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The Ten Biggest Website Mistakes by Photographers

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The Ten Biggest Website Mistakes by Photographers (Tough Love for Some Photographers)

Like most photographers, I am constantly tweaking and trying to improve upon my website.  It is my calling card and brings me over 90% of my professional photography business.  In my never-ending pursuit of a perfect website, I have come across many highs and lows over the years.  Clearly there are more than ten things that can hurt a website, but in general, this list touches on the things I come across often when viewing a new photographer’s site.  I don’t profess to have the perfect website, nor do I know anyone who does.  But looking at it from the consumer’s point of view, there are some basic things you’ll want to avoid if you want to attract quality clients. Here’s some “tough love.”

1. About me page.
Who are you and why should I give you my hard earned cash?

One of the biggest mistakes that I see photographers making is creating a Pollyanna style About Me page without a lot of relevant information that a consumer would want to know.  About Me pages that proclaim, “I love taking pictures” or “My passion for photography began with the birth of my child”  tells me absolutely nothing about your skills and qualifications as a photographer.  Would you go to a dentist whose website states that they “Have always loved brushing their teeth and enjoy scraping plaque out of children’s mouths?”  Not me.  How about a builder whose only qualification is that he is “passionate about hammering nails into wood.”  I don’t think I’d hire that guy to build my house, how about you?  So why should someone trust you to take professional photos of their family just because you “…love chasing children through cornfields and capturing those precious moments.”  At the very minimum, include your qualifications as a photographer.  Don’t call into question your sincerity and professionalism by insulting your audience’s intelligence.  It’s wonderful to tell the world that you are passionate and love what you do, but if you want someone to respect you as a professional, give them something tangible to use to make an informed decision.  You’ll likely find that people will take you more seriously as a photographer, and the quality of your clientele will improve.

2. Out of focus, badly exposed images or images not sized correctly for site.
Did you mean to do that?

This should be a given yet so many photographers continue do this. And no, adding a little Gaussian blur or a texture over the image isn’t going to fool anyone. That shot may have been beautifully composed, but if you missed focus it has no place on your website.  In addition, be sure to size your images appropriately for the space on your site.  Nothing screams “I have no technical knowledge” like a 400×600 pixel image stretched to fit a 500 x 875 pixel space.

3.  No real clients.
Little Joey in fall…Little Joey in the spring…Little Joey appears on everything…

All of the images on your site are of the same child (sorry, but most people are keen enough to realize that the pretty toddler in the fall leaves is also the girl on the beach and again in the snow.)  This is not to say don’t include photos of your own children or friend’s children on your website.  The very first image that pops up on my site is a picture I took of my three children.  I include it because I think it is a powerful image and a good example of my work and what I have to offer. I have a few other images of my kids here and there for that same reason. But if the only photography work you have done thus far is of your own children or your friends’ children, then you really have no business calling  yourself a business.

4.  Illegal music.
Just don’t do it.

I happen to be one of those people who enjoys beautiful music on photography websites.  But if you don’t have permission to use a musicians’ song on your site, then you are violating their copyright.  Period.  You wouldn’t stand for a musician copying your image for free and using it on their CD cover, so why would you take their music and use it on your site?   There is plenty of royalty free music available for a reasonable cost as well as up-and-coming musicians who would love to give you a license to promote their music on your website.  Meanwhile, try to resist the temptation to “borrow” that perfect Lisa Loeb or Sarah McLaughlin song for your online portfolio. If you do, I hope you have a good lawyer because that the song’s owner may find out about it eventually and they will have more money to fight you in court than you have.  Even if they don’t, it’s tacky and it’s a violation of Copyright Law and just plain wrong.

5.  Not revealing a little bit about your pricing.
What the heck do I have to pay ya anyway?

Let’s face it, many of us (including yours truly) are afraid to publicly disclose our complete price list for fear that the person next door is going to take our well-thought out packages and prices and undercut them.  But at the very least, you should always give people a starting point.  What is your lowest session fee, your lowest print price?  Do you have a minimum purchase requirement? That is enough for anyone to know whether or not they want to know more or if you are out of their budget. Offering absolutely nothing about price on your site gives the impression that you are going to be too expensive, and people will move on.  Think about those real estate listings that read: “Call for price.”  Everyone knows that’s code for “You can’t afford it” and that is exactly what people will think if you don’t provide at least something in terms of cost.

6.  Where are you?
Location, location, location.

So many times I’ve come across a really good photographer’s website, only to hunt and search endlessly to try and determine WHERE they are located?  What state?  What city?  Are they on planet earth?  Wow, that’s a lot of work to put into a website, only to fall into a black hole.  If a potential client has to hunt for basic information such as how far you are from their home or if you service their area, they are going to give up and move on.  Just a mention of your city on your splash page is enough to say “HEY! Yoo Hoo! I’m over here!”

7.  Copying verbiage from other photographer’s websites.
What’s mine is not yours.

Sadly, this has happened to me and other photographers I know.  I have had the unfortunate experience of coming across a site where someone has stolen carefully worded text from my site to use on theirs.  Writing for your site not rocket science.  If you are not a good writer, ask someone who is to create some good material for you.  If you have nothing original to say about yourself or photography, then don’t say anything.  And by the way, Google doesn’t look kindly on that sort of thing either, so you could be setting yourself up for a drop in your SEO results in addition to a call from an angry photographer if you lift text from another person’s site.

8.  What makes you different?
The clone photographer.

This is what I feel is the most important part of your site as well as your reputation and identity as a photographer.  If you randomly Google “child photographer,” you easily come up with five or more websites that virtually offer the same poses, ideas and trends that are virtually indistinguishable from one another.  We all have photographers we admire and follow, but jumping onto the latest fad bandwagon to try and get your images to look like Photographer X is going to do nothing to get you noticed.  All photographic genres overlap and there is always going to be someone doing something similar to what you are doing.  But what makes YOU unique?  What is your niche?  Is it that you like to photograph newborns in bowlsZzzzz… We all do that.  What else you got?  You like putting babies in cute hats and resting their heads on their armsNext.  Every photographer right now, including myself, is doing those things.  Instead of showcasing the latest trends on your website,  figure out what is special about you and your work.  You’re an artist and you should have your own unique point of view.  If you don’t, you need to ask yourself why that is.  But hopefully you do have a perspective all  your own.  Whatever that special thing is, your gestalt if you will, that should be the focus of your site (either in words or in images.)  If there is nothing special to distinguish you from the lady in the next town over, then no one will have any reason to choose you over her other than price (and you don’t want that…ever!)  There is nothing that is going to kill  your business quicker than being generic and providing generic examples of your work.

9.  Using other photographer’s images to pad your site.
The thief photographer.

Self explanatory.  What goes around comes around.  And the fact that I even need to bring this up is very sad.

10.  Blog.
Work or play?

I am still somewhat squeamish about blogging.  I’m never exactly sure how much to write, how much of my work to showcase, etc.  When looking at other photographer’s blogs, one of the things that turns me off as a reader is too much personal blogging mixed in with their professional work.  I love seeing glimpses into other photographer’s lives, but when it becomes a big mish-mash of client images interspersed with grandmother’s famous pumpkin pie recipe or the big move to the new house, I lose interest fast.  My preference, as a reader, would be to have one blog for business and one for personal use, then offer links to one another. It also makes me suspicious that any photographer who has the time to document all of the details of their personal life, might not really have much of a business going on.

Just food for thought.

Lauren Fitzgerald is a professional writer and maternity/newborn photographer in central Maryland.  Her website is always a work in progress.

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No Comments

  1. Kristi Chappell on February 17, 2011 at 9:17 am

    Whhheeww…do you feel better? People actually use other photographers images on their site? I’ve never heard of that, that’s sad! Well said on everything!

  2. Alyssa on February 17, 2011 at 9:20 am

    Love these tips! I’ve been struggling with the question, “do I need a website AND a blog (which has the capability for fixed landing pages). Another thought, flash sites don’t work on the apple i-lines. They look great, but not always technology friendly.

  3. Susan Dodd on February 17, 2011 at 9:25 am

    Well said…very well said!!!!! Agree 100%.

  4. Mike Sweeney on February 17, 2011 at 9:33 am

    I agree with some but not other parts. The blog is imperative.. but one must keep it business so in my case, it all about things photography related. I dont go into politics, religion etc. I dont agree with posting pricing either. There is not any pricing on my site. If you like my stuff, you will call. If you dont call, you are not serious about my style so you are probably not my client anyways. No, it’s not an original thought, I learned it at a shop that managed to expand and increase biz in the middle of a recession. I’m not Walmart with low prices and I’m not a Chevy dealer with my “deals” splashed across the front door. When you walk through my doors, you already know it’s not cheap but you know you want it regardless and I have the opportunity to sell you and work within your budget if I can.Never been a fan of music on the site anyways but it’s a good point. Overall it’s nice piece.

  5. Krystal on February 17, 2011 at 9:43 am

    On the topic of blogging… I like to see a blog with a little personal and posts from sessions. But I don’t like to see ALL the details or even lots of details. I don’t have time to read it and ya, who has time to write all that. But a little bit seems to give me an idea of what you are like and all about. And if they are on two blog, not together, I wouldn’t bother to look at it. When they are together I think it draws people in. Just my take.

  6. Melinda Kim on February 17, 2011 at 9:44 am

    you nailed that one!Loved it! I have been in biz for 10 years successfully now. Truly have stuck to what I do. My look. Not changing with the times other than some actions from Mcp to make them look just a bit better!I just needed that reminder. Thanks!

  7. Stefanie on February 17, 2011 at 9:47 am

    I agree with most of the points on this article, and it was definitely some tough love in regards to my “About Me” page! I’ll be changing that today! The only thing I didn’t fully agree with is not mixing the personal stuff with the business stuff. As a client, I do want to know my photographer’s personality. If they shouldn’t be sharing their personality with me on their About Me page, they should sure as heck do it somewhere. Why not the blog? I agree that too many overpost their personal stuff, but for the most part it gives me an immediate sense of the chemistry that person will have with me and my family.

  8. Veronica Krammer on February 17, 2011 at 9:49 am

    Fantastic observation! I’m a hobbyist photographer who dreams of starting a small photography business once my 3 small kids are in school (approx 3 yrs). I believe in shooting for the stars, only after well thought planning. Some are gifted enough to ‘go pro’ w/ minimal formal ed. Professionally, I’ve been a Speech/Lang Therapist and a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor. Both required extensive education, training and practicums. I’ve approached photography with the same model for education. I hope this helps determine my success. Like with the NBA or NFL, only a few of millions are blessed/gifted w/ the ability to ‘make it big’. Others simply have to put in the time and effort w/ additional training, etc.. then there are the dreamers who never even make the cut. With sincere passion, many of us can ‘make it’ in photography, however it seems like so many people jump in head first with nothing to back their play. Their choice, I suppose.

  9. Kate on February 17, 2011 at 9:52 am

    Definitely an eye-opening article. I am glad to hear some tough love, but wow. Pretty harsh words for a new mom trying to start a photography business. What did you start out with on your first website when you started? Oh right-pictures of your own or friends’ kiddos. Everybody has to start somewhere. Saying you don’t have a business until you have a full portfolio is pretty harsh. I found it making me feel discouraged, and then I stopped and said no- you can do this. It doesn’t matter what anyone else says. Thank you for the tips though. It is good to know some “what not to do” before I make any of those mistakes.

  10. Meg P on February 17, 2011 at 9:52 am

    very good points! i do agree with them, however, they’re also a little contradictory. you pointed out that these are things you often see on a new photographer’s website – and they definitely are things worth mentioning, but it would be helpful if you offered alternatives for these common mistakes. for example, on the “about me” page point; there are a ton of new photographers these days that *did* start because of their children. you know, momtographers. they didn’t go to school, etc. maybe they haven’t got a large portfolio. so then what are you supposed to put in the about me section? and if they’re new, they haven’t shot 215 weddings, etc. that they can mention as experience. another one is the website with no real images (same subjects over and over). again, i do agree, but – how else do photographers get started? sure you can shoot for free until you build up a large enough portfolio – but if you really can take great photos (of your own kid or otherwise), many would argue that it’s unwise to charge nothing at all. but if you *do* charge, and you aren’t a business, then you’re doing business illegally.just thought i would point out that if you’re addressing new photographers, alternatives to these mistakes would be a little more helpful than just criticism. i’m definitely not a professional, and i didn’t go to school for photography, but i would someday like to get a little photography business going.

  11. kiran on February 17, 2011 at 9:56 am

    I agree with the points. I’m not a full fledged professional photographer but most of my clients comes thru my blog which is linked separately 🙂

  12. Crystal ~ momaziggy on February 17, 2011 at 10:19 am

    GREAT Jodi and I couldn’t agree more…with all of it!

  13. Wayfaring Wanderer on February 17, 2011 at 10:27 am

    This post sort of sounds like it was written while you were perturbed about something, although it does offer some very useful tips to a fledgling photographer who doesn’t have a site yet.

  14. Ellen on February 17, 2011 at 10:50 am

    I enjoyed the article. I totally agree with it. One thing that I’ve noticed with several websites is the same people being in all the pictures. This makes me a little hesitant about posting pictures of my repeat customers. This is where I try to use the blog. I have one family that has family pictures sometimes twice a year. I always try to put in my blog where/when I met the family and how much a I enjoy their business. I’m always afraid people will think they are a family member and I have no “real” clients. hehe I want everyone who visits the site to know that they are loyal customers.

  15. Ginger on February 17, 2011 at 10:54 am

    Amen sister! I see all these people cropping up and setting out signs and I look at their work and wonder what the heck? I am no professional, barely an amateur, but wanting so badly to learn more, but my point is, even I know some of these people are not professionals. And taking other peoples work, whether it’s pictures or music is a as basic as not taking each other’s crayons in kindergarten. It’s a shame we have to tell that to other adults. I love your blog. Keep up the good work. The ONLY place I don’t agree with you is when you say you are not a professional….I challenge that one! Have a great day!

  16. Jessie Emeric on February 17, 2011 at 10:55 am

    very good info. thanks for taking the time to write the article.

  17. Lisa on February 17, 2011 at 11:02 am

    Honestly, I think you were a bit pissed when you wrote this post. Kind of makes it sound like you wanted to put photographers just starting out in their place and let them know that professional photographers know everything and have always known everything. really biting way to tell people they suck actually.

  18. Carlita on February 17, 2011 at 11:06 am

    All great points, except that seriously….music on websites starting by itself and forcing you to scroll madly down the page to stop the player….that, to me, is one of the most annoying things anyone could do to their site. Also, videos that play by themselves – kind of a shock sometimes, when you’re not expecting them (and especially if you can’t find them quickly to stop them.)

  19. Victoria on February 17, 2011 at 11:17 am

    Some very helpful tips. I will be updating my “about me” section soon.

  20. BelovedAimee on February 17, 2011 at 11:30 am

    I agree with Wayfaring Wanderer…it does sound like this post was written with a bit of negative energy. Nonetheless some very good points are included.

  21. Scott on February 17, 2011 at 11:52 am

    Good post. I think #1 and #8 go hand in hand. As you said most images on the sites are following the same trends, and in most cases the only difference between photographer’s sites is the name on the top. The photographer is the best way to make the site unique (YOU-nique?).

  22. Miranda on February 17, 2011 at 11:59 am

    I agree with Wayfaring Wanderer and BelovedAimee, this post came across a little snarky/negative. Some very good points, though.

  23. Dave Wilson on February 17, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    I have to disagree a fair bit with point #10.”It also makes me suspicious that any photographer who has the time to document all of the details of their personal life, might not really have much of a business going on.”I’m personally suspicious of anyone who DOESN’T talk about their personal life. I mean, what do these people do? Work 24/7? If they do, then I’d be concerned they’re more interested in my money, than in me. And that doesn’t sit well with me. Earn your living, live your life. Don’t work 24/7…

  24. Maddy on February 17, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    I agree with a lot of point and I know the “About Me” page thing gave me a lot to ponder. However, if you’re a self-taught photographer, what do you list as your qualifications? I don’t have a fancy Art degree to show my creditentials, but that doesn’t mean I’m not qualified either. Thoughts on how to approach that?

  25. Michelle Moncure on February 17, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    Honestly, it is the blogs that are more personal that I subscribe to and would, if it was photographer that was in my geographic region, hire if I needed their services. I think when you are a family/portrait photographer, your audience is a lot of time other moms. I don’t need a clean stark commercial site to book a photographer for my kids. When I see a person who is running a successful business and home and is stylish and up to date on the latest trends, I’m more likely to hire them. The personal stuff becomes part of their BRAND, and that is what I am buying into. And I may learn how make a new recipe or how to organize my office along the way.

  26. Tanisha on February 17, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    Nice piece, however I don’t agree with some of the points. As a consumer, I WANT to know something about the photographer I am about to spend my hard earned money on! It’s just my opinion but I do like it when someone includes how their photography journey began. If it began with the birth of their child then that makes me feel as if they really have a soft spot in their heart for photographing children. It makes me feel more comfortable allowing that person around my children. I’m not asking for a full page history here just something that makes me feel comfortable and at ease. I DO NOT want to be around nor want my kids to be around an uptight, unfriendly photographer! And there are MANY MANY of them out there. I have run into a few of them in the last few years. I think sometimes there must be some hidden rule that says that acting snobby makes you a better and more successful photographer. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of those customer’s who looks for the cheapest photographer on the block! I love quality work, and am more than willing to pay for it. I understand how much goes into creating a beautiful photograph, and I respect the art and the ones who create it.As far as pricing on the website, I kind of like the tease of having to call and ask for the information. I get a chance to interact with the photographer, and get a feel to see if that person will be a good match for me. If I like the work, I’ll pay for it!I also like when there is a mix of personal, and business on the blog. Again, it’s a personal thing. No, I don’t want to see all family pictures, but I RESPECT someone who is just starting out and building their portfolio. A person could post 100’s of pictures of different people on their site, but still not be as good as the one who has their kids and family posted. I’m just saying. Maybe I’m not the kind of client that all photographer’s want, but as a consumer I choose who get’s my money. I know what I look for in a photographer, and what draws me to their work, and their website. Everybody knows what they like and what they want. This is just my opinion!

  27. Kebiana on February 17, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    I agree with Maddie, as someone trying to break into the industry after years of photographing for the pure joy of it all, the qualifications section has me struggling. How to handle this to reflect having experience but no formal training? Same with the clients section, I know you’re telling us that those without lots of different people in our books “really have no business calling yourself a business”, but that seems overly harsh and discouraging. How are we supposed to get new clients if we can’t go ahead and call ourselves a business now?Also, regarding blogging, Alyssa, you’re right, blogging allows a static landing page when your main site is in flash. Very helpful when starting out and trying to track which photos are receiving most attention. I keep a photoblog, stocked with images that I love that reflect the various things I photograph, and with a little paragraph below describing one of the above (1. why I posted the shot 2. techniques for shooting a difficult subject 3. interesting facts about the subject pictured). The main page only shows the photo, and people can click through to the post itself if they want to learn more. A bit of personal info gets in too, why I like certain things enough to take their pictures, for example, but I have trouble believing that it’s less useful to have any window into your life than it is to only have a stock set of static images on website and no blog. Blogs are also a good way to draw in viewers/potential clients because you can easily link them to many things like FB profiles, blogging networks, etc.

  28. Crystal on February 17, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    I am so glad you shared this. I had an experience last summer with another photographer having her daughter send me an email asking me what I use to get my photos to look the way they do and how I do it. Umm, I was born at night but not last night. I still can’t believe they did that! (I went to school with her and I guess she didn’t realize I knew her mother was a photographer)Another thing, I DO post my pricing on my site and unfortunately get price undercutting. You would think the ones that are doing this would realize they’re losing a lot of money. Mike Sweeney, I couldn’t have said it better.

  29. Mike Sakasegawa on February 17, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    “But if the only photography work you have done thus far is of your own children or your friends’ children, then you really have no business calling yourself a business.”OK… So then, at what point can you start calling yourself a business? I mean, everyone has to start somewhere, don’t they? Suppose you’re trying to start a business and are in the process of building your portfolio. Should you not have a web site at that point? If you do have a web site, should you refer to yourself as strictly a hobbyist? Should you not charge for your work? But then, how can you build that business without making money to support it and without marketing yourself?

  30. The Cotton Wife on February 17, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    I agreed with all but the last one. Especially this part: “It also makes me suspicious that any photographer who has the time to document all of the details of their personal life, might not really have much of a business going on.”Do you ever visit The Pioneer Woman? Personal and business (cooking, her books, etc) all mix perfectly. She blogs extensively about very personal things and yet she’s a multimillion dollar business. It can work very well.

  31. Angela on February 17, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    Thank you for writing this. I am not a professional photographer but enjoy photography. I have been on a search to find a professional to take our photos of our family. I have read the “I developed a passion when my child was born”… in the what about you section. But like you said it told me nothing about their experience. I have a passion for photography but I am not a professional and I don’t have the qualifications to become one. The other pet peeve is not finding any sort of price on the website. I loved the photography of one local company but did not have any info about their price listed. After several emails back and forth I still could not find that information and would have to drive across town before I would even know if they were an option for me. Needless to say I did not hire them. Your blog hit the nail on the head on things that turn me off as a consumer when I am looking for a professional. Thank you for writing this! I appreciate it.

  32. Jenna on February 17, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    I agree with some but not all of what you wrote, and it seemed to be written as a vent rather than sincerely hoping to help people. Jasmine Star, who books $10,000.00 weddings all year long, says that it’s imperative that your clients know who you are, not just as a photographer, but as a person. They have to like YOU and not just YOUR PICTURES. She gets 100 comments on a post about her dog. I’ve been amazed at the interaction I get when I post personal things about my life and my family. And if I want to book the $10k client, I guess I should learn something from her. 🙂 Just saying, a lot of people like to see personal things about you so they know who you are as a person and not just an organization.

  33. Michelle Dry on February 17, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    Wow, wake up call! I’ve seriously got to change my “About Me” section now, lol.

  34. Nic on February 17, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    I was waiting for it, and it wasn’t there… Poor Spelling and Grammar!! Now, I do not profess to have great grammar or perfect spelling but come on, nothing will turn me off quicker. Surely it’s not that hard to do a quick spell check before you commit something to the web to represent you and your professionalism.

  35. Sarah! on February 17, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    Well said Lauren! Thanks for sharing Jodi. Made me rethink a few little details on my site! (about me, I only have Syracuse, I could put New York)I’d like to hear what she has to think on adding your equipment library on your site FAQ: “what do you shoot with?”

  36. Annabel on February 17, 2011 at 3:58 pm

    Having a flash based website is another baddie. Get rid of the Flash. It’s not indexed well by Google and you’ll miss out on work.Also not searchable or viewable by modern devices such as iPhone/iPad.

  37. This is fantastic and I’ve either done a lot of those (About Me, Pricing, Images) or I’ve seen it (music, theft, one subject). I write a photography blog. I love portrait photography and I take on clients every now and then, but they’re mostly friends and friends of friends, and so on.Mostly I like sharing what I learned about photography and I’ve been working on making this clear on my site this month. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I’ve been enjoying your blog.

  38. Rhonda on February 17, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    One of my biggest pet peeves about photographers sites is that sooooo many of them don’t have where they are located. I don’t even bother if I can’t find that info. And I agree with one of the other commenters here, spelling and grammar are pretty important. And I agree completely with point #8, but I also completely disagree with what you said about the about me section and blogging. I do think we shouldn’t go overboard and make our blog be a personal blog with a little photography thrown in here and there, but, unless you aren’t trying to build relationships with your customers and their friends, giving a glimpse into your life is pretty important. I recently read a study that said that the majority of the public can’t tell the difference between good and great when it comes to the quality of art- and really don’t care much. There was a small percentage that could tell the difference, but even most of those didn’t care as long as the image moved them. Many chose the good over the great because of that quality alone. And when asked about photography specifically, they cared more about liking their photographer as a person than the photographers work, because they felt more relaxed in front of the camera with a photographer they liked. It’s important, from a marketing perspective, that we understand that the client is purchasing the photographer just as much as they are purchasing the photos. And the number one quality they were looking for is authenticity. That means we need to sell ourselves by being ourselves as much as we need to sell our capability behind a camera and photographic style. And we also need to realize that not every customer is the right customer for us. I always say I’m not Olan Mills, nor do I want to be. (I work hard to make my photos not look posed, even though they pretty much are.) If that’s what a customer wants, then I’m not the right photographer for them. I would, however, refer them to someone like the writer of this article who has beautiful, posed, work.I was challenged once to ask my clients why they chose me over the other photographers in town – and not a single one said it was because they liked my photos better. Every one of them said it was because of who I was, how they felt comfortable with me, because they felt like I cared about them, because they felt pretty when I was photographing them. None of them got that from reading my qualifications or accomplishments. I would guess that if I asked if they cared about that, they would say no. I guess that’s why marketing pros say the most important thing to know is who my customer is and the second most important thing to know is why that customer would want me. I do think though that in writing our about me sections, we need to choose our words carefully. A business and marketing professional behind many of the top name wedding industry photographers said, “words don’t matter, but EVERY WORD MATTERS.” In other words – keep it short and make every word count. Get rid of the superfluous and be purposeful. He also said if you need paragraphs to write your about me page, you’re saying too much. Clients don’t want to read a book, but they do want to find out about who they are hiring and if they like you as a person.I think the rest of the points are spot on. Blurry pictures? Customers many not be able to tell the difference between good and great, but they do know bad. And stealing? That in and of itself says a lot about who you are as a person. People like people with integrity! And as for pricing, I agree that you should at least say, packages start at… or something like that. But if you are getting the work you want without it, great! It’s probably because you have a GREAT presence and people like who you are as much as your work. Sorry – that was long.

  39. Dan on February 17, 2011 at 5:20 pm

    I’m not sure what to think about this post/opinion on websites. I’ve gone to several statewide and heard national speakers talk on things that directly contradict the items mentioned. You say to show something that differentiates people, but yet the best way to do that is on the about me page…so that doesn’t make sense. I know one very successful and nationally recognized speaker/photographer that has a blog and about me page that is purely personal…they post images of their family, vacations, and even pictures of the photographers as kids. It works great because it creates that emotional connection with the client and connects to them on a deeper level. I’d rather go to a photographer who shares something personal than someone with an over-inflated ego who states nothing but what they’ve done and what awards they have…sure if I were a commercial photographer I’d keep the personal stuff out, but booking a photographer is booking on emotion, not on awards and qualifications. Pricing is another one…I personally include just about all pricing on my site, however some prefer not to as a way to make it about emotion and not about price…which I can understand and agree with depending on what your market is that you’re trying to reach.So again, some of this is good, but some I’d take with only a partial grain of salt. I said it before and I’ll say it again, photography for people is about emotion and relationships…if you make your site all business and nothing personal that engages the client then great if it works for you, but personally and for several others that I know and talk with this is something that would not work at all.

  40. kristin brown on February 17, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    i agree with others that this post was a bit harsh and negative… it’s not the content that bothers me for the most part, but the tone in which it was delivered. i understand the article is meant to educate and it has some valid points, but most photographers are just doing the best they know how and i can see this article hurting some feelings and offending.

  41. Kathie M Thomas on February 17, 2011 at 6:58 pm

    Great post – thank you for sharing this. There are some things I am doing right, and a few things I need to change or add to my site!I got told about your post at a photographer’s forum so you’ve added value to many of their members.

  42. Mike Sweeney on February 17, 2011 at 8:28 pm

    I need to add one thing about blogging that I forgot to mention in my first response. If anyone wants to see personal mixed with work, then they see it on Facebook where it belongs. I’ve had more interest gen’ed from my Facebook account than I have had from the website. People pay attention to the “likes”, the personal pictures up, snippets from what is happening with me at times and so on. I still avoid “hot buttons” even on Facebook or at least mostly. There have been a few times I’ve jumped in the middle of stuff but not often.

  43. mum2four on February 17, 2011 at 8:55 pm

    I do not agree with the “about me” part at all!!! You can be a schooled photographer and have a lame personality and I guarantee you will not be successful at custom personal photography, perhaps you could do commercial photography with a lame personality!. Customers like to know a little bit about who will be taking their photos, it brings us together on a more personal level, then it allows a photographer to get more personal shots. Look at Beth Jansen…..she doesn’t have some long list of her qualifications! If your work is good enough, and your creative enough, then your images will show it. A photographer has to have some natural ability and no matter how many school qualifications you list, I would not be impressed unless your work speaks for itself. Also, comparing a dentist and a photographer…….not even the same thing! Of course it matters what a dentists schooling is, but it doesn’t matter how much school a photographer has had! I am in the process of creating a blog right now and I for sure will have an “about me” section!!

  44. l. on February 17, 2011 at 9:55 pm

    I did like some of the article, but it wasn’t really a pleasant read. “Here’s some tough love” to borrow a recently used phrase. Ok… Tough love is great, but too much will scare off potential customers. I hope none of your clientele google you and find this article because it does come off a bit harsh. Nobody wants to hire a meanie to be their photographer. In fact, I’d add a point about how your web presence is greater than just your business website. Secondly, I don’t see the point in complaining about what others are doing wrong (in your eyes). Why gripe about what other photographers are doing? Obviously there’s a market for certain things or they wouldn’t be making it in this industry (ex: babies photographed in bowls). It’s what clients like. If you don’t like, do something else. But no need to criticize the people who do that work. To each his/her own. That’s just my tough love. But I do commend you for writing it because it takes some guts to write with honesty on the Internet.

  45. Tasha on February 17, 2011 at 10:07 pm

    To quote Kristin: “i agree with others that this post was a bit harsh and negative”_ it’s not the content that bothers me for the most part, but the tone in which it was delivered. I totally agree. As I was reading this all I kept thinking was that this was some personal vent about another photographer/photographers. I also don’t agree with the blog part. Personally, I LOVE seeing some of who the photographer is. How she interacts with her kids, how her house looks, etc. If I’m going to hire someone, I want to have a good feeling of WHO they are as well as how good they are at what they do. If all I am seeing is client session this, client session that, I feel like they are ALL business and no fun. But, then again, I’m a goof ball and love to have fun. I do think this article has some valid points, but overall the post gave off the ‘my way is the right and only way’ vibe. :

  46. Amarie on February 17, 2011 at 11:04 pm

    LOVED #8! That really needed to be said. Zzzz! LOL As far as a blog, I think it’s ok to mix it up a bit, but what annoys me is when you follow a photographer on Facebook because you’re interested in their PHOTOGRAPHY, and they’re status updates are about what they’re making for dinner, or inquiring who’s watching “Glee” tonight — ?? And thank Goodness I’m not a professional photographer, so I can keep my Pollyanna “About Me” page! -DGREAT article!

  47. Mandi on February 17, 2011 at 11:09 pm

    I enjoyed this article as well. Many great points. But I’m going to also have to agree with so many others that this article had a negative, “venting” tone to it. Also, as an avid reader of professional photographer blogs, my favorite ones are the personal ones. sorry.

  48. David Pexton on February 18, 2011 at 12:06 am

    I don’t have any qualifications as a photographer. In fact, i’m completely self taught. I think the images should speak for themselves don’t you? The same way you see a builders previous work and say, ‘wow that’s amazing. Please build my house’ I also don’t agree with putting your pricing on your wesbite. I am new to this whole thing, (in fact my site has been up only a week) but I’m not about to put prices up demanding this and that when I don’t have a substantial portfolio. I have already been offered two jobs. I negotiated those prices afterwards when I found out what the client wanted. Perhaps when I’m more established I can put pries on the site, but even then, I think it will look tacky.

  49. Paul on February 18, 2011 at 12:33 am

    I’m floored that people are whining that the article was “written with a harsh tone.” This article was written VERY well using tough love to get people out of their hobbyist thinking and get professional about their business. If you found this harsh, then please step aside so those of us who are serious about running a pro photography business can get some work done. No, I do not know the author personally, but to see the criticism was astounding. We are such whiners in this nation.

  50. trm42 on February 18, 2011 at 12:46 am

    You forgot one important usability and SEO advice: Just don’t do Flash. No, never. If you have Flash site, find immediately someone who can really do you a good HTML portfolio site.If a photographer has a site only in flash or the galleries made in flash, I’ll just skip the whole photographer. Usually flash sites don’t have anything else than the name of the photographer in some artsy fashion and some hardly usable photo galleries. Custom fonts and weird interfaces (where did you hide the next photo button?) aren’t something the visitor is looking for. If you’re thinking your photos are more safe with Flash site, you’re wrong. There’s always the FF Firebug extension which can sniff the fetched photo urls and you can always do screenshots.

  51. Brandon on February 18, 2011 at 1:15 am

    Agree 100% with #6. When looking for wedding photographers near Central IL a few months ago, I couldn’t believe how many sites I had to pass up simply because I had no idea if they were anywhere close to me. They either completely forgo posting any location information or say that they photo all over the world. Neither of those help.

  52. Adam on February 18, 2011 at 1:45 am

    Great write-up! I must admit I made errors 1 and 5, and a bit of 3 on my site. Will definitely heed your advice, thanks.

  53. Bill Raab on February 18, 2011 at 6:44 am

    Thanks… I will state that this read came off as written by someone who was upset about something. Oddly enough it made me think about the About page you mention. If I read an About page with this sort of overtone I would be completely put off. I find that ironic.Anyways I agree 100% with the rest but I think a personal touch on the About page is nice. Someone using that space for bragging about awards or certifications that no one knows about does not do so much. Photographs of people really are (if done right) a time of relationship and connection. If people coming across my site don’t want that and just want a “photographer” there are plenty of trigger happy folks out there. I want my clients to work with me because of my work and who I am as a person. If they have no interest in that we are probably not going to work well together.

  54. Brandy on February 18, 2011 at 9:42 am

    Thank you so much! I was making a few mistakes listed (namely the about page…editing as we speak), and unless you see it in print you don’t think about it. Can’t believe photogs would steal images for their site…I keep my work blog strickly work related. I might throw up the odd birthday party for a friend if business is slow, but otherwise work only.Thanks again!

  55. Jennine G-L on February 18, 2011 at 9:53 am

    Thanks so much for this. It gives me a lot of think about it I want to start a business some day.

  56. Tanisha on February 18, 2011 at 10:03 am

    @ Paul, each person has their own view of things. I stated before that being a professional doesn’t mean you have to be so cold and unfeeling, or well.. snobby. Tough love is one thing, but saying that what you like on a website is what EVERYONE should do is ridiculous! Maybe that works for the type of client you guys are looking for, but as for me the CONSUMER, I would never book a session with you or her, or any other photographer with such a cold, hard persona! Everyone always talks about the Mom’s with camera’s ruining the photography profession, but really to me it’s the photographer’s out there with the snobby attitudes! Oh, I don’t have to do this or that because I have such great pictures, and I have this experience, or have that……etc blah blah blah. I totally RESPECT the work and time that goes into a photo shoot! I need to feel a connection with the person I am working with. I am so offended when I read posts by photographer’s that talk about how they only deal with and attract a certain type of client. OK so just say it. You are catering to the one’s who have so much money that they won’t care if your prices are high, or you don’t blog about personal stuff. They buy based on name only. That’s fine, and dandy, but remember there are way more of us regular folk out here. I do spend quite a bit on family photo sessions every year. I have to save and budget to get them, but I do it. That’s why I need to feel some kind of connection, or chemistry with who I choose to work with. I refuse to give my hard earned money to someone who really doesn’t feel that I am worth enough to even communicate with me, or even want to deal with me. I would much rather give it it someone who appreciates it! Who is passionate about what they do and not afraid to express it. What works for one photographer may not work for another. Just my opinion!

  57. Life with Kaishon on February 18, 2011 at 4:36 pm

    Very excellent post. Thank you : )

  58. Talitha on February 19, 2011 at 9:57 am

    I must have thicker skin because this post didn’t offend me or come across as cold whatsoever. It sounded like a professional, successful photographer who knows what she is talking about. On another note, I don’t think Ms. Fitzgerald meant that you shouldn’t put anything personal in your blog at all, just to keep in mind the main purpose of the blog at hand and to balance it appropriately. When I visit a professional’s blog, I don’t want to scroll through 5 personal entries to get to a photography one. Especially if the internet connection is slow. If it is your business blog, keep it primarily so. This being said, I am not a pro and have no desire to become one, so take my opinion with a grain of salt ( :

  59. Myriah Grubbs Photography on February 19, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    I enjoyed this article for the most part as I seem to have a lot of pet peeves myself… I can’t stand when there are no prices. Ha. It’s irritating to know that I can’t find out something simple and save myself time but rather will have to put an effort toward something that could just be so EASY!!!! Lol. It also then causes more work for the photographer… work not geared toward their clients so much, but toward someone who may never call back. A fair amount of time could be saved by “weeding out” people that aren’t really potential clients, and know this because they see the prices… OR, it definitely has the potential to cause people to think they can’t afford you. Anyway… That’s what I think. But, the business-only blogging and impersonal stuff… Well, that’s not for me. Use discretion, obviously, about what you share, but I wholeheartedly agree with the masses here that most normal people can’t tell what great photography is, but they know a good personality when they see it. They want to know you. I LOVE reading photo blogs where the writers have personality. I don’t love this: “Here’s the J family. They were fun”. But along these lines, to each their own. Clearly there are people that will like you regardless of your stance on this. Some people are business-only. Some aren’t. It’s really ok to so what you think works. No right/wrong answer.Then there’s the whole “about me” thing… If I like your pictures and think you’re good, I will hire you regardless of your education and official awesomeness. I do prefer if whatever you write is original and ACTUALLY show’s your personality. But seriously, you can put every qualification you have up there, and if your photography doesn’t connect with me, well then, you won’t be getting my business. And there’s my 2 cents!!!!! Plus, I always appreciate an article that causes me to think and try to better myself and my business:)CHEERS!

  60. sarah on February 19, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    woah..get out of bed the wrong side this morning? How to demoralise and discourage anyone starting out or trying to gain confidence. Nice work…..not…..Okay i agree with the stealing tunes, other people’s photographs, out of focus stuff etc..but nothing about your passion and just qualifications?! Yikes….that just comes across as a stuffed shirt (that might be a british term) but it kinda means stiff and inhuman. I think others have said it but if that tone is on your website i would NOT hire you to take any pictures for me. Photography is intimate and personal especially newborn…I want to know that the person behind the lens loves doing what they do…and being honest less people are bothered about qualifications than you think….dentistry…yes…id like to know the person who may or may not cause me incredible pain and long term disfigurement has been to University and is registered…yes…Also the Zzzz comment…geez how patronising can you get? You know what pictures people love and want? Those ones you have said don’t use on your website. So ‘find what makes you unique and use that’….yeah and watch everyone hire the photographer who has got pictures of babies in baskets on the website….’cos thats what they want. Yes you can suffer from the lots of people offering the same thing problem…but seriously being arty and out there don’t pay rent…and i guess i probably don’t need to say anything about adding pictures of your own kids and friend’s kids to a website. Maaaan….i can’t see many fledgling photographers knocking your door for encouragement. What’s the view like from that ivory tower?One thing that is really good about this post is that it is a guest blogger…I have really enjoyed Jodie’s blog (yes i like the personal stuff..it makes her seem human and likeable)..if Jodie had written such a snotty piece i think i would have found it hard to send any more available money her way for actions etc. I am not a professional photographer, i have been asked to take pictures of friends kids…guess what..because i post pictures i have taken of my own kids and they like them….Mums generally pursue having portraits of their families…mums respond to other mums…and i guess if all you know is that the photographer has a blah de blah degree from blah de blah..then what are you going to relate to.

  61. Elena on February 19, 2011 at 10:55 pm

    I certainly agree with you on items 1-9. I am working on updating my site and blog, so your remarks on #1 ABOUT YOU are duly noted and will certainly be thought of when I do my updates. #10 is a bit of split for me. Reason? I recently moved and still work on building my client base, so, if I don’t blog about my life then I am not blogging at all, which is not too good for business either. I wish I had more than that to blog about, but meanwhile it is what it is. I could use some of the old sessions to pull up images from once in a while, but then who would want to read a post about what I did a year, or six months ago 🙂 I guess what I am saying is some blogging is better than no blogging at all, especially for search engines.

  62. adriana on February 20, 2011 at 1:11 am

    I agree with all points, though I believe you can be business-personable in your blogs. That is, remain business-like while being business-personal, just as you would be in any business situation. Couldn’t image Steve Jobs or Bill Gates talking about very personal things, but yet they are both business-personable.One pet peeve of mine is ABOUT ME website/blog sections that are third-person, especially when the person’s name is their business name. I always think it’s strange, especially if the blog is all “I did this, I did that” and the about me section is “she/he did this, she/he did that”. Not a big deal in the overall scheme of thing; I just think it’s strange.

  63. Nikki Johnson on February 20, 2011 at 6:48 pm

    WOW!! This blog is extremely direct and I agree with most, especially the copyrighting. It seems as though she has personal experience with copyright for sure! I did find this information helpful but for an up and coming photographer, it is definitely NOT encouraging at all!! I felt compelled to check out her website and see how she explained her “about” and found her FAQs information to be quite harsh and has a very sharp tone to the answers. One thing I have learned in working with people is to be approachable. I stopped going to a photographer for my family portraits because she had put in her “about me” that her prices had been raised because she had hired an assistant and she didn’t work for free. Those are the “About Me’s” that I, as a consumer, do not want to hear. It’s all about perception and like she said, not showing any price screams “too expensive.” Don’t be too personal but keep in mind that your direct audience may be Mom’s and women. Don’t let this blog stress you out about your website. She is obviously very proud, as she should be given what she has accomplished. I think that may be the audience she intended this blog for.I did find this to be a useful tool, thank you for sharing.

  64. Jenika on February 22, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    I appreciate the directness of these ideas, and I think that clearly there’s a lot of variation in how people approach their businesses. Like many others who have commented, I don’t share these views on depersonalizing the “About Me” page or keeping blog posts business-related. Every business book I’ve read recently, along with my own personal experiences, largely contradicts these ideas.Nothing makes me leave a website faster than an About Me page that only discusses qualifications – I should know if you’re qualified to take my photos by the consistency of the work you display. I’ve seen photographers who list that they have an MFA and certification in this and that, but their images don’t speak to me so I don’t care. Nowadays there are so many excellent self-taught photographers that listing qualifications is irrelevant for a lot of people. The blogging thing has already been discussed, but again, I don’t read blogs that have no stories behind them. If I want to attract clients who value the same things I do, they need to get to know me a little as a person. I think the brands of Jamie Delaine, Jasmine Star, Tara Whitney, Clayton Austin, and scores of others show that you can successfully build a brand around WHY you shoot and who you are just as much as around your portfolio. If you put just pictures out, you become a commodity. Advertising these days is centered around selling lifestyles and emotions, and we can do that by showcasing our personalities in appropriate ways on our blogs.Bottom line is that no one can be the photographer for everyone. Some people can attract clients by being all business, and I’ll attract those who want emotional connections. There can be something for everyone – hooray!

  65. David Patterson on February 23, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    Great post Jodi! Although I’m not a portrait photographer, there is a lot of good information for any artist/photographer who is creating a website or blog.

  66. Lorenz Masser on February 25, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    I’m currently working on my new Website, thank you for your tips!

  67. Dawn Luniewski-Erney on February 25, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    Lauren, It is quite evident you are a very skilled writer. I envy that in you. I am a photographer by hobby but in business as a professional wedding album designer. Many of the tips and advice I read online when I am stepping back to take a look at where I am and where I want to be mirrors that of a photographer in business. I have bookmarked this article so that I can use it as a guideline as I evaluate my site content.

  68. Sandi Marasco on March 4, 2011 at 11:59 pm

    Great article with a few ideas I had not thought about. Thanks for the wake up call.

  69. Mindy on August 22, 2011 at 11:34 am

    brutally honest, but totally helpful, thank you!

  70. Joshua on January 18, 2013 at 7:10 am

    Great tips. Very informative! I have also been struggling with this issue. But, reading this article has given me some insight on how to set up my site! Thanks for posting!

  71. Stacy on July 10, 2013 at 9:31 am

    Thank you, good food for thought! My only criticism would be that when I went to look at your website it requires flash, which means iOS mobile phones and tablets can’t use your site, a huge turn off for a LOT of people.

  72. Anil on April 4, 2015 at 5:27 pm

    Good article.

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