While you can create a simple portfolio with any website builder, specialist options have sprung up everywhere over the last decade. Here are five of the most popular choices tailored to artists, designers and photographers, and some of the pros and cons of each.
Adobe is a stamp of quality (and source of occasional frustration) for most photographers, so its portfolio option is understandably popular. Adobe Portfolio is basically a lightweight combination of web design software Dreamweaver and your Lightroom gallery.
It is strictly for creating a profile; there’s no ecommerce option or blog integration. But if that’s all you need, it couldn’t be quicker. You can have something that looks good finished in 30 mins, all through the familiar Adobe interface.
The great thing about Portfolio is that it integrates with all your other Adobe software: you can import straight from Lightroom and Behance, and use fonts from Typekit. Best of all, it comes completely free with Creative Cloud. If you don’t use Photoshop or Lightroom, however, you will have to pay for them too.
If you’re looking for something a little more than one portfolio page, Portfoliobox might interest you. This lesser known option offers a free (and ad-free) option with basic templates, and a 30 day trial of the paid ones. The layouts are simple, but it’s under the hood where things get interesting.
A custom CMS lets you add multiple pages, or place multiple sections on a single scrolling page. This includes easy embedding of Instagram and Flickr feeds, and tools to enhance your search engine visibility. A blog and ecommerce options are also available straight out of the box.
If you really want to get stuck in, you also have access to the CSS and HTML for the pages, letting you add an extra layer of customisation. The price is also fairly competitive at $8.99 a month, or $6.99 a month if you sign up for a year. The interface might take a bit of getting used to, and some portfolios might look better without customisation, but it’s a good all-rounder.
500px might be best known as a community photoblog and stock source, but they also offer a competitive portfolio option. As a network of photographers, 500px portfolios make your photos look great. They offer super clean layouts with and without borders, which all scale particularly well on mobile, a key portion of your audience.
This familiarity shows in the control panel. While it isn’t incredibly feature heavy, it offers options like including EXIF data, adding individual captions and watermarks, and changing the layout and spacing of each photo, all of which are pretty unique among portfolio providers.
500px’s reputation has deprecated a little in recent years, however. Some feel that the community around the portfolios and image sharing has become too competitive, while there have been complaints about changing layouts, and other people’s photos sneaking onto your page. I can’t substantiate this, but it’s worth doing some extra research.
A relatively new company based in Toronto, Format are looking to shake up the portfolio market with a simple, ecommerce oriented option. Their store is really quick to set up, elegant and - like the rest of the site - highly customisable.
If this sounds complicated, it shouldn’t. The click to edit and drag & drop interface is a breeze to use, as is adding blog posts, videos or listings to your site. The layouts are adaptive and mobile friendly, while all packages include unlimited bandwidth, meaning no ‘data allowance’ limiting your monthly visitors.
Format is another mid-range, modestly priced option, at $7.99/month or $6 a month if you subscribe for a year. They also offer a 14 day trial, and have a web magazine offshoot with list features and downloadable guides.
One of the oldest portfolio sites on the web, Zenfolio has stayed the course as others have fallen. Their homepage points to a number of awards, as well as being associated with prestigious societies including the Royal Society of Photographers. They also reckon they’re the number one service used by professional photographers.
It’s not an unreasonable claim. Like Format, Zenfolio is built almost from the ground up as an ecommerce platform. Partnerships with respected print labs make it easy to reproduce your work, and the interface is straightforward but accommodating. They also offer a companion app for easy photo storage and access.
There have been some complaints of late, however. A move to introducing ‘opt out’ album creation, where 90% of the proceeds go straight to Zenfolio, was met with hostility by long-time customers. Their usual 12% commission is however lower than many of their ecommerce rivals.
Other recent criticisms lie with Zenfolio’s design and interface. Some people complain of a cluttered backend that is tough to navigate, while others say the templates are too similar, with no ability to edit the CSS or HTML. You can make up your own mind however with a 14 day trial. Plans start at a reasonable $7/month, or $5/month when you subscribe for a year.
Kent wedding photographer Joe Josland is the founder of JJosland Photography, undertaking documentary style shoots in Kent and across the UK. His unique natural style aims to replicate the story of a wedding day or engagement event through pictures, capturing the moments of joy that matter most. You can find him on Instagram here.