Few 20th-century photographers were more creatively and technically adept than Ansel Adams. His photography of Yosemite and the Sierras is the stuff of legend. Adams’s signature black and white images captured viewers and took them into the wilds of the American West.
Today, for Adams to achieve the same commercial success and reach, he would surely need a robust website to display his work. Many contemporary photographers, while technically proficient in their craft, might view the prospect of looking for web building solutions akin to scaling El Capitan. Fortunately, I’m here today to act as your guide into the wilds of the top website and photo hosting services for photographers.
Kicking things off is Wix. As with all the best web builders, Wix offers a wide array of templates, marketing tools, and blogging options. What sets Wix apart is many of their offerings are geared specifically toward photographers. Artists can choose from more than 40 types of galleries to display their imagery. Wix’s page protection options allow photographers to create private galleries where specific clients can log in to browse their work. Start designing with Wix for free:
- FREE signup with email or Facebook
- Drag-and-drop designing is super easy
- 1-year domain free with most plans
- Up to $300-worth of ad credits
- Access to 1,000s of templates and additional tools in the App Market
- Get started on Wix now.
2. WordPress Website Builder BoldGrid
Not to be outdone is WordPress — no doubt the most popular platform for publishing a website. While primarily known for blogging, the full-fledged website builder allows users to create highly customized sites without the need for web design expertise. WordPress template options abound, each accentuating a different look, feel, or industry type.
The themes with emphasis on visual elements (i.e., portfolios and slideshows) make it simple for photographers to create stunning pages that compliment their work. Add-ons, like advanced galleries and audience-building tools, get your art noticed by the masses. With a range of low prices available from well-known hosts, such as InMotion, Bluehost, and SiteGround, WordPress is a great place to broadcast your media. Our experts have tested all the top WordPress hosting services, and our leading recommendation is below:
- One-of-a-kind WordPress builder
- Good for beginners or professionals
- Drag-and-drop, WYSIWYG editing
- Built-in staging environment
- 200+ FREE themes
- Get started on BoldGrid now.
Photographers new to website creation find a friend in Weebly’s intuitive drag-and-drop builder. Weebly’s elegant themes add an aesthetic appeal to portfolios, making them sure to stand out to potential clients. The biggest draw? More than 40 million entrepreneurs are using Weebly’s eCommerce tools to successfully market and sell their products — a testament to how Weebly can help you get prints out to the public and grow your business.
- Fully hosted online web builder lets you design by dragging and dropping
- Access to hundreds of free, sleek, and professional-looking themes
- Display and sell 10, 25, or unlimited products for your online store
- Start promoting your Weebly site with $100 in Google Ads
- Community support and online forums
- Get started on Weebly now.
At Squarespace, it seems to be all about teamwork. Expert photographers who need a bit of help conceptualizing and executing website builds get up to speed with the site’s award-winning template design team. Squarespace’s Customer Care Advisors are available around the clock to answer technical, design, or deployment questions, basically acting as your own IT department.
In addition to access to a dedicated team, Squarespace’s web builder provides an easy venue to publish your content online. Photographers can tell their stories through comprehensive blogging functionalities that include multiple features such as galleries, video, and a built-in RSS feed.
A free portfolio app is also available, giving artists the ability to show potential clients their work on the go, even without an internet connection. Squarespace’s calendar tool is ideal for artists holding openings or hosting shows, as it provides a list of events viewers can RSVP to directly on your site.
If you’re looking for a community with whom to share your photos and passions, 500px houses a network of more than 9 million photographers who are connecting with colleagues and customers. The platform gets photographers up and running with a personalized home feed where they can exhibit work in galleries and blogs. Users can follow other professionals and friends to see updated photos. It’s a great way to grow your following and client base.
Probably the most popular feature offered by 500px is their Marketplace. Here, photographers can submit their work and license it for use as stock photography. This, coupled with a complete business suite, expands reach, gets photographers assignments, and grows bottom lines.
With templates perfect for any genre of photography, Zenfolio is versatile and can be used to display images ranging from conceptual fine art and landscape to fashion and food. Unlimited storage for all plans means photographers don’t have to worry about maintaining an online storehouse of high-resolution images.
For pros working weddings and bar mitzvahs, Zenfolio’s client proofing portal allows customers to access work privately and choose the images they like best. Add in an integrated shopping cart and partnership with top print labs, and Zenfolio is a great platform for photographers to run successful businesses.
If you’re in the photography business, you probably care about brand integrity. It’s paramount to create an online presence that displays your creations in a way that maintains the core style of your art. Format knows this and provides an exceptional venue for creatives to design and build compelling websites.
Format prides themselves on giving artists the ability to employ themes on their sites that are tailored to their body of work. One big reason photographers are drawn to Format is because they offer completely integrated storefronts. The eCommerce solution is available with every plan, and Format doesn’t take a cut of the earnings, making for a great way to scale creative businesses. For more information, see our feature story on how Format empowers creatives to showcase their work online.
An ideal starting point for novice or expert photographers to showcase their work, SmugMug allows users to customize websites with full-screen galleries with numerous layout options. There is no coding needed to create a personalized feel. Artists can choose from more than 20 premade site designs, or use the intuitive user interface and drag-and-drop organizer to give their sites a unique feel.
The support team at SmugMug is available to help with any type of question 24 hours per day, seven days per week, and 364 days per year. (The team has to take at least one annual day off!) Plans are all reasonably priced and come with unlimited photo uploads.
PhotoDeck aims to help photographers and videographers cut through the clutter with a minimalist approach to web design that lets portfolios shine through. PhotoDeck makes it simple to get your photos out to the audiences you’re trying to reach — and do it fast. According to the PhotoDeck website, Pingdom speed testing revealed sites built via PhotoDeck are faster than 92% of other tested URLs.
For professionals who offer a mix of photography and videography, the platform allows the display of video clips with still images together in galleries. Both videos and stills can be downloaded and sold through PhotoDeck.
Photographers seeking effective tools to exhibit, organize, share, and sell creative pieces can find more than 100 of them at Photoshelter. From image delivery and eCommerce to high-capacity cloud storage and SEO features, Photoshelter has everything a photography business needs to be successful online.
As with other popular web building platforms, Photoshelter sites are completely customizable and can be personalized to your specifications. Social media is integrated, so you can notify all your Twitter and Facebook followers when new images or galleries are added.
In many cases, users only want to spend a few minutes getting their photos on the web — publish and move on! BlueMelon allows you to add albums, set up pricing, and share your photos with clients in just a few clicks. The BlueMelon team prides itself on making it simpler to sell photos, without compromising the quality of the customer experience or jeopardizing the safety of your artistic material.
“BlueMelon believes in freedom, so we allow users to upload videos of up to 10GB in any resolution,” according to BlueMelon team member Miroslav Liska. “Combine that with copyright protection, blog and social media integrations, and payment processors for instant access to your profits, and you have a formidable omnitool to grow your business.”
Best Web Hosting for Photographers vs. Free Photo Hosting Sites
Like you, if Ansel Adams were around today, he’d be looking for the best web hosting for his photography website. The options listed above all provide unique and effective venues for novices and pros alike to broadcast their art to the world.
For those who’d like to get their work online but don’t want a full-fledged website, you can sign up for an account with a free photo storage site. A few of the most popular photo hosting sites are Flickr, Imgur, Google Photos, and PhotoBucket.
While these sites allow users to house photos online, they’re not much more than glorified storage spaces. They lack customization options, unique domain names, and eCommerce solutions. To get your art to market — really have your photos noticed (and purchased) — you need a professional-grade website. While a free photo hosting site may sound good in theory, it’s no substitute for the quality website builder services we recommend.
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