My Photography Portfolio Website Redesign Explained
Some product links are affiliate links but all are where I make my gear purchases. You can also find all of my photography gear recommendations here.
Last month, I started on my 3rd photography portfolio redesign since becoming a full time photographer. One of the craziest things about being a small business owner is that I have to figure out every single component of running my business or find someone to explain it to me (this is a very appreciative nod to my accountant). Before all this, I used to work as a Front End Web Developer so I've had a bit of a leg up on the web side of things. I’ve built websites for other businesses. Yet, doing it for myself has been strangely complicated. It’s not just figuring out the content, site architecture and getting it built, I’ve also had to figure out how to present myself and my work.
When I started blogging about photography, it was mostly a lark. I work on my own and there’s no water cooler to hang around during afternoon lulls. It was a fun and helpful way for me to keep track of my thoughts on photography and work without nagging my husband with random ideas. At most, I figured friends and family would read it every now and again. Occasionally, I thought it could be a helpful resource for some clients or other photographers. So it was a surprise to me when a year into blogging, most of the traffic to my portfolio went to and stayed on my blog. In a funny way, my blog dwarfed my actual photography.
The blogging is fun and interesting and it has opened up interesting opportunities for me but I’m a food and travel photographer and that’s what I want my site to convey above all else.
Photo Gallery Navigation
For this site, I use Squarespace. There are a lot of run downs of the best photography portfolio sites, like this one if you want more information on other platforms. I personally find Squarespace the easiest to use and maintain. I want my site to be nice and functional but I don’t want to spent huge amounts of time keeping it up and running.
Anyway, I wanted to change around my navigation style to make my photography work galleries more prevalent. I Initially thought about tweaking some of the CSS. It quickly became clear that I would have to inject a lot of highly targeted CSS in order to make the changes I wanted and I became worried about excessively slowing down the site. Ultimately, I decided to switch templates. If you’re curious, I went from Indigo to Jasper. They’re very similar.
The main reason I switched to the Jasper Template was because of the navigation. Previously, my site navigation was a small hamburger on the upper-left hand side. That meant that when someone landed on my blog from Google or some social media post, they would have to notice the little menu icon to get to my portfolio. In making the template switch, I changed the formatting of the navigation so that my photography work galleries would be front and center.
Food and Travel Photography
With the navigation sorted out, I made the jump over to the new template live but still needed to do a bit of updating. I created my initial Food Photography and Travel Photography pages when I first launched my site. While I intended to regularly update both sections, that to-do often fell to the bottom of the list so in the 2 years since launching the site I actually made updates twice. I progressed as a photographer but my portfolio didn’t actually reflect my new work.
As I started to organize my work, I also began to rethink the format of the pages. Initially things were laid out in sections with a combination of medium and large photos. Unfortunately some of the larger images didn’t fit on some screen sizes. Ultimately I decided to move to a gallery style format to match my main overview page.
Commissioned Photography Projects
Over the years, I’ve done a lot of commissioned photography and cinemagraph projects. It’s challenging to organize all of it and present it in a cohesive way. Originally, I had things arranged where you could see everything from each project all on one page. This seemed a bit overwhelming and also felt limiting in terms of how much I could actually say about each project. I broke up each commission project into it’s own page and included background information.
This is still very much a work in progress. I want to go back through and add more information about each project. I’ve tinkered a bit with the idea of additionally including some of the research, sketches and initial drafts but I can’t quite decide if that’s excessive. Lastly, I still have to add several large scale projects I’ve worked on that require more photo sorting and culling.
I had some hopes that my updates would be super quick but it took me around a month to make all of the changes. My blog continues to be the main draw and that’s sort of understandable since it’s quickly becoming a large resource of all sort of tips and ideas but at least now my portfolio is much easier to find and navigate. I’ve come to realize that it’s almost to build the perfect photography portfolio site. You always end up making some sort of compromise and it takes diligent follow through to keep it consistently up to date.