The Best Photography Website Templates: Introducing a New Series

What are the best web templates for professional photographers?

This series gives photographers a more systematic basis for comparing and choosing.

Note: Photocrati has just released an outstanding set of WordPress-based photography website templates. Unlike most solutions I’ve looked at in this series, they combine both gallery management and blogging in one package. I may be biased, since I’m involved with Photocrati, but I think they’re an awesome solution.

While I’ve done weddings and portraits in the past to supplement income from my other photographic work, I recently entered the waters of wedding and portrait photography more thoroughly. As part of the new venture, I needed a new website dedicated exclusively to wedding and portrait photography.

These days, there are tons of great website templates and pro storefronts available to photographers: Printroom, Smugmug, BetterPhoto, ifp3, Snapfish, Foliolink, and others. Although all of these solutions have limitations, they also offer some great websites. Unless you’re a web guru or have lots of money to burn, there’s really no reason to build a site from scratch.

In the past, and in my more recent search, I’ve examined or tested a wide range of photo website templates. There are almost no genuine reviews of what’s out there, and the information provided by the sites themselves is obvious biased and limited, so you often have to actually buy and test a templates to really see if it’s the right fit.

The aim of this series is give photographers a better and more systematic basis for choosing their web template. So over the next couple of months, I’m going to write reviews of all the major web template providers. Here’s the list of site providers you’ll hear about over the next two months:

  • BetterPhoto
  • Big Black Bag
  • Foliolink
  • ifp3
  • Photobiz
  • PortfolioSiteZ
  • Printroom
  • SiteWelder
  • SmugMug
  • Snapfish
  • WordPress Templates (from various providers)

I’ll also prepare a article with a round-up review of general template sites like Template Monster, Entheos, and Flash Mint. These are huge template shops that provide photography templates along with many, many others. While they have nice looking templates, they generally don’t anticipate photographers’ needs as well as sites dedicated to photographers.

That’s still an incomplete list, and I’ll add additional sites as I find them. If you know of good quality photography template providers, please let me know in the comments.

In order to be systematic and provide a basis for effective comparison, we’ll be looking each of the following aspects, which reflect some of the features I think are important for today’s photographers.

  • OVERALL APPEARANCE
  • FLEXIBILITY OF DESIGN
  • BLOGGING CAPABILITY
  • E-COMMERCE FUNCTIONALITY
  • COST AND FEE STRUCTURE
  • SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION
  • FREE TRIALS AND GUARANTEES
  • CONCLUSION (INCLUDING PROS AND CONS)

I’ll provide screen shots of sample websites and links to demos built from the templates as well as screen shots of the back end management system so you’ll know what you’re really getting into.

The first review will cover Photobiz, which is the provider I ultimately chose for a new wedding and portrait site. While I like the look, Photobiz also come with important limitations that I’m just now encountering. Look for the first review by early next week.

UPDATE: I’ve since switched my sites to PHOTOCRATI. It’s based on WordPress theme for photographers, which is the fastest growing platform for websites, build for blogging, and among the most SEO friendly platforms.

22 Comments

  1. sandrino March 21, 2009 at 5:02 pm #

    Eric,

    I will be interested to follow this story. It sounds really great. I just went through the same quick anaylasis. Do I build my own, use a existing shop or just buy a template and run with it.

    Well I needed to put up a site very, very, quickly and used Template Monster and hosted with GoDaddy and was up within hours….well 3.5 hours for a static html site. Then again I am a geek and very good with code. I am now going to incorporate that site with a full FLASH, Blog and store site. So Flexibility is key to me since I can coded it from scratch but I prefer to focus on more import things like taking pictures.

    BTW, the limitations and/or inflexibility of canned producing sites is what forced me to go this route. I am trying out Joombla and if that works for me from the backend then I will incorporate all the front end and provide templates.

    -Sandrino

    -Sandrino

  2. Erick Danzer March 21, 2009 at 6:14 pm #

    Hey Sandrino,

    Thanks for the note. I think you have hit an important point. The best solution varies on the buyer. Many of the all-in-one preset solutions (like the Photobiz site I set up) are easy, fast, and require no technical knowledge. That said, they really do lack flexibility. There are a lot of things I’d like to add to the Photobiz site, but I just can’t.

    Buying a basic template, as you did, provides for optimum flexibility but requires greater technical knowledge. I’ve tried Template Monster on a few occasions and been “just OK” with the results. And I run another site (SLR Geek, a gear blog) on Joomla. That’s been great, but again it requires good technical knowledge and a willingness to invest time in adjusting html and css code to get the right results.

    So, different solutions may be ideal for different folks – I’ll keep that in mind when I write the reviews. Thanks for the comment.

  3. Tony April 24, 2009 at 2:30 pm #

    There’s also Creative Motion Design but you are constrained to the chosen template. Are there any reviews other than PhotoBiz?

    • Erick Danzer April 24, 2009 at 8:59 pm #

      Hi Tony. I’ll have a look at Creative Motion Design. For now, it’s just Photobiz, though I’ll be posting a review of Printroom.com this week. Next in line after that is Smugmug the following week. Thanks for the thoughts. Erick

  4. John De Bord April 29, 2009 at 12:18 pm #

    You forgot one of SmugMug’s biggest competitors that many professionals use, Zenfolio! :)

  5. Erick Danzer May 1, 2009 at 9:30 pm #

    You’re right, John. I’ll add it to the list. I was also recently contacted by Photoshelter, and I’ll add them to the list as well.

  6. Sandrino May 2, 2009 at 2:52 pm #

    Erick,

    I as mentioned before I created my own site…I also incorporated the use of Zenfolio for the store on my clients.

    pics.cuevajaen.com sends you to my zenfolio site I tried to make it easy to navigate back to my http://www.cuevajaen site but I am still working on finishing my site both HTML and Flash as well and then make Zenfolio customizations to that site. It’s just a matter of time. ;-) Keep up the great review.
    -Sandrino

  7. Party Band May 24, 2009 at 3:00 am #

    Great Blog, like the pictures very much.

  8. George June 18, 2009 at 12:36 pm #

    Very interesting… thanks.

  9. Life with Kaishon June 20, 2009 at 8:57 pm #

    I just went over to look at your photography page. It looks wonderful! I love your pictures.

  10. Sandy Saini July 7, 2009 at 8:38 am #

    Thanks for the interesting post.

  11. Alyson July 10, 2009 at 3:26 pm #

    Are there any more reviews coming? The first were very helpful!

  12. Kevin July 18, 2009 at 9:05 pm #

    I’ve also done a good review on Satellite TV for MY PC. My team has tested this software thoroughly and the review is worth a good read

  13. Kaitabasura August 7, 2009 at 12:38 am #

    good read

  14. Patty August 30, 2009 at 9:19 pm #

    I liked reading your blog…keep up the good work.

  15. AlierrySary October 10, 2009 at 5:04 am #

    Wow! what an idea ! What a concept ! Beautiful .. Amazing …

  16. Duke October 26, 2009 at 8:44 pm #

    I love this story and will be following it! Might I also suggest Showitfast.com? It’s created by David Jay (a wedding photographer) so I thought it’d be a nice see a website design by a fellow photographer

  17. Bill isley December 19, 2009 at 9:07 pm #

    interesting article. Have a wonderful month!

  18. Marietta March 9, 2010 at 3:37 pm #

    Hi there,

    I would love to see your review of Show-It Sites located at http://www.showitfast.com.

    This is a company totally dedicated to photographers and looks wonderful to my non-techie eyes. But your opinion would be great!

  19. Angela Larson April 12, 2010 at 4:07 am #

    I also would love to see reviews of Bludomain and iCreations… boy, I didn’t realize there were so many companies geared toward photogs! I really need a site and I just don’t have all this time to research all this :(

  20. Laura April 30, 2010 at 6:04 am #

    Did you ever do a follow up to this?

  21. Andy Templeton May 11, 2010 at 9:07 pm #

    I just found your site and will check back often. I am interested in your comments on templates. Until recently I was on Sitewelder. Being a template there SEO was not as strong and I found their customer service was poor.
    Andy

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  1. [...] The Best Photography Website Templates: Introducing a New Series Review of Photobiz Website Templates [...]

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