Refresh Your Photography Portfolio: Actionable Tips with Zenfolio

February 16th, 2024
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Raise your hand if you have an online portfolio but haven’t updated it in a while…Don’t worry, I’m raising my hand too. All confessions aside, making time to update the images on your website can easily get swept under the rug while you are busy running your business, managing your family, or just trying to live your life! 

Even if a year has passed without a refresh to your online work, your potential clients are missing out on seeing some of your best new stuff. As photographers, we are always learning, growing, and changing. Keeping your portfolio up to date and fresh is crucial to compete with the proliferation of photographers online these days. 

Tips for creating an impactful portfolio.

While it might initially appear like a colossal task, with some strategic planning, careful examination, a handful of tips and tricks, and a little help from Zenfolio, you’ll soon find yourself on the path to successfully revising your portfolio and website. 

Your portfolio is not just a collection of your favorite work.

Say what!? Aren’t they the same?! The answer is, unfortunately, no. Photography is a highly personal art form, and your favorite work is typically a combination of your skill infused with a certain amount of sentiment. There is likely a little bit of you in every photograph you take, but the emotive response should not drive what is included in your online portfolio. The main goal of your portfolio is to show your dream client your very best examples of the work you both enjoy creating AND are able to recreate in a similar way. 

Less is more.

Your portfolio is not the kitchen junk drawer, folks! Curate, don’t saturate. Stuffing your online portfolio with a ton of images runs counter to the overall purpose. Essentially, you want to showcase only your best work and show your potential clients what makes you shine. Always remember that less is more. Curate a modest, easily viewable, and tidy assortment of your most stellar images, and upload them to your portfolio–and make sure it includes a little variety. 

Whether you are photographing people, animals, landscapes, or automobiles, include a few different poses or perspectives of your subject. Consistent quality is great–every shoot looking exactly the same, not so much. Several exceptional pieces are more effective and more resonant than many mediocre ones. The perfect recipe for an impactful portfolio is limited, thoughtful, and leaves your potential clients and visitors wanting more!

collection of senior portrait photography in an online portfolio hosted by Zenfolio. Photography by wild orchard studios
Photo credit: Wild Orchard Studios Photography

Mix up the lighting.

Everyone loves a perfectly backlit magic hour photograph, right?! They are a stunning combination of rich color and soft glowing light–you might even plan your sessions around that time of day. It is tempting to fill your portfolio with images that showcase your go-to lighting preference. 

But, as a mom of four, I can tell you that a family session at 7:30 pm on a hot summer night is a recipe for disaster with my family. Picture meltdowns, whining, and desperate bribery to pull everyone together. And, not everyone gets married or engaged in the summer or fall. Shooting a January wedding in the New Hampshire White Mountains where the sun sets before 4:00 pm is a whole different lighting situation. Including great images from a few different lighting situations demonstrates to clients that you have the skill to create beautiful images whether you are shooting during golden hour, harsh midday light, a foggy morning, or using strobes to light a dark reception hall.

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Keep it clean.

Ahh…the wild world of website templates. You can customize a template in any color, with any bell–any whistle! But when it comes to themes tailored to photographers and their portfolios, it is all about letting your work truly shine. I recommend color palettes that include neutral tones and colors that accent your work, not distract from it. Zenfolio has a variety of website templates to get you started and include elegantly designed custom layout blocks you can utilize to make sure your portfolio images and brand take center stage. 

Make galleries easily accessible.

When a potential client visits your website, you have just seconds to leave a lasting impression. If they can’t find your portfolio galleries, they will just hit that back button on the browser and move on to the next photographer’s website. The path to viewing your portfolio should be crystal clear and accessible with a single click. 

On your website homepage or portfolio landing page, it makes sense to include a mix of your greatest images from your various shoot types. Your portfolio galleries are the perfect place to stick to a single theme–one shoot type for each gallery. This will make it easy for your visitor to see the breadth of your talent and expertise, then take a closer look at the shoot type they are interested in. Zenfolio’s user-friendly and customizable navigation menu guarantees a swift and effortless journey for potential clients to reach their desired viewing destination. 

pembroke welsh corgi and terrier mix running on a brick pathway between tall grasses, their mouths open and tongues hanging out happily

Let the website revamp begin.

Now that you are armed with these insights, the next step is to kickstart the portfolio revitalization journey! 

1. Time for a content check-up. 

Have a look through all of your website pages to ensure that any headings or copy is still applicable to the photographer you are today. The vision you had for your business a year ago might not be accurate now. For example, if your initial focus was family photography, but you have since honed your skills and found your niche as a newborn photographer, that shift should be apparent to the potential clients visiting your website. This will ensure that you attract your ideal customers and that you will have the opportunity to shoot what you truly love. 

2. Put your best foot forward. 

While this may seem like a given, when you are knee-deep in running your business, updating your portfolio can fall through the cracks. As photographers, our rambling voyage involves almost constant evolution in our style, posing and composition, and post-processing skills. You probably barely recognize your work from five years ago! 

If the pictures in your portfolio no longer showcase your current style or aren’t instrumental in attracting your ideal clients, remove them from view on your website. You can still be proud of these–and you should be! They served you well by attracting new customers and were a stepping stone to where you are today. Tuck them away to make room for your latest and greatest. Challenge yourself to post a diverse range of your best images that showcase your capabilities and skills.

3. Showcase testimonials. 

As photographers, we share a special bond with our clients. The experience is almost always personal, and by the end of your session or event, you likely share a connection with them. Don’t be shy about reaching out to your past clients and asking them for a testimonial! You can request that they leave a review on Google, Yelp, Facebook, the Knot…any online authority that makes sense for your business is good. 

When was the last time you bought something online without reading the review first? A testimonial is a powerful, trust-building tool that gives you and your brand credibility. Make sure that they are strategically placed on your website in a way that relates to the other page content. The obvious place to post them is on the homepage, but sprinkling them throughout your website can remind your visitors that you have clients who love and have confidence in you. 

4. Get inspired by Zenfolio’s templates. 

Exploring Zenfolio’s website templates is a great step towards creating an online portfolio that not only showcases your work brilliantly, but also reflects the essence of you and your brand. Shaping the aesthetic of your website and galleries isn’t just about creating something that looks good; it’s a calculated move to ensure your online presence reflects your brand seamlessly. With Zenfolio, you have the tools you need to establish a website that is an authentic extension of your work–from the customizable blocks used to build the site to the blog and selling features–you can create a site that leaves a lasting impression on your clients and site visitors. 

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5. Schedule regular updates. 

I am not sure about you, but if it isn’t on my Google Calendar, it isn’t getting done. To keep the procrastination monster at bay, schedule time to work on your portfolio and website on your calendar. Commit to a full website review at least every six months to keep information current, and set aside a couple hours every two to three months to refresh your homepage and portfolio images. This will ensure that your portfolio accurately reflects your current style and expertise so that you will continue to reign in those dream clients. 

Zenfolio provides a selection of gallery layouts designed to enhance and artistically showcase your portfolio of awe-inspiring images, and customizable blocks for including other important details (ie. CTA buttons, testimonials, booking and scheduling tools, and your Instagram feed.) The templates are super user-friendly and carefully crafted, making them the perfect backdrop for showcasing your work in a visually captivating way. By investing the time and effort into updating and thoughtfully curating the images on your website, you can ensure that clients booking you want the kind of images you are creating now–not what you made a few years back. Then get back out there and enjoy more time photographing what you love!


  • Amanda B

    Amanda B is a devoted wife and mom to four children. She has been part of the Zenfolio Customer Support Team since 2013, and is a professional photographer based in the state of Maine.

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