A great portfolio website is the hardest working tool in a photographer’s marketing toolbox. After all, it’s the one place all clients visit, regardless of their level of familiarity with your work.
For instance, existing clients might visit your website to see how your skills have expanded or to show your work to people they know—potential new clients. On the other hand, for new clients, your site is your only chance to make a good first impression. They’ll be looking to see the quality of your work, if your style fits their needs, as well as general markers of professionalism like a cohesive brand, clean design, and well-curated images. In both cases, your portfolio is your calling card.
While it may seem counter-intuitive, having a portfolio that features a range of work can actually do more harm than good. In theory, it can show that you’re a multi-dimensional photographer, but in practice the work can seem disjointed and undersell your skills to potential clients.
Clients need to know that you possess a high level of skill not only in your field but in your specialty as well. They don’t just want a great photographer for their next product shoot, they want a stellar food photographer. And your portfolio can either strengthen or dilute your message based on what you choose to curate on your site.
When looking to hire an interior decorator, would you want to sift through their stage design experience as you’re evaluating the compatibility of their style with your own personal taste? Probably not. That’s why a good pressure test for your portfolio website is to look at it through the eyes of a potential client.
Every client wants the reassurance that you’re the perfect person for the job. And you can test whether your website portfolio is up to the task by asking yourself, “Does the type of work featured on this website tell a consistent story?”
Let’s look at two photographers that have mastered separating the different narratives they tell through multiple online portfolios.
Separating work by genre
There are some photography genres that cross paths less frequently than others because their audiences are worlds apart. With this understanding, photographer Rebecca Seal has separated her primary portfolio featuring portraiture and family shots from pieces focused on the female form with a dedicated website for Amplified Pulse.
Keeping the two bodies of work separate via multiple websites allows her to appeal to a broader audience with her primary portfolio while creating a separate home for boudoir work that may dissuade more conservative clients.
Seal takes advantage of a tile gallery layout for her primary portfolio to help her showcase the breadth of her work. In contrast, she uses a triptych of supporting images on the Amplified Pulse site to communicate her specialty in her niche and provide a content teaser. As an added touch, the menu options at the top of the Amplified site do not feature a drop-down menu, unlike her primary portfolio—an elegant nod to the more intimate nature of that work. With both portfolio sites, Seal also includes a booking section to encourage clients to take the next step.
Separating work by function
Nice-based photographer James Pouliot offers up insider’s photography tours of the French Riviera where clients can get stunning shots of bright blue waters, historical architecture, and hidden gems along the coast. Budding photographers fly in from around the world to capture hyper-local regions like Old Antice, the Nice Flower Market and the ancient neighborhood Rock in Monaco, all under Pouliot’s guidance. To this end, his French Riviera Photography Tours website helps Pouliot establish the credibility he needs as both a photography instructor and local guide.
In addition to his Riviera offerings, Pouliot is also an established portraiture photographer. For this purpose, Pouliot’s second website, 19 Rivoli, paints him as a specialist of human-centric moments and human emotion. Here, Pouliot shows his full range as a photographer with a scrollable tile photo gallery. When it comes to securing clients, Pouliot includes a booking page to make it seamless for potential clients to get in touch.
In contrast, with his Riviera tours website, Pouliot educates his potential clients about what is in store for them by leveraging a column text layout supported by thumbnails of his work. While most photography projects are quoted on a custom basis and require a longer conversation, he is able to list the price of his tour services upfront to help manage client expectations—and the booking option is replaced by a more conversational contact page.
Because Pouliot plays the roles of both instructor and portraiture photographer, having two websites helps him tell a purposeful story for each.
As in the case of Pouliot’s Riviera Tours and Seal’s Amplified Pulse websites, your own second portfolio may call for a different layout than the first. Things to consider when selecting the right layout for your website include the audience, product offerings, your personal style, and the genre of work you are promoting.
Thankfully, there are many photography website templates to choose from that are easy to use and customize. You can even take this opportunity to re-think your approach to your website and take your portfolio to the next level.
Keeping all your work on one portfolio website runs the risk of making you look like a jack of all trades, master of none—instead of a skilled photography professional in your area of expertise. Giving your work separate spaces online can help strengthen your image in multiple areas of specialty, which gives clients the confidence that they’re hiring the right person for the job.
Already have a Format site? Check out this handy help article to add multiple sites to your account.