Photographers looking to take their photography business to the next level should focus on building a killer portfolio website. It’s a must-have. Most employers and clients look at online portfolios as the first step in choosing the right creative professional for their project, and a well-crafted portfolio is crucial for building an audience.

But how do you know what a portfolio should have? There are numerous websites with builder tools and lots of options for themes and backgrounds. In this article, we’ll show you the must-have items that every photographer should use to maximize their portfolio’s potential.

Creating Your Portfolio Website

There are many ways to go about building a portfolio website these days. In the past, you would have to build your own or hire an expert. Now, a web search for portfolio site builders will return dozens of options. The portfolios are customizable enough to easily be made to look like your own unique, signature website, but they’re also simple enough to navigate so that anyone can do it. At this point, there’s no reason to go to the effort of making a site from scratch.

Regardless of how you build a website, there are certain must-haves for every portfolio. Even if you are just building an online presence for your hobby, it doesn’t hurt to go the extra mile and think it through.

7 Must-Haves in Your Photography Portfolio Website

1. A Clear Goal or Mission

Nothing good ever comes from the slapdash approach. Take the time to sit down and figure out exactly what you want from your website. We’ve all spent hours poking around website builders and trying out different templates. We landed on one that was okay, but the results were ho-hum.

Try instead to lay out a plan from the beginning. Think about what you need your photography portfolio website to do for you. Does it need to produce leads? Is it just a portfolio to be given to possible employers? Is it just a personal pet project?

Once you have the mission of the site, figure out what you want it to look like. Do some research and look at the competition. What do you like, and what stands out? Is there any way you can differentiate yourself from those sites? You can even go so far as to sketch out some layouts on paper of what you would most like, then find similar templates online.

2. The Ability to Be Found

Every website should have a groundwork of excellent search engine optimization, or SEO. SEO is simple, and you don’t need to hire a professional to do it. There are plenty of websites and blogs that can teach you some easy ways to add better SEO to your site in a few minutes.

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Blog example from Lin & Jirsa Photography

Why is it so important? If the web searches can’t find your website, no one can. Or, even worse, they find your site but rank it poorly. No one wants to appear as result number 542 on Google. Your portfolio can’t possibly rank highly with search terms like “photography.” Instead, focus on long-string keywords that help the right clients find your site. “Beach photography in Beaufort NC,” for example, would better help people find exactly what you do and where.

3. Awesome Curation

Another area that many photographers struggle with is curation. It’s an ongoing chore, and it takes a lot of time and effort. You want your site to have only the best of the best on it. Every image should be there with a purpose, and every picture should wow the viewer. It’s easier said than done.

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All of this comes back to having a clear mission on your site and doing what you can do to make it happen. If you know who your target audience is and what they’re looking for, it’s a lot easier to curate your images and galleries. For example, if you’re a wedding photographer trying to attract business with your photographer portfolio website, that wonderful image of grizzly bears you took in Alaska doesn’t fit. Make sure your galleries are divided by the interests of your audience, not your own.

On the same note, remember that your portfolio is your primary marketing tool as a photographer. Don’t include what you don’t want to do. If you’re trying to make it as a corporate event photographer, and your portfolio is full of wedding shots, you’re likely to be contacted by more brides-to-be than event managers. Unless you want to shoot weddings as well, ditch those shots in favor of more event images.

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Example of specialized genres noted on Line & Roots Photography‘s website

Finally, make sure that your individual style comes through in the images you choose. What makes you unique as a photographer, and what is your signature aesthetic? In other words, what could a potential client expect their photos to look like? Keeping this in mind will go a long way to curating your portfolio. It also shows a professional level of consistency that will make your portfolio shine.

4. Consistent Editing (Including Old Images)

Speaking of consistency, many photographers have work from years prior that doesn’t quite match. Usually, it’s because their editing and post-production techniques have grown along with their skills, experiences, and software capabilities.

The simple solution is to ditch the old stuff. But often, those images are irreplaceable and add to your collection. A better solution may be to sit down and re-edit those images to match your current style.
Remember, the portfolio should show a finished product. The images you made while getting there are less important than showing that you can produce a consistent product now.

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Image via depositphotos

5. High-Quality Images

After all of this talk about curation, this might seem to go without saying. But just because you’ve picked the best photos and amassed a stunning collection, it doesn’t mean that a poor-quality website won’t ruin those images. People who come to your site are looking to see your images in all of their glory, so make sure they look great no matter how the visitors arrived. Images should be high resolution enough to look good on everything from tiny smartphones to the biggest 4K monitors.

You want to make sure your editing process optimized the images for screens. Using high contrast website designs and maximum viewing sizes are great ways to make a more significant impact. Dark themed website templates are usually preferred, as they make the photos pop more than light colors.

6. Make Yourself Available

All great sales websites have a call to action. What sort of action do you need your future clients to take after browsing your portfolio? Hopefully, they’re ready to contact you. Even if they’re not, you don’t want them to click and move on. Having them follow you on social media is an excellent step because the more you appear on their feeds, the more you stay in their minds.

Social media integration should be clean and straightforward. Ensure that it’s easy to find your pages on Facebook and Instagram, plus whatever sites you use regularly. And don’t forget to make it easy to contact you via old-school email, as well.

7. Update It!

One final thing all website portfolios should have is lots of updates. This is where many photographers fall a little flat; it takes a lot of work. Hopefully, when you sat down and came up with your site’s mission, you came up with some easy ways to add images. If you choose a high-quality website builder, especially one that caters to photographers, it will be simple to add more images to your galleries in the future.


A photographer’s portfolio is their most crucial marketing tool, and it deserves some planning and care. Having it online, whether to attract paying clients or just share with friends, is easy. Website building platforms like Pixpa allow photographers to make stunning sites in minutes—just start by having a plan and then make it happen!