There’s something of a trend I’ve noticed among photographer’s websites. And it’s interesting because as photographers, we all work very hard to set ourselves apart from everyone else. That’s what makes our images art worthy—the fact that we’ve found ways to place our own unique stamp on them. But where websites are concerned, so many of them are made with the same templates that so many other photographers are using.
I have to pause and wonder why that is. Certainly, it’s understandable that our time is limited, so for many of us, it’s a convenience thing. People don’t want to spend a lot of time building unique websites because that cuts into the time they can spend actually creating photographs to put on those websites. So it’s a lot simpler to turn to places like Zenfolio and Smugmug, where one can design a portfolio and put it out there for all to see in a very short amount of time.
But there’s usually a disadvantage to taking the quick and easy option. In this instance, the result is a website that looks exactly the same as so many other photography websites out there. And that becomes problematic when a big part of what we do is work to set ourselves apart.
It is true that even for people who have the time and the web design knowledge to create unique websites, there is only so much one can do with a page. We can’t turn flat web pages into three-dimensional displays, for instance, and there is a finite number of ways to layout images. Still, in choosing layouts, colors, fonts, and all the other details, we can put our own mark on our websites.
And I think that we should endeavor to do this if at all possible. The simple truth is that photography is all about using personal expression to distinguish ourselves. It seems a shame to display photographs via templates that everyone is using when we’ve worked so hard to create something unique and unusual. Shouldn’t we also work hard to create unique ways to display those photographs?
I will admit that it does take a lot of time and effort to learn how to develop a site, but if you can do it, or if you can afford to pay a developer to create it for you, then you’ve got the freedom to put your fingerprint on it. And to my mind, that’s what will bring you attention. When people encounter sites with unusual flair to them, it tempts them to stop and dig a little deeper rather than moving on to another website, and then another and another—each one looking the same as the last, no less.
In all art, no matter the medium, it’s each individual’s unique perspective that differentiates him or her from all others. There can only be one you, after all. So if you have the time or the means, create a website that is uniquely you and use it to display the art that is uniquely yours.