Captions also can give important factual information about an image and can be used to underscore the importance of the subject matter. If you can color in the facts for the viewer, they're more likely to understand and relate to the image.
A good caption also can contain useful information about how you work. If you've overcome obstacles or were able to perform beyond expectations for a client, you can indicate this in your captions. From a client's perspective, photographers are either problem solvers or problem creators. Indicate that you solve problems, and you're likely to attract more clients. Captions are the perfect place for this.
9) People are impatient; don't make them wait.
In a recent photo buyer survey that PhotoShelter conducted ("What Buyers Want From Photographers: 2012 Survey"), we learned that nobody likes to wait around for images to load. There's a general expectation that your website will be fast enough to keep up with whatever pace they normally maintain. If they're forced to slow down and wait, even for one second, this is noticeable and it will count against you. Test things for yourself. How long does it take for images to load?
Images should be snappy and show up immediately without delay. Consider preloading the next image in a sequence while the person is looking at an image. When they hit that "next" button, the new image loads instantly. That's a much better user experience.
10) Let people know where they are.
People like to know where they are in any process or sequence. When they have this information, they feel more comfortable with the overall experience. That's why it's important to let them know where they are in your website and in your portfolio galleries.
Your website navigation should contain "breadcrumbs," which allow them to link directly back to the start of the portfolio gallery, or back several levels to a gallery index, or even the front page of your website.
Likewise, they should know where they are in a sequence of images. If you have a portfolio gallery with 26 images, you should let them know where they are in that sequence as they advance through it (example: Image 6 of 26; Image 7 of 26; Image 8 of 26; etc.).
11) Let people know where you are!
Don't fall into the trap of not mentioning where you're based out of fear that you'll never get a sweet location travel assignment. Make your home base plainly obvious, and indicate to which places you commonly travel.
Your clients want to know this information because they need to be able to manage their budget. Sometimes a photographer who's local is required and you risk not being considered for a job simply because you didn't disclose your location.
Now take a look at your website with a fresh pair of eyes. Open and slam the door, and truly experience it. Figuring out what it's saying about you could make a difference in your bottom line.
Grover Sanschagrin is cofounder of PhotoShelter, an online archive, distribution and marketing tool for professional photographers. You can see more of his articles and blog posts at PhotoShelter.com.
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