If there’s one tool a photographer has to have to market their work, it’s a portfolio. Portfolios allow clients to get acquainted with your style, and see your best work. While there’s more than one way to make a portfolio, creating a website for your photographs is the most popular option, and for good reasons. Anyone can find and view a photography website, which makes it easier to find new clients.
But building a website is hard, isn’t it? Not if you have the right tools. With a good website builder, you can build a website that showcases your images without knowing complicated HTML code. We’ve rounded up some of the best online portfolio tools on the market today—here are the top options to consider.
SmugMug is based less on templates and more on adjusting a website through a drag and drop editor. It’s a better option for photographers that want more control over the final look of their website, though it’s worth noting that more control equals a greater time investment.
Privacy options are also a big reason many photographers choose SmugMug. Depending on which package you purchase, you can automatically add a watermark to your image and disable right click saves. SmugMug also offers unlimited storage to paid users.
Plans start at $3.34 a month, but you can’t use a custom domain name until the $5 a month option, and the $12.50 option allows you to sell your images online too.
While 500px may have started more with a social networking vibe, it’s an excellent way for photographers to create their own website showcasing their images. The company’s paid portfolio option is designed specifically for photographers, so the design is of course well-suited for photo buffs.
500px uses a number of different themes to create a portfolio of images. Photographers can choose a template they like, and adjust it to match their style. Not satisfied with a template? 500Px also offers an HTML editor, so you aren’t confined to the template if you know a bit of code. The platform is also well-received as a tool for organizing photos.
The portfolio feature on 500px costs $75 a year, or $165 a year bundled with the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography software.
As the name implies, Zenfolio is designed specifically for creating portfolios. Websites through Zenfolio are highly customizable, yet include a good range of templates that make it simple for photographers to design their own website.
Zenfolio seems to have a few more extras over other options. You can create a slideshow of your photos complete with music, the ability to import RAW files and over 500 product options for selling images.
Zenfolio is fairly affordable, starting at $5 a month. Full selling capabilities, custom watermarking and email marketing campaigns come in at $20 a month, and the $30 a month package has even more tools and a price discount on selling fees. It’s worth noting that the Zenfolio branding isn’t removed until you’re paying $20 a month, though.
PhotoShelter is perhaps the option with the most tools for creating a portfolio.
With a real-time site editor, you can adjust your portfolio and see each change as it’s made, without needing to know code to customize your site. There are currently nine different templates, but from there you can select from options like displaying a photo slideshow or a section of many smaller photos.
PhotoShelter also offers cloud storage for backing up photos, and you can upload more than simply JPEGs, like RAW and Photoshop files. There are also a number of different plugins for uploading directly from your favorite image editor, including Lightroom and Aperture. You can also easily add a WordPress, Tumblr or Instagram feed to your website. To learn more about these plugins and how to best use them, you can check out our online photoshop course.
What’s the trade-off for the extra features? PhotoShelter is a bit pricer than some plans, but not outrageously so. Plans start at $8 a month if you pay for a year at a time, but that smaller plan only includes 4 GB of cloud storage and doesn’t allow users to sell prints or create proof pages. You can’t sell until $25 a month (or $30 a month if you pay month-to-month), and you’ll get unlimited cloud storage with the $45 a month (or $50 when paying month-to-month) option.
While perhaps not as well-known, portfolio option Format shouldn’t be overlooked. The platform operates on themes as well as drag and drop editing for more customization even without HTML code. Of course if you do happen to know code, there’s an option to use that to customize your site too.
Format sites look just as great on a smartphone, so your portfolio can shine no matter what device visitors are using to view your site. There’s also a good support team 24/7 to talk to if you’re not quite happy with your portfolio.
For Lightroom users, photos can be easily added, making it possible to frequently update your portfolio without setting aside a few hours to do so. Along with uploading right from Lightroom, you can also work with photos that have already been uploaded to the site.
Building and updating a website is rather time consuming, and, well, most photographers would rather spend that time taking pictures. Orosso is hailed for it’s simplicity, allowing photographers to quickly create a portfolio and then get back to business.
Why is Orosso faster? The website builder just involves choosing a template and uploading your own images and text. There are fewer customization features, but that’s designed to get you up and running fast.
That speed comes at a cost though. Where $25 a month on most platforms gets you hundreds of, if not unlimited, images you can add to your portfolio, at Orosso the most basic package is limited to 50 images. You can pay $29 a month for 400 images and web stats, or $34 a month for 2000 images as well as videos. Mobile versions of your website don’t come in until the more expensive package as well.
Online portfolios are a must for nearly every modern photographer—but with the right tools, it doesn’t have to be stressful or even expensive. Choose a platform that has features that stand out to you, then use the free trial (most have one) to decide if it’s a good fit for your work.
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