Eight Principles For Real Estate Photography Portfolio Sites

October 28th, 2015

MaliaSite

Richard recently asked “Any suggestions on which Hosting service would be best suited for real estate photographers”? Back in July of this year we had a good discussion on where to host your site. There are 10o’s of good template photographer hosting sites. More important than where you host your site is how you configure your site.

Your portfolio of real estate images is at the center of your marketing. Your website is just an accessible way to present your business and yourself to people and let them know how to contact you. Malia Campbell’s site is a great example that follows these principles (except for #6 and #7 which minor features that are easy to fix). It’s one of my favorite real estate photographer sites.

  1. Dedicate a site to real estate photography: A general purpose photography site where people have to look for the real estate section says to people, “I’m playing around with a lot of things and not making any money with photography”. It makes you look like an amateur. The cost of a template website at someplace Squarespace.com ($107USD/yr) is small in the overall scheme of a successful business.
  2. Carefully review your portfolio Images: Have as many experienced professional photographers review your portfolio as possible. Others will see things you don’t. Remove everything but the very best images. Ask the PFRE flickr group to review your portfolio and site.
  3. Use large images in your portfolio: Bigger images have more impact. You want to knock viewers socks off!
  4. Portfolios should play automatically: When a visitor hits your URL your portfolio should just play continuously. Don’t make the viewer hunt for your portfolio or click on thumbnails or next buttons. The fact is, many of your client viewers just aren’t smart enough to quickly spot how to navigate a site. Also the viewer should be able to pause the automatic display and take over control, just like Malia’s site.
  5. The site must look good on mobile devices: Mobile device usage is widespread. First of all don’t use Flash and then take the time to checkout your site on all the popular Smart phones and tablets. It is amazing the number of people that don’t do this.
  6. Have a photo of yourself on your contact page or about page: This is about giving your site and business a more personal feel. The online world is cold, anonymous and impersonal. Do what you can to give your business personal feel.
  7. Have your cell phone number on the contact page: This is a customer service issue. As a real estate agent, after I sign a listing agreement with a home seller I know the seller will immediately ask, “when can we be on the market?” I want to call my real estate photographer before I leave the sellers home and book an appointment. I don’t want to send an email, wait 24 hours for a reply etc. In this business you need to carry a cell phone and be instantly available. This is not that hard to do. Real estate agents do it and expect their contractors to do it too.
  8. Have as many images of upper-end homes in your portfolio as possible: Upper-end photos say, “I shoot for upper-end agents”. Upper-end homes make you look more professional even if most of the homes you shoot are not upper-end homes.

Follow these principles and you’ll have a good base to build the rest of your marketing on.

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10 Responses to “Eight Principles For Real Estate Photography Portfolio Sites”

  • After reading an earlier discussion on just this topic a few months ago right here, I was finally ready to make a dedicated RE site for my RE work. It was clear that my general purpose photo site was top heavy with work that was not of interest to the RE client market and the site was creaky and old. It showed on cell phones and tablets but not well. So I followed Larry’s and other suggestions and signed up with http://www.wix.com that has easy to reconfigure templates, some dedicated to photo portfolio sites designed to display on all devices. They have several choices of gallery slide shows to choose from. Easy to use, easy to set up. Fairly instinctual. Having designed sites in Dreamweaver it took a while to get the hang of browser designed sites but once you get started its easy. And remember, people don’t like to read any more but for those that do, make sure you have your main marketing points covered deeper in the site; not on the front page. Just a headline and a couple brief sentences to define what you have to offer. You want the audience to pick up the phone and learn more, not overload them with information. You might even ask your clients what they look for when visiting a photographer’s site.

  • I have noticed that Photographer’s often don’t take their own advice. I come from a graphic design background. Some of the worst logos and websites I have seen are by photographers who do it themselves. It is just like we say to real estate agents… just because you have a camera, it does not make you take good photos. But photographers try to do things themselves because they have Photoshop or the Adobe CC Suite. Hire someone who designs logos or who designs websites.

  • Hey Larry, the link to Malia’s site is not working, should be: http://www.maliacampbellphotography.com

  • @Aric – thanks for pointing that out. Fixed now.

  • Thanks for the feature Larry! Just a little correction – I hired a web designer to create that website for me, it’s not a bludomain template. 🙂

  • @Malia – I guess that reference to bludomain was your old tuplipchain.com website which doesn’t exist anymore.

  • That old bludomain template was awesome. Just didn’t support video very well. If I was just doing photography I’d absolutely use bludomain. I liked their options.

  • If you’re not into CSS3, HTML5, and JQuery (etc), go with a service site like Squarespace or Photoshelter. They’re not terribly expensive, and they are super easy to use. Plus, they often have starter templates that have everything a photography business needs such as portfolio pages, a contact page, “about me” page, blog, and services.

    If you enjoy SOME web tinkering (like me), go hunting for templates. Templates are great because you don’t have to build from scratch, and you’re free to edit the code to your heart’s content. You’ll still need to learn some coding, but it’s nothing a quick Google search here and there can’t take care of.

    If you don’t want to bother with any of the technical stuff but want a quality site, shell out the money and hire a web designer. They will work with you to customize the site to your exact needs. It’s quite expensive, but worth it if you can afford it.

    I am personally in the midst of redesigning my site with an awesome responsive template I bought for $17. I just delete all the crap I don’t need, replace their photos and text with my own, and voila! Well, maybe not quite that straightforward, but it’s a good start.

  • We love Photobiz.com for websites that are created out of templates. Very friendly to portfolios, business, video, etc. with lots of standardization and lots of customization available. But, the best part is their passionate support – their toll free line is available in America and you can reach them on skype outside of America.

  • One more thing – if you are looking to get found through your website, in addition to really great search engine optimization (which I love about Photobiz sites) you will need great content. We tend to forget it is the words on our home page specifically that get us found. It is the blog attached to the home page by website.com/blog rather than blog.website.com that brings the most people to our site and that a separate domain from the website actually cannabalizes both sites from getting good recognition. Blogging helps you get found because the content is relevant, great tags for SEO, links back to images in your website portfolio and current information (google likes current content).

    Content – not just sales content is what you want for being found on the search engines. What would content be for Real Estate Photography? Top ten tips for getting a house ready for photography, staging information and links out to local stagers, marketing information for real estate agents such as how to create a pdf brochure as well as many other topics.

    At PowerVision360 Productions, we help real estate photographers with the business of real estate photography. There are plenty of technical people who charge for services for photography, video, processing, etc. Our greatest technical course we ever took was from Scott Hargis live in Phoenix. His video is also a very important tool as are Larry’s books and videos. There are tons of free sites, vendor tutorials, You tube videos etc for technical skills and workflow. But what we do is concentrate on business – in this case, how to design your website to be found. We work with you with the platform you are looking at – WordPress, Genesis, Custom, Photoshelter, Byte, GoDaddy, Photobiz, etc. We don’t design for you but set out the specifications and help create content so that you or your webdesigner can get it right specificallhy for Real Estate Photography. You can find our contact information in this blogs Coaching Directory.

    By the way – I dont’ charge for everything we do and I am not a high powered sales person – we have wonderful free webinars and one on one sessions to introduce you to a concept. My belief and our success comes from the theory that you give back to an industry and help create an environment of excellence and professionalism. I believe that Larry Lohrman has really given back to our industry and as such – I try to be available and accessible to his blog readers – at least as a starting point to finding the right answers.

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