How to Make a Photography Website

A step-by-step guide to making your own photography website, from curating your work to creating and customizing the perfect photography website template.

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Before you start

Creating a photography website might seem like something only established pros really need to do, but the reality is more like the opposite—a great online portfolio is crucial for any emerging photographer. Whether you’re a student, a freelancer, or any type of photographer looking to get serious about your work, having a well-curated website will help you get your work in front of the people who need to see it.

Save time with a website builder

You don’t need to put in tons of time and effort learning HTML and CSS in order to build a photography website, either. There are lots of website builders available online that offer a wide range of customizable templates to help you build your own site without any coding knowledge. Some website builders also offer extra features like your own online store, a built-in blog, and proofing pages to let you privately share photos with clients.

Start with what you have

Having a large portfolio of work to share might also seem like a prerequisite for a website, but you can easily curate a memorable site that features as few as twenty images. A website that shares only a small selection of work is easy to browse through, and gives viewers a quick overview of who you are and what kind of photography you do. You can get creative with your website and use it as an online photo diary or a gallery for a single photo project; or you can go the super-simple route and just use your site as a place to host your CV, contact details, and a few of your best images.

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Create and customize your photography website template

Now take some time to think about how you want your photography portfolio website to look. You might want to sketch out possible layouts with pen and paper, especially if you are planning to create the site yourself using HTML. If you are using a website builder to create your online photography portfolio, you may find it easiest to start experimenting with the different photography templates and layout options available. There are lots of free website templates out there that can help you quickly build a professional-looking online portfolio without coding.

If you’re having a hard time choosing the best layout for your work, these are some simple website design questions to consider:

  • Will the pages on your photography website scroll vertically or horizontally?
  • Will your photos be displayed individually, or in a grid with multiple images?
  • Where will your site menu be located: footer, header, left, or right side of the page?
  • What font(s) will you use for your site?
  • What color scheme best accents your work?
  • How will you display your name in a way that stands out?

Just selecting a photography website template you like can be a good start to getting things rolling. You can always switch up your website template for a new one if you don’t like the one you’ve tried, and just seeing your photos laid out in a neat grid or horizontal gallery can help you decide which layout works for you.

With Format, it’s easy to choose and customize a photography website template so your site looks exactly the way you want.

Choose a theme to get started now.

Upload photography

Upload your photography

When you create your best photography portfolio website it can be tempting to fill it up with a huge archive of your work. But your images will stand out better if you don’t select too many of them. You want viewers to see and remember your strongest work; you don’t want them to be overwhelmed by pages and pages of images. Some of the best online portfolios include only one or two galleries of images.

You might find it easiest to curate the galleries for your photography portfolio on your computer before uploading them to your website. Here are a few ideas for how to categorize your work. (If you do additional creative work that isn’t photography, you may want to keep it on a different section of your website.)

  • Subject matter (e.g. portraits, landscapes, travel, fashion)
  • Type of work (e.g. personal, commercial, editorial, documentary)
  • Clients (e.g. by client name or by type of client)
  • Medium (e.g. 35mm, 120mm, digital, video)
  • Location (this may be useful if you are a travel or documentary photographer)
  • Series (this may be useful if you primarily do personal or fine art photography)

When you upload a gallery of images to your site, also consider whether or not you want to include captions on your photos, or add a written statement about the work at the start or end of the gallery. Adding even just a little information can go a long way to holding the attention of your viewers, and can also add a lot to their understanding of your work. Even if the gallery is a simple photo diary, you may want to add captions which explain where the images were taken, or a brief statement about what kind of camera you used. If you’re uploading a series that has previously been published, you may want to share this information and add a link to the publication.

Create homepage

Create a strong homepage

As it’s likely to be the first page visitors see, your homepage is the most important page in creating a photography website. You can create a lasting impression by making a title page which visitors have to click through, or by selecting one of your best images for the homepage. You might also consider setting up your homepage to direct to a gallery of recent work or one of your best projects. Or, you could use your homepage to show a brief overview of five to ten standout images that provide a quick look at the kind of work you do.

Think carefully about how your homepage will look to someone who has no idea who you are and has never seen your photography before.

Personalize

Personalize your photography website with a bio and contact page

Now you’ve curated one or two galleries for your photography website, it’s time to create an about page with a biography on it, and perhaps a brief CV or artist statement. Including a headshot is always a nice way to add a personal touch to your about page. You may want to add links to published work here, or create a separate page titled “Publications” or something similar.

Make sure your contact details feature prominently on your site, whether on your about page or on a separate contact page.

Make it clear to visitors what kind of work you do and what opportunities you’re looking for. If you’re looking for a certain type of clients, commissions, or publications, say so! Clearly state what kind of work you are available for, where you are located, and how you can be contacted.

Add links to your social media accounts, if you have accounts that you use for your photography. Don’t add any accounts that you wouldn’t readily share with clients. If your Instagram is more focused on your personal life and you don’t share your photo work on it, you don’t need to link it here. If finding clients is a priority for you as you create your photography website, you may want to consider creating professionally-oriented Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram accounts for your photography business. Adding a LinkedIn link can be helpful if you want to be able to share your professional CV with clients.


Your homepage

Help people find your website

Make sure the title and description of your site are set up how you’d like them. Many photography website builders will allow you to edit these aspects of your site from their site editor. This is what will show up when people find your website in Google searches or share it on social media, so you want to make sure this info is all correct and easy to read. It’s also a good idea to make sure the open graph image of your site looks the way you want. This is the image that will show up when people share your site on social media, so it’s important to choose one that represents your work well.

Adding keywords to your site title to make it indexable by Google is a good idea for photographers hoping to get discovered online. You may want to use keywords that would help potential clients find you, such as “wedding photographer London,” if you’re a wedding photographer based in London. Many website builders will let you add these keywords yourself when you are setting up your site.

Sell your work

Add your rates and sell your work

Not every photographer needs a pricing page on their website. If you aren’t specifically looking to get paying clients from your site, you don’t need to include your rates. But if you’re a photographer who specializes in weddings, engagements, or portraits, for example, it’s a good idea to have your site include purchase details for these services. You may even want to add an option to book and pay for sessions through your site.

How you charge should reflect how you work

How you price your photography and list your rates is up to you, and it depends on the way you want to do business as a photographer. You may prefer to negotiate rates directly with clients depending on what they’re asking for, or you may find it useful to offer an estimate of how much your services cost. Listing your rates can help you get more targeted business from clients who already know that they can afford your services.

If finding clients is a priority for your photography website, it’s good to consider not only adding your rates, but also including any other information that clients might need. For example, creating specific galleries titled “Engagements” and “Weddings” to showcase your expertise shooting for past clients will help prospective clients get a feel for the kind of work you do. If you’ve shot lots of engagements and weddings, but you stick them all together in the same gallery and just title it “Photos,” visitors to your website will have to scroll through your work to know what you specialize in.

Other pricing options to consider:

  • If you’ve ever considered selling prints of your photos, now’s the time to try it out. Adding a sentence like, “Send me an email if you’re interested in buying prints of my photos” is an easy way to let visitors to your site know that your work is available for sale.
  • Adding an online store to your website is an even more effective way to get your work out there. Many website builders offer the option of adding a store page to your site, sometimes at no additional cost to you. You may want to check to see whether or not your website platform will take a percentage of revenue from your sales before setting up your store.
  • You don’t necessarily need to print any photos before setting up an online store—you can always just select a few images you’d like to sell, and add those to your store, with a description of the print sizing and quality that will be available. If someone places an order, you can then make the print for them on demand.
  • If you already have products you want to sell, like photo books or zines that you’ve printed, Lightroom presets, Photoshop actions, or any other photo-related item, you can add these to your store. “I always include my absolute favorite photos in my store,” says photographer Jenny Woods. “I try to take a step back from my body of work and ask myself what I would want hung up on my walls.”
  • Make sure to clearly describe what you’re offering for sale, and state where you are able to ship to and how much shipping will cost. If you’re selling framed prints or photo books, including clear product images and sizing information will help customers get a feel for what’s on offer. In his online store, photographer Gueorgui Tcherednitchenko offers a detailed description of the photo book he’s selling, including images that show the book’s size and give a preview of its contents.

Do a full review

Make sure your photography portfolio website is optimized for viewing on all devices, including phones and tablets. Most photography website builders optimize their themes for mobile viewing, but it’s still a good idea to check how your finished site will appear on your phone. More than half of web traffic is now taking place on mobile; it’s likely that many visitors to your site will be viewing it on a small screen.

Photography portfolio website review best practice:

  1. Pay attention not only to formatting basics, but also the way your menu appears, how easy the whole site is to navigate on a phone, and also how your images feel on mobile. Full-screen images which look stunning on a monitor may be overwhelmingly large on a phone. A creative grid layout that you’ve customized for desktop browser viewing might look completely different on a small screen. Take some time to browse through your own website on your phone and ensure that it feels just as easy to navigate, and looks just as good, as your desktop site does.
  2. Next, proofread the text on your entire site. It’s always a good idea to get someone else to do this, too, as it can be easy to overlook your own typos. Check that your spelling and grammar is correct and consistent across every page with text on it, from your website menu to any photo captions you might have. There’s nothing worse than crafting a perfect statement to go along with a photo series, and then publishing it with a glaring typo in the title. Make sure all the text on your online portfolio is just as carefully curated as your photography.
  3. Check your whole photography website for any formatting errors and inconsistencies in design. For example, have you decided to italicize your captions? Make sure each one is italicized. These details may seem minor, but ensuring that the formatting is perfectly consistent across your whole site will also ensure it has a professional and polished feel.
  4. Test any links you’ve included in your photography website, whether they’re links to published work or your social media profiles, to ensure that they are all entered correctly and leading where they should.
  5. Have some people you trust take a look at your finalized site before sharing it with the world. If you’re a student, you might ask classmates and instructors to look over your site. Otherwise, consider showing it to friends, other photographers, and mentors. Ask for honest and critical feedback. Obviously you don’t have to make the changes that other people suggest. But at the same time, it’s important to be mindful of the fact that your online portfolio is ultimately intended for other people, not for you. If everyone who looks at your site finds your artist statement confusing, it may be a good call to revise it. If three of your photographer friends all say that one of your image galleries feels way too long, consider cutting a few images from it.

Make sure to include your branding! Create and upload a website logo and custom favicon to your site, don’t forget your branded social handles, and a branded email on your contact page.

Keep updated

Keep your site updated

Update your photography website at least once a month to make sure that your newest work is posted, your CV and contact info are up to date, and everything is running smoothly and looks good. Adding your latest projects and publication details to your website helps ensure that anyone who comes across it has the latest information about your photography practice.