Tips on Creating Your Portfolio

by Heather Forcier

NatureScapes.net is a website dedicated to nature photography. The staff never stops thinking about the needs of nature photographers and how we can meet those needs through our online resource. In our forum community and in the many conversations we've had with photographers in the field, we know that time at marketing photos is a valuable but scarce resource. We also know many who want to create a website to display their work but lack either the time to keep one updated or don't have the expertise to create one themselves. Our solution is Member Portfolios!

Member Portfolios software was created to fit a specific vision. Brian Spangler, NatureScapes.net's Senior Software Engineer, spent countless hours to make the concepts for design and function a reality! His tireless efforts have produced an easy-to-use interface for photographers to load their images for display in an elegant environment.

Setting it up for Photo Buyers

Many of us photographers want to improve our marketing to potential photo buyers. The NatureScapes.net Member Portfolios have appeal; members from all over the world with diverse subject interests, photo portfolios, and shooting styles add to the database. The more variety of images added, the more likely a particular photo will be found.

Upon placing a photo into a portfolio, a title, description, keywords, and other data is requested. This information goes into the database to provide appropriate results during queries. Inputting highly relevant information increases your chances of having your image found.

Titles

It is strongly recommended that image titles be accurate to the subject and descriptive, avoiding acronyms, abbreviations, text irrelevant to the subject, and, of course, misspellings that will make the search engine overlook a photo entirely. If there are alternate names for the subject, put the most relevant, formal one in the title and place variations in as keywords.

To make labeling descriptive, truthful and consistent, it is suggested that "captive" wildlife subjects, such as those photographed at zoos, game farms, wildlife rehabilitators, and in other captive situations be labeled with a (c) following the title text.

Keywords

"Keywords" is a common term in the internet world that refers to words and phrases significant to particular content, in this case nature photos. They are used to rank and place search results, not only within the NatureScapes.net Portfolios search utility, but also the internet at large. Being able to predict what someone might type in to a search where your photo would be an appropriate result can take some thought.

For instance, I have photographed Moss Glen Falls in Granville, Vermont numerous times. My image title might be "Moss Glen Falls, Vermont," but my keywords would allow me to mention Granville and add the word "waterfall." I can also list the road, "Route 100," which is a scenic drive and fairly well known. If taken in the fall, "fall colors," "autumn" and "foliage" are good words, or in the winter, "winter," "ice" and "snow." If there are visitors at the falls I can mention "people" and "tourists," even the local term "leaf peepers" for fall tourists. If I have converted the photo to black and white I can mention that. All these keywords help make it more likely that your relevant photo will come up in a search.

Tip: Viewing an image on the web is not necessarily representative of what it will look like in print because of the small file size used for web. Some photo buyers are hesitant to search the internet for photos because images may be significant crops or too small a capture, and therefore unusable for their purposes. Labeling images with crop percentages and the capture size (megapixels for digital) may help put some fears to rest and get you a sale.

Description - Your Image Caption

A line of descriptive text may be entered for your photo, and here is where you can really make the photo buyer's life easy. Anticipate the information they will need to know and provide it! All things being equal, if your photo and another comes up in a search where both will work for the buyer's purpose, you may have an edge if you have eliminated the need for additional correspondence to see if they will even be able to use the photo.

It could be to your advantage to list the subject, any alternate names, date, location information (in addition to the separate field), percent crop, megapixels of the camera or film type used, and basic equipment used to capture the photo. A file reference number for yourself may make locating the RAW file easier upon an inquiry. Some buyers may like to see setting information. Find a good balance of data to present—enough so that the most essential questions are answered but not so much that it appears chaotic.

If you are especially intent upon providing a service to potential photo buyers, consider the option of including some basic information in a border around your image. This way the information will always appear with the photo. The same image information can be listed in the photo's description field, but this field is only visible if the viewer has selected to see it on the image page. No photo data is listed in the slideshow except the title. (See the slideshow screen shot, below.)

For more details on what photo buyers are interested in, please read Bytes for Buyers and Sellers – Giving Them What They Really Want.

Portfolios slideshow image

The "slideshow" mode in NatureScapes.net Portfolios is an excellent way to view images. Having pertinent data in the photo border ensures it will be seen each time the photo is.

Preparing Your Photos

Consider that nature photos in the NatureScapes.net member portfolios are publicly available on the internet when processing your images. You may choose not to provide images at the largest size limit available, but if you don't be sure they are of adequate dimension and file size to show the quality of your work. View some existing portfolios to get an idea of what looks best to you. For details on processing an image for the web, please read Processing Digital Images for Web Presentation.

You may want to place copyright and other information on your image. This does detract some from the viewing experience, but can be minimized with careful processing. Opacity of the text can be altered so it is still readable but less prominent. Embedding a watermark also marks the image, making it less appealing for misuse. To find out more about your copyright, read Protecting and Prosecuting Your Images.

Benefits of a Member Portfolio

It's simple to create and maintain a portfolio at NatureScapes.net, no website design experience needed. There's strength in numbers being displayed alongside other nature photographers, rather than someone having to search many different places for a photo.

A portfolio provides a marketing tool with easy-to-access contact forms, advanced searches for finding photographers and images, and keyword setup for internal and external search engines. You receive a unique URL based on your name. Finally, the cost for membership is reasonable, much lower than most website hosting packages.

Enjoy the NatureScapes.net member portfolios!

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