What Is A Good Photography Portfolio Hosting Service?

August 18th, 2016

SquareSpaceGeoffrey says:

I purchased and read The Business of Real Estate Photography and Photography for Real Estate books. I would like to make a website with a slideshow of my portfolio on my home page.

Do you know any web hosting companies that automatically provide both HTML5 and Flash format for slideshows (for Apple, Windows, and Android devices)?

I would like to make a website that is an easy DIY type of website. Also, I’m looking a very low priced web hosting company. I live in the US.

First of all, as we discussed in Monday’s post, you do NOT want to use Adobe Flash in any way! HTML 5 is the standard these days that works on all platforms. None of the major portfolio hosting services use Adobe Flash anymore.

Since  your website is a key part of your marketing. It’s your brand and will be the centerpiece of your marketing so don’t cheap out and build a free site. For around $150 a year, you can build a top quality portfolio site. It’s well worth it! Here are the top places to consider:

  1. Squarespace
  2. 500px
  3. SmugMug
  4. Zenfolio
  5. Format
  6. PhotoShelter
  7. Wix

These all have strong features to build your real estate business around. Here is an article on about a year ago the reviews many of these services in detail.

I’ve had a site at Squarespace for many years and love it! They are always on the leading edge of design and innovation.

What is your favorite portfolio hosting site?

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14 Responses to “What Is A Good Photography Portfolio Hosting Service?”

  • has a template called “Tip” that has website features No membership is required and they give the 1st virtual tour free of charge. Each one there after approx $12. You can forward your web address to this virtual tour.

  • has a template called “Fit” that has website features No membership is required and they give the1st virtual tour free of charge. Each one there after approx $12. You can forward your web address to this virtual tour.

  • Keep in mind that any host where you build a web site with THEIR tools/templates, that web site will only work with that host. If they raise their prices, go out of business or reduce the features, you are stuck unless you are willing to build your site back from scratch somewhere else. They know that they have you deeper in the corner with every page you add. With the tools available such as WordPress, Joomla, Drupal and others, you can get the benefits of having a template that you just populate with your content without having to learn a more complicated web development package such as Dreamweaver.

    I always suggest that you keep your site as simple as possible. The more “golly-gee-whiz” special effects that you have, the less likely that it will work on all platforms and browsers. You also want a site that loads fast and will scale based on the device that somebody is using (responsive).

    Always read the fine print before you sign up with a host. GoDaddy has had packages where you get an awesome price only to find that they own your domain name. Register your domain with a third party so you can move your site with no entanglements. Domain names are cheap and there isn’t an advantage to registering your domain name with your host. There are tons of web hosting companies. Look for one that offers several tiers of service so you can upgrade the performance of your site when you need to and avoid services that have a one size fits all approach.

    If you find yourself not picking up web design as fast as you like, consider hiring somebody. There are lots of local people that are good enough and not very expensive doing web design in their spare time while they attend college or for extra income. Figure out what you want and gather some examples to show and then pare it down to what you need.

  • I totally agree with the concept of keeping it simple. I constructed my site using I had no site-building experience and was starting my real estate photography business from scratch, so I had limited resources to post on the site. This was good because it forced me to start small and build the site over time. My site, at is not fancy, but I get great comments about it from clients…which is what matters most. Over the past 6 months, my site has evolved along with the growth of my business. Perhaps the most important element, in my opinion is the landing page! You have to grab the viewer’s attention from the moment they hit your page, or they won’t stay on your site. There are lots of choices when choosing a host for your site. Unfortunately, it’s hard to tell how user friendly the site-building tools are until you commit your cash to pay for the first year. WIX has worked out fine for me and I’m light years away from being a computer expert!

  • I think squarespace is terrible…not user friendly, VERY slow to upload and download. I am sorry i chose it.

  • Imagely for sure. It’s the best of everything in one place. Turnkey photography websites and all WordPress. You’re not limited to a 3rd party service, and you get the speed and performance you’d get from 3rd party services. But WordPress is the key, and content ownership.

  • A high end option is:
    I’ve been very happy with them. It was a bit expensive initially, but now I pay $17 a month.

  • I’ve had several iterations of my website, from a hand-coded site to Front Page to WordPress and now I am on SmugMug. I spent more time tweaking and updating and repairing and… well a lot of screen time to manage those sites. I built my SmugMug site how I wanted and all I do now is add content. Much simpler. I figure they will be around until I’m done, if not, well, it will be time to retire when they do.

  • I squandered a lot of time learning WordPress. My site is okay but of course every one I look at seems better. Looking at the sites above from a paradigm of what I know, like and have learned – SmugMug seems pretty hard to beat. Squarespace a close second. Just my 2c worth.

  • @Scott – I like your website!

    WordPress is great, but it does require a little patience and creativity. It helps to find a good template. I’ve started using Avada, and I’m very pleased.

  • Another vote for

    It’s not cheap but it’s the best site I’ve used for a portfolio driven website. Squarespace comes a close second.

  • FWIW, I am very much an anti-WP person for the most part – with some exceptions. So many WP sites all look the same, it really gets tiresome. Our primary site is something custom designed over the years, and I would never suggest that you guys consider that route at this time. However, we have had some experience with a company called While they provide WP templates, they really try hard to come up with original stuff. We use some of there templates for our agents. They have some templates that are like magazines and they might have something for photography that could be interesting. Again, this is just a suggestion that does not require a lot of customization to get a unique look. Of course you could hire a programmer to make some changes, but it is not necessary. I think they have one called “Portfolio” that could be interesting.

  • A shout-out for Photoshelter please!

    @Geoffrey: today you need a portfolio hosting service: I guarantee that as your business grows, you will need and want more. I have built my own sites in Dreamweaver, explored WordPress used the web gallery function in Lightroom: I have used a company called Layer Space and eventually Smugmug and found that in some way all of them fell short of what I really need in order to promote my business, store and access my archive and deliver efficiently to clients. I really believe that with Photoshelter I have found what I need … and they’re not paying me to say the following!

    Front end : an easy to use , customisable multi-gallery site , many different configurations available, with a featured/ landing portfolio : the new “beam” sites are HTML5 and intelligent: that is, they size automatically to the viewer’s platform, mobile/ tablet / desktop etc. google ranks sites according to their accessibility on mobile devices and Photoshelter’s layouts are looked on favourably.
    Archive: publically viewable galleries for the more curious visitor: they don’t “dilute” the front end portfolios but are accessible for more specialised information eg a gallery of twilight photos: I tend to send clients direct links to these galleries.
    Back end : massive storage for your growing archive which plugs in to Lightroom: my entire commercial archive is “mirrored” online, offsite: change exif data or make adjustments on the ground and your online versions are updated.
    Gallery permissions : All galleries can be password-protected. Set different download permissions or view only depending on who’s looking at your images : eg a contractor wants to buy pix of the flooring used in a shoot: send them a view only link, then create a new gallery (without having to re-upload images) of deliverables with download permission.
    E-commerce: sell image licences/ prints direct from your gallery. Photoshelter make a commission on sales or you can execute the transaction independently with paypal etc.
    Cost : not the cheapest by any means but it makes me money: I can find any image easily and make sales from shoots for years after the event: a couple of decent sales each year more than pays for the monthly hosting charge. You can start small though on a low monthly tariff.
    Downtime: one serious half day black out in about five years of using them. I also have personal images stored on Smugmug and, while not a bad service, there are constant emails from tech support saying that they are investigating (and fixing) various slow loading/ problem display issues.
    Watermark selected gallery images only: rather than having to watermark images sitewide.
    Gripes? they don’t host video as Smugmug does: yet !

  • I’m using Adobe Creative Suite for my website hosting. I’m not sure if its a good idea or not, but I designed my site from scratch. I’m not done with it yet, but I’m happy with it so far.
    Does anyone have any objections to Adobe CC as my host?

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