Documentary Photography Online Portfolio Website

Documentary Photography Online Portfolio Website

If you’re serious about starting a documentary photography business, an online portfolio website is a must-have tool to get your work noticed. Our guide will get you started so that you can create your dream portfolio and build an amazing business with Format.

Documentary photography helps us understand and archive our world, and it’s important that documentary photographers meet their clients, fans, and casual viewers where they are: online. While documentary photographers may have been able to rely on print publications to get their work seen in the past, having an up-to-date online portfolio has become essential.

Not only does an online portfolio website allow you to organize and present your work in exactly the way you intend for it to be seen, but it’s also a must-have tool if you want to establish yourself as a serious documentary photographer, book your dream jobs, and sell your work widely.

Starting A Documentary Photography Business

If you’re starting a new documentary photography business, your online portfolio will be a key tool to help you land your first clients.

Document Something You’re Interested In

If you’re not sure what to capture first as a documentary photographer, consider a subject or event that you’re already interested in and have some knowledge of. This will help you capture images that you know are relevant and important to the subject. For example, if you’re a foodie, consider shooting food documentary photography. Having a personal interest in what you’re capturing will also make the work more enjoyable, and make it more likely that you won’t rush through the process of shooting images, editing, and curating your portfolio.

Make A Habit Of Pitching Yourself To Clients And Publications

No matter how compelling your portfolio images are, they’re not worth much if nobody actually gets a chance to see them. As a documentary photographer, pitching potential clients, such as publications, newspapers, and magazines, should be a regular habit.

Make a list of all of the publications that might potentially hire you and publish your work, and take a look at what they have been publishing lately. Look for opportunities that fit with your style and the types of things that you document in your photography. For example, if you know of a wildlife photography documentary website, see if there are any opportunities for you to submit your animal documentary photography.

Create Your Own Documentary Photography Projects

Even if you don’t get paid gigs from the very beginning, creating high quality documentary photo projects for yourself and hosting them on your portfolio website is a great way to flex your photography muscles and show just how skilled you are. You can choose an event, or one thing you want to document over a given period of time, or any other project that compels you. When you’re done, submit your portfolio along with a description of the project to blogs and websites that might publish it to a wider audience.

How To Make a Documentary Photography Portfolio

Now that you know how important a well-designed documentary photography portfolio is to starting and operating your business, it’s time to create one. The good news is that you don’t need any design or coding skills to create a portfolio that will guarantee you get noticed. Just choose a website builder that does the heavy lifting for you.

Curate Your Images

Before putting your portfolio together, go through your images and select which ones to include. It may be tempting to display all your work, but this can be really overwhelming for your audience. It’s better to focus on your very best images, so they can shine. Avoid including images that are too similar to one another and select images that provide a cohesive overall impression of the kind of work you do.

For example, if most of your portfolio consists of lifestyle documentary photography, it wouldn’t make sense to throw in one or two animal documentary photos.

Pick and Customize Your Template

Select a website builder that comes with a wide range of easily customizable templates in different styles. Look for one that best suits the look you’re going for with your brand, and then make it your own by changing fonts, colors, and any other customizable features that will make it feel like it was built just for you.

Write An About Page

A strong about me page in your documentary photography portfolio gives you the opportunity to let visitors know the philosophy behind your work. People want to get to know the person behind the images they love, so sharing a little bit of yourself here can help make your business more memorable.

This is also an important page if you’re planning on getting your work published on other websites and publications, since it’s very likely that the first place writers go will be to your about page, and they’ll repeat the information you share about yourself there.

Use Any Other Features That Support Your Business

The best website building platforms will have additional features that will help you get the most of your online portfolio so that you can have a flourishing business. For example, built-in client proofing galleries can be used to easily and professionally collaborate with clients before delivering your final images.

Documentary Portfolio Templates: Which One Should You Use?

The template you choose is really up to you, but if you want some inspiration for templates that have been successfully used to create beautiful documentary photography portfolios, take a look at these:


If you want to create a clean, uncomplicated portfolio with maximum impact that will immerse visitors in your world, Ora is a great choice. The vertical scroll makes navigating through a project easy and pleasant, while the left-hand menu allows you to list all of your projects so visitors can easily find exactly what they’re looking for.


The popular masonry layout lends itself well to documentary photography since it can give a portfolio website an editorial feel.


While some photographers prefer an infinite scroll portfolio, having just one image per page can encourage visitors to spend more time with each image. Offset is a beautiful theme for achieving this effect.

Documentary Photography Portfolio FAQs

Still have some questions before creating your portfolio website? Here are some of the most common questions asked by documentary photographers.

Documentary refers to documenting reality. The purpose of documentary media is often to create a record of true events.

Documentary photography provides an account of events, places, people, and objects. Historically, it has been very important for recording events that otherwise might have been lost to history or would be difficult to convey to the average person. After the advent of TV, documentary style photography became more common in art gallery settings, not just as a way of conveying the news.

Documentary photography can be used to make a unique record of an event, person, place or thing, often presenting a particular point of view to the audience. It can also be a tool for social change, as it can galvanize people to care about issues they might not otherwise think about.

One of the most important aspects of documentary photography is storytelling. Documentary photos shouldn’t be abstract. They should convey something intelligible and meaningful about the subject they are documenting.

While there are similarities between photojournalism and documentary photography, photojournalism is more interested in recording a subject for short-term immediate consumption, while documentary photography is intended to be a part of a broader historical record.

Build A Documentary Photography portfolio With Format

Ready to build the portfolio of your dreams? Format is the perfect tool to bring your vision to life. Sign up for your free 14-day trial, try out the different website templates, and deep dive into the options. Customize your website, add your branding, and start uploading your images onto your portfolio.

Explore Format’s additional features, like an online store, a blog, or integrate your portfolio with your social media accounts. You can do all of this and more to make your documentary photography portfolio much more than a simple collection of images.

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