Is your website helping your business or hurting you? Could it be bringing in even more clients than it is now?
One of the things I like most about speaking at photography conventions is getting to meet photographers all across the U.S. The crowd usually has everything from seasoned veterans to brand-new beginners. By the end of the convention, I’ve usually gathered up a big stack of business cards from people and end up browsing their websites. What amazes me is how people will put up a website with images that are not their best. Your website is often your first impression with potential clients – and you know what they say about first impressions.
Long-time photographers are not exempt from this- in fact, they can be some of the worst offenders. They will have an image that won an award for them 25 years ago – so they keep using it as a representation of their style. Unfortunately, it gives their work a very dated look. Sometimes painfully dated. The problem we have as artists is that we grow attached to our work and sometimes can’t be objective. The right images can make the difference between you looking “experienced” or just “old”. That is where we need to get a little help from our photography friends.
Take the images from your current site and put them in a folder. Then add some of your new work – maybe some competition pieces or just things you have shot for fun. Show all the images to your friends and ask which images are their favorites. If nobody is picking the old stuff, you know it is time to update your website.
If you are new, you often have a totally different problem. You don’t have enough good images to use. Believe me – you are better off just having a few good images on your site, then having tons of mediocre ones. If you don’t have at least a FEW good images, then maybe you need to put the website on hold for a few months and start shooting!
If you don’t have enough clients coming through the door to create your sample images, offer to photograph friends and relatives. It isn’t the most fun, but everybody starts this way. Come up with a cool concept or two and spend an hour just creating. Take the best best image from the session and add it to the site. If you attend a seminar or workshop, get home that next week and try out the new techniques on your friends. If you don’t practice, you won’t get better. Unfortunately, it is just that simple.
Take some time to figure out what type of photography you WANT to do. If weddings and bridal portraits are what you want to focus on – that is what should dominate your website. Sure you can still photograph families, products, business headshots – whatever comes along. However, you need to start focusing your website to attract the clients that you want. If you like traditional, formal portraits – don’t show a bunch of candids on your website. Be honest about your style – don’t try to be everything to everyone. It will only lead to frustration.
I’m sure you already know this, but always get a release. It doesn’t matter if it is your neighbor or one of your kids’ classmates, it is a good business practice to make sure you have a signed photo release before you put someone’s image on your site. You can find these on PPA’s website or plenty of other places on the web.
Now get rolling. Schedule a few shoots. Start sorting through all those client image folders. Figure out what type of a look you want and go for it. By constantly striving to upgrade the images on your website, you will ensure that your site is giving you the best possible first impression.