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Why 90% of Photography Portfolios Fail to Attract New Clients

You’ve probably seen them before. Photography portfolio websites that are nothing more than a collection of the best photos the photographer has taken.

They look nice, but they don’t do anything to attract new photography clients.

So why are these photography portfolio websites so ineffective? And more importantly, how can you create a photography portfolio website that will attract new clients?

Why 90% of Photography Portfolios Aren’t Effective?

#1. Most Photography Portfolios Look Almost Identical

A few days ago, I’ve been doing research on the “best food photography portfolios”, and I noticed that almost all of the websites I found were identical in terms of design and overall website structure.

All of them had a very minimal design, consisting of a logo, navigation menu, and a photo gallery to showcase the photographers’ work.

I don’t have anything against a minimal design, in fact, I really like it. However, when everyone is using a very similar design template, it becomes very hard to stand out from the crowd and convert a website visitor into a paying customer.

If you want your photography portfolio website to attract new clients, you need to make sure that it stands out from other portfolio websites and offers visitors something more than just a collection of your beautiful photos.

Keep reading and you will learn how to design your portfolio website so that it not only looks great but also helps you attract new photography clients.

#2. They Don’t Tell a Story

The best photography portfolios don’t just show a collection of pretty photos. They show the person behind the camera and explain why you should hire that particular photographer.

Your portfolio website should tell a story about you and your photography business. It should explain what makes you unique, what services you offer, and most importantly, why someone should hire you instead of another photographer.

If your portfolio website doesn’t tell a story about who you are and what you do, it will be very hard to attract new photography clients.

Here’s a great example of an “About Me” block on Kimberly Espinel’s website that tells the story of who she is, what she does, and why someone should hire her as their food photographer.

As a digital marketer with over 10 years of experience, I would highly recommend you include an About Me section on your homepage to create additional trust and differentiate yourself from other photographers. Here are some ideas of what to include in your About Me section:

  • A professional headshot (photo)
  • A short paragraph about you as a photographer and where you are based. Try to keep it concise and to the point (3-4 lines is enough).
  • Your photography experience. If you’ve worked with well-known companies in the past or been featured in well-known publications, make a point of including this information to improve your credibility and set yourself apart from other photographers.

#3. They Lack Any USPs (Unique Selling Points)

Your photography portfolio website should offer potential clients a reason to hire you instead of another photographer.

In other words, it should highlight your unique selling points (USPs) and explain why someone should work with you.

For example, if you’re a food photographer, your USP might be that you specialize in photographing drinks and cocktails and have collaborated with many local bars and restaurants.

If you’re a wedding photographer, your USP may be that you’ll film short video highlights from the wedding ceremony. A professional wedding photographer and a friend of mine, Makar Kirikov recently started offering short video highlights of wedding ceremonies to his clients. This not only increased his average order value by ~30%, but it also allowed him to stand out from other photographers in the area.

If you’re a product photographer, your USP might be that you have a social media marketing background and understand which kinds of shots are most engaging among potential clients on social media platforms.

Think about what sets you apart from other photographers and make sure to display this information prominently on your homepage, ideally in a Hero section. The Hero section is the part of your website that appears on the screen under your logo and menu.

#4. They Don’t Show Any Pricing Information

If you want to attract new photography clients, it’s important to be transparent about your pricing.

Most people who are looking for a photographer are also looking for information about pricing. If they can’t find any pricing information on your website, there’s a high chance that they will leave your photography portfolio website and you will lose a potential client.

Photography pricing quotation example website
Source: Ali Daugherty

The cost of your photography services will most likely fluctuate based on many variables, and a lot of photographers cannot give an accurate quote for their services without knowing more about the project from their potential clients.

In such situations, it is recommended to give a price range or to list the starting price for your services on your photography website.

If you want to take it a step further, you can create a photography price quote calculator that allows potential clients to get an estimation of the cost of your services based on their specific needs.

Here’s an example of a photography price quote calculator for a wedding photographer that can be seamlessly integrated into any website platform.

Calconic Wedding photography pricing quotation calculator
Source: CALCONIC_

Another excellent method is to use your photography pricing list as a lead magnet to get the emails of your portfolio’s visitors. All you have to do is create a simple PDF pricing list and provide it to people who leave an email address in a contact form or an exit-intent popup form.

With this lead magnet, not only will your website visitors learn about your photography pricing, but you’ll also be able to use the emails you receive to market your photography services.

#5. They Are Not SEO Optimized

SEO (search engine optimization) is essential for any website’s success on the Internet, and photography portfolio sites aren’t an exception.

Most of the photography portfolio websites that I found while researching “best wedding photography portfolios” weren’t well optimized for search engines.

There are many different factors that contribute to a website’s SEO ranking, but some of the most important ones are:

  • The quality of your website’s content (original photos, copy, etc.)
  • The loading speed of your website (Google recommends that your website should load in under 2 seconds. “Two seconds is the threshold for eCommerce website acceptability. At Google, we aim for under a half-second).
  • The design and user experience of your website. Try to avoid website themes with a lot of animations and a cluttered design. Try to pick a website theme that will be fast, clean, and responsive.
  • How well you’ve optimized your website’s title tags, meta descriptions, and images. You need to take the time to write clear and descriptive headings, descriptions, and alt tags for all images on your website (The ALT tag is an HTML attribute that provides a text alternative for search engines for images.).
SEO letters - search engine optimization for photography portfolio websites
Source: Merakist

Here are three free SEO tools that you can use to check the technical performance of your photography portfolio website:

  • Measure page quality – this is a free service provided by Google that is powered by PageSpeed Insights. This service provides tips and recommendations to improve the user experience of your photography portfolio site. Simply enter the domain name of your website and click the “Run Audit” button.
  • Pingdom Website Speed Test – this is also a free service that measures the speed of your website and gives your recommendation on how to improve it. Essentially it is very similar to the Measure Page Quality service, but sometimes it is a good idea to run an audit of your portfolio site using several different services.
  • Google Search Console – this is another free service from Google that I would highly recommend you to use. This service provides insights about the performance of your website on Google (organic searches) as well as technical errors that your website may have.

How to Create a Photography Portfolio Website That Will Attract New Clients?

Wedding photography portfolio website example

#1. Pick a Website Theme With Professional and Clean Design

Did you know that it takes roughly 50 milliseconds (that’s 0.05 seconds) for website visitors to form an opinion about your website that determines whether they’ll stay or leave your website?

That’s why the first impression of your photography portfolio website is so important.

To make a positive first impression, you’ll need a professional-looking website design and content (text, images, videos) that will entice visitors to explore and stay longer on your portfolio website.

Here are three examples of effective photography portfolio website designs:

Sidenote: this wedding photography portfolio website is built using Flothemes WordPress theme.

Ali Daugherty Lifestyle photography portfolio website
Source: Ali Daugherty

#2. Create a Clear USP (Unique Selling Proposition)

As mentioned previously, it is crucial to create and state your USP (unique selling proposition) on your portfolio website homepage.

Here are three examples of a clear USP for photographers:

  • Wedding Photography for Modern Couples in London. Authentic, emotive & non-cheesy wedding photos for couples who don’t know how to pose. (Source: https://heathersham.com).
  • Advertising and Drinks Photographer from London. I shoot advertising imagery for alcohol clients combining the precise techniques of liquid photography with years of experience in environmental portraits and natural reportage. (Source: https://www.matthewglloyd.co.uk).
  • Product Photographer from London. I have 7+ years of expertise in digital marketing and eCommerce that I apply to produce appealing photography content that increases revenue for my clients.

I would highly recommend you take the time to come up with an attention-grabbing USP and place it in the Hero section of your website (the first block that people see when they enter your photography website).

#3. Design a Content Rich Homepage Optimized for Sales

Your photography portfolio homepage should be designed and optimized for sales & lead generation.

What does that mean?

It means that you need more content blocks than just a photo gallery on the homepage of your portfolio website. You need to include content blocks that explain what services you offer, your unique selling proposition, pricing info, call-to-action buttons (CTAs), social proof (testimonials & reviews), contact information, etc.

Here’s an example of a content-rich homepage optimized for sales & lead generation:

The homepage of this wedding photography portfolio website includes the following content blocks:

  • A slideshow header with a very clear heading “Wedding photography, but different”. This heading immediately sparks an interest and makes you want to explore more and see what’s so different about these wedding photographers.
  • A clear description of who their target audience is: “For the unfussy, hearts on your sleeves, tears on your cheeks couples. The ones who love boldly, dare greatly, and seek the good in everyday”.
  • About Us block with storytelling component: “We found each other in a film class and fell in love over a bag of popcorn”.
  • “Featured in” block with logos of prestigious and well-known publications including CNN, Southern Weddings, Google, Style Me Pretty, etc.
  • Featured galleries block
  • Client testimonials
  • Featured film portfolio
  • A block that tells more about the wedding photography experience they offer
  • CTA (Call-to-Action) block “Inquire With Us”
  • A block for photographers with workshops, courses, free resources, and guides
  • Instagram feed

As you can see, that’s quite a long and content-rich homepage. I am sure that this wedding portfolio website is very effective at converting website visitors into paying clients.

If you want to learn more on how to design a photography portfolio website that will actually sell your photography services, I recommend reading my article: Photography Portfolio Website That Sells: 9 Essential Elements.

#4. Use a Responsive Theme Design

This is an obvious point, but your website should be responsive and optimized for mobile devices (phones and tablets).

If your photography portfolio website is not responsive (or poorly responsive), you’re going to lose a lot of potential clients. They will simply leave your website and go to a competitor’s site that actually works well on mobile devices.

Mobile-friendliness is one of the most important ranking factors in Google’s algorithm and that means that if your portfolio website is not responsive, you will lose rankings in search results and consequently get less free organic traffic from Google.

According to Statcounter GlobalStats as of May 2022, 58.26% of all web traffic came through mobile phones. 

Make sure that your site is responsive or hire a web designer who can make it responsive for you.

#5. Optimize Your Website’s Loading Speed

Your photography portfolio website’s loading speed is also a very important ranking factor in Google.

What does that mean?

It means that if your site loads slowly, you will lose rankings in search results and consequently get less organic traffic from Google.

According to Google, as your website’s page load time goes from 1 second to 3 seconds the probability of bounce increases by 32%.

How page loading speed affects bounce rate

You can use free online tools like Pingdom Website Speed Test or Page Speed Insights to measure how quickly your portfolio website loads.

#6. Set Up Exit Intent Popups With a Lead Magnet

An exit-intent popup is a popup that appears when a visitor is about to leave your photography portfolio website.

The idea behind it is very simple: if you can’t convince your website visitors to stay on your site, maybe you can at least get their email addresses before they leave.

And once you have their email address, you can then send them promotional emails and try to sell your photography services to them.

There are many exit-intent plugins for WordPress that allow you to easily create exit-intent popups. Here are a few of my favorite exit popup services:

I recommend offering a lead magnet in your exit-intent popup. A lead magnet is simply a freebie that you offer in exchange for an email address.

For example, you could offer a free guide on “How to Choose a Wedding Photographer” or a simple PDF with your photography price list.

The key is to make sure that your lead magnet is relevant to your target audience and that it’s something that they would actually be interested in.

To Sum Up

In this article, I explained to you why so many photography portfolio websites simply don’t work and how you can design your portfolio so that it would actually bring in new clients.

I hope that you found this article useful and learned something new from it.

Do you need a photography portfolio website to help you sell more? I’d be delighted to help you!

With 10+ years of expertise in digital marketing, I can assist you with the creation of a stunning portfolio website that will convert website visitors into paying customers.

Here’s an example of the product photography portfolio website I’ve created for my wife: https://alinakareva.lv.

If you’re interested, you may contact me at hi@ohmycamera.com or send me an email through the Contact page.

If you found this article helpful, please don’t forget to sign up for my weekly email newsletter, where I share actionable marketing techniques that will help you grow your photography business.

Disclosure: OHMYCAMERA.com is a participant in several affiliate programs and may be compensated for referring traffic and business to companies from affiliate programs at no additional cost to you.

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Aleksandrs Karevs OHMYCAMERA Founder & Author

Hi, my name is Aleksandr and I am a full-stack digital marketer from Riga, Latvia. In 2018 I became obsessed with photography and decided to create this blog to share my knowledge about both photography and marketing. In my free time, I enjoy taking photos with my everyday companion – FUJIFILM X100V.

Aleksandrs Karevs OHMYCAMERA Founder & Author

Hi, my name is Aleksandr and I am a full-stack digital marketer from Riga, Latvia. In 2018 I became obsessed with photography and decided to create this blog to share my knowledge about both photography and marketing. In my free time, I enjoy taking photos with my everyday companion – FUJIFILM X100V.

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Disclosure: OHMYCAMERA.com is a participant in several affiliate programs and may be compensated for referring traffic and business to companies from affiliate programs at no additional cost to you.