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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.