BY SUZANNE WILLIAMS
One of the most important tools for the budding amateur photographer is having an online gallery. Whether your goal is selling your photographs, drawing in new clients, or simply sharing your work, it is important that you have a definite location on the web.
There are numerous excellent websites, both free and for a nominal fee, dedicated to this purpose. It is not necessary to purchase webspace and learn html. However, the format of some might work better for you than others. The choice often comes down to personal taste.
Once you have chosen a website, there are certain guidelines towards creating a gallery that will draws in viewers. The fact is most viewers choose to look at your photographs based on their first five-second glance of the main page. Either something catches their eye and causes them to look deeper, or they are immediately bored and move on. With this in mind, I always turn to the old adage, "Variety is the spice of life."
Most non-camera viewers will find your gallery more interesting if there are a great variety of image thumbnails displayed on the front page. This means not putting all your pictures into the same album. Instead, break them up by subject - for instance, different locations or subject matter. Sometimes when one viewer likes looking at landscapes, another prefers insects or architecture. By providing an array of topics you will appeal to more people.
Use an engaging title. An entire webpage with titles like "butterfly", "beach", and "garden" is not as inviting as something more descriptive. For instance, I have a gallery entitled "A Paper Moon". I chose that title from a 1940s era song. However, do avoid being too "campy". Stupid just looks like stupid.
Keep your content fresh. There are two ways of doing this. The most obvious is to regularly upload new content. It is important for your followers to know you are still out there doing something. Another method is to rotate your albums. If your website allows it, move the albums around now and again. Bring an older album back to the front page. I know I have pictures taken what feels like ages ago that are still worth looking at. This is especially important if you have a lot of work and many pages of albums. Usually people scan what's on the first page and never move to the second or third. By rotating your content, you allow everything you have on display to be seen.
Also, be sure you notify your regular viewers when you have something new. This requires commitment on your part, but it is the best way to keep yourself in their thinking. Social networks are a great way to do this. Barring that, use email contact lists or online photo groups. However, be sure you follow the rules of the group and don't offend the participants by using it as your personal advertising system.
Lastly, choose your best shots. When assembling an album, pick the photographs you feel the most proud of, and pick those with different subjects and camera angles. Include wide angle views, abstracts, and macro shots. If you have two similar photographs, display only one of them or place them on separate pages. Don't make a habit out of uploading every single picture you took on one trip. Limit the content of your album to the number of photographs people will see. Twelve pages in one album is probably too many.
A great way to know how you want to set up your own online gallery is by viewing those of others. I have visited some that kept me looking for quite some time and others that I simply passed by.
In the end, by following these few simple tips you can more effectively exhibit your photographs both to new viewers and to faithful returnees. Always remember to be courteous when in contact with the public because when all is said and done, it is the public that will help your reach your goal, no matter what direction you have chosen. Be sure to always "put your best foot forward" first.
Suzanne Williams Photography
Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.