As a photographer short-listed for a number of prestigious awards, having a space where people can easily access her portfolio to reference her past work is key for Sara Al Obaidly. That space is a site hosted on a 123-reg Premium Hosting account offering ease of updating and plenty of scope for future expansion and further development of the site.
“It was a recommendation from one of my friends who is a website designer. I just started off by buying the domain – well a few different domains before I settled on the one I am now using. I then had the site designed and it was a simple option to then choose the hosting with 123-reg to get the website live,” explained Sara.
“As a photographer it is important to be present online. You can just send people the link so that they can take a look at your work.”
Photography is clearly a passion and that comes through in her work.
“It’s something I’ve always done. I went to uni and I always wanted to do fashion photography. It started out as a hobby and just kind of became more professional as time went on.”
More professional to the extent of gaining several award nominations, publication in the prestigious Creative Review Photography Annual and an international agent who helps handle worldwide gallery bookings.
Sara specialises in portrait and documentary photography, looking to capture the reality of humanity and emotions in her images. Her chosen subjects have meant plenty of overseas travel for Sara and in turn plenty of overseas customers, so having a strong online presence means she is able to serve them 24/7.
“I’ve got a lightbox feature which is an easy way for people to download my portfolio straight to their desktop.”
The website has attracted much interest and traffic too, helping Sara establish her name amongst fans and experts in the field of portrait photography.
“I was selected for last year’s Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize and I know a lot of people who went to the exhibition in the National Portrait Gallery who saw my name and saw my piece went on to the internet to look at my work on my site,” said Sara. She has also seen other potential new work and interest come from people contacting her through the website.
That’s key to her future success as Sara points out: “I try to get commissions from museums, galleries and others who may be interested in my work and I send them the link to direct them to specific parts of my work.”
The value of having her online business presence is already proving its worth
“It did take a long time to design and develop, but I got there in the end,” said a thankful Sara.
“I did a lot of research of other photography sites before getting my designed. I think the best sites are the ones that you go back a month later and it has changed and there is something new to look at. A lot of photographer’s sites online at the moment, you go back to them a year or six months later and they have exactly the same pictures up.”
So having a dynamic site was key to Sara who appears to have achieved that with a clean and practical website and a little help from social media.
“I’m trying to make my website a bit more interactive. So I have my Instagram feed at the bottom of the front page that is constantly being fed when I update my Instagram account. I know a lot of photographers are against Instagram, but I think it is good to have something that changes. I use my phone if I go to an exhibition and it makes it interesting for people coming back to the website.”
So where next?
“I just hope to continue the direction I am going in and continue to be respected and shortlisted for things. Just having people in the industry aware of my work is a great achievement.”