Ten Website Platforms for Photographers

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By Alan Hutchison: After building a strong portfolio, getting a good professional website to showcase your photography is probably the next most important investment a professional photographer can make.

Take Gavin’s site for example. Gavin has invested a lot of time in getting the look right, to match his branding and values, and properly showcase his work. Gavin builds all his sites on WordPress and has the technical skills required to manipulate the HTML and CSS code on the site to make them truly his own.

However, not all photographers will have the necessary skills to do this, so this article will present what I believe are amongst the best looking (and easiest) website platforms for photographers out there.  They range from straightforward flash templates with a full admin interface, through to fully programmable portfolio sites with integrated blogs. All of these websites can be built with minimum technical knowledge and I’ll rate them from 1 (easy peasy lemon squeezy) to 5 (You lied. What is this CSS you speak of?).

Read on for what I believe (IMHO) are ten of the best website platforms out there for photographers.

1. Portfoliositez.com (from $11 per month including hosting)

Probably one of the most accessible platforms for non-programmers, Portfoliositez offer 5 different flash templates, all of which have full back-end content management and include such useful features as integrated client proofing and shopping carts, and even mini sites that you can create just for your clients.  Their monthly fee includes full website hosting.

Company Website: www.portfoliositez.com
Example site: Lanier Star Photography
Ease of Setup: 1

2. Bludomain.com (from $100 one-off cost plus $100 hosting)

UPDATE: Bludomain has been getting some bad reports in regards to service, here as well as on other sites. Just a heads up.
Orig: Bludomain are very well known and offers a huge range of templates with lots of different “looks” and features, all of which are very polished and very professional.  Bludomain’s templates range from $100 up to $800 depending on the feature-set, but budget an additional $100 for hosting fees.  As used by yours truly.

Company Website:  www.bludomain.com
Example site: Scott Hayne Photography
Ease of Setup: 1

3. PhotoBiz.com (from $125 setup then from $15 per month)

PhotoBiz offer similar products to Portfoliositez and Bludomain, so are well worth a look. Their pricing model is based on the number of images hosted, so if you have a larger portfolio this should be taken into consideration.

Company Website: www.photobiz.com
Example site:  Giovanna Media
Ease of Setup: 1

4. Clickbooq.com (from $79 per month)

Clickbooq is at the slightly pricier end of the market, but do offer very nice looking websites with some unique features. Clickbooq sites have a hidden html mirror so are search engine friendly, they also offer a nice lightbox feature allowing clients to build their own gallery and share it with their friends.

Company Website: www.clickbooq.com
Example site: Gavin Bond Photography
Ease of Setup: 1

5. ShowItSites ($39 per month)

ShowItSites is a product from David Jay’s Company and can best be described as a programmable flash website, but without the programming. It uses a downloadable application to build your site, and it has almost limitless potential in the various designs that can be built. A well-built ShowItSite truly has the Wow factor – take a look at Jasmine Star’s website to see what I mean.

Company Website: www.showitfast.com
Example website : Jasmine Star
Ease of Setup : 3

6. IntoTheDarkroom.com (from $500)

Moving yet further up market, IntoTheDarkRoom (ITDR) offer a number of website products including slideshow plugs-ins and proofing galleries. They are currently promoting their “Dream PKG” which consists of their Flash website template, the Blog template and the Slideshow plug-in.  “Dream PKG” retails for $750 but at the time of writing was on special for $500.  ITDR also offer completely customised websites from $5000. Take a look at the work they did for Boutwell Studios for a good example of their custom work.

Company Website: www.IntoTheDarkRoom.com
Example site : Tracy Rasinski
Ease of Setup : 3

7. Photoidentities.com (from $100)

Photoidentities offer a range of websites starting from $100.  They also offer customisation services on all of their templates.  For Photographers looking to boost their search engine rankings with a blog presence Photoidentities also offer fully hosted “blogsites” which are designed to offer both a portfolio and blog in the one site. These are based on WordPress, but Photoidentities take care of most of the technical issues for you.

Company Website : www.photoidentities.com
Example site : Interviews by Crash Taylor
Ease of Setup : 3

8. Portfoliositez Blogs ( from $10 per month)

Portfoliosite get another mention as they have just launched their own “hybrid” blog and portfolio, again based on WordPress.  This time however they’ve virtually embedded one of their powerful flash templates right into a WordPress header, making quite a unique site.  This is a brand new product for them so it will be interesting to see how successful this is.  For details look for the “Andy” template on their site.

Company Website : www.portfoliositez.com
Example site : Portfoliositez’ own sample site
Ease of Setup : 2

9. ProPhotoBlogs.com (from $179)

ProPhoto is a very powerful template for WordPress that removes a lot of the CSS tweaking that would normally be involved in designing a unique website branded to your business.  $179 is very pricey for a WordPress template, but it should be understood that ProPhoto have taken the normal WordPress template model and flipped it on its head, making it fully menu driven.  If you don’t want to get your hands in any way dirty they also offer a “Handheld” installation for $259.

Company Website : www.prophotoblogs.com
Example site : Mark Gardner Photography
Ease of Setup: 3

10. ToFurious.com (from FREE)

Tofurious.com is a wonderful resource for photographers offering templates for album design, slideshow plugins, marketing tips and of course Website templates.  Their website offering is a traditional WordPress Theme, but designed purely for photographers.  Being a typical WordPress theme you do need to know how to install it, so the difficulty rating is higher than the other offerings on here – however it has one big advantage, it’s free.  They also offer a premium versions at $20 and $30 which offer rotating flash banners and Twitter integration.  As used by yours truly for my own blog.

Company Website : www.tofurious.com
Example website : Alan Hutchison Photography
Ease of Setup: 5

So there you have it.

Ten excellent website platforms that will help you showcase your photography, ranging from the simplest setup, right up to getting your hands a little dirty with CSS and WordPress.

Of course, this is not an exhaustive list. There are lots and lots of choices out there. Nor should this list be taken in any way as a recommendation to buy. Do your own research before jumping in, find out what the support is like, and how long it will take to get your website up and running.  Many of these platforms even offer a free trial, so take advantage of that if it is available. Then speak to other photographers using their services and get some direct feedback.

When making your decision, think about search engine optimisation. Depending on how they are designed, flash sites are typically not good at this, so sometimes a combination of a flash portfolio and html-based blog is the best option.

Good luck with building your site.

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  • http://www.prophotoshow.net Gavin Seim

    Thanks Alan, nice overview. I would have given WordPress the #1 spot hands down though. You’re title didn’t say the 10 easiest, it sayed the ten “best” ;)

    WP can be pretty simple or pretty hard depending on what setup you use. It’s pretty much up to the user how much they want to work with it. I won’t deny it takes a little more know how to get creative, but WP integrates the site, blog, tons of plugins and great SEO. It puts you totally in control and there’s no $$$ to hand over for it. Even if you pay for the ease of something like Pro Photo Blogs you still get all that core power and extendability that WP offers.

    Just my .02

    Thanks for a nice overview… Gav

  • http://davidjay.com David Jay

    Rock on! Great resource! Showit is proud that you saw the “limitless potential” and “WOW factor” that we offer.

    Having CONTROL over a UNIQUE website is so important these days!

    Sweet!
    DJ

  • http://www.tofurious.com Lawrence @ Tofurious

    Thank you for the kind words :) I guess I should make a simpler blog to install LOL! I just have so little time as I am constantly developing new digital products.

    Remind me to send you complimentary copies of my softwares of you would grace me with a review :)

    Cheers mate,

    Lawrence

  • http://www.alanhutchison.co.uk Alan Hutchison

    @Gavin

    I do agree with your thoughts on WordPress – I didn’t include it separately as it is effectively in that top 10 already as a number of the entries here are indeed WordPress templates ;-) Out of the box WordPress to a non-technical user can take a little to get used to and quite a bit of effort to get right – however plug in something like Lawrence’s Tofurious template and it rocks. And as you say you still get all that power and flexibility that WordPress offers.

    @David

    Glad to hear you liked the review. ;-)

    @Lawrence

    Despite being a little more difficult to install, who can complain at the price the ToFurios template is awesome and I take my hat off to you for providing a free version and giving people the option to support your efforts with a couple of premium features. You’ll note that I already use the Tofurious for my blog LOL.

    Cheers Guys.

    Alan

  • http://www.portfoliositez.com/ Jen

    Thanks for the mention, Alan :-) What a great collection of reviews!

    So far so good with the Andy blogsite, we should have client examples on our blog as soon as they go live. :-)

  • http://www.SouthernWeddingPhotography.com Ron Anderson

    I would strongly urge you to take BluDomain off of the list. I assure you that I am NOT a negative person, and usually do not comment unless I feel something is important. Short version of the story is that they have the worst customer service that I have ever encountered (outside of Graphistudio)

    I truly am being sincere ; )

  • http://www.alanhutchison.co.uk Alan Hutchison

    Ron,

    Bludomains “growing pains” are well documented, hence my comment about doing your own research etc. Personally I had no issues with them and got good service, but I did think long and hard before taking the plunge with them.

    Alan

  • http://blog.nancy-ebert.de Nancy Ebert

    Thansk so much for your list! Based on this I went out to build a blog based ProPhotoBlogs and it looks great! Exactly what I have been looking for. Thanks!

  • http://www.cat.com Animals R Cool

    I noticed your site is showing wrong in the top part, the page is all bugged out a bit I suppose it happens from time to time when you cannot verify it in all operating systems. Anyway i just figured i would pass it on

    • http://www.prophotoshow.net Gavin Seim

      Thanks, we do check most browsers, but I’ll take a look and see if everythings OK.

  • erickp

    I hear a lot about “SquareSpace” these days. Is this a good solution? Is it better than WP.

    Looking to switch myself to something else. Thanks!

    ~e

    • http://www.prophotoshow.net Gavin Seim

      Squarespace seems good from what I’ve heard, but I’ve played with it a little. I would say it’s not so much better than WP as it is different. I love WP because of all the plugins and control I have.

      SP gives quite a bit of control too, but not near as much as WP from what I’ve seen. On the upside it’s more friendly to those with little site building or code experience. WP takes some geekery to really make it your own and some people don’t want to be that hands on.

  • erickp

    @ Gavin:
    I hear you. They both have plus and minuses. The funny thing is if you go to the sample section on SquareSpace, most of the featured sample sites all have some sort of custom code in it. Which to me is a little deceiving. They don’t have many showing you the possibilities without using custom code. Still looking at both options as a portfolio site & blog.

  • http://www.thethirdimage.com Scott Bradley

    Nice reviews. I just wanted to add that my experience with IntoTheDarkRoom has horrible at best.
    They have a support ticket system, but from my experience, I doubt they read every word you write. Three weeks after first writing, I still have unresolved issues that they haven’t responded to. If your looking for a company that will offer support, look elsewhere. ITDR is still a young pup with A LOT of kinks to work out. It’s been a very frustrating experience.

  • Cheryl

    I fully concur with Scott’s posting of IntoTheDarkRoom. Horrible customer service and I was also terribly frustrated with them. Unless they make some changes, I would be hesitant to ever recommend this company.

  • Jon

    BEWARE BEWARE BEWARE OF BLUDOMAIN- JUST A SIMPLE GOOGLE ON THEIR NAME WILL TAKE YOU TO PLENTY OF PAGES FILLED WITH COMPAINTS ABOUT THEM.

    Yes, they’re well known- but not as professionals. Proceed at your own risk.

  • Brian

    Thank you for the review of these sites. I paid a substantial sum of money to iCreations.com two years ago and after continued and severe service issues for the past year, I find myself in the market for a new solution.

    Brian

  • http://www.lancasterphoto.net clay lancaster

    A lot of these templates area great. But am i the only one here concerned about the template company having access (if not full control) over my website? If I pay $300-$500 for a template, I should own those files, be able to adjust them as I please, and upload them to whatever host I feel like hosting with. My current site works that way (and is CMS), so why are all these sites either pay-per-month, or “we install for you”?

    • http://www.prophotoshow.net Gavin Seim

      Clay a lot of these are designed for people who want it handled for them. I tend to agree. I much prefer something like Word Press, but it does take some more hands on. personally I think it’s worth it to use a CMS style system like WP. Even if you have someone do it for you, at least you’re in full control… Gav

  • Michelle

    I recently had some problems with Portfoliositez. There were some glitches like the viewing page signin kept freezing and the template didn’t automatically resize images (for a photography website it should!) These are things that I didn’t even think about when I purchased the license. I emailed for a partial refund and was politely refused. I feel like I just threw away $200! If you do go with Portfolio sitez, then do the monthly subscription, and see if it works for you.

  • http://www.brendalindfors.com Brenda Lindfors

    I use a Bludomain site but, because it is a Flash site it is not very search engine friendly and it doesn’t work with ipads or iphones. Can you comment on photographer website options that address these issues…Great SEO optimization and compatibility with mobile devices?

    Would appreciate your thoughts and experiences, plus those of other readers.

    Thanks! Brenda

    • http://www.prophotoshow.net Gavin Seim

      Brenda personally I’m a bog WP guy. Search engines like it and it’s pretty much unlimited. I think many of us are moving away from flash these days. If you want something more drag and drop than WordPress, take a look at SquareSpace.

  • Rob

    Clickbooq costumer service failed to impress me from the start. I emailed a list asking for clarification of some of the services being offered as the write up on their site is pretty limited. The initial response from them was…go ahead and ask away. 3 weeks later…nothing. This then led me to believe that their product is limited in some ways. Looks like the competition is offering more for the money.

  • Egami

    thank for this helpful post…what do u think about photocrati ..do u recommend it??

  • http://www.haringphotography.com Otto Haring

    I can recommend prophotoblogs! Great tool for professional photographers!

  • http://www.skorpilphotography.com Melissa Skorpil

    I use and recommend Prophoto blogs. I use a limited edition custom design and its built right on top of WordPress, so the blogging is easy and very SEO friendly.

  • http://www.tiffaneebartistry.com Tiffanee

    I agree with Scott above on Intothedarkroom. After going back and forth through email for over a week with them with the same issue that they seem to not be paying attention to, I decided to check out reviews from others. I should have done this before purchasing based on a photog I admire endorsing them. It has been horrible simply because they wont even read the email!

  • Chris

    I had nothing but trouble with IntoTheDarkRoom. I struggled with a bunch of issues, finally gave up after their support offered very little support, and moved to ProPhoto, which I’m very happy with.

    I’m an experienced WordPress developer, and it was a bad experience with IntoTheDarkRoom. I couldn’t get a refund either.




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