What we found was that photographers who want to showcase their work on a website without compromising the quality of their images have several layers of considerations to take into account when integrating and organizing their work. Essentially photographers who want to have an online presence, increase their following and sell their products have to curate a virtual exhibition of sorts.
So what? Isn’t that like creating any other website? Yes and no. Photographers literally have to manage the burden of their work within their site. Images are big and heavy, making it absolutely imperative to find a WordPress theme that allows photographers to include an entire collection of images without having to worry about slow loading time and subpar image quality.
Well to be honest, we aren’t professional photographers ourselves and realized that while we had plenty of insight to offer for other professions or sectors, when it came to what WordPress features would be most helpful for photographers, we had squat. Luckily for us, we have hundreds of professional photographers right in our Artbees community who were willing and eager to share their best practices with us.
We invited Claudio Beffa, professional photographer, blogger and WordPress user, to discuss with us what really matters to photographers when displaying their work online. Claudio was generous enough to share a cheat sheet of sorts of features and capabilities he found in the Jupiter WordPress theme that can save his fellow website-building photographers a lot of frustration and time so they can get back to doing what they love!
Must-haves Before Creating a WordPress Photography Website
During our discussion, Claudio first talked about the type of work he did, combining travel photography and blogging which eventually led him to create a WordPress photography website. Claudio has traveled throughout the world, spending a great deal of time specifically in Japan, where he sought to capture traditional and modern Japanese cultural aspects. With regard to his experience as a website photographer he remarked, “my approach as a website photographer and blogger is to build up a gallery and integrate sub galleries inside my blog posts to really capture the soul and history of a place.
My experience in learning website building has been somewhat of a trial and error approach—in other words, I’m a self-taught WordPress user.” It’s actually this very process of trial and error that led to us having a fruitful discussion on factors to look out for in an image-friendly WordPress theme. Whether you’re in the travel, wedding or advertising sector, your websites will need to integrate and leverage the role of your images in your site. This means choosing a theme provider that, above all, is versatile and fast. Though how specifically? Claudio cited the following considerations, all of which he mentioned can be found simply by reading reviews and watching demos:
A Photography Jupiter WordPress Cheat Sheet That Sells!
Here, Claudio cited the following considerations, all of which he mentioned can be found simply by reading reviews and watching demos:
- Check the Rated Speed of Your WordPress Theme: Remember those images are meaty and will need a theme that can shave off every unnecessary bite to keep your page-loading time fast! It just takes a page loading time of more than three seconds to dramatically decrease user engagement and increase bounce rates. Keep your visitors scanning through your galleries with a Google Page speed of 90 or higher! One quick tip from Claudio: “one important plugin is Image Optimization Features, basically a recompressing tool, that allows you to squeeze out every useless bite while maintaining the visual quality and loading speed of each picture.”
- SEO-Friendly: Websites that allow you to edit H1 tags and other headers will be more likely to bring visitors closer to viewing your work first. A theme that easily allows you to integrate YouTube videos, GoogleMaps and links into your content will give you a big headstart in improving your SEO which will lead fans right to your gallery.
- Intuitive User Interface: In sifting through the listed demos of your theme’s offered templates, get a feel for the variety of designs and flexibility offered by the theme. A streamlined, clean interface that’s easy to use and reflects your style will entice the right group of visitors and keep them engaged. (i.e. drag & drop, modular) Specifically for photographers the formats of the galleries is especially important. According to Claudio, “in Jupiter it’s easy to set up a gallery and obtain many kinds of styles depending on your preferences. A sliding gallery is a great way to categorize your photos within a sub gallery or to a specific blog post so that everything is more interconnected while still maintaining its relevance.”
- Compatible with Plugins: Most themes will require incorporating at least a few plugins for extended functionality. As a photographer, especially when you will most likely integrate a way for your visitors to buy prints, you’ll be adding plugins such as WooCommerce so make sure your theme plays nicely with other plugins. Claudio used several plugins and mentioned, that “one of the strong points of Jupiter was the possibility to choose and integrate the right plugins for obtaining your desired result.”
- All Services & Functions on One Site: External galleries and print services can oftentimes lead to layout inconsistencies, monthly fees and more maintenance work. Find a Theme that allows you to include all of these services on one site. After experience with dozens of other themes, Claudio remarked, “I found Jupiter to be one step above other themes because it’s modular structure allows you to deactivate any elements you don’t use which increases the overall speed and responsiveness of the site”
- Social Media Functionality: As a photographer, it’s imperative to set up social media networks to connect with peers, collaborators and grow that flourishing following of yours. Equally important, you’ll want to add all of your social media accounts onto the main page of your site to allow visitors to easily follow you.
- Multiple Flexible Gallery Styles: Most likely each of your galleries has a different focus and theme. One static, generic gallery style won’t be enough to house all of your various galleries. Not only do you need options to choose from, you need lots of playspace within those options.
- Interactive Map: In addition increasing SEO on your page, giving your visitors an idea of where you do your work on a local or global scale adds to your story and brand as a photographer. Also to make sure your site is accessible to fans and peers throughout the world you can use the “CDM (Content Delivery Network) feature in order to make sure anyone can load the site quickly regardless of where they are in the world.”
- Life-saving Support: Claudio and many other current WordPress users will all tell you how important it is to be working with a theme that has a comprehensive support system. As Claudio learned through the process of trial and error, he also used video tutorials, referred to Artbees’ on-going forum and was able to access extensive documentation for any and all queries he had.
A different approach for each photography sector
Now of course not all of you are specifically travel photographers or blog writers, but regardless of your specific niche of photography, if you want to put all of your services and work on display in one site with added functionality, the above bullet points will have the same importance for you. As Claudio pointed out, having ample play space and choices is an often underestimated advantage.
He found with Artbees that Jupiter and The Ken offer dozens, in the case of Jupiter up to 90, templates to choose from. Each template has a completely different setup and design allowing you to figure out which one best reflects your work and style. Claudio pointed out the top five styles to use for various types of photography:
- Portfolio Sites: If you simply want to categorize your work into different themes, as Claudio pointed out, “you can use different gallery styles, like in a portfolio section you can show all of your work as a whole and then allow visitors to zoom through individual photos.” This way you can use one of the many portfolio styles offered to showcase your work in an approachable and engaging format.
- Service Oriented Sites: If you’re working primarily at special life events or even in the fashion or modeling industry, there are many templates to cater to your client’s respective taste and preferences.
- Fine Art Gallery: Representing the arts is an art in itself and finding the appropriate frame to highlight exhibitions and artwork is much easier when you can tweak and modify the frame yourself. Especially for displayed artwork Claudio mentioned, “Jupiter lets you integrate your own images into the page using features such as Parallax which makes any type of imagery you have the most eye-catching part of the site.”
- Photoblog Sites: Stories and images have always worked in tandem with each other, taking the reader along with you through an experience that you’ve captured. Templates that are specifically designed to couple both word content and images in a complementary way can take your visitors to another level of your journey. Highlighting this The Ken template, Claudio noted, “with this, inside each specific blog post you can use just the images you want that are relevant to the story.”
- Educational Forums: For tutorials, videos or other educational forums, having an interactive and engaging template will keep your visitors, young and old, from nodding off. Another important factor Claudio mentioned, “especially for an educational outlet, these days it’s imperative to be accessible and user friendly regardless of which device your users are using.”
More Time to Do What You Love.
The point of this isn’t to set the expectation that you’ll become a master WordPress website designer, but rather to point you in the right direction so that you spend less time constructing your website and more time doing what you love. To make that happen though, we count on the feedback and knowledge of our users to steer us in the right direction in making our themes work harder for you. We’d love to hear tips and suggestions in the comment section below that you, as our photography and WordPress experts, can offer to help photographers worldwide maximize their WordPress experience!