So you want to start a photography portfolio website? ME TOO.
Were you surfing the web looking for how-to tutorials? SAME.
And you ended up here? Me too.
Pick your poison: Instagram, Facebook, Flickr, SmugMug, RedBubble, Adobe Portfolio, WordPress, etc. Which one is the best? It depends what you’re after. Are you looking to share photos with family and friends? Do you have a super specific artistic topic that has a niche following? Are you looking to interact with local creative thinkers? Do you want to sell art? Also, how much time do you have to devote to this new endeavor?
There’s a lot to consider when choosing a photography portfolio platform. Here, I will briefly break it down for you, in my opinion, based on my personal experience. I will do a more in-depth post in the future pertaining to specifics associated with Flickr, SmugMug, RedBubble, Adobe Portfolio, WordPress, and GoDaddy.
Users share photos and video clips through posts and stories. Organization options are slim to nil. Doing some hashtag research can boost your follower numbers and popularity (or you can pay for followers), if that’s your thing. Selling products is possible through IG (though last time I checked, you have to link a Facebook page to it, so if FB isn’t your thing, this might not be an option).
Group pages exist with specific topics such as macro nature, abandoned buildings, landscape, etc. Group members can tag their images with a predetermined hashtag (#webdesignblog) for their chance to be featured on a group page.
IG is a popular app for smartphones. You can’t download images directly from the app, but it is very possible to have your images stolen via screenshot. Obviously, the quality these stolen photos is subpar at best, but thieves can steal photos and use them on their own account (I’ve seen it happen). There’s not much in the way of preventing this from happening, but keep reading to see what other sites offer in the way of copyright protection.
Image Quality. If you’re shooting images on a DSLR, pixel dimensions/resolutions can range from 2500 x 3000 px to 4000 x 6000 px to infinity and beyond. The iPhone 11 screen only displays at 1792 x 828 px. What happens if you upload a 4000 x 6000 px image to an app on a smartphone with a screen size of only 1792 x 828 px? Nothing good! IG is going to compress and shrink the image, on their end, to fit your image into that tiny little square. This process ruins image quality when it finally hits your feed. Solution? Resize images prior to uploading to avoid compression. IG recommends uploading compressed JPEGs at 1080 x 1350 px directly from your phone for best results.
I don’t have much experience with FB, but I do know group pages exist and users can interact with each other similar to IG. Unlike IG though, FB allows users to organize photos in albums. Also, if selling art is your thing, FB offers its users a ‘seller platform’. Last I checked though, users must provide a tax ID to participate in the seller program.
Similar to IG, there’s nothing stopping thieves from stealing images off your page. FB allows users to upload images at normal or high quality. It’s very easy for thieves to steal high quality images right off your page via screenshot or even directly downloading it from your page.
Image Quality. For best results, Facebook recommends resizing images to 2048 pixels wide or smaller with a sRGB color profile prior to uploading. I have played around with this on multiple occasions and have not been fully satisfied with the results.
It’s been a while since I used Flickr, but I can definitely say it is much better than IG and FB for quality and experience. Like IG and FB, users can tag their images, submit images to groups for features, interact, even buy and sell prints.
Image Quality. Users can upload images up to 200 MB. While this allows users to display images in great detail, there’s still nothing stopping thieves from their old screen shot tricks. A plus with Flickr is that users can adjust their settings to prevent downloading. I do not know, however, if right click-saving is preventable (to be discussed in a future post).
Flickr offers users a range of paid plans. Included in the cost is unlimited storage ad-free, statistics, library backup, a seller platform, and discounts for other associated sites.
Flickr is considered a ‘community photo feed’ (social media). Users upload images to a mostly static, uniformly presenting platform with the ability to buy and sell prints. SmugMug is considered a ‘portfolio builder’ and takes the idea of Flickr a step further (and even provides copyright protection).
Like Flickr, SmugMug allows users to display artwork in album format; but unlike Flickr, SmugMug offers users a range of template-based, customizable, personal website building plans. Flickr is more geared towards sharing images, whereas SmugMug is more geared towards providing the photographer a platform to display and sell art work. Users simply upload an image, SmugMug takes care of the printing and shipping.
SmugMug users have the option to adjust markup prices. Also, users are able to use their own domain name (that www.com thing, like mine DarkroomPrints.com) instead of some obnoxious smugmug.com/darkroomprints url for example.
Stay tuned for a more in-depth article of what Flickr and SmugMug have to offer, I’m looking forward to diving into these platforms!
I love RedBubble! Like IG, FB, and Flickr, there is a social interaction aspect with groups and whatnot, if that’s your thing. Users upload images (photography, graphic design) and can choose to sell their art through the website on a variety of different products such as shirts, clocks, water bottles, etc.
RedBubble, like SmugMug, allows users to adjust product markup. I have yet to research commission rates with both sites, so stay tuned for more information. Also, to some extent, RedBubble provides copyright protection with the use of watermarks.
What I love about RedBubble is that it is more than just photography. A quick visit to their homepage will show you exactly what I mean. I have used RedBubble many times to print my photography as large prints and greeting cards with no complaints. I did attempt to print a few of my photos as stickers with not the best results due to an error on my part: when it comes to printing, I highly recommend researching the Seller’s Help section for information pertaining to specific color profiles and resolutions.
I’d say a good majority of photographers subscribe to Adobe either for Lightroom, or Photoshop, or both. Did you know Adobe Portfolio is included in your subscription? Not many people know this! What is it, you ask?
Adobe Portfolio is a basic website builder. It takes some getting used to as you learn how different aspects work, but through trial and error, forums, and the help guides, technologically inclined persons can create a website in no time.
Unlike Flickr, SmugMug, and RedBubble, Adobe Portfolio is strictly photo sharing with no printing options. Unlike Flickr, Adobe Portfolio offers a ‘disable right click’ option which is helpful to prevent thieves from stealing images. Users also have the ability to use their own personal domain (DarkroomPrints.com) instead of some obnoxiousness like adobeportfolio.com/sites/darkroomprints.
I used Adobe Portfolio in the recent past when I jumped back into web design. Without an actual plan of what I was trying to accomplish (as is the life of compulsory individuals), I was able to quickly build a basic site to share my work. I considered this as practice towards my goal of fully immersing myself in learning all there is to know about web design. Highly recommended for noobs!
WordPress: the coup de grâce, not for beginners, website building platform. Basic plans and templates exist, but there exists a whole new jargon to learn with WP. How is a page different than a post? What is block building? What are the rules to block building? How do you edit code? What is code? (If you have to ask what is code, WP is NOT for you right now. Start with Adobe Portfolio.)
I have been researching, doing tutorials, and playing around with WP for 3 months now and finally feel confident with my knowledge base. I am looking forward to building this site and writing about it here in my blog (in terms of web design) in hopes to inspire others that YES, YOU CAN do it; and overall just being another source on the internet where people can find answers to all the weird, quirky, rule based actions involved in building a website. If you like challenges, then WP is for you!
WordPress offers a variety of plans ranging from $25 to over $100 per month. Themes, plugins, and customizations are aplenty; some free, some not. In addition to WP, a web host is needed (I use GoDaddy). There are costs associated with hosting, security, and owning your own domain (MarissaMancini.com ; DarkroomPrints.com). I also have sold my soul to Yoast, a website which offers tutorials and information ($0 to $200 per year) on search engine optimization. They also offer a plug-in for WP which makes everything so easy to understand (highly recommended).
That’s all for now