Here's one of the first questions you should ask yourself before buying a web site or paying for a photo hosting membership. Why Is Your Photography On The Web?
Have You Figured Out Why is Your Photography on the Web?
A few things came up recently and my first answer was to ask folks about their purpose. Instead of jumping right into trying to decide which way to put your photos online, why not ask why you even want them online in the first place?
It's the software architect inside me. Define the problem before you build the solution. One of the reasons I don't like to write code anymore is because I'm tired of dealing with folks who want a solution when they haven't given any thought to what problem they're trying to solve. The notion of “Build it and they will come” only worked in a movie. The rest of us need requirements.
You would think that the purpose driving the need to build anything would be a primary concern, yet people ignore the purpose all the time. For example, let's extend the baseball metaphor and look at Tropicana Field in Tampa. It's a baseball stadium, so you'd expect it to support the notion of playing the game of baseball. Even so, someone designed a series of catwalks under the roof that are low enough to actually interfere with the game. When some slugger whacks a ball hard and high enough to be a home run, it's been known to hit one of those catwalks and come down on the field with a thud. No home run for you, slugger.
Consider Your Purpose
Last week, a friend contacted me because she wanted to move her portfolio to something more attractive than ZenFolio. I recommended a few things, but then she brought up a concern that people couldn't buy prints from those other types of sites.
I asked her, “why does your portfolio need to be a point of sale?”
Once she considered it, she realized that her portfolio really didn't need to sell images. It could still make sense to keep her ZenFolio site for sales, but the purpose of her portfolio is to show her quality of work. Different needs, different site to serve those needs.
What's your need for getting your photography on the web?
- Advertising Services
- Print Sales
- Marketing Products
- Training or tutorials?
They're all valid reasons to share your photos online. In fact, there is likely some cross-over involved. Even if your purpose is to conduct some kind of business, community involvement is a big help in generating leads. For some, the community aspects are their own reward. I've met some wonderful people that I otherwise wouldn't know if we didn't have a mutual interest in photography that we shared online. I've also done some commerce because of sharing my photography on the web – both intentionally and inadvertently.
I started my site as a creative outlet and it's rewarded me in a number of ways. I've also diversified to other sites as new opportunities and requirements arose from my efforts. Sometimes it's a little overwhelming to keep up when I have other responsibilities in life, but the effort is worth it.
Don't think that I'm trying to tell you that you shouldn't have your photography on the web. Just think about why you want to share it so you select the best place to share your images.
The United States Treasury Department
Washington, D.C. is a great town to walk around. There's one sight after another that just begs for a keepsake. During my last trip, I had a shot list that I wanted to hit at specific times. Then there were other places that I literally stumbled upon at the wrong time of day. The U.S. Treasury Department was one of those targets of opportunity for that photo trip.
I actually wanted to find time to go inside and plan some other shots, but I just didn't have the time. Then I happened upon the building on my way to lunch at Old Ebbitt Grill (loved the place) and grabbed a quick shot. Didn't even notice the flare at the time, but it fits the nearly high-noon period of the day.