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UPDATED: 21 January 2024 | PUBLISHED: 13 October 2022
Welcome to the minefield that is deciphering the best website option for you as a photographer!
Strap yourself in...
- Spoiler Alert: There is No 'Best' Website Platform for Photographers
- BEFORE you Choose a Photography Website Builder
- Portfolio Site or Comprehensive Website?
- Best Website Builder Options for Photographers in Business
- What's Better: WordPress or Independent Builder?
- The WordPress Plugin Puzzle
- Flothemes - DISCONTINUED
- Best Website Options for Photographers - What They Say
- Groups to go to
"If you do ANY kind of search on Google for "best website platform for photographers" - you'll get tons of results...You'll also see a lot of "top photography website" roundups. When I look at these platforms and the roundups, it seems like 90 percent of the examples are for photographers who don't work directly with clients (and instead work for agencies, corporations, organisations, or sell prints to the general public). It is absolutely not representative of the majority of photographers I know."- Corey Potter, Fuel Your Photos | SEO For Photographers
I'm a working photographer.
I spend a lot of time around working photographers.
Photogeek is a resource specifically for photographers in business.
THAT'S why I've put this post together and I promise you three things:
- this list is neither exhaustive or perfect (disclaimer: I'm not a web expert 🙅🏻♀️😊)
- it definitely IS a far better representation of the website platforms working photographers are actually using
- it's more relevant than generic round ups published by non-industry writers or companies ✅.
I hope it helps kick off your research and decision-making process.
Go forth and geek out 🤓.
TOP TIP: Don't get stuck in the decision-making process. Research, choose your website platform...and go get started already.
Spoiler Alert: There is No 'Best' Website Platform for Photographers
What are the best website options for photographers?
Photographers ask and discuss this online often.
Different photographers come up with different answers so it can be hard to know which option to go for.
Reality is there's no specific 'right' or 'wrong.'
What works swimmingly for one photographer might be a right pain for another.
And vice versa.
"I don't care what you're building: there is no platform that is going to check every box for you. There are going to be limitations that frustrate you no matter what. Some are slightly better for SEO, others are easier to design in the backend. Some are completely custom (and cost $$$$) and some look a little like everyone else's."- Rachel Greiman, Green Chair Stories
I don't know what 'the best' website option for photographers is because - spoiler alert - there is no definitive.
It depends on the photographer and their goals) but I do know this: all the website builder options in this post are those photographers talk about most online.
"A website is what every photographer has - or should have - because it's your shop front. It's the first thing people see...At one stage or another, clients WILL go to your website so it needs to go from a pretty portfolio site to a marketing and sales generating machine!"- Mark Rossetto, The Photography Business Coach, "Supercharge Your Website"
BEFORE you Choose a Photography Website Builder
One of the first things you need to assess before choosing a website builder is...yourself 🔎.
- What's your learning style?
- How good are you with tech and Googling things?
- How much time do you want to spend on your photography website?
- How good is your design sense?
- What are the needs of your business?
- How much control do you want over your website?
- Do you want to be able to run your website independently or is it okay to rely on another?
- What's your priority: money or time?
The answers will help point you - most likely - in a particular direction.
Portfolio Site or Comprehensive Website?
TOP TIP: You want the latter.
There are two main types of photography websites:
- a portfolio site: an online space to show your best work
- a comprehensive site: your online studio / shop front designed to educate and convert clients
If you're a working photographer drawing income from your craft and business, ideally you want the latter.
You want a website that does more than simply showcase your work.
"Your website isn't a pretty portfolio, it's a valuable marketing tool if you use it correctly."- Jeff Brown, The Photographer's Mentor
If photography is a hobby, you've no plans to turn it into a business and you just want an online space to share it with the world, a portfolio site could be perfect for you.
The team over at Digital Photography School share a breakdown of the best portfolio site builders for photographers that's worth checking out if you're heading down that path.
The list here at Photogeek though, shares the best photography website builder options for professional photographers in business.
Best Website Builder Options for Photographers in Business
If you want to create a powerful website that converts visitors into customers, you really want to go with a more comprehensive site builder - as opposed to a portfolio style site - like one these:
- Showit - Blog portion on WordPress, independent builder otherwise
- Pixieset - Independent builder
- Elementor - On WordPress
- Divi - On WordPress
- Kadence - On WordPress
- ProPhoto - On WordPress
- Squarespace - Independent builder
- Wix - Independent builder
What's Better: WordPress or Independent Builder?
This is the next question you need to ponder.
🚨 And it's worth really thinking this one through.
Both WordPress and independent website builders (like Squarespace, Pixieset and Wix etc.) have their pros and cons.
Deciding between them early will make your ultimate decision easier given it'll immediately eliminate a whole subset.
WordPress is arguably the most powerful and flexible website platform...and as a result, potentially has the biggest learning curve.
But don't be mislead.
All website builders have a learning curve.
"WordPress gets misrepresented as scary, or difficult (like you need to be a coder to use it), or having a huge learning curve. I don't think that is necessarily true, as long as you start with good hosting, a good theme and minimal plugins."- Corey Potter, Fuel Your Photos | SEO For Photographers
The WordPress Plugin Puzzle
You'll need to spend time learning WordPress to get the most out of it.
Read help centre articles and get Googling to figure out the puzzle WordPress can be.
Which plugins do you need, which play well together, which don't?
"WordPress is incredibly powerful, but also very complex. With over 60,000 free WordPress plugins - not to mention many great premium [paid] plugins out there - you can easily extend WordPress' functionality to build the site you want. But it can get really hard to picl and choose the most powerful and reliable plugins."- Alex Vita, Foreground Web
Fortunately it becomes more of a guided dot-to-dot situation given any good WordPress website builder/theme supplier will offer detailed video tutorials and written recommendations - and support.
But it's important to be aware going in: the plugin puzzle struggle can be real!
"WordPress makes sense for most people...but its main drawback is there's no set stack. And what that means is you have to figure out your own hosting solution, you have to decide on a theme and possibly a page builder, and a set of plugins that are all going to dictate the experience you have - to an extreme level."- Dylan Howell, Fuel Your Photos Podcast
TIP: Want to know what the best and most reliable plugins for WordPress are? Alex Vita from Foreground Web (web design and website education for photographers) has a list of the Top 100+ WordPress Plugins HERE. Alex is a trusted, experienced expert. Read his post and save it for future reference. Trust me!
All-in-all though, perhaps the greatest appeal of WordPress is the data ownership it allows.
It's your website, your content, your data.
At all times.
It's entirely yours to use, publish, back up, migrate...you name it.
And so in using it, you're not locked in to a proprietary software or brand that has the power to change the rules, upgrade or even shut up shop entirely...causing confusion and frustration in the process.
"If Squarespace or Wix is down, you're just kind of waiting around and hoping they figure it out. You can call their support but you have no power yourself. Whereas with WordPress, you do have the power. You can change your host or completely migrate your site if you need to."- Dylan Howell and Corey Potter, Fuel Your Photos Podcast
The Verdict - Best Website Platform STYLE for Photographers
WordPress is the world's most popular Content Management System (CMS) globally and runs more than 40 percent of websites in existence.
Choosing a website platform that truly utilises WordPress i.e. Kadence, Elementor, Divi etc. is going to be a great idea for anyone who wants to be involved in the design, build and maintenance of their site.
If you don't want to have to rely on a developer/s or web professional to make adjustments and updates etc., WordPress is the way to go.
That said, those things can be outsourced and you can sit back (to a degree!) and just enjoy all the power and flexibility WordPress offers too.
"I love WordPress. All my sites are on WordPress. It's completely flexible and adaptable; there are millions of plugins and millions of themes. I wouldn't go anywhere else. But I'm not sure that that's for everyone."- Kate Toon, I LOVE SEO with Kate Toon
Independent website builders i.e. Squarespace, Pixieset, Wix etc. are typically best for photographers who want more structured bounds around their website.
More comfortable with a set frame in which to build and adjust things, and looking for less technical responsibility?
The bounds of an independent site builder might, in fact, feel perfectly suited to you!
They also generally offer more of an all-in-one-style solution so if you're looking to minimise the number of website-related things you need to monitor and pay for separately, you may be better suited to one of these options.
Keep in mind though, your business may not be better off long-term.
BOLD CLAIM ALERT: In terms of longevity, flexibility, security and performance, the best website option for your photography business is ultimately going to be a self-hosted WordPress-friendly one. Don't be intimidated by it, get stuck into it and ultimately you'll reap the rewards.
Flothemes - DISCONTINUED
NEWS: As of 20 September 2023, popular site builder for photographers, Flothemes, (sort of) announced they're shutting up shop and given users just 12 months to jump ship before their Flothemes sites are no longer guaranteed to function in the way that was intended.
The news was leaked on Facebook before Flothemes customers were directly informed.
Flothemes was acquired by Pixieset in 2021 and despite promises to the contrary, went on to dissolve its WordPress offerings and cease all updates to Flothemes products, effective 30 September 2024.
"It is bittersweet that we have decided to bid farewell to WordPress and no longer release updates to Flothemes products...We strongly encourage you to consider transitioning your website to Pixieset, and our team is here to help."- Kate, Flothemes Team
Existing users have 12 months to continue utilising their Flothemes site 'as normal' and receiving support, for which they won't be additionally charged.
Website Recommendations for Flothemes Customers
Want to find out more about Flothemes' discontinuation and learn all about the best website options being recommended for Flothemes users? Read my detailed post HERE.
It's a little bit of both.
"Your Showit pages and your WordPress blog are technically very different, however you CAN put them together as one entity."- Corey Potter, Fuel Your Photos Podcast
The design freedom and flexibility on Showit is excellent - one of the things users praise most - and you can start building either with a template provided or a blank canvas if preferred.
You can create what you like - almost no restrictions.
For some, this is overwhelming. For others (particularly visual creatures like us photographers!), this is a non-negotiable.
If design is absolutely your priority, Showit may be a good website platform choice for you.
And there are numerous design and web companies out there offering site templates for the Showit platform too. See samples and a detailed list by the duo at Maha Copy Co. here.
Brand strategists and designers, Davey & Krista, offer and extensive collection of Showit (and Elementor) website and add-on page templates for sale too.
It's important to tread carefully and be mindful with lesser known independent Showit designers though:
"These people try to make Showit look better than it actually is so they can continue to grow their client base, often because they are too lazy to push clients towards better solutions. I don't think that reflects on the Showit team though."- Corey Potter, Fuel Your Photos | SEO For Photographers
Understand too, if SEO is a priority for you, Showit's not the market front-runner in that regard. Nor does Showit offer optimised tablet-responsive design.
Head to the Showit section of this post to find out more about Showit's pros and cons.
Pixieset is an all-in-one style solution for photographers who value the ease and convenience of having 'everything' together, including hosting.
It's designed for photographers in business, yes, but website wise Pixieset does teeter on the edge of being more of a portfolio site builder rather than a fully-fledged 'deep' website builder.
As such, it lacks some of the power and flexibility of more established WordPress website builders.
And if SEO is important to you, Pixieset's likely not the best website option.
Pixieset introduced their website functionality in 2019 so it's only 'new' really.
They fully absorbed Flothemes in September 2023. More news on that and a deep-dive into the best website options for Flothemes users here.
"Elementor isn't the worst [website builder], it can just be buggy and difficult to perfect visually. You'll have no real issue ranking an Elementor site against most photographer competition."- Dylan Howell, Fuel Your Photos
Elementor is a subscription model general website builder and editor (not specifically for photographers) that utilises WordPress and offers hosting along with the ability to build and manage your site(s) DIY.
You get over a hundred full site templates to choose from (along with some 300 block templates) or you can build from scratch if preferred.
If you're looking for a more bespoke-style Elementor template (and some general website design inspiration 😍), designer and brand specialists, Davey & Krista, sell a range of Elementor (and Showit) templates in their shop.
There's ample ability for design freedom and flexibility within Elementor and all the benefits of a What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get (WYSIWYG) builder - no guesswork or coding required.
Elementor has 24/7 support available and a large global community of developers and users, so finding information and solutions via help articles and Google searches on the topic is made easy.
"[Elementor] is by far the best page builder for WordPress. WordPress is the best platform you can be on as it's the most customisable and 'integratable.' But it comes down to the theme you use as to how easy that is. Use a theme that's built on Elementor...Every other option - Squarespace, Showit etc. is easy to use because they're restricted with limited integration options."- Kylie Garner, Social Media / Web Design / Branding Consultant, Kreatology
The two options are akin and ultimately achieve the same thing ✅.
It's a bit like the old Mac Vs Windows 'debate.' Same same....but different. The user experience is different and for the most part, people seem to like one or the other.
"I use Divi. Elementor is similar...It’s tough to choose, I’d recommend watching tutorials for each to see how intuitive it looks to you.- Cassandra Sullivan, Cassandra's Photography
Divi offers support, a global community
"Personally I think that Divi's new speed improvements put it even with Elementor. I do find it more intuitive in terms of workflow, though there are parts of Elementor I prefer."- Melissa Love, Founder, The Design Space
They're options for ultimately achieving the same result; drag-and-drop style block builders utilising the power of the WordPress platform.
Those using Kadence tend to rave about it - they're all in.
It's certainly come to the fore re: leading the 'best website builder option for photographers' race.
It's super lightweight (in terms of the techy stuff that slows down other website themes and builders), particularly compared to Divi.
And fast websites certainly do help make the Google Gods happy ✅.
"I've been seeing more and more beautiful sites built on Kadence with Kadence Blocks, and when you don't add a bunch of other plugins, the sites are SO fast and reliable."- Corey Potter, co-founder Fuel Your Photos | SEO for Photographers
Kadence is free (with significantly more customisation options than other free themes available) and offers an upgrade to one of two pro versions for even further design and functionality options and customisations.
Because Kadence utilises WordPress' native editor (called Gutenberg) - and WordPress isn't going anywhere any time soon! - certainly in terms of future-proofing your site, it's a solid option well worthy of serious consideration.
"I think that the best website platform to use is the one that you feel confident using...If you're thinking about a move to WordPress or you're changing theme, then Kadence is right up there."- Melissa Love, The Design Space Co (website theme supplier)
If a lightweight, 'future-proof' and stylish WordPress website is something you're aiming for, have a look at web design expert, Melissa Love's, StyleCloud.
It operates with the free version of Kadence on WordPress and is an entire design library of site themes and individual templated blocks for users to drag, drop and customise in order to build the proverbial site of their dreams.
StyleCloud is an excellent combination of stylish design aesthetic and web smarts - a difficult blend to achieve.
You can find out more about it in my 'Where to Next for Flothemes Users' post where StyleCloud, Kadence and Showit are discussed and compared at length.
Signing up to StyleCloud? You can enjoy a 15% discount by applying the code PHOTOGEEK at checkout.
ProPhoto is one of the earliest site builders made specifically for photographers and they're a good, basic option for those in danger of tech overwhelm.
If you're happier to have your layouts mostly prescribed - so you plug your content in and go live - ProPhoto could suit.
There's certainly high 'it's-easy-to-get-started' appeal but photographers seem to find it somewhat lacking and restrictive as their web experience and needs grow.
You can pay to subscribe ($25 p/month for your first year, $39 p/month after that) and start with one of the several free (basic) included template designs or upgrade straight to a premium template.
There are 100-odd to choose from and they range in price from $150 - $700 USD.
Subscription pricing includes hosting.
As with Squarespace and Wix, ProPhoto is its own system that once invested into, isn't the easiest to get out of. And when they upgrade the platform every few years, you're forced to completely upgrade too.
So you don't have the full and unbridled flexibility you'll get from other (faster) WordPress builders (where you can add in additional block builders, themes and plugins etc.)
Squarespace is like your artsy friends who went to business school: it's really stylish but still professional...It's a great website builder if you don't want to sacrifice style for efficiency.- Maura Monaghan, Tech Writer at Website Builder Expert
If you want a nicely designed, well-priced website that's easy to set up and affordable to run, Squarespace could be a good fit.
They have beautiful templates - some designed specifically for photographers - and offer drag-and-drop What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get (WYSIWYG) functionality.
Squarespace designs are more rigid overall than other options however.
You can't rearrange individual elements within design blocks and sometimes you have to dig around in the designer to find what it is you're looking for.
Mobile site design is also not as easy as it could be.
If choosing Squarespace, be mindful it's likely you'll need to do a complete rebuild of your site at some point in time...not of your choosing.
A couple of times previously when they've updated the platform to a newer version, existing users had no way to migrate and upgrade their sites without starting completely from scratch on the latest Squarespace version.
Blogging wise, Squarespace isn't the strongest option so if that's something you're planning on investing time and effort into (and ideally you will), you'll likely be better served with a WordPress based site / blog.
"For 3-5 page websites for low competition local business, [Squarespace] is totally great because you can have a site that is more or less ready to launch within 30-minutes. As long as you're not really blogging and you don't have any ambitions to take over the world, it's fine."- Dylan Howell, Fuel Your Photos Podcast
Squarespace offers a good 24/7 email or live chat customer support service, which is always a plus. Having help 'on-hand' is a relief when building websites isn't your day job!
Users who start on Squarespace are typically happy with it and it's certainly improved in many areas over time.
"Squarespace these days is a lot better than it used to be, especially from an SEO point of view. Pretty much about 80 percent of what you can achieve on WordPress can be achieved on Squarespace. The other bonuses of Squarespace are you don't have to worry about hosting, updates, security or back up. Once you take on a WordPress site, you have to worry about all those things."- Kate Toon, I LOVE SEO with Kate Toon
Wix is an option for consideration if the idea of building your photography website scares you.
"[Wix] is a great website for somebody doing their first website: they aren't technical at all and they just want something easy, drag-and-drop to get something live and have some sort of web presence."- Dylan Howell, Fuel Your Photos Podcast
It's user-friendly, offers simple drag-and-drop WYSIWYG ability and a built-in sales feature if you want to sell a small range of products.
All general site updates and maintenance are done for you in the background, support is freely available and your hosting + domain are looked after and paid for in a combo package.
If you prefer to have things neatly all-in-one, it could be a good choice.
Keep in mind though once you go all-in with Wix, you're a little bit 'stuck' there.
It's not easy to switch or move your content to another platform (unlike it is if you're using one of the WordPress-based builders).
Design flexibility has also improved greatly over the years. There have been SEO improvements also.
Wix does a good job for beginner to mid-level web users.
"Wix is an okay web platform. You can definitely rank well in lower competition markets with that type of site quite easily. Is it what I would recommend to somebody trying to outrank sites that aren't on Wix / Squarespace / Showit / Webflow etc., probably not.
Performance is a genuine concern with these platforms. Another main issue is how easily Google can render the content.
If you're comfortable with the competition you'll be facing and the web platform makes your life easier...that's great. Go with Wix and concentrate your efforts elsewhere in your SEO and marketing.
A Wix site with a massive authority advantage will likely outrank the most perfectly optimized static site. A Wix site with expertly crafted content will do far better than WordPress with poorly written and planned content."- Dylan Howell, Fuel Your Photos
Best Website Options for Photographers - What They Say
The options mentioned in this post are those commonly discussed and recommended by the active photography and website groups I'm part of - both in real life and online.
They're the general consensus in terms of the best website options for photographers.
If you'd like to read over real conversations on website platforms for photographers there are a few ideal places to do so.
Groups to go to
There's a hive mind of over 24 thousand photographers there so utilise the search box to punch in any website options for photographers and see for yourself what others are saying.
Melissa Love's The Design Space Lounge Facebook Group would be a good place to suss out what might work best for you too.
The focus of the group is all things websites and branding for creatives.
Keep in mind the The Design Space Co. specialises in website themes for Elementor, Divi and ProPhoto so there's a leaning (and deep expertise) in those specific areas but ample general helpful information as well.
You can search website topics and ask questions re: the builders and platforms fellow photographers are using and loving.