, uncontrived mail, listings on directory sites like ASMP Find a Photographer, Wonderful Machine, and Found Artists, and strong calls to whoopee on social media platforms that push people to my site. Lately, social has been the primary suburbanite of traffic to my site; however, I am interested to see how a increasingly zippy return to email and uncontrived mail marketing affects these numbers.
Finally, as important as your imagery is, pay sustentation to how the rest of the site communicates to clients. Do you have a solid and heady bio page that is relatable and speaks something personal to readers? Do you include a blog on the site? Do you use a content strategy to provide a resulting wits for readers? As photographers, we put so much accent on the visual aspects of what we do that we really let the written side suffer, either barely revealing anything well-nigh ourselves or stuffing it so full of SEO and sales jargon that we sound like a parody of a photographer. Be honest, bold, and open; share something real well-nigh yourself. Use every speciality of your site to differentiate yourself from other photographers considering these unnoticeable details are often remembered as much as your images.
I’ve been delighted with the reception to the new site since I launched it, not just from clients and my photographic polity but moreover from myself. I entered this most recent revision with a strong sense of the direction in which I wanted the site to move, and I’ve achieved that goal. I wanted this to finger increasingly personal and largest reflect the type of work I want to do in the future. I’ve moreover planned to do increasingly minor twice-yearly updates to include new imagery and to work on new content for a potential new gallery somewhere lanugo the road. In conclusion, the unshortened process has been a very positive experience, and I am confident that I have laid the foundation for a site that will protract to serve me well into the future.
Buffalo NY commercial and editorial portrait photographer Luke Copping creates quirky and powerful images for advertising, magazine, and corporate clients wideness the US and Canada. As an industry educator he has taught numerous workshops on the merchantry of photography. He is a former national president of ASMP. He moreover has the same birthday as Louis Daguerre. You can see his work at LukeCopping.com or follow him on Instagram.