A website is critical for any business and especially important in the visual world of photography.  Just 10 years ago, building a beautiful and functional photography website took specialized knowledge or a substantial investment to hire designers or coders.

Fast forward to today and creating a website for your photography business is easier than ever thanks to consumer friendly platforms like Format, Squarespace and Wix along with advancements in WordPress.

Below is a list of the best Website builders for photographers, updated annually.  In this article, we’ll cover the following website builders.

You may also be interested in seeing the following related articles on SLR Lounge:

WordPress for Photographers

Thirty percent of all websites on the internet are run on WordPress, including the one you’re reading now.  As an open source CMS (content management system), WordPress is completely customizable and free to use.   While WordPress is free, you still have to pay for hosting with a company like GoDaddy, WPEngine, or Bluehost.  In addition, you can either choose to use a free theme or a paid theme, which may add to the cost.

Being 100% customizable has its pros and cons.  The main benefit is that you can pretty much do anything you want.  You just have to do the research, install the right plugins, and find a reliable theme.

The con is that it’s not dummy proof.  Plugins can conflict, updates to WordPress can break features, and you can experience downtime if you fall victim to hackers.  And when that happens you don’t have a customer support team to call, though there are lots of resources out there to help.

If you’re willing to invest some time into learning WordPress, then it’s a great option.  The massive library of plugins allows you to add almost any feature to your site, and if you want to customize the SEO of your site, you’ll appreciate the freedom and capabilities you have with WordPress.

More Info on WordPress

Format for Photographers

Format is a great website builder for creating a beautiful portfolio website quickly and easily.  Unlike WordPress, Format includes hosting, themes, and all of the features for a monthly fee (from $6 to $25/month).

Format was created with Photographers in mind with a few notable features that make it one of our favorite website builders.  Here are a few:

  • Lightroom and Capture One Plugins – The ability to publish and update your portfolio and client proofing galleries directly from Lightroom and Capture One.
  • iPhone App – The ability to manage your gallery pages with the Format iPhone app.
  • Client Proofing – The ability to proof, manage and deliver client work directly from your site.

In addition, Format features a wide selection of beautiful themes.

Since Format is not as widely used as Squarespace, you’re not as likely to see other photographers with the same look and feel if you choose Format.

More Info on Format

Squarespace for Photographers

Squarespace is one of the most popular website builders for photographers and for good reason.  It starts with their themes or what they call “templates.”   Each one is beautiful and functional, featuring great typography, spacing, and overall design sense.

 

In addition, their backend is intuitive and their pricing (from $12 to $40) is very reasonable for the amount of features and support you receive.

Also, Squarespace is the only website builder that offers email marketing.  While all of them will integrate with Mailchimp and other newsletter services, Squarespace has the functionality built in, saving you the additional cost of these other services.

The primary downside of Squarespace as a website builder for photographers is its popularity.  It’s not uncommon to see multiple photographers utilize the same template.  But honestly, do your clients care?  Probably not.

More Info on Squarespace

Pixpa for Photographers

Pixpa is a  budget-friendly option for photographers who need an online portfolio.  They have over 40 themes to start with that take into consideration all types of photography, from wedding to fashion to architectural.  They also have good  e-commerce features and a responsive customer support team.

pixpa website builder

The strengths of Pixpa include the following:

  • Price
  • Free 15 day trial
  • Drag and Drop Builder
  • E-commerce functionality (out of the box)
  • Client Proofing functionality (out of the box)

More on Pixpa

Wix for Photographers

Wix prides itself in its ease of use and customizability.  It utilizes a WYSIWYG editor that allows you to drag, drop, and arrange your website any way you want.  Of course, they also offer professionally designed templates to get your photography portfolio up and running.

Like Format and Squarespace, Wix also offers reasonable pricing (from $11 to $29 per month) and includes all of the features you’d reasonably need to run a photography website.

Unlike most of its competitors, Wix offers a forever free plan that displays ads on your website.  To remove the ads, you have to upgrade to premium plan.  The free option is great if you’re a cash strapped photographer who doesn’t mind ad display on your website until your business becomes more profitable.

Pros

  • Wix has more than forty photography templates that are already pre-designed and are all unique. This makes it easier for photographers since all they need to do is showcase their work.
  • It has features that are specifically tailored for photographers. For example, there are over thirty media galleries that allow photographers to display their videos and images.
  • Wix also offers an image securing option that protects your data.
  • There are various tools available that can help you enhance your images’ quality before you publish them.

Cons

  • Limited storage space

Pricing and Features

  • Wix has a monthly plan which starts from $22
  • 20GB storage space
  • Unlimited bandwidth
  • It has a free content delivery network, which uses cache servers that are interconnected
  • It is a free domain
  • Offers custom domain use
  • It has a free plan.

More Info on Wix

Zenfolio

zenfolio online gallery

Zenfolio is one of the web hosting and website builder services for photographers who would sell photographs. It is both an E-commerce platform and a website. If you would like to simultaneously have a website that is good looking and scale your photography business, then this web host company is a good one for you.

Zenfolio Pros

  • They have unique categories of templates collection that will allow you to create a photo website in place.
  • The e-commerce section has a printing lab partnership, a complete marketing tools suite, and an online cart.
  • The privacy options offered include watermarking your images, and creating galleries that are password protected.
  • There is a pricing page that will help you develop the right price plans for your images.

Zenfolio Cons

  • Does not have a free content delivery network
  • Does not offer a free plan
  • It is not a free domain

Pricing and Features

  • Zenfolio has a $20 monthly plan.
  • Unlimited storage space
  • Unlimited bandwidth
  • Offers custom domain use

SmugMug

smugmug online gallerySmugMug is custom made for photographers. It is a platform that offers both hosting services to photographers and offers them the option of sharing their images.

Pros of Smugmug

  • Allows both professional and amateur photographers to sell or showcase their work efficiently on the site
  • You can upload multiple photos at a go
  • It makes your work more streamlined since it integrates with lightroom
  • They offer customizable design templates that allow you to choose the layout you would like, from a grid style to a full-screen layout.

Cons of Smugmug

  • Does not have a free content delivery network
  • Does not have free plans

Pricing and Features

  • Has a $5.99 monthly plan
  • Has an unlimited storage space
  • Unlimited bandwidth
  • Offers a free domain
  • Offers custom domain use

Our Recommendations | How To Choose?

To determine the best photography website builder, think about yourself, your strengths, weaknesses, and where you are in your business.

  • For The Techie – If you have the ability to sign up for hosting, install WordPress, choose a theme, set up the theme, install the right plugins and spend a little bit of time managing your website every month, then WordPress is the right choice for you.   Having full control over your website, from the look to the SEO, is a great luxury to have.  You never know what features you’ll want to add to your site as your business grows.
  • For Those Who Value Simplicity – If you value simplicity and you’d rather minimize the time you spend on your website, Pixpa, Format, Squarespace or Wix are better options than WordPress.  For a monthly fee, you get customer support, beautifully designed themes, SEO features and more.
  • For Those Who Value Integrations – If you’re looking for integrations in your workflow, Format is the best choice for you because of its client proofing feature, Lightroom plugin, and Capture One Plugin.
  • For Those Who want Email Marketing Built In – If email marketing is a part of your process, Squarespace is a great choice for you.  Having those features built in will save you the additional money of signing up for another service.

Note: We’ll be discussing the following in the next section:

  1. WordPress for Photographers
  2. Squarespace for Photographers.

Free Website Builders for Photographers

Blogger.com, WordPress.com, and others offer the ability to create a custom blog for free on their publishing platform. There is no cost to creating the site, customizing the site, or hosting the site. In addition, since the domain is going to be a subdomain of each of these sites, you don’t have to register a domain either. While 100% free always sounds great, this is not the best option for the serious photographer. Here are the primary reasons:

  • Limited customization – While WordPress.com and Blogger.com offer the ability to customize your website, you are going to be limited to customizing via templates and the options available within their existing framework.
  • Unprofessional domain name – While it is possible to customize your domain name, it’s going to be registered as a “.blogspot.com” or “.WordPress.com” website. This makes your business seem like a hobby rather than a serious business.
  • Lack of SEO Tools – With a custom website, there are more SEO, marketing, and analytics tools available to help in marketing and growing a website. So while it will cost you more to set up a custom website, you are going to be better off in the long run.

Other services

Besides Squarespace, Format, Wix, Pixpa, and WordPress, there are a few other hosting services and content management systems for photographers. Imagely,com, and SITE123 come to mind.

SITE123 is doing some interesting things and deserves some consideration. They have a good selection of modern galleries in their free website builder; and they have a free plan as well as a paid plan. Like the others on our list, their websites are fully responsive and work well on all devices.

In addition, many image storage and delivery services are now layering on website services.  So you can basically start a portfolio with the company that you store your images with.  The obvious benefit is the cost savings if you’re already using these services. Need more options?  See this breakdown by Beautiful Life of the Best Website Builders.