Clarity vs Creativity for Photographers

Photographers need to make their photography websites more clearPhotographers are creative people, I get that.

I read an article this morning about Creativity vs. Clarity in Email Subject Lines and immediately knew the correct answer. Clarity always wins on the web. The idea of clarity is something I talk about consistently. It doesn’t apply solely to email subject lines, but also website navigation, blog post headlines, product packages, and social media posts. Here’s how to keep clear for your potential clients on the web…

Email Subject Lines

The article above shows compelling evidence for clear subject lines, resulting in a landslide of more comments, social mentions, and subscriptions.

Here are some examples of creative subject lines (thanks to my Facebook fans for submitting)

  • A gift for you, and maybe your Christmas gifts too!
  • Hello Gorgeous!
  • My fall newsletter

Subject lines written with clarity:

  • Enjoy a mini session on me, for my favorite clients
  • Cute newborn photos – check out these great poses
  • Fall mini sessions 2012 information

What does that mean for your photography newsletter? The subject line can’t be generic or overly quirky. Just like Twitter you have only a handful of characters to get a reader to choose you. The best way to get them to click is to be clear about what they will find/get by taking the time to click.

Website Navigation

In the post 4 Must Have Webpages for Photographers I talk about the first thing potential clients look for on a website. If a customer likes your photography, then next they will look for information About you as well as Pricing. Here’s an example of creative link names:

Navigation links from a photography website

In this example, About is disguised as Details and Pricing is hidden under Investment. I know we like to communicate that photography is an investment and not a commodity product, but a link named Investment makes it more difficult for users to find the information they are looking for, and in some cases they will never reach the intended page.

Similarly, the galleries listed in the navigation named Zemfira & Alex and Sara & Tim don’t offer much clarity so users won’t click them. They should be named with topic keywords a user needs information about, for example Hotel Receptions or Church-Style Weddings.

Blog and Gallery Names

I recently wrote an article for Chic Magazine talking about why people prefer clear headlines. If you’re current putting client names on your website STOP RIGHT NOW. “Zach and Amber’s Wedding Bliss” doesn’t mean anything to Google, or Facebook fans, or email subscribers. Names are a traffic killer. Turn that same page into a traffic magnet by describing the uniqueness of the session in the headline. Tons of people want to see “10 Cool Ballroom Reception Photos from Arden Hills Country Club.” You’re still talking about Zach and Amber’s album, but now it has general appeal and can rank for niche phrases like “cool reception photos.”

Product Packages and Selection

Let my three kids loose in a toy store or candy aisle and see how long it takes them to make a choice. That’s why I offer them two choices, “Do you want item A or item B.” It’s amazing how quickly they know what they want when limited to two choices.

There’s a scientific term for it: analysis paralysis. Human nature leads us to desire a perfect choice, which can be overwhelming and delay a simple decision. When you want a potential client to purchase a package from you, the decision needs to be crystal clear for them.

Don’t offer an endless list of a la carte items. Bundle some together into a package making the choice easy. Tip: since many people are visual learners, show a wall display with a price on it instead of a list of print sizes with a price.

Don’t offer 10 print packages if three will suffice. My recommendation is three or four and here’s a hint: people mostly gravitate toward the middle. So a pricing structure like $500, $750, and $1000 will earn you less than $500, $850, $1000.

Facebook & Twitter

Here’s a sample Tweet that many photographers do which essentially says “check out my latest blog post” without telling the user why that post is awesome:

Here’s how I rephrased it to be more specific, driving users to want to see:

Status updates should tell the users to click as well as why they should click it and what they will see. Asking them to click (check out, or look at these…) is called a Call to Action and is a very simple marketing tactic to drive more traffic. Why they should click (awesome looking wooden barn) and what they will see (family photos) helps attract clients who are interested in the types of photography you offer.

Comment below! I’d love it if you shared with everyone your own examples from your website, emails, or social media. Tell us some of the times where you used creative names instead of clear ones and how you might change those in the future.

Read One More Article

Continue this series on getting inside the mind of your clients with these posts:

Would You Sit Next To Your Website At A Party?
The Real Question You Need To Answer While Creating Your Photography Website


Thousands of Photographers boost business with my tips!


  1. says

    When I first started blogging my sessions I loved coming up w/ creative titles for the posts. After reading your advice against this, Zach, I started being more clear and less creative in my titles and doing so (amongst other things too) has had a big impact on my SEO. Thanks, Zach!

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