Presentation is king in photography, after all, what is the point of taking stunning images and then keeping them to yourself. A website should be considered part of the photographer’s “kit”, something that anyone with a passion for photography should have. We, as photographers are by our very nature, creative people and many of us have the skills to create our own good looking websites, but, these days, many people expect more from a site than just a portfolio and contact details. There needs to be social media integration, slideshow, guest books and comment forms and even shop fronts to sell your work.
Whilst it is possible to do this yourself, the better option is to use a dedicated photographer’s gallery site. There are many to choose from, but today we are going to look in detail at just one, Zenfolio.
(Before we start, the disclaimer, I have no financial interest in Zenfolio, I have however been a very satisfied customer for over four years and have no hesitation in recommending them.)
Like many portfolio sites, Zenfolio offers a free trial. This will give you two weeks to try their premium product and unlike some sites they do not require you to give credit card details. This will allow your to try the site without worry that your card will be charged if you forget to cancel.
If you do decide to sign up, there are four levels of account, each introducing new features, the lowest level is the Basic Plus for a reasonable $30 a year. This is ideal for enthusiast or perhaps people just setting out on their photographic career.
The Starter Package
One of the most appealing aspects of any Zenfolio account is that not only do they have a large range of well designed website themes, you can also modify those themes and indeed add your own. On the basic plan you will get 4GB of storage increasing by 2GB every year, a maximum file size of 36mb and a portfolio style front page. Even the basic account allows you to have a shop front where you can order copies of your images, Zenfolio has partnered with pro labs on every continent, to allow people from different countries to order products.
Zenfolio feature comparison chart by Jason Row Photography, on Flickr
A selection of Zenfolio Themes by Jason Row Photography, on Flickr
The Next Level
Step up to the unlimited account for $60 a year and as its name suggests, you get unlimited storage, which opens the possibility of using Zenfolio as a secondary back up, high definition video hosting and the possibility to use your own domain name. This is very easy to set up even if you are not internet savvy.
The plan I use is the Premium account for $120 per year. This is ideal for professionals and semi professionals. The biggest advantages here are the ability to use your own domain and branding, integrating your logo into the themes, the removal of the Zenfolio branding allowing your site to appear as your own and the possibility to easily add your own designed watermarks to the images. There is a professional shop front, allowing your customers to easily order a wide range of prints from you as well as other photographic related items. You can also self fulfill these, electing to use your own suppliers rather than the Zenfolio chosen labs.
Zenfolio offers options to have your own online shop by Jason Row Photography, on Flickr
The premium business account adds further professional levels to the premium account and is ideal for photographic businesses employing multiple people such as wedding and event photographic businesses.
So What Is Zenfolio Like to Work With as a Company?
There are two areas that have impressed me with Zenfolio, their customer support, which has been very good and the fact that I have never seen my website go down. This is important to professional photographers, as it is to any business, as customers could be lost if a website is down.
Some other useful features of Zenfolio are that the site is well optimized for mobile use and indeed there are powerful apps for IOS, Android and Blackberry for uploading, and more importantly presenting your images on a phone or tablet.
All Zenfolio accounts have very good social media integration, with the ability to share pages, galleries, slideshows and individual images across a range of social media sites. As well as this, there is extensive metadata tools allowing you to caption and keyword your images, this is highly integrated with Zenfolio’s search engine optimization model, ensuring that you get maximum hits on your site.
My Zenfolio home page with my own branding by Jason Row Photography, on Flickr
As we mentioned at the top, there are a number of good portfolio sites out there, many offering similar features to Zenfolio. When first looking for a company to host my images I looked at many of the options, some of those have since disappeared, but Zenfolio, seems to understand the need to innovate in this fast moving world and indeed, add new features on a regular basis. When looking for a portfolio site, it is well worth signing up for the trial on all the sites that you are interested in, and testing the features of each. This is what I did before settling on Zenfolio, and I have not looked back since.
You can see the current incarnation of my Zenfolio site here www.theodessafiles.co.uk