Create a Killer Online Portfolio

It can feel overwhelming to create an online portfolio when you are trying to get your photography business started. But it doesn’t have to be.

As a food photographer, I put together delicious recipes and meals, but there are very few foods that top a good piece of crusty French bread with a slab of salted butter in my book. The funny thing is – bread and butter contain very few ingredients and none of them are fancy. But all are needed in just the right amounts to produce the perfect result.

Your online portfolio is like a recipe for good bread and butter. Both require simple, high quality inputs for an outstanding final product.

A portfolio is ideally a refined online collection of your best images, designed to showcase your style and skills to potential customers. When done well, it can boost your SEO, lead to new projects, and improve your professional visibility.

But not having one, or failing to update it, can compromise your reputation and list of clients. Here, I’ve gathered a list of best practices to build a portfolio (almost) as good as bread and butter.

1. Start simple

Simple is often better. Remember this as you are thinking about the design of your online portfolio. Since its purpose is to highlight your images, the layout of your photos and text on the page should be minimally distracting. This is great news for those with little experience in web design – you don’t have to build anything fancy!

However, it is very important that you create your online portfolio on a platform that you own. That means no Facebook, no Instagram, etc. The problem with these sites is that, despite their high traffic, you have no control over your own work. Facebook could (theoretically) shut down tomorrow, or you could be locked out or hacked.

The good news is that there are plenty of inexpensive, user friendly sites that can help you build a website, like WordPress, Wix, Format, Showit, and many more.

2. Choose your images wisely

Resist the temptation to only upload your favorite images. This kind of grouping may not be varied enough to showcase your skills as a professional photographer. Clients may be looking for darker shots, or those with a certain angle or size, so you’ll want your portfolio to reflect your versatility.

Make sure that you use only one or two images from the same shoot in your portfolio. If you use more, potential clients may think that you haven’t had much experience or many good shoots.

Note that it’s equally as important to keep your portfolio up to date with new work. This will show that you are consistently working with new clients and improving your technique, as well as testing new styles and trends.

Though variety is crucial, your online portfolio should be thematically organized. For example, I use the labels “food photography,” “restaurants,” and “product photography,” and within each category, the images are laid out intentionally to complement and build off each other.

You can also place your photos in one section (united by a continuous scroll) and sort them by tone, color, or content type.

3. Keep your audience in mind

This might seem obvious, but you should showcase the kind of image that you want to shoot. If you’re excited about food photography for example, then uploading a lot of headshots isn’t a good idea.

As your focus shifts and your business grows, consider adjusting the images in your portfolio.

As you grow as a photographer, your editing abilities and preferences will change. When this happens, you should re-edit older images to ensure consistency in your style. If you don’t, your portfolio may end up looking disrupted and discontinuous.

Creating a Killer online portoflio - Food Photography - Frenchly Photography by Fanette Rickert

4. The finishing touches

Making your site responsive, labeling your images to improve SEO, and adding an “about” page are the final accoutrements to a great portfolio. Make sure your site is responsive so your potential clients can view it on their phone or tablet.

You also want to enable social shares so that your portfolio can be shared on Pinterest or Facebook for example.

When you upload your images to your portfolio, make sure that you name and tag them in a meaningful way. For example, include some keywords and the name of your business in the file, it boosts your Google search ranking and makes you more likely to appear in the first pages.

Calling a photo “IMG_8934” is a missed SEO opportunity! Instead, you might want to call it “food type – Food Photography – Frenchly Photography by Fanette Rickert.

Finally, having an “about” page gives context to your portfolio. It should, in brief, let potential clients know who you are and what your work style and interests may be. This can help create a connection with potential clients and help finding the right clients and projects for you.

I hope this article was helpful, if you need to plan more food photography shoots but feel overwhelmed or don’t know where to start, check out my Food Photography Workflow Checklist, it even comes with a handy free checklist!

Get my free Food Photography Workflow Checklist!