When my wife, Alina Kareva, launched her product photography career, she needed a strong platform to display her product photography portfolio to prospective clients.
As a digital marketing specialist with over a decade of experience, I was ready to assist. Together, we built three distinct portfolio showcases: Instagram, a personal website, and a PDF portfolio, each playing a unique role in attracting new clients.
In this article, I’ll delve into these three methods, discussing their advantages and disadvantages. Additionally, I’ll provide some extra tips on securing new product photography clients. So, let’s get started.
Instagram: The Fast and Easy Option
If you’re just starting a product photography career, I highly recommend posting your work on Instagram right from the start.
That’s exactly the advice I gave my wife. Whenever she captured a new product image, she’d upload it to her professional Instagram account (one dedicated to her work, not her personal life). She would then add a short description, narrated in a storytelling format, and incorporate relevant product photography hashtags.
Instagram is known for its visual appeal and engaging community, making it a perfect place to showcase a product photography portfolio. Not only did Instagram allow Alina to put her product photography work in front of a global audience instantly, but it also provided an interactive space where she could engage with her potential product photography clients.
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Moreover, Alina utilized the ‘Stories’ feature for behind-the-scenes glimpses and sneak peeks of the product photography projects she worked on. This added a personal touch and allowed followers to see her dedication and passion for product photography.
It wasn’t long before her portfolio attracted her first client – a brand called Dun un Dun, known for making clip-on earrings for kids. The owner of this brand discovered Alina through Instagram’s internal search engine, which they used to find local product photographers in Riga, Latvia.
Tips for Publishing Your Product Photography Portfolio on Instagram
- Consistent Aesthetic: Create a unique aesthetic for your Instagram feed. This can be achieved through consistent editing styles, colors, or themes. It makes your portfolio more visually appealing and helps establish your brand identity.
- High-Quality Images: Always post high-resolution images. Quality matters on Instagram, as clear, sharp photos are more likely to attract attention and engage viewers.
- Use of Instagram Features: Make full use of Instagram’s features. Instagram Stories can be used for behind-the-scenes content, while Highlights can be used to categorize and feature your best work.
- Optimize Captions and Hashtags: Write engaging captions and use relevant hashtags. Captions can provide context or tell a story about the photograph, and hashtags can improve your post’s discoverability.
- Engage with Your Audience: Respond to comments and messages to build relationships with your audience. Engagement can increase your visibility on the platform and foster a community around your work.
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Advantages of Using Instagram for Displaying Product Photography Portfolio
- Broad Exposure: Instagram’s extensive user base can expose your work to a wide range of potential clients across the globe. This increased visibility can lead to more opportunities for your business.
- Visual Medium: Instagram’s visual nature makes it an ideal platform for product photographers to showcase their work. High-quality images of your past product photography projects can demonstrate your skills and style to potential clients.
- Social Proof: Positive feedback (in terms of likes, comments, and shares) on your posts can act as social proof, adding credibility to your product photography skills and influencing potential clients’ decision to hire you for a product photography project.
- Demonstrate Expertise: By sharing posts about your work process, product photography equipment, and behind-the-scenes details, you can demonstrate your expertise and dedication to potential clients, which can distinguish you from competitors.
- Advertising Opportunities: Instagram’s ad platform allows you to reach a larger audience or target specific demographics with your portfolio. This can increase your reach and help attract more potential clients.
- Client Testimonials: You can share reviews or testimonials from satisfied clients on Instagram. This can provide social proof of your abilities and services, convincing potential clients to choose you for their product photography needs.
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Disadvantages of Using Instagram for Displaying Product Photography Portfolio
- High Competition: Instagram is saturated with product photographers and businesses, making it challenging to stand out. Your work may get lost among the millions of images posted daily.
- Algorithm Changes: Instagram uses algorithms to decide what content gets shown in people’s feeds. Changes in these algorithms can drastically affect your visibility and engagement rate, which can be frustrating and unpredictable.
- Time-Consuming: To maintain an active presence and grow your audience on Instagram, you need to regularly post high-quality content, engage with your followers, and keep up with the platform’s features and trends. This can be time-consuming and may divert resources away from other aspects of your business.
- Limited Linking: Instagram allows only one clickable link in your bio, which can limit your ability to direct followers to different pages or products on your website.
- Lack of Control: Being a third-party platform, Instagram has control over your account and content. They can make changes to their policies, layout, or features without warning, and in the worst-case scenario, they can even disable or delete your account.
- Quality Reduction: Instagram often compresses images for faster loading, which can result in a loss of quality of your product photography photos. For product photographers, this compression might affect the display of their work, especially in terms of sharpness and color accuracy.
- Less Professional Perception: Some potential clients may perceive Instagram as less professional compared to a dedicated product portfolio website or traditional portfolio formats.
Website: The Professional Choice
Once Alina had proven herself on Instagram, I helped her create a professional-looking product photography portfolio website (www.alinakareva.lv).
Sidenote: Here’s a great resource that I wrote on the best product photography portfolio website examples.
In my opinion, having a personal product photography portfolio website is essential for attracting new clients. It provides a platform to showcase your unique product photography style and versatility, setting you apart from other product photographers.
When I started building Alina’s product photography portfolio website, I chose to utilize a minimalist design with a focus on copywriting and her beautiful product photography. The homepage features a very simple layout which is divided into a number of blocks/sections to make it easy for the visitors to navigate the website and get familiar with the content.
Below is a screenshot of Alina’s product photography portfolio homepage (it is in Latvian, but you should still get a good idea of the content on her homepage):
One of the unique features of Alina’s portfolio website is the ‘About Me’ section. Apart from the well-structured text that clearly displays her unique value proposition, she also has a short presentation video.
This video not only enhances visitor engagement but also helps her establish trust and showcase her professionalism to prospective clients.
Additionally, there’s a ‘Testimonials’ section, highlighting video testimonials from satisfied clients. This social proof goes a long way in establishing trust and convincing potential product photography clients of her professionalism and quality of work.
Finally, I have included a ‘Blog’ section where Alina shares tips for business owners and e-commerce entrepreneurs on how professional product photography can significantly improve their sales and decrease the number of returns. This helps in driving organic traffic to her website, improves SEO (search engine optimization), and further establishes her authority in product photography.
Advantages of Having a Professional Product Photography Portfolio Website
- Professionalism: Having a dedicated product photography portfolio website shows a level of professionalism and seriousness about your craft that can be attractive to potential clients. It indicates that you’re not a hobbyist, but someone who has invested time and resources into your work.
- Control Over Presentation: A professional portfolio website gives you full control over how your work is presented. You can choose the layout, design, and organization to best showcase your photographs and highlight your unique style.
- Showcase a Broad Range of Work: On a portfolio website, you’re not limited by space constraints or algorithms. You can display a wide range of your work, including different styles, themes, and types of product photography. This can help attract clients who are looking for specific types of work.
- In-Depth Project Descriptions: A website allows you to provide more information about each product photography project, such as the client brief, your creative process, and the final outcome. This additional context can give potential clients a deeper understanding of your work and capabilities.
- Effective Branding: A portfolio website offers more opportunities for branding than social media. You can create a consistent look and feel that reflects your brand identity, from the typography and color scheme to your logo and the copy used.
- SEO Opportunities: With a dedicated website, you can leverage SEO strategies to improve your online visibility. By optimizing your site for relevant keywords, you can attract more organic traffic from potential clients searching for product photography services.
- Analytics: You can use tools like Google Analytics to gain insights into your website visitors. These analytics can provide valuable information about how people are finding your site, which pages are most viewed, and where your traffic is coming from.
- No Ads or Competitors: Unlike social media, your portfolio website won’t show ads or suggest competitors, which can distract potential clients. Visitors to your website can focus solely on your work.
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Disadvantages of Having a Professional Product Photography Portfolio Website
- Cost: Creating and maintaining a professional product portfolio website can be costly. You’ll need to pay for the domain name, hosting, website design, and potentially additional features like e-commerce capabilities or premium templates.
- Time-Consuming: Developing and maintaining a website can be time-consuming. Updating the site with new work, writing blog posts, and optimizing for SEO all require a significant time investment.
- Technical Skills Needed: Although there are many user-friendly website builders available, creating a website still requires some level of technical knowledge. If you’re not tech-savvy, you may need to hire a professional, which can add to the cost.
- Lower Traffic: Unless your website is well-known or ranks highly in search results, it may receive less traffic than your social media profiles. This could lead to fewer clients discovering your work (unless you use paid advertising, such as Google Ads, Facebook, and Instagram Ads).
- SEO Knowledge Required: To make your website visible to potential clients, you’ll need to understand and implement SEO practices. Without this, your website might not appear in relevant search results.
- Lack of Immediate Interaction: Interactions with potential clients on a website can be less immediate than on social media platforms. Clients might need to fill out a contact form and wait for a response, which could potentially lead to a loss of interest.
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Instagram: The Fast and Easy Option
While Instagram and a professional website served as excellent public showcases of Alina’s product photography, there was still a need for a more private, customizable, and offline-compatible method. That’s where the PDF portfolio came into play.
A PDF portfolio offered a tailored approach that could be adjusted to suit individual clients or specific scenarios. Alina created a master PDF portfolio containing a wide range of her product photography work.
However, the magic of the PDF format is in its flexibility. Whenever she wanted to pitch her services to a specific client, she could quickly create a customized version of her portfolio, including only the most relevant pieces of work.
For example, when pitching to a potential client in the cosmetics industry, she would include more of her cosmetic product photographs. For a food brand, she could focus more on her food photography work. This customization allowed her to showcase her abilities in a manner that was most appealing and relevant to each prospective client.
Moreover, the PDF portfolio had the added advantage of being compatible with offline use. Unlike Instagram or a website, a PDF could be viewed anytime, anywhere, without the need for internet connectivity. This feature proved incredibly handy during face-to-face meetings with potential clients, where Alina could present her work seamlessly on her tablet or even as a printed hard copy.
In essence, the PDF portfolio became an essential tool in Alina’s arsenal, allowing her to present her work in a professional, personalized, and portable format. It proved it’s worth many times over, particularly when she pitched to larger brands looking for a detailed, offline presentation of her product photography work.
Advantages of Using PDF Product Photography Portfolios:
- Customization: A PDF portfolio allows you to easily customize your product photography presentation for each client. You can choose which images to include based on the client’s industry, preferences, or the specific project you’re pitching for.
- Exclusive and Confidential: PDF portfolios can be tailor-made for specific clients and shared with them privately, ensuring that they are the only ones who have access to that particular version. This feature allows you to include sensitive or exclusive content, such as tailored pricing information for a specific project, without revealing it to the public.
- Accessibility: PDFs are universally accessible. They can be opened on almost any device without the need for special software, making it easy for clients to view your work.
- Offline Viewing: Unlike online portfolios, PDFs can be viewed without an internet connection. This is particularly useful for face-to-face meetings or situations where internet access is limited.
- Direct Delivery: PDF portfolios can be attached directly to emails, providing an immediate reference to your work. This saves time for both you and the client and can facilitate faster decision-making.
- Consistent Quality: Unlike websites, where the display can vary depending on the device or browser, PDFs maintain consistent formatting and image quality across different devices and platforms.
Disadvantages of Using PDF Product Photography Portfolios:
- Limited Interactivity: Unlike websites, PDFs are static and offer limited interactivity. There are no options for videos, sliders, or other interactive elements that can enrich the viewer’s experience.
- No SEO: Unlike a portfolio website, a PDF cannot be optimized for search engines. This means it won’t attract organic traffic or show up in search results when potential clients are looking for product photographers.
- Less Immediate Updates: While you can update a PDF portfolio at any time, each client you’ve sent it to would need the updated version manually sent to them. This can be more time-consuming than updating a portfolio website where changes are instantly visible to everyone.
- Limited Analytics: PDF portfolios offer minimal insight into viewer behavior. While you can track if a client opens an email containing a PDF, you can’t see which pages they spent the most time on or which images attracted the most attention.
- Lack of Social Engagement: Unlike social media platforms, a PDF portfolio does not have built-in features for likes, shares, or comments. This can limit the potential for engagement and sharing of your work.
- Requires Regular Manual Distribution: For new potential clients to view your PDF portfolio, you need to manually send or provide it to them. It does not have the same continuous visibility that a website or social media platform does.
As we’ve explored in this article, each platform—Instagram, a personal website, and a PDF portfolio—offers its unique set of benefits for showcasing your product photography work. Depending on your goals, target audience, and resources, you might find one more advantageous than the others. Ideally, using a combination of these three can create a well-rounded online presence, making your work accessible in multiple formats and locations.
Remember, the ultimate goal is to present your product photography work in the best light possible and connect with potential clients. Whether you choose Instagram for its large user base and engagement potential, a personal website for its professionalism and SEO benefits, or a PDF portfolio for its customization and offline accessibility, make sure it aligns with your brand and showcases your work effectively.
In conclusion, building a strong product photography portfolio is an ongoing process that adapts to your growth and changes in technology. Stay flexible, be open to new platforms, and continue refining your presentation skills. As my wife Alina’s experience shows, the right presentation can open doors to exciting opportunities and help turn your passion for product photography into a thriving career.