Having a Website is Essential (2014 Archived Post)

If you have a website where you post your photos together in sets, you’re a step ahead. If not, I strongly urge you to make one.

Having a personal website shows that you’re taking photography seriously, so if you decide to do some commercial work or jobs, applying with a website often gets you much further than someone sending a Flickr or Tumblr link—but that’s not where I’m going with this article. After having a website up and running for a few years now, I’ve learned a lot more than that from it (other business stuff and coding HTML, CSS, and JavaScript not included in this article).

One of my key personal reasons for having a website is so that I can make coherent sets of images for people to view. I want viewers to be able to see my selected images together in one space, rather than dispersed all over the internet as single, unlinked images. Instead of focusing on the single image as social media sites like Instagram, Flickr, Twitter, and Facebook force you to do, a website calls out for bodies of work. Focusing on putting your best dozen or two images together per set forces you to be cutthroat when going through hundreds or thousands of potential images—much like making a photo book. With skateboarding images, only the best photos survive the cut. Those uncreative fisheye shots, boring compositions, and badly lit images can go elsewhere. They don’t get to stand proudly on my website.

I update my website fairly infrequently—every few months or so. More than that, I feel it just turns into social media where I just unthinkingly keep posting new images. When I go through an update (taking my skateboarding set for example), I take a look at everything:

I’ve been shooting a lot of portraits lately, should I put up a portrait-focused set of images? Maybe, so I’ll go through the archives and put any decent portraits together in a folder. Now is there recent work that is stronger than some photos that are currently up? I should swap out those images. Sequencing of the images is imporant too: can I rearrange the images to “flow” better now that I’ve replaced some?

Doing that also allows me to see my images getting better and my style developing over time. It’s always great to see yourself improving as a photographer and this really helps in the confidence area.

Another reason is that a website keeps you going. If I’m not shooting as much as I think I should be (or being too lazy to develop and scan film), taking a look at my website and seeing the images stagnating serves as a swift kick in the rear to get things going again. Another contribution to that is the fact that owning and hosting a website costs money (although definitely not as much as people think—I pay around $40 a year for hosting and the domain name).

Overall, I prefer that viewers are able to see my work in one place, where it is carefully edited and put together by me. As I’ve been growing as a photographer, I’ve leaned towards bodies of work and telling stories with them—something a single image and social media cannot do well. I also really enjoy looking at other photographer’s websites, on the “big screen” of a monitor and free of distracting likes, comments, followers and faves you’d find elsewhere.