When designing a photography site, it makes sense to show your images based on how your visitors are looking to purchase
About a decade ago I started a site to sell fine art prints. It was my first personal website and surprisingly it took off. There’s never been a year where expenses outweighed profits, but over time, the profits have dwindled. It’s almost impossible to go up against the big photo and print houses now, unless you’ve already made a name for yourself.
Specializing is important, especially for a travel photographer. I don’t live in the location I shoot for the most part, so I don’t get the benefit of local search traffic from Google. I’m not a conventional photographer, so stock photography for journalistic purposes is out of the question. That leaves book covers and editorial uses for stock photography, and fine art prints, where the overall feel of an image is more important than undiluted reality.
The first thing any photographer’s website dedicated to selling prints should do is tell the visitor these images are for sale. We forget, a lot of people who find our images are just looking at pictures, not thinking about purchasing. Something as simple as displaying images in frames gets that point across.
Until the past couple of years, most people viewed a site like this on a computer. Today the odds are greater it will be a phone or tablet. So you want an experience which provides the largest image possible on all screens. So rather than create thumbnails for laptops and desktops, which translate to full screen images on tablets and computers, I searched for a solution which works full width on both.
People are often looking to buy art prints based on the type of room they’re trying to decorate. They don’t want to wade through a hundred images looking for a single one that fits their idea. So I broke the images down into small galleries based on design trends – albeit with more colorful names. So a person looking for images of the sea can choose The Sea Captain’s Gallery, or for an image for child’s room in The Nursery.
How many images? To be honest, ideally that would be twenty or less. But like anyone else, I find it hard to whittle it down to that few. I’ll get there in time.
A key component to selling fine art prints is to make the case that you’re an artist. Your personality, your reputation or in my case, notoriety all come into play. We all hate talking about ourselves, but we also hate starving, so it behooves us to put our best foot forward.
Calling yourself an artist is a daunting task for a lot of us. Honestly, I’m a craftsman. There’s an art to what I do, but mostly I crank out images of a similar style. I always wanted to be a fine artist, and some day I’ll certainly get there in my own mind. To many other people, I’m there already. So the trick is to portray yourself as the person you want to be, that you’re actively working to become.
You have to sell yourself in today’s market – nobody’s going to do it for you. People online are moving faster than ever, you can’t expect them to pick up what you’re trying to do by intuition. Spell it out for them.