These days an online presence is as important as an offline store or an office. In many ways even if you have a modest home office, you need to have a swanky online presence as well.These should showcase some of your best work. This is of paramount importance. Why? Because the first contact between your prospective clients and you is usually via your website. As the old adage goes, you never get a second opportunity to make a first impression.

Thus, it is imperative that first impression is really good. Knowing how to create a good photographer online portfolio is thus very important. Thankfully, you don’t have to do it yourself. There are plenty of service providers willing to help you design your own photographer online portfolio. Today, we are going to take a look at some of these options which can help us design a good photographer online portfolio designed. We shall also look at the pros and cons of some of those options.

Read-made Solutions vs. Custom Designing

These days there are many different ways to build a good photographer online portfolio. About a decade ago, building an online portfolio wasn’t that easy. It took a considerable amount of time to look for a reliable web developer or development team who could design a layout for your website / portfolio, code it using a web scripting language and then to look for a reliable web hosting provider to host the whole thing. Not to mention the time to register a domain and the other nitty gritty of managing the whole thing in a timely manner. These days all it takes is a few mouse clicks.

Open source solutions with ready-made templates

Thanks to wonderful open source content management systems like WordPress, things have become a lot stress-free and of course hassle-free. You could still look for a custom made solution, which is what most photographers look for, but the backbone of your website can be easily managed with powerful ready-made CMS such as WordPress. Even with a ready-made CMS you will get a unique look and feel. A fresh web template is designed for you and then seamlessly integrated with the backend (CMS) to give a completely unique website.

There are hundreds of template designers who provide ready-made templates for a wide variety of purposes, including building a photographer online portfolio. You can choose one of them too. These are faster than having to make one from scratch.

Ready-made solutions using custom CMS are also available. These are provided by larger web designing services such as SquareSpace and Wix. These systems are designed in a way so that anyone can use them and create a great looking functional website all by himself. In no time at all you can create a completely fresh website using your own images, incorporating your preferred color scheme and using your own content. The best thing is you don’t need any professional help. These are really intuitive interfaces to work with.

Custom Solutions

Custom solutions is the next alternative. If nothing else suits your very precise requirements this is the only solution. You hire a professional web designer and or developer and get the whole thing designed from the ground up. There are some serious advantages to that approach. But at the same time there are some questions about the cost and the delivery time frame. Cost is definitely going to be higher. Delivery time frame is going to be longer as well. But on the bright side you have complete control over the final design. Plus, you get a product that is tailor-made for you and as per your requirements. Let’s look at some of the pros and cons of buying a ready-made photographer online portfolio vs getting something built from scratch.

Ready-made designs vs building something from the ground up – Pros and Cons

creating an online portfolio

Ready-made solutions are the best considering the time it takes to develop something from scratch and the amount of personal involvement in managing such a process. Having said that, there are certain requirements which can only be done as custom designed solutions. Let’s say that you need an availability calendar that you an update from the CMS back end. Sure there might be some ready-made options and your web developer would probably try out a couple before suggesting you anything. But the thing is a custom made solution gives you more control over the final product.

Then again, what most ready-made solution providers do is that they offer a few ‘included in price’ options. For anything beyond these options you are charged extra. These charges can sometimes be quite expensive. A ready-made solution is a more reasonable option.

Another big advantage of a ready-made solution is you can have the codes written the way you want. You can take a chunk of codes and rewrite some of it to suit your needs. With a ready-made solution, all the customization you can do is only in the front end. You never get access to the underlying codes.

SEO advantage

Another big advantage of custom solutions is the SEO advantage. Designer and developer of the website can implement a majority of the SEO parameters right at the time of designing. That is a big bonus. A majority of time business owners don’t think about the SEO parameters right away. It is always an afterthought and afterwards when they find out that their marketing efforts are not bringing in enough results they start to take things down and redesign their website based on what an SEO expert suggests.

If the essential SEO parameters are built into the website right at the designing stage it helps to overcome this problem straight away. Thus you can avoid a situation of readjusting the website design after it is live.

Customizability of the template

There are very few customization options for the template that you buy or download for free from any service provider. Most providers don’t offer a service to modify the template. Additionally, most users don’t change anything except for the images that constitute the portfolio and the home page banners of the template files. This is because hundreds of users are downloading and using these templates and with little or no customizations at all. Either that they are incapable of customizing the template themselves or they are unwilling to spend extra for any customizations.

That means the original layout, color scheme and menu are intact in a majority of websites. The more popular the template is, the higher is that probability. The question here is, would you like to have a photographer online portfolio that looks exactly like A dozen other photographer portfolios on the internet? If the answer is in the negative then you need customization.

With a custom made template you have full customizability in your hands. You can change the look and feel of the template, change the position of the menu bar, the gallery layout, the color scheme as well as the basic navigation of the website. With a ready-made template you simply don’t have much options to change things around.

ready-made vs custom solution

Difference in Pricing

If you consider pricing alone then a custom made website is not the best in terms of getting a photographer online portfolio live. The reason is customized websites cost more to build. They involve a lot more time of the developer and the designer to build something from the ground up. Comparatively, ready-made solutions which are made once and then sold to multiple customers are cheaper.

Rights to the Work

Not that this matters much, but when you have an established brand name and flourishing business, you would want to keep the rights to a design and code pertaining to your business brand to yourself. With a ready-made template / solution for photographer online portfolio, this is impossible. The same codes and basic layout schematics used to develop your website will be reused to whoever licenses the same template. It is like your photo ideas being copied by someone out there to make money and you not being able to do anything about it. It is not a great feeling.

With a custom designed website the copyrights of the whole product remains with you after you have paid for the work to the developer and or designer you commissioned the work.

Privacy of code

Once your business grows you would want to incorporate special features to your website. These features would help you brand yourself as a professional service provider. A login perhaps, for each of your clients to a backend where they can review the finalized images or for requesting a print. Option to select service items a-la-carte using a special interface (drag and drop).But these are just a start. There is no limit to what you can integrate into your website.

But no matter what you do integrate there has to be a way to safeguard the codes of your website. That is possible only when you have a customized solution that has been tested for security vulnerabilities. It is also recommended that the source code itself is not shared with others. This is possible only when you opt for a customized solution.


If you need a quick and cheap solution on a tried and tested platform, go for a WordPress powered solution for your photographer online portfolio. However, if you need a custom made design that conforms to your specific requirements with a unique design and fresh code that will not be shared with others then go for a custom made solution.

Ben Novoselsky

CEO and Founder at
Entrepreneur, geek, photo enthusiast.
Ben Novoselsky

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