Professional online photo gallery online
July 22, 2013 6:36 PM   Subscribe

What options do I have for showing my photography portfolio online with the ability to sell prints to customers?

I dabble in photography and while not a full-time professional, I have a decent portfolio. I don't claim to be a great photographer, but as a hobby, would like to display my photos in a beautiful, yet easy to maintain gallery online.


1. Gallery oriented theme, with option to display a couple of lines
2. Categories at the top, with tags for photos
3. Responsive design
4. Branded off my domain, if possible
5. Sell photos, just in case. Simple, yet reliable E-commerce cart. This is optional, but good to have; otherwise, I have to fulfill orders myself! (not that I expect any :))

I don't do photo shoots yet, where customers need to pick photos for printing.

Options include:

1. Online solutions such as smugmug, photoshelter, flickr etc. I have a Flickr Pro membership, if that matters
2. Hosting a portfolio site on my own domain - I have a unlimited hosting account

Photoshelter seems the best option, but the prices are expensive and I am also afraid that the site would change policies, go belly up etc

What options/books/sites would you recommend?
posted by theobserver to Media & Arts (4 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
DeviantArt allows you to do that. (All except the "branded off my domain" part.)
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 8:03 PM on July 22, 2013

I'll let you check out the details, but look into Zenfolio.

I have my gallery there. Like you, I don't sell a lot of prints but it sure makes things easy for when I do.

You can have your Zenfolio gallery show up as with a few tweaks in your domain control panel and on Zenfolio. You can customize the look of your gallery, but it takes some patience and fiddling. It is a responsive gallery, and they also offer iPhone and iAd apps with some great features.
posted by The Deej at 9:09 PM on July 22, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks for your responses.

I am also afraid that online apps would go out of business and I would be out on a limb, so looking at self-hosted options too. Have any of you looked at fotoslides? Its a HTML5 based gallery software, where you can generate your gallery and then upload to your domain.

Any experiences in dealing with with zenfolio, smugmug etc also welcome.
posted by theobserver at 7:12 AM on July 23, 2013

Best answer: I am also afraid that online apps would go out of business and I would be out on a limb

By "out on a limb" do you mean you fear your photos will be lost? Or that you will have to find another service?

If it's the first, then, of course, you should always keep a local copy of all of your images, plus at least one back-up. If it's the latter, then, sure, you can never be sure that any business will be around forever, but you can make your choice based on reputation, feedback, etc. But there will always be another service you can use.

Even a self-hosted solution isn't immune to the possibility of businesses going under. What if your ISP fails? Or the electric company goes under? Obviously I'm being a bit ridiculous in order to make a point, but it could happen. We all just have to make our best, most-informed choices and go with it.

Any experiences in dealing with with zenfolio

I have a few minutes now so I can give a little more detail about my experience.

I've used Zenfolio for about 3 years, and it's been a life-saver, especially in cases where I shoot weddings or portraits, and I don't want to mess with order fulfillment.


I can upload the images and either make them public, or protect them so only the client has access via password or having the direct URL. I set whatever prices I want, either as a percentage over the lab cost, or a dollar amount. I can save price-lists and assign those lists to entire galleries or on an individual basis. I can also issue coupon codes for discounts. I can assign expiration dates to any coupon code I create.

I can make as many galleries / headings as I want, and move images around pretty easily. I can create or upload watermarks which show up on the images when viewed online, but are not printed when someone orders a print. I can control the maximum resolution at which a visitor can view the images.

Uploading images can be done via drag-and-drop, but I use a plug-in to Lightroom which works seamlessly, allowing to bulk-upload my images directly into Zenfolio.


I use the Premium account which is $120/yr but includes unlimited storage. Whether that price is a PRO or CON I'll leave to you.

As I said before, the customizing is somewhat clunky. My site still doesn't quite look like I want it to, but I didn't want to put any more time into it for now.

I've had trouble with the site displaying properly on Windows in the Chrome browser; the images don't show at all. This may be due to my Chrome being out of date. (I only use Windows and Chrome at work, and updates are strictly controlled by IT.)

If you don't sell anything, then $120 a year is not cheap to just show off your images.

Anyway, good luck! I have no particular loyalty to Zenfolio other than it's the service that looked the best for my needs, and it's been fine. If I had started using a different service, I very well may have been just as happy.
posted by The Deej at 6:19 AM on July 24, 2013

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