Putting photos on display no longer requires big canvases and white museum walls. Thanks to the web, you can showcase your snapshots in just a few clicks. However, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of portfolio websites to choose from. So, how is a photographer supposed to know which sites they can depend on?
We’ve poured through the top website builders with photography-tinted glasses to find out which options are worth the time and cash. Some are great for simply displaying your art, while others go beyond with ecommerce and email marketing tools. Based on our hands-on experience, as well a site’s reputation, we’ve rounded up the best photography portfolio websites for photographers to display photos in the best light.
Are you just looking for websites that let you post your photos, for free? Check out these best free blogging sites.
The gist: Wix is simple to use and inexpensive. Yet, it has features designed for professional photographers.
Cost: Start for free; upgrade to a premium plan, starting at $5.
Wix is a simple What You See is What You Get (WYSIWYG) site builder, but a slew of recent updates is giving the platform more spunk than meets the eye. Websites on Wix are easy to create with modern templates containing enough variety to match most photography styles and a simple user interface — if you can create a PowerPoint, you can build a Wix website.
While the platform’s biggest perk is the simplicity, the company doesn’t stick with just the basics. One new feature is artificial intelligence (Wix ADI), which helps users build unique websites by answering a few questions from the start. Wix also has a number of more recent additions catering to pro photographers, including online booking, email marketing, print sales, and client-specific albums. The platform’s pro galleries allow photographers to set the quality, then automatically adjust for the viewer’s screen for faster load times — and the gallery also has a few extras to make it more difficult to steal a photo from your website.
Wix is a simple website builder that keeps the easygoing user interface while expanding with more features. What’s the downside? Unless you start building with the ADI option, you can’t change your template later without starting the web design from scratch.
The gist: A quick, simple way to build a portfolio — integrated within the programs many photographers already use.
Cost: Included with Creative Cloud subscription, which starts at $10 a month.
From the company behind Photoshop, Adobe Portfolio is part of the Creative Cloud platform that many photographers already use (and paying for). Users say they get portfolios up and running in an hour, though fine-tuning and expanding the number of image options takes longer. Oh, and it’s also integrated with Adobe Behance, another portfolio builder from Adobe that’s more community-oriented.
The advantage to Adobe Portfolio: updating a portfolio with new content is easy since it is linked to a user’s Lightroom library. Many photographers fall behind on portfolio updates because of the time involved, but the integration will likely make those updates happen more often. Adobe Portfolio offers a number of design templates to choose from, and by keeping it things simple, there’s no temptation to add old-school animations or any web elements that would junk up a page.
Adobe Portfolio is incredibly convenient for current Creative Cloud subscribers, but the lack of advanced features isn’t likely to sway non-Adobe photographers by itself. There’s no store option, no blog — it’s just a portfolio. While that narrow focus makes it simple to get a gallery worthy portfolio, it makes it difficult to use for a fully featured site.
The gist: There’s a reason most websites are powered by WordPress, but it may be overkill if you only need a portfolio.
Cost: Free, but hosting and a domain name will cost at least $4 a month.
WordPress is one of the most widely used platforms, from personal blogs to big businesses. WordPress has plenty of plug-ins, which means you can connect it to Lightroom for faster updates or add your own online store, although some of the plug-in options can get pretty pricey. There are also plenty of templates to choose from, including paid options from both WordPress and third-party companies.
But with so many options comes a much steeper learning curve — WordPress isn’t the sort of portfolio website you can expect to start and finish in one day. Setting up a basic wordpress.com site isn’t too difficult, but building a sleek, pro-level website is a bit tougher. If you want a custom theme, you’ll need to use wordpress.org and not wordpress.com, and finding a host and getting everything set up can be a headache if you’re not a web wizard.
WordPress is the platform DT writer Hillary Grigonis uses personally to host both of her websites (hillarykgrigonis.com and hillarykphoto.com). “While I was happier with the outcome (and price) than anything else I’ve tried, getting set up was tricky,” she said. “I also didn’t care for the WordPress photo albums and had to download a few different plugins before I found a photo album feature that I was happy with. WordPress is a good option for photographers who want more than just a portfolio but also a blog, a place for static pages, and even store options, but it’s overkill (and time consuming) if you only need to display photos.”
The gist: Designed specifically for e-commerce, Shopify is excellent for selling images online, but pricey and complicated if you just want a portfolio site.
Cost: Starting at $29 a month.
Shopify, as the name suggests, is designed not as a one-size-fits-all website builder, but for e-commerce. That makes Shopify worthwhile for photographers looking to sell prints online. While there are other similar website builders, Shopify’s wide-reaching focus means an abundance of online tools, including email marketing, customer history, and plenty of templates.
While Shopify’s advanced tools make it a solid platform for sales, the features also mean it’s one of the pricier options. Expect to pay at least $29 a month plus a percentage of every transaction. Some plug-ins are also pricey. If you’re looking to build a website around a photography business that includes a sales platform and an email marketing tool, then the fee doesn’t sound so bad an all inclusive service. But this is another one that’s overkill for just exhibiting photos online.
The gist: X3, which has the clever URL photo.gallery, is a robust portfolio solution that can be self-hosted on your own server space or hosted on X3’s own Flamepix servers.
Cost: Free demo, $150 one-time license for “professional” users.
X3 isn’t the most simple or elegant solution to set up. But what it lacks in convenience, it makes up for in customization and options. Whether you’re self-hosting or hosting it on X3’s servers, your portfolio site is customizable. You can choose between multiple responsive themes, customize what your galleries look like, and adjust the layout of your portfolio as you see fit. In total, there are hundreds of different combinations you can come up with to make your portfolio site your own.
Unlike other options on this list that are a bit more plug-and-play, you’ll have to have a little PHP and web hosting knowledge to get going if you plan on taking the self-hosting route. Once you have it set up though, the content management system makes it easy to upload content and share it with the world. You can download a demo for free, but you’ll still need server space to host it and there’s a link in the footer going back to X3’s website. For $150, you can have a lifetime license for X3’s portfolio solution, including upcoming e-commerce, search, and panorama plug-ins.