When operating a high street studio, the photographer is directly relying on passers by for business. Therefore it is easy to see that the appearance of the studio itself - the decor, interior design and the images chosen as display samples - is of critical importance for attracting their attention. In the online marketplace we have a far greater potential customer base, yet it is also more challenging to get yourself noticed.
For this reason a website homepage is by far the most important page in your network of online portfolios and social media platforms. The homepage is essentially your online shop front - it is likely the first page viewers see when they navigate to your website and is responsible for their following browsing behavior. A badly designed page can instantly cause viewers to lose interest and ‘bounce’ from the site, whereas a strong page can convert web hits into image sales and commissions.
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1. Color scheme
The choice of main colors for the design of your homepage, and indeed the rest of the website, is central to presenting your images at their best. Make sure there are no obvious color clashes with the hues present in the image themselves so that the page is easy on the eye and the images are able to speak from themselves. A good strategy is use a neutral, universal scheme, to fit any photographs which may be featured as you update your portfolio over the years.
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2. Image choice
Just as the choice of images you display in the public areas of a studio matters, so does your selection of images to appear in the homepage. Image carousels are common but sometimes you may choose a limited number of shots to represent your entire database of images. It is vital that you choose carefully and pick a sample which is representative of both the quality and style of your common work.
3. Image aspect
If you shoot multiple subjects, with several different camera formats, it is likely you will have images files with different aspect ratios. However, where possible, minimise regular changes in frame shape in your homepage carousels. Having images continuously alternating between landscape, portrait, 3:2, 4:3 and 1:1 formats can distract from image content.
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4. Text style
On any photography website the total amount of text should be kept to a minimum, to give the images the space to be appreciated. Some copy is necessary to convey important information such as pricing and your bio however, so ensure the font and colour of all text is in keeping with the website scheme and fits your photographic style. Minimalist imagery may be dominated by bold text for example.
5. Discrete galleries
Make browsing your site as easy as possible to maximise the contact between your viewers and your image content. All galleries should ideally be accessible from the homepage and be clearly identifiable. “Gallery 1” is not informative whereas “Landscapes” tells readers exactly where to find certain images.
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6. Space distribution
The arrangement of items on your homepage is especially important for a photo website. Many templates feature adjustable ‘padding’ for images which physically separate photographs from ‘functional’ content such as buttons, introductory text or menus. This is a good option if your images regularly feature dense levels of detail. For minimalist compositions consider full page background images with limited overlaying text, filling the negative space.
The purpose of a homepage is not just to attract visitors, but to tell clients that you can provide the services they require. It is critical to say something about your style, to guarantee you will be able to form a constructive working relationship with prospective customers.
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