A budding nature photography business will go nowhere without a website. You could be the best landscape photographer since Ansell Adams, but unless you have a way to show off your work online, your business will go nowhere. Read on to find some guidance while you develop your most powerful marketing tool—your website.
Find Websites That You Like
As a nature photographer, you will have hopefully gotten guidance and inspiration from other photographers. Look those photographers up online and thoroughly search through their main website. Pick out the features that you like and do not like. What information do you want to include on your website? Are there any design concepts that you want to use for inspiration? Be sure to keep a detailed log of this information and refer to it when you are actually designing your website.
No two wilderness photographers’ websites are exactly the same, but many have similar elements. Generally, nature photography websites are simple. They are meant to act like a museum gallery but on the internet. Photography should pop off of the page, and text should be simple yet informative.
- Get inspiration from other nature photographers’ websites.
- Keep a log of what you like and do not like about these sites.
- The best wilderness photography websites are simple and act as an online version of a physical photography exhibition.
The first step you must take to get a website is to purchase a domain name and web hosting. Your domain should be the name of your company, and it should almost always end with the dot com extension. Dot com websites almost always rank higher than net, co, and other web extensions. If your desired domain name is already taken, you may want to consider a new name for your photography business. A domain is usually fairly cheap (around $10 per year) and can be purchased off of websites like GoDaddy or BlueHost.
Web hosting is where the information on your website is stored and accessed. When someone views your website halfway around the world, their computer uploads information from computers that your hosting company owns. There is no way around purchasing webhosting unless you sign up for a free web service like Blogger or Wordpress.org. These free sites will not have the full functionality of a paid site.
Again, hosting can be purchased at online retailers like GoDaddy or BlueHost. Since your site will be heavily graphic intensive and have many pictures, you will need to sign up for a hosting plan with plenty of available storage. Also, be sure to compare plans and get the fastest plan possible. When people visit photography websites, they want to see information almost immediately. If your website is slow, people not even bother to look at it.
If you decide to outsource your web design, you should not need to worry about this step.
- Purchase a dot com domain and hosting services on online sites like GoDaddy or BlueHost.
- Make sure that your hosting account will have enough storage for the pictures you will include on your website.
- If you site is design is outsourced, you can skip this step.
There are a number of different ways to design your website. If you have a working knowledge of HTML, CSS, and other web languages, it would seem natural to personal design your website. These can be very difficult programming languages to learn, so novices should stay away. A number of good programs also exist that will help you develop a website. These programs include Adobe Dreamweaver and even Microsoft Word. Nature photographers also have the option to develop a Wordpress blog, which is a quick and easy way to create a site. Read through this quick guide to figure out the best method to create you nature photography website.
Using A Web Designer
Outsourcing your web design could incur significant costs, but you should be assured of a quality product. Keep in mind that any future updates to your website will incur additional costs. Unless you are a well established and lucrative photographer, you should not hire someone else to design your website.
HTML Or Website Design Software
If you have experience with web design languages, a self-made site should work just fine. With this experience, you should already know how long web development and implementation takes. If you would rather spend your days taking photographs instead of debugging code, creating an HTML site from scratch may not be for you.
Many quality websites have been created with web development software like Adobe Dreamweaver, which is often considered a “what you see is what you get” (WYSIWYG) program. With Dreamweaver, you can insert text, pictures, and tables without any coding. If you have a creative mind you should be able to design a decent looking photo gallery. Other add-on programs to Dreamweaver, such as Adobe Fireworks, will also create great looking photo galleries.
If you are unfamiliar with internet coding languages or Dreamweaver, you may want to look into something else. Learning Dreamweaver and making your own website should save you money, but more often than not your website will go for months on end without an update. When you come back to change your site, you may need to learn Dreamweaver all over again. This can be unnecessarily time intensive and will take away from the more important time behind the lens of your camera.
Creating a Wordpress blog is probably the easiest and best option to get a website that can easily be updated. A number of free templates are available for photographers, but it is recommended that you purchase a premium paid template to make your website really stand out. The ProPhotoBlog template is very popular with photographers, and it creates some very good-looking flash and html based galleries. The only drawback of this template is the $200 price tag.
Online Photography Services
There are a number of good online services that act very similarly to Wordpress but lack any sort of blogging features. A blog can be very helpful for your business, but if you do not plan to use this great online tool, look into websites like Zenfolio and VisualServer. Both of these websites (along with a few more) allow you to upload photographs and display them on a fully customizable website. Zenfolio can even act as a middleman to print photographs for your clients. As a Zenfolio customer, you can mark up any of your photographs for profit, Zenfolio will then order the photos from MPixPro, and the print will be sent straight to your client. It is quick, easy, and relatively painless.
Final Thought On Web Design
The nature photographer has a great many options to design and maintain their fine art website. Each has distinct advantages and disadvantages. Before you purchase any one program or service, be sure to make a cost-benefit analysis. Do you really want to spend hours upon hours designing your website or would you rather spend it taking photographs? Is it worth the money to outsource? Will a blog work for you?
Only you can decide. The tools are out there to create amazing websites. Now you must use them.