Building Portfolio for a Photographer: Choices, Challenges and Questions

 Building Portfolio for a Photographer

Building Portfolio for a Photographer


We had a discussion on the forum about finding the best ways to create a successful photographer’s portfolio, and many different questions were brought up during the course of that discussion. Below are few of the questions asked:

  • Is it important for a photographer’s portfolio to be responsive (i.e change design on a fly to best fit on mobile browsers)?
  • What’s the best platform and hosting for a photographer’s portfolio?
  • How to handle SEO and increase the ranking of a website with mostly static visual content?
  • Build your own portfolio on self-hosted service v.s ready-to-use solutions like or


As a former web developer, (SEO specialist 8 years ago) and commercial photographer with a portfolio which desperately needs to be re-built and updated  ( - check it out and try to see why I do not like it), I am going to find out what the best solution would be for a photographer who wish’s create an eye-catching, SEO friendly portfolio.
I am going to record and explain every step along the way of creating my new portfolio, and we’ll end up with a series of videos for a mini-course that will be released to the public after completed.

To make this course helpful and valuable to the whole community, I need your help on finding out what the situations are with your own portfolio, as well as what you believe would be most interesting and would like to see covered in the course. Please take a minute and answer these questions below.

If you feel like there are different answers and/or different questions to be asked, feel free to post in the comment area of this post. This will help make these videos more valuable for you and the rest of the community.


Note: please vote for each poll individually 

online poll by Opinion Stage


online poll by Opinion Stage


online poll by Opinion Stage


Thank you!

P.S Old poll results are saved and every opinion was counted! We had to replace pools due to reported problems.
Below are results we got on old polls

Where do you host your photographer's portfolio?

  • I've got a self-hosted portfolio on my own domain (58%, 57 Votes)
  • I do not have a portfolio yet and looking for creating it soon (26%, 26 Votes)
  • I use online service for photographers like portfolios on 500px or Smugmug (16%, 19 Votes)

Total Voters: 99

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In case you have your own hosted portfolio, what platform do you use for it?

  • Custom build php/.net or HTML portfolio website (36%, 24 Votes)
  • Wordpress-based with off-shelf portfolio theme (26%, 17 Votes)
  • Wordpress with customized theme (php coding, custom css) (21%, 14 Votes)
  • Content Management System other than Wordpress (15%, 10 Votes)
  • Flash-Based portfolio (similar to simple viewer) (2%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 66

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What the most interesting topic you want to be covered?

  • SEO and other optimization to improve search ranking of existing portfolio (56%, 41 Votes)
  • Technical info on how to build photographer's portfolio form a scratch (29%, 21 Votes)
  • Find out more about existing options of getting build a portfolio (15%, 12 Votes)

Total Voters: 73

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About The Author: Alex Koloskov

The lighting magician, owner of AKELstudio, Inc.

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22 comments to Building Portfolio for a Photographer: Choices, Challenges and Questions

  • Anas Ahmad

    what about apple and google apps? this might be helpful to interact with the client and also with your students.

  • WordPress is hands down the easiest – smartest – and best documented platform to build a portfolio site on. If you load images to the media center, they get their own “attachment page” and if you each image a unique title, alt tag, and caption, they are almost immediately are searchable in Google. You can also use lots of different plugins to get a nice lightbox effect or to make managing huge numbers of images easier… they won’t search as well but they will be more manageable. So if you just want a portfolio to show the world, WP rules. Many photographers don’t care if their images look great though, they just want a system to sell the images to clients. So one of the turn-key systems would be better for them. Maybe they should have a beautiful portfolio site built with WP that will rank well and give them good internet reputation, and then link to one of the canned photographer sites to sell their products. Don’t even think about using Flash because it’s not supported by millions and millions of handhelds.

  • My web power by photo PhotoShelter , but I am looking forward to redesign it in the future; keep me inform, i am interested.

  • Hi, Alex:

    Hey, you hit the nail in the head with me! I’m just analyzing options for a portfolio under my own domain name. Actually I have an “image collection” on Flickr or Google+, but it’s far away from a real portfolio. My choice seems going to be a WordPress with off-shelf theme, but I suppose I can wait for your course. I really hope to be one of the first 100, but anyway it will be interesting for me if I’m not.

    Interesting points for me: photography or photographs have the leading role, so it should be on top of visual experience. Photography is our goal, so portfolio should be simple to manage in order to save our time. Classification: projects, isolated photos, etc. Of course SEO is important as well as social media, but a step below first three points.

    And that’s not all, but is a start from a scratch ;)

  • The portfolio tells a story, and it will be interesting to see how you integrate the story into SEO capabilities.

  • Alex, I don’t feel that I even belong in this group since I’m not a pro photographer in any sense of the word. I’ve taken thousands of pics over my life but they generally fall in the category of snapshots. I don’t try to be artistic and shoot mainly for information transfer. Even the “portrait” shots are of no great interest to anyone but those involved. And I don’t know what SEO means but that doesn’t mean I don’t like to look at great photos and appreciate beauty in whatever form it takes. I didn’t vote for obvious reasons and the fact that I didn’t know how.

  • Gerson Teixeira Leite

    I can’t vote because I can’t see the fields.

  • I have found that the simplest and most powerful thing I have done on my site is to give each image a meaningful title. I rebuilt my site from scratch and when I started, my old site was buried 40 pages down on the search results. I use PHP and MySql to serve up my site and use a PHP echo to put in the proper title for each image. Now I may not come up in a “line” listing on the first page(s) of my targeted key words but I usually get at least one of my images (often 2 or more) in the “images for” (search term) box shown on the first page of the search results. My site isn’t a Photography site but images are very important since the products I sell are all sold on how they look. I am no where near a pro but try hard to deliver the best images I can capture. I guess what I am trying to say is that for SEO of images my experience has been that the title is very important. I know it’s a pain to rename your images but how descriptive is the file name your camera spits out, not very… Just my 2 cents. Keep up the fine work Alex you are truly an inspiration to anyone wanting to take more than a snap shot.

  • charles sweigart

    I wonder how many readers both create the photos and market the product they are imaging? How will the Search Engine Ratings effect the marketing? While I believe a good image should sell a product, it often seem that in the real world it often does not seem to matter. Often it seems that a fine image is only appreciated by the creator rather than the consumer it was created for. That stated, I will still take the extra time to create an image that meets my standards whether it makes a difference or not.

  • I currently use zenfolio. Recently I attended a lecture by a founder of Photo Shelter ( They have some very interesting information for everybody regarding mistakes and best practices. You might want to check it out.

    I have built websites for several professions. My latest was based on wordpress. It is a big effort to started and then you have keep it fresh. Then there is the new challenge of making one web site handle different display device form factors, which is critical in my mind. It would be fun to work through all of the decisions in a class format.


  • I use 500px and wordpress. WP based site performs much better then 500px in case of seo and indexing

  • Gerrit

    This will be interesting, not only for myself but also to see if it applies to making an online portfolio for my wife, who is a professional painter and does most of her customer contact and marketing through facebook now.

  • Sean McCormack

    Interesting. So how do you know which are the first 100?

    Responsive design has become quite necessary. I’ve Lightroom plugins that make websites. They look fine on tablets, but the next major revision will be to make them responsive.

    • Hey Sean, glad to see you on Photigy! Long time since Pixiq went down:-)
      Before publishing this post I’ve sent email to Photigy subscribers asking to vote, and I can see who is opened that email and clicked the link to a pool and when. So, first 100 who clicked will be counted for a freebie.
      I want to believe that those who clicked have voted:-)

      • Sean McCormack

        Hey Alex!

        Sweet. I’d forgotten you could do that.

        Pixiq seems like a lifetime ago now. Getting back 2 1/2 years of posts was a nightmare. I probably still need to sort out image links on older posts. I think you got out in plenty of time. Part of the the irony was that I was going to leave, but they got there first.

        I pop in here from time to time and signed up for the mailing list. I’ve not replaced Google Reader for RSS as yet, so really need to sort that out. When the time comes where I need product tutorials for a job, I’ll be here with bells on.

  • Sean McCormack

    Interesting. So how do you know which are the first 100?

  • No Joomla?

    And howvto match portfolio with customers?

  • I get SEO offers all the time telling me they will boost my business and ratings online. I’m sick of hereing all the Bull Sh*t. I’d like to take pictures not spend 75% of my time on blogs, tweets, facebook, linkedin, etc. It’s driving me crazy!!!! HELP!!!!!!

  • Look forward to seeing the results..

  • Perfect ! I really need that…thank you for making this..

  • Thanks! I could use some help!

  • It will be interesting to see what difference integrating social media and blogs makes to search engine listings.

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