October 26, 2016

Graham Ashton

The 5 best portfolio websites for photographers

Finding the best portfolio websites is key to building up a steady line of photography clients. But with so many places to host and showcase your work, the market has become pretty saturated. There's now a dizzying dozen services, each promising to be as indispensable as your camera.It's often hard to determine if one photography portfolio website is “better” than another. Some are tailored for licensing work, and others may be more useful to photographers with advanced coding or design knowledge. To save you time and effort, we’ve sifted through the dozens of available services and with the help of longtime Pixsy users, prepared a list of the top 5 best portfolio websites for you to make a selection that will fit your needs.

#1 Behance


Creative networking meets content curation.

Adobe maintains a tight grip on the portfolio market thanks to the slick and simple-to-use Behance. It offers pedestals for every creative endeavor (from Illustration to UX design), but photographers, in particular, will appreciate the platform’s native integration with Photoshop and Lightroom.Pros:

  • An incredibly clean layout, with 600px wide display.
  • Publicly curated galleries, and a robust work-in-progress area.
  • Job listings area for advertising full-time and freelance work.
  • You can sync your Behance account with Adobe Portfolio; an online editor that creates professional-looking sites within minutes.


  • The site lacks a general focus on photography, and the community aspect is a bit sparse.
  • A lack of e-commerce options might not be ideal for those developing a business.
  • Limited file size means images have to be compressed and saved for the web first.
“Behance has been great and easy to set up and update…when I set aside a little time for it. It is pretty easy to find like-minded clients there, as well. I have reached out to a few art directors and designers and scored some nice projects that way. My only challenge is that it seems to get flooded with student work every so often.”– Matthew McKee, Commercial Photographer

#2 500px


A photography portfolio aimed squarely at professionals.

The generously sized thumbnails, unobtrusive interface and ability to embed collections as menus on your site all highlight what 5oopx does best: display photographs. If you feel let down by the social engagement on other photography portfolio platforms, your photos will get instant feedback here. The Popular Choices/Editor's Choices also offer daily chances to cast your net further.Pros:

  • All custom 500px websites are written in HTML5 and Javascript.
  • Compatible with tablets and smart-phones.
  • Widely used to both sell prints and digital downloads and license off images.
  • You can create, export and attach model releases using the 500px app.


  • Although the rating system on 500px is streamlined, clicky photographers can bring sub-par work to the forefront.
  • A strong following often overrides photographic technique.
  • Uploading is done manually, which can lead to a bit of slowdown.
I enjoy 500px as a way to reach a wide audience for my photos. The quality of photos on 500px is also a draw for me as well as a source of inspiration.”– Kathleen Clemons, Freelance Nature Photographer

#3 Smugmug


The not-so-hidden gem for photographers who love customization.

Out of all the best portfolio websites, this one is built around selling photos. This probably explains why it's highly valued by wedding and event photographers. The Lightroom-plugin allows for manual file transfers and data entry that would otherwise slow down a professional photographer's workflow.Pros:

  • Editable templates, intuitive content blocks and custom CSS and HTML.
  • Allows your customers to purchase worldwide from four printing labs.
  • The image sharpness is exquisite, even among the best portfolio websites.
  • Unlimited photo uploads.


  • No free plan.
  • No way to remove the company's footer and logo from your website.
  • You can't self-fulfill orders, which locks up the possibility of selling your custom-made prints and unique products.
"Smugmug allows unlimited public and private galleries to be published so I never need to worry that I'm running out of space. In addition, SmugMug's services allow the photographer to set up an online store as part of their website gallery which offers seamless printing and worldwide shipping direct to customers. All-in-all a great service that allows simple seamless photo sharing and e-commerce.”– Arno Jenkins, Photographer & Graphic Designer

#4 Zenfolio


Effortlessly creates stunning portfolios with a few clicks.

The design templates from Zenfolio rank as some of the best available, with 12 different options that are outwardly beautiful and easy to differentiate. Each Zenfolio photography portfolio is optimized for mobile use - with apps available for IOS, Android, and Blackberry uploading.Pros:

  • Built-in post formatting and RSS capabilities - no fumbling with 3rd-party blog integration.
  • Choose from 9 different print houses.
  • A self-fulfillment is a standard option for your shopping cart.
  • Unlimited photo uploads (regardless of what plan you're subscribed to).


  • Limited integration options (for example, there's no custom CSS).
  • Mobile customization is quite weak; setup is a bit clunky.
  • You only get access to the phone and live chat customer service with the higher paid services.
Zenfolio has a lot to offer, but it also has a few shortcomings. For starters, there are a lot of ways to customize your pages so they look uniquely yours.  You can pick a layout and then modify the CSS to personalize it.  As far as the products are concerned, while there is certainly no shortage of prints and canvases, other types of products are often cheap-looking.”– Samantha Decker, Landscape & Cityscape Photographer

#5 Wordpress


A venerated all-in-one blog, photography portfolio, and marketing platform.

Both novice and advanced website owners can produce professional results with Wordpress' easy-to-install setup. Thousands of photography themes let you build a site that reflects your work and business. It isn't just one of the best portfolio websites: it's a powerful tool in its own right.Pros:

  • You have full control of your site; you'd be able to integrate analytics, newsletters, and more.
  • Superbly SEO-friendly; comes pre-built for Google indexing, with dozens of SEO plugins.
  • Additional Wordpress plugins for adding watermarks, categorizing images, etc.
  • Using Wordpress is free, and the community support network is vast.


  • Wordpress plugins are notorious for following their indecipherable rules, and often disrupting sites.
  • Lack of flexibility in all but the premium range of templates.
  • Mandatory upkeeps can range from time-consuming (backing-up, updates) to costly (domain registration, security services).
As an artist and photographer, it is important to be able to convey my own look, feel and ideas on my website - Wordpress allows me just that.”– Cathy Neth, Fine Art & Commercial Photographer

Which do you think are the best portfolio websites?

You can find many more portfolio platforms outside this list that are widely used by the photography community. Whether you're a professional or seasoned hobbyist, we'd like to know about the service you've chosen to showcase your images. What unique benefits/features does it offer your work? Has it been useful for finding clients? Let us know through the Pixsy Facebook page or mention us on Twitter @PixsyHQ. We'd love to feature your suggestions on a future list!

Graham Ashton

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