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Passion to Pro Photography: Creating Your Online Portfolio

Passion to Pro Photography: Creating Your Online Portfolio

There comes a time in every photographer’s life where they have to decide whether they want to continue shooting photos on the weekend or turn that passion into a career. If you fall into the latter camp, you’re going to need to start building a powerful portfolio to showcase your work. Not sure where to get started? We're here to help—here are 5 steps to help you create a professional photography portfolio.

Step 1 - Polish your Presence on Social Media

If you’re into photography, chances are you have an Instagram account and already upload pictures to it on a regular basis. Participating on social media is an excellent way to build up your credibility as a professional photographer, but only if you keep it professional and hold your photography to a higher standard than the average user. If you intend to use social media to help you gain clients, your first step is to purge your accounts of drunken selfies, shoddy photography, and anything you wouldn’t want the boss at your day job to see. Alternatively, you could also set up new accounts around the personal brand you wish to build.

Step 2 - Choose your Angle

So you want to be a professional photographer, but what’s your angle? Do you want to cover weddings, shoot portraits of business execs, or capture wild animals on an African safari? You’re going to want to pick a theme or guiding principle for your portfolio and try to tailor your photos around it. Look for opportunities to photograph subjects in your target niche and assemble them into themed albums that showcase your work. You can continue to display your work on your social media streams, but in order to boost your chances at success; you’ll want to invest in your own professional website.

Step 3 - Setup a Website

  Don’t worry, you won’t have to learn a single line of HTML, CSS or JavaScript (unless you want to of course)—thanks to content management systems like WordPress or Joomla, creating a website has never been easier. Simply buy a domain name for $10, acquire hosting and use the “one-click” install button to download WordPress to your remote host’s server. Then you’ll be able to slap on a pre-made customizable theme, and tailor your webpage to your brand. Content management systems also have a wide variety of plugins to help you add further functionality to your website, like a “call to action” button or a custom photo gallery. If you get stuck, there are plenty of helpful message boards and YouTube videos for helping you set up a WordPress website or a particular custom theme. Take a solid 4 hour block on a rainy afternoon at your local cafe, and you’ll have your very own custom website.

Step 4 - Become an Internet Marketing Machine

  So you’ve polished your social media presence, chosen a theme and set up a professional website, the next step is to tie all these assets together into a solid marketing machine. The goal is to craft an environment that you can point potential clients to, as well as generate leads organically through search engine results. Link to your social media accounts like Instagram, Twitter and Facebook on your website, and vice versa to ensure that potential visitors can freely travel and interact among all these streams. Provide keyword related alt text for all your photos, to help search engines understand what your photos are about. The key to internet marketing is backlinks. The more links that you have directing traffic to your website for specific key terms, the more likely you are to appear in search engines under those key terms. After you’ve integrated everything, you can build your web presence organically by blogging about your photography, uploading to your portfolio regularly and interacting with other photographers over social media.

Step 5 - Take Lots of Photos

  If you want to be a wedding photographer, you need to photograph weddings. If you want to be a travel photographer you need to travel. Reach out to a professional photographer in your area and offer to work as a second at their next event or photo shoot. Keep uploading photos of your work to your marketing machine, working on new angles and techniques and showcasing them on your website. Your web presence will grow with you as you develop as a photographer. They say it takes 10,000 hours to achieve mastery in a subject, and the only way to get better at something is through deliberate practice. So get out there and start building your professional portfolio!
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