As a photography portfolio designer, I have designed quite many portfolio websites over the years. I’ve studied other, much more talented and experienced designer works and seen websites that are beautifully executed and many that just don’t work. Sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint what exactly makes a portfolio website work, but when you see it you just know that it’s right, that all of the little details come together nicely giving you a pleasant browsing experience.
When it comes to photography portfolio websites, there are so many possibilities to make it just right but because of this, there are so many things that can go wrong.
I decided to write this compilation post as a tribute to photographers who, in my opinion, have managed to create truly beautiful websites for themselves because I know first hand how much work, thought and time goes into this.
While looking for examples for this post, I ended up browsing through more than 100 photography portfolio websites and ended up choosing 15 that passed trough my photography portfolio criteria.
As you will see, most of the portfolios chosen here are quite simple and draw the visitors attention the work it holds, which is the most important goal of any good portfolio site. All of these websites have clear goals to them, they don’t confuse the visitor with complex layouts and dead ends. What I like most in these examples is that they manage to guide the site visitor to the most important parts of each site, they have a clear path to them and don’t make you guess where to find the images, where is the information about the photographer or what are you looking at exactly.
I took the opportunity to write some personal comments below each website screenshot so that you can see my thought process behind each choice.
So here they are. Hope this post gives you some fresh ideas for your own portfolio website and feel free to share your or other photography website URL’s that inspire you!
1. Olya Kobruseva
Olya’s photography portfolio is brilliantly simple, fast loading and very easy to navigate. I really appreciate that there is a clear path for the site visitor – open the site, there’s a little slider to set the mood and 15 galleries to choose from. When you open a gallery, all images are nicely curated in 1 column and at the end of the gallery you get to choose other galleries to visit or go back to the top of the page by using the conveniently placed “back to the top button”.
The only minor thing that I would change is to create a separate “About me” page instead of using the “Contact” page for your personal introduction. Firstly because I was looking for the “About” page and couldn’t find it until I decided to check out the contact form and secondly, I think that it would make this site a bit more personal, it would tell the visitor: “Here I am! Get to know me even before you click on the contact page.” Plus another page with written content is a good way to make friends with Google!
2. Aralani Photography
Ara’s website is simple and minimalist from the looks of it but when you start to navigate trough it, you realize how much information it actually holds. There are multiple portfolio categories, pricing, testimonials, blog, about page and more but because everything is so nicely organized it’s very easy to find everything you might need there. Each page on this site has a clear purpose to it and each piece of relevant information has its own place. This makes the website a joy to browse.
3. Kartsie Photography
This one is something a bit different! Kaila’s portfolio website makes use of something called “blog-folio” when you display your work in your blog posts as individual stories. Sometimes blog-folios are a bit hard to pull off, but this website nails it in my opinion because of those beautiful fullscreen blog thumbnails that look really nice and manage to set the mood for each post you click on.
4. Caitlin Worthington Photography
Horizontal portfolio layouts are a kind of weakness for me. You will see that in this post and in our own designs as well. When designed properly, a horizontal portfolio layout is a very convenient and beautiful way to showcase your work. I chose Caitlin’s portfolio for this list because of the portfolio page and navigation design. This example shows that you don’t necessarily need large images or full-screen views to make the portfolio enjoyable. Smaller images will work especially well for people who are concerned with image theft since smaller images are less likely to be stolen straight from your own portfolio.
If it would be up to me, I would increase the font size a bit since it is quite hard to read right now.
5. Lauren Naylor
Laurens’ photography portfolio makes use of both horizontal layouts and vertical grid layouts to showcase her work. The first page introduces the viewer with a collection of her most recent work in a beautiful horizontal layout with large images and if the viewer wants to see more of her work, there is plenty to choose from from the navigation.
6. Carlos Hernandez
A beautiful photography website example. Carlos’ website loads fast, the browsing experience is smooth and the mood of this portfolio is excellent in my opinion. It’s clean, light and compliments the photography work beautifully. There is nothing I can add, visit this portfolio and see for yourself!
7. Anchor & Lace
Anchor & Lace is a great example of how a custom website should look. you can clearly see that a professional web designer was at work here. Each page is its own masterpiece but it ties together with the overall design perfectly and you never have to wonder if you’re still looking at the same website. I especially loved the “Stories” section of this website – they are actual visual wedding stories beautifully divided into sections or chapters, just like a proper story should be told.
8. Chris Zielecki
A modern, laid back portfolio website with clean, straightforward navigation that shows you everything you might need to find in this website.I really like that the Contact page with an option to choose whether you want to contact the photographer about a wedding shoot or you have another reason for reaching out. This is a very clever way to solve the contact form issue that I’ve seen many photographers having. If you do weddings and portraits like Chris, you might need to know different information depending on the project (like dates and location for weddings). Chris solves this by asking the visitor about the contact purpose and then directs the visitor to the appropriate contact form.
9. Hardy Klahold
If you like one-page designs, you might enjoy Hardy’s portfolio website. Without clicking anywhere you can find a couple of lines of text about the photographer, his galleries, services he provides, posts from the blog and a contact form. One-page layouts are a good option when you don’t have (or don’t want to show) many image galleries and want to keep everything short and to the point.
The only thing that bothered me design wise here is that the single blog post design doesn’t look half as good as the home page. It could be easily fixed by giving a bit more room to the post text and instead of center aligning text and categories in the sidebar, align them to the left side, this would give a more orderly feeling to the page.
10. Amy Deputy
When you have loads of separate images to show, grid layouts are a great way to do that. That is why I chose Amy’s website. The portfolio has quite many images that are not part of galleries like in many previous examples. Amy uploaded all of her images on her portfolio and the visitor can either quickly scroll trough them or click on any of the images and browse trough them one by one.
11. Eric Ryan Anderson
Mr. Anderson’s portfolio is modern, fast loading and lets the viewer choose how he wants to view each gallery – be it in a grid, horizontally scrolling or full-screen. This is a great portfolio example in my opinion, but it definitely would not work for everyone. As a photographer, you need to know your audience and their technical skill level because for some people a website such us this might be a bit too confusing. Since Eric is a commercial photographer who deals with campaigns and agencies, it suits his business well!
12. Evaan Kheraj
A bold photography portfolio design by Evaan. I chose this website to show you how good photography can look in wide two and tree column layout. The work fills the screen nicely and every detail is visible.
If I had any say in this, instead of the menu and logo following the screen when you scroll down the page, I would make only the navigation “stick” to the top of the screen and give it a semi-transparent background, and leave the logo at the top of the page. It would free up move screen to view the images properly and the menu items would be more visible.
13. Lena Sanz
Another simple grid portfolio design example with a clean navigation area. Simple, usable and clean!
14. Ryan Michael Kelly
Ryan’s portfolio is another example of a clean, minimal portfolio that works. While browsing this portfolio, mentally take out the colorful images. See how clean and simple the website design really is. This proves that sometimes you don’t need colorful backgrounds, slider, accent colors and all that fluff. Good typography, whitespace, clear navigation and your photography can add up to a great personal website.
15. Tim Flach
I decided to conclude this listicle with a portfolio website that belongs to a big name – Tim Flach. But I didn’t choose this portfolio just because of the amazing photography, but because of the website design as well. First off, it catches your attention! I mean, just look at that video background when you first visit the site. The portfolio itself is neatly organized in a grid, click on any image and it opens in a full-screen slider that beautifully fades from one image to the other. All of this creates a great browsing experience.