by Laura Grier
Creating your dream career around a lifestyle of traveling is easier than you think, and much better than working a job with a only a hope of supporting your dreams for seeing the world. I wish someone would have told me back when I first started shooting that I could control the type of work I attracted by branding my work to fit my aspirations. I spent a lot of unnecessary time and money trying to do the expected with my photography. I used to compare myself to others and feel like I had to do it all rather than celebrating and focusing on what made me unique.
Being a photographer today is a very different road map than it used to be. Shooting is only 25% of what I need to do on a daily basis. Nowadays I need to be what I call a “triple threat,” incorporating photography, social media, marketing and writing in order to be competitive in the modern marketplace. Although this can all be overwhelming for most of us who are autonomous entrepreneurs, the good news is that Zenfolio can help ease the pressure and take it off your shoulders, allowing you to focus on what you like to do best: shooting while filling up your passport.
Unfortunately, we are not living in some futuristic age where we can warp from place to place. Travel and editing take time. So in order to be a successful travel photographer, you have to be able to streamline your business; be mobile; and have the ability to pitch, shoot, and deliver your images from anywhere in the world. Fortunately, Zenfolio gives you the ability to do all of this, and I am going to share the top seven ways that it has changed my world and made me a more successful photographer while jetsetting around the world.
1. Make an Impressive First Impression With a Action-Adventure Movie Trailer
Becoming a photographer wasn’t always about my love for photography; it was about the adventure. In fact, being a photographer was never really on my radar at all. I used to want to be a zoologist, but in my mind, being a zoologist , archaeologist or a marine biologist was like being Jacques Cousteau or Indiana Jones… they travel the world in search of adventures. Photography was just a tool for me to travel and have the freedom to make a living at it. But then I fell in love with it.
When I first went out on my own and founded my wedding photography business, I had to ask myself “What kind of business do I want to have?” If I truly wanted to be Indiana Jones and to have this life of adventure, I would have to focus on destination weddings and travel. But how would I book destination weddings? How would I convince a client to spend more to have a photographer fly out with them? I had to ask myself what made me different and unique, and the answer was that I am giving them a vibrant experience.
I decided that a static website was not enough to convey what I do as a photographer. Yes, my clients could see my final product and my use of color, but they would have no idea what it took to get the shot, how I work, what my personality is, or what it would be like to work with me. I needed a behind-the scenes video that showed me in action on a shoot…so what better way than creating an action-adventure movie trailer that plays automatically when people go to my Zenfolio website, www.LauraGrier.com. It was super easy to do, and Zenfolio gives you the creative control in your dashboard to not only have photo slideshows on your homepage, but embedded videos as well.
2. Embed Your Media Kit into your website and Pitch Clients Using Custom Pages
Just like I discovered that a traditional website was not enough to convey what I do as a photographer, I also realized that my job description can’t be explained in just a few simple words. Since I became I an Adventure Photographer, Photo Anthropologist, and Travel Writer I needed more than a resume to show what I do. So I asked a friend who is a social media guru what to do, and she told me that it was time to create me an electronic press kit (EPK).
An EPK is essentially a visual resume that can live online or be emailed and has live video or links embedded in it so people can click and view your press in the form of a scrolling magazine. There are lots of ways to create an EPK, but I used www.issuu.com to create mine. Their format looks like a virtual magazine that you can flip through: it has my bio, photos, and links to videos, websites, my articles and press I have published. It also has all of my contact information linkable. Since I need to market myself in a variety of mediums, it made sense to have an online visual resume that sums up all of my talents in just a few short pages.
Zenfolio easily allows you to create custom pages embedded into your website that you can add text, photos, videos or links to. So instead of sending people away from my site to view my EPK at www.issuu.com/LauraGrier, I created a custom page, added my social media stats, and embedded a link to my press kit within my website, www.lauragrier.com/mediakit. You always want to keep people within your website if possible. You can also deliver your galleries to clients in a polished way by creating custom links with their names as part of the link.
3. Share Your Work Easily with Anyone Via Mobile
Before Zenfolio, I used a web designer who made me a gorgeous website that functioned perfectly on a desktop computer, but when I tried to show it on a tablet or mobile phone, it was very difficult and glitchy to use. I didn’t realize how bad it was until I was sitting on a plane trying to share my work with a stranger sitting next to me and it was embarrassing. I am pretty sure they tuned me out and didn’t take me seriously as a photographer after about 10 minutes of trying to unsuccessfully show him my galleries. Having a mobile presence is probably the most important way to showcase your work, especially outside of the United States.
When I joined Zenfolio, not only did their customer support help me rebuild the design and aesthetics of my original website into their platform super easily, it automatically streamlined my site for mobile, changing the face of my business.
4. Instantly Add Photos to a Gallery to Print or Share from Anywhere in the World
Here is a real-life example that happened to me last year while staying at the thermal-heated igloo hotel north of the Arctic Circle in Finland while hunting for the Northern Lights.
On the night of March 17, my boyfriend’s birthday and also St. Patrick’s Day, we woke up at 3 a.m., because it felt like someone was shining a flashlight in our faces. We woke up to see the entire sky dancing and swirling in the most intense green I have ever seen. We held hands and just couldn’t believe what we were seeing was real. I grabbed my camera and held my breath with it resting on my chest and got this photo through our igloo ceiling.
I felt like it was my own emotional, personal green display for St. Patrick’s Day, and I wanted to share it back at home immediately with my friends. I was able to download and edit the image and get Internet in the main lodge, so I trudged through the snow from my igloo to the lodge in the middle of the night underneath the Northern Lights and posted the photo on my Facebook page.
I instantly got this response from a friend, Molly Hauge:
Hi Laura! It’s been awhile, but I love following your journeys. I have what might be a strange question for you. This morning my uncle passed away, and he was the ringleader of our Irish/Norwegian clan. It is a devastating loss to our family and when the time came, you posted the below image. For us crazy people who believe in timing/fate, it was exactly what I needed in that moment as the ongoing story is that my uncle would wait for St Patty’s Day to say farewell. Well, he did and shortly after you posted. I shared the image with my family, and told them he had quite the send-off last night. They were all speechless. Now I’m wondering if there might be any way I could purchase a print or two of this image? It would really mean a lot, and with your permission I’d love to include it in his memorial slideshow. Thanks again for entertaining the idea, and I look forward to hearing back from you! I hope your travels are treating you well! xo
Hi Molly! I am so sorry for your loss! I think that the best method would be for me to create a gallery on my Zenfolio website of the Northern Lights where you could order prints from.
OMG yes that would be fantastic! Thank you for understanding and for making the effort!
So here I am in the Arctic wilderness far from civilization having a celestial moment that I have waited my whole life to have, and I was able to share it with people back at home. I even touched a family and was able to give them solace during a time of grief. It blows my mind that out in the wilderness of Lapland using my phone I was able to share that image, upload it to my Zenfolio website, list it for sale with different print choices, and have it arrive across the world in a couple of days to make it for the funeral of a man who always knew he would pass away in spectacular fashion on St. Patrick’s Day! It goes to show you how connected Zenfolio can help you be even when you are basically off-the-grid.
5. Storage: Access Images or Raw Files from Anywhere in the World
I have always treated my website and blog as a database of all my photoshoots. If you type in the search bar of my blog and type “maternity” for example, all of my baby shoots will pop up. Zenfolio allows me to do this on the back end of my website. It’s so easy: from my computer or my mobile phone I can download high-resolution photos from any of my galleries and upload them directly to social media or my blog. Now instead of hard drives, I can access a year’s worth of work really easily in an organized way. It’s like having all of my hard drives strapped to my back!
6. Securely Back Up Images While on Location
A lot of times while I’m traveling I double back up my images online through Zenfolio as I am shooting. Double backing up my images is very important to me. Zenfolio has a service where you can upload the raw files attached to the jpegs and they are backed up indefinitely. Since none of us know the shelf life of our hard drives, it’s important to have this peace of mind that our images are safe and sound and stored in the cloud. Also, one of the best features of Zenfolio is that I can privatize images or complete sections of my website for specific clients and control the password protection and download capabilities with the click of a button on my mobile phone. This is a huge benefit for some of my celebrity clients.
7. Reach Customer Service Anytime
One of the hardest things when I travel is being in different time zones than my customers. Zenfolio has customer support 24 hours a day and can deal with all technical, website, and printing orders while I am off traveling in the Amazon and doing what I love best. Customer service isn’t just for your clients; they have an amazing team that can help you rebuild and redesign your custom website. Whether it’s email, live chat, or a one-on-one call with a Zenmaster, the support team has you covered.