Digital photography cries out to be displayed on the web. It is by far the easiest way to gain exposure with minimal outlay and effort. It still requires though, a good deal of thought. It also requires being on top of the latest iterations of what a web gallery is and how it can work best for the photographer and for the viewer. This last point is currently probably the trickiest part of decision making when it comes to getting my work online.
Making the decision which images to put online is very important as I only want to the public at large to see my best shots. And keeping it up to date is also paramount as my photography gets better or changes direction. What I think looked good 6 months ago may not quite work today. Preparing it to the right specification and size etc is made very easy with Adobe’s myriad solutions and even free software now gives you massive scope to obtain the right balance of quality vs file size. All these issues are the easy part.
My main issue these days is which platform to use to best show my work. I have to decide not only what looks good but also what gets most traffic. There are a huge amount of ‘free’ options on the web, some of which are better than some of the paid options. Over the years I have been through many of these options to see what generates the most interest vs how it looks. Facebook, for example, looks terrible but I’m well aware that a massive amount of traffic gets to see my work. Flickr works well but again is not the most elegant looking gallery even though they update it quite regularly. 500px looks great but for one reason or another I have never quite got along with it although I still hold an active account. Many photographers use Smugmug which I haven’t tried. It is a website aimed at everyone from new starters to professionals and gives different options for each. The last two mentioned here (Smugmug and 500px) also give you the potential to sell you photos online. This approach is quickly gaining ground over the traditional online vendors of photography such as Getty Images. The other obvious thing that has happened since Facebook and Twitter came on the scene is the social media nature of many of these sites. Indeed, Flickr were caught short and suffered because they didn’t keep up with the move towards viral photography.
So, along with the best looking platform I also need to consider how easy my images are to share. I don’t think it is enough now to just have a pretty platform showing off your images. People want to share and by sharing comes notoriety. Many photographers use Facebook as their main page to push the clients (actual or potential) towards their website, such is the SEO power of Facebook. Indeed, advertising with Facebook even allows you to find your demographic and point them in the right direction with a few simple clicks and $10 worth of advertising. Google analytics allows you to see who is navigating to your website, when and how often. Again, it is a free service providing you are a Google member (and who isn’t in one way or another these days?). Photographers need to use all these tools to their advantage.
Of course, a good looking simple photographic website is still essential. But it can’t be the only site or presence in a photographers armoury these days.