How to make a great photography website – Top 10 Mistakes

cameraWhat is the best website for photography? Different occupations have different demands, but a photography business website requires so many unique features that I have to categorize it in its own league. What sets a photography site apart from others is the strong tendency in pretentiousness. And it’s somehow justified because of the nature of the business. Yes, I said it. Photographers are amongst the most unbending, conceited, and smug bunch that you can ever find. No apologies here, it’s the truth.

Photographers have to work hard to establish a critical difference between their work and the Joe next-door. In the age of digital photography, almost anyone is considered a photographer as long as she has an index finger capable of pressing the shutter release. And let’s face it, out of 100 frames, one ought to come out half decent without any knowledge of photography whatsoever. It kind of follows the notion that if you leave a monkey with a typewriter long enough, he’ll eventually write Hamlet.

Before the boom of digital photography, a handful of photographers had websites, and those who did were indeed visionaries. Their sites were simple, up to the point, and the message was clear: I’m a professional photographer and this is my website to showcase my work.

Unfortunately now days, the trend is 180 degrees backward. Professional and amateur photographers compete in an idiotic race of making a flashier website to set them apart, disregarding the simple fact that it’s not the pretty flash intro or the fancy background illustration that will get them work. In many cases the quality of their work is hideous at best, and the fancy web page doesn’t even scratch the void.

Relying on the design

Do you want an honest advice? My designing talent does not make your bad pictures look better, it only makes me look more talented and you more incompetent. I have three words for you: Content, Content, and Content. That’s the only thing that will set you apart. A good work will sell itself without much trouble where a bad work will look bad even in a diamond frame. Take Craigslist for example. The design of the website is so ugly that for a long time I choked every time I used the site. But I use it anyway and I’m happy with what it is. Because its content fills the void of the modern design. In fact, Craigslist website hasn’t changed in 12 years! Yet it has more traffic than Ebay and Amazon, and generates more revenue than both combined. It’s interesting to know that eBay has 16,000 employees and Amazon boasts 22,000 workers, and both companies have full-time programming teams working round the clock to make their sites look better. Do you care to know how many employees Craigslist have? Only 30 people.

A few words for  female photographers

What I’m about to say is not sexist in any way, so take the feminist wax out of your ears and listen. Having an adorably cute and ungodly complicated website will not make you a better photographer. If you expect your visitors to watch a 30 second intro just to enter your site or a series of 10MB pictures to load as they come in, and your navigation menu consists of “artworks” of a sun, a ring, a possum or other incoherent symbols please jump off of a bridge.

Not long ago, a photographer called David Jay gave birth to an abomination to web designers and developers called SHOWIT, a drag and drop flash based website building application to cater to the need of the wanna-be photographers that grew like wild mushrooms. His intention wasn’t so much to help than filling his bank account. Then Jasmine Star, a female photographer who calls herself an “International Wedding Photographer” started to actively market this useless junk of software to the technically-challenged growing market of photographers for about the price of a kidney.

Now Jasmine Star is a very successful woman and I truly admire her drive. Her blog is amongst one of the most visited and commented photography blogs, and it’s not uncommon to see triple digit number of comments on her 10 sentence-long posts. And majority of her readers are naturally women. Because of her fame and success in the business (much owed to her admittedly nice rear-end), Miss Star has managed to sell crap-load of this crap to unsuspecting people, and she targets wannabe and professional photographers on a daily basis. She has even evolved to give web-design seminars, not knowing a single line of code or even an understanding of the web.

So why do I pick on the mutilated Jasmine and SHOWIT services? Because they have created a movement that slows down everything. The Web-pages take an eternity to load, they use gigantic uncompressed images for front pages, and are making believe that a photography website should be like that. Again, it’s not the design that will sell your photos; it’s the quality of your work.

10 Tips for making a great photography website

So let’s get to the point. Here’s the 10 commandment that photographers should follow if they haven’t been mesmerized by Jasmine’s ass and SHOWIT flash.

  1. Don’t use generic, pre-designed templates. You are an artist (or you want to call yourself that at least) and what makes an artistic statement is not a template that 1000 other photographers are using too. Custom web-design cost should be the easiest justifiable cost of your business. You wouldn’t buy a bad quality 50mm lens, so why would you do this?
  2. Host your own website. Don’t fall for the design and hosting package scam. They want to cripple you, plain and simple. Are you looking for the best host? Two words: Inmotion Hosting. Hands down one of the best in business.
  3. Don’t build flash websites for photography business. If your pictures need flash animations to make them look good, honestly you suck big time as a photographer. Pick another profession. A photography website should be interesting by its photo content not with useless animations.
  4. Don’t separate your blog and website. Nine out of ten photographers tend to register two domain names, one for the website and one for the blog. Why? You are splitting your work for no reason, taking away search engine ranking, and making it confusing for the clients. Stop doing that. Just because one idiot did it, it doesn’t mean you should follow too.
  5. Don’t use free blogging services like or blogger. These free blogging services are for amateurs. You wouldn’t set up your studio in a bus station so why would you represent your professional work in a crowded unprofessional place? You’re not 14 anymore and you’re not writing your high school diary, get a web-host for god’s sake.
  6. Register your domain name with the word “photography” in it. Photography websites by nature are not too Search Engine friendly, and you need all the help you can get. Putting the word “photography” will emphasize this fact and will get you a better search ranking. Instead of registering a domain called, go with To register your domain I recommend using Namesilo. This is the registrar that I use on daily basis, they always have the cheapest prices on domains, and they have a great website with absolutely no advertising and garbage add-ons. Domain privacy is always free with Namesilo as well. Stay away from Godaddy at all costs. Use the coupon code (NEWNAMESILO) to get a discount as well.

Here’s a tip: Register your domain name for at least 3 years and better yet, for 5 years. Search engines don’t index domain names with short expiration time. Domain is cheap, so buy as many years as you can.

+4 Bonus Tips for making a photography website

  1. Optimize your photos. I know, I know, and I freaking understand when you say “I want my pictures to look great, that’s why I choose heavier files”. Smaller file sizes don’t necessarily mean lower resolutions; it means faster loading time and more visitors. You can compress any image with loss-less image compressors and still get a great result, and no, your Photoshop software doesn’t do that. Lossless image compression is an art and you need to master it. Or pay someone to do it for you.
  2.  Have a portfolio. That means you need to showcase your talent to the fullest. There are millions of other photographers who are eager to take your customers so spare none. Your portfolio should be nicest, greatest, and most complete part of your website.
  3. Unless you are a four times Emmy Award winner, list your prices for different packages online. Don’t tell people to contact you to find out, they won’t, they go where they can get a clear idea on how much it will cost them to have a photo shoot for their ugly baby. When was the last time you emailed someone to ask how much something was? I know the answer; never. On another note, don’t call your price page “Investment” either. Bonds are investment. Stocks are investment. Your photos are not investment. Would you buy them back from your clients? If the answer is no, you have no right to call them investment.
  4. Even if you can’t afford a professional design, at least have a website, whatever it is. (Not free blogging of course). I see many talented photographers who only use Facebook or other social media outlets as their portfolio. This is the worst thing you can do for your business and yourself. This is selling yourself cheap, under-rated, and you look nothing but an amateur with a camera. Take it seriously or move on to other hobbies.

168 Responses to How to make a great photography website – Top 10 Mistakes

  1. Avatar for Mariah Mariah says:

    Thanks for the important advice. I used to use free blogging services from word press, now I think I should stop it. You are truly right about having a website rather than just use a Facebook account. This is very foolish. One pro photographer should have a website to display his picture, not a free platform.

  2. Avatar for valentine valentine's day 2017 says:

    An outstanding share! I have just forwarded this
    onto a friend who was conducting a little homework on this.
    And he actually bought me lunch simply because I
    stumbled upon it for him… lol. So allow me to reword this….
    Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending the time to discuss this subject here
    on your blog.

  3. Avatar for eileen eileen says:

    What a sexist pig you are! There is no need to discuss, comment on this woman’s ass. I am so turned off by your comments. I can’t believe that no other woman is offended by you.

  4. Avatar for Felix Felix says:

    Have you tried Format’s platform since they added their new photography features (watermarking and photo proofing)? I think they might have the best websites now for photographers and want to hear your thoughts.

  5. Avatar for Emil Kadlic Emil Kadlic says:

    I am thinking , I will create a photography website. So now I’m searching some tips about photography website. I got perfect suggessitons from your post. A lot of thanks for the share of secret tips . I bookmarked this post for my future plan .

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  7. Avatar for Manuka mézek a Mézbarlangtól Manuka mézek a Mézbarlangtól says:

    This web diary is contrast interesting Very capably made information. It will be huge to everyone who uses it, including myself. Thankful Hi!This is particularly useful post for everyone. Thankful to you so much this post.Just about everything looks incredible appeared

  8. Avatar for Joepet Macariola Joepet Macariola says:

    Thank you for sharing some tips so that I can avoid making mistakes to my website.

  9. Avatar for Shamim Al Rafi Shamim Al Rafi says:

    thanks for sharing ,Nice tips,

  10. Avatar for Shane Walsh Photography Shane Walsh Photography says:

    It was probably mentioned before but high quality photographs are essential if you want to catch peoples eye. No point in showcasing small bad quality photographs.

  11. Avatar for BT BT says:

    First off, I thought the article was very informative. I’m currently trying to get my photography business of the ground and researching website options. I’m a little confused by all the different “things” – web hosts, wordpress, zenfolio… Anyway if you wouldn’t mind giving me a tiny who’s who and what’s what I would so greatly appreciate. (Yes, I’m female:)
    Thanks a lot.

  12. Avatar for Kirsten Oliver Kirsten Oliver says:

    Thank you for your insightful and interesting article. I am in the process of developing my own website – being one of those who has only had a facebook site for a long time. In my half baked defense, I do not do photography full time and was a little scared I would have to answer too many enquiries if I had a website – I have realised the error of my ways. What I really wanted to tell you though, was that I’ve never heard of Craigslist – being a bit of a farm girl from South Africa – so I went onto their site to have a look. First thing I did was search in the photo and film section. There was only one result – a sewing machine. Had me in absolute hysterics and certainly made my afternoon!

    Fantastic article though, thank you I will definitely heed some of your advice!

  13. Avatar for Chris Wang Chris Wang says:

    Hi Chris,

    Your article was very insightful and I will be taking on a lot the advice as I am redesigning my website. I had a set of different questions to ask and was hoping that I could email you directly on those. Would you drop me an email so I could get advice from you?

  14. Avatar for Roxanne Roxanne says:

    Hi Chris,

    Loved the article. I’ve been alternating between researching and banging my head against the wall in regards to all this. Then I happened across your article and liked your candor and advice. I lean more toward the hobby side of things but I do some portrait work and I’m working on focusing on boudoir photography. I’m to the point that I need a decent website to showcase my work. But I would also like for it to have all the ecommerce features so that someone can go in their and place their order and it be sent to the lab or labs of my choosing. Is that available for WordPress and if so which would you recommend? I’m also doing this in little to no budget so cost is a huge factor.

  15. Avatar for Joseph Joseph says:

    I came across this dated entry while searching for SEO and design tips. I really enjoyed your honesty and candor!

    We recently reworked our entire website and the SEO took a big hit and we lost some valuable ground in Google search. You probably will chastise me for this, but we went with Squarespace. I don’t really like the blog feature of Squarespace and thought about going back to WordPress (linking from the website) because, in my experience, WordPress is really good at SEO – or, at least, getting good results on Google searches. Is there any other reason why – other than “it looks amateur” – I should just stay with my site blog?

    Thanks, Joseph

  16. Avatar for doug doug says:

    Hello Chris. If you were transitioning from a website template company (such as Zenfolio, Squarespace, Smugmug, etc), what company would you recommend to build your site? I admit I’ve fallen for the idea that I have to have some kind of site with bells & whistles (ex. J.Star) so in the meantime I’m just sitting on a crappy website trying to figure out what to do. Thanks for any starting direction!

  17. Avatar for Dilip Dilip says:

    Hi Chris,
    Just stumbled across your website and love the forthright comments!

    Now, I have been taking photos for a while and weddings I have done have tended to cost me money (friends and family!). Unfortunately, I came across your site after setting up a fairly ordinary (content-wise) SmugMug account with domain hosted by GoDaddy – which could easily provoke some more forthright comments with me on the receiving end!

    Although, this is ‘live’ I have purposely not pointed anyone to my site until I get it into shape and get some pricing info added.

    Do you suggest having a new separately hosted website just using SmugMug for the ecommerce or go with trying to refine the SM site with improved content until I have some more paying customers?

    Appreciate any advice but would prefer not to pay twice if possible.

    Thank you.

  18. Avatar for Audrey Audrey says:

    Hi Chris,

    I found your post refreshing and humourous. I stumbled across it while searching on how to make a better photography site. I have been running a couple of travel blog/photo style sites for several years using self hosted wordpress. It’s probably the best there is for this type of site.

    I have recently set up a site solely dedicated to my photography with hopes to start marketing my work. It’s just in the rough stages at this point with photos thrown into a gallery, I need a better gallery option.

    I would like to stick with wordpress but the problem that I am having and seems I am finding many others are as well is that all these photography themes and gallery options are geared toward wedding and portrait photographers and much of the ecommerce is designed for sites selling goods not photos.

    I can’t seem to find anything that works well for travel and landscape photography. It just doesn’t work the same. If you are a wedding photographer you really only need to get a site up with a certain amount of photos where people can take a look and see the quality and style of your work.

    For my travel blogs I got hooked on using Genesis based themes over the last few years and have been very happy with some of their child theme options and what you can do with them.

    I got excited when they came out with some they said were geared towards photographers. I bought Minimum pro theme because it had a portfolio option, but should have spent more time understanding how the portfolio worked.

    It seems all you can do is a have a portfolio page which has a bunch of thumbnails each linked to an individual post with an image in it. I would have to have hundreds or even thousands of these posts for all my photos. I don’t understand how that is supposed to be a portfolio?

    On the other hand the gallery I have now (Enviro plugin I think it’s called) does not have an individual or searchable link to each image. I assume this is important for getting each image indexed with google and for social media sharing purposes.

    I have tried so many different wordpress plugins, thought of using Smugmug as my gallery as so many other photographers default to, but I don’t really think that’s the way I want to go. I started to try and set up woo-commerce and almost lost my mind trying to get all the settings correct and gave up.

    I would like to continue to use wordpress, if you have any suggestions I would appreciate it. I totally get it when you say you can’t just have a page that says contact me for info and prices if you want to purchase prints and such, but I can see how many photographers give up and go that route or decide to just use facebook to promote themselves.


  19. Avatar for imgur imgur says:

    When you make a website, all your web pages are served from the server residing somewhere on the internet.
    The web design on a web hosting providers website is a quick and easy indication of the quality of the provider.
    You can be diligent about protecting your website but someone else on the same server might not be.

  20. Avatar for Laurel Deane Laurel Deane says:

    If you refer to tina marie’s reply on January 30, that’s me for the most part! I’m very overwhelmed and confused at this “pre-school” stage of learning but feel 1 step closer after reading your honest, valuable tips. I was considering using PhotoShelter or my printing company, Fine Art Imaging, for my website but I’m willing to give this route a try. I now understand I need to create a domain name through namesilo and use InMotion as a host. However, how do I develop a website to host? I know I want control over the design elements but I do not want to get involved with all the coding. I also want another company to handle sales and printing. I would appreciate any and all info you’ve sent to others above plus and help at all you’re willing to give. The advise and assistance you’ve extending to photographers is above and beyond the call of duty and admirable. Keep up the good work and thank you!

  21. Avatar for Deepti Asthana Deepti Asthana says:

    Hey Chris,

    Greetings from India.

    I have been using social media and free platforms like WordPress so far and today I decided to make a professional website for my Travel Photography.

    The above tips are very useful and utterly hilarious but I feel I need more insights how to go about making a professional website. I don’t want to make a crappy one and regret about it later so I would appreciate if you can lead me to right path.

  22. Avatar for lol lol says:

    “If your pictures need flash animations to make them look good, honestly you suck big time as a photographer. Pick another profession.” – Quite possibly the dumbest thing I’ve read on the internet this week. And I’ve been on YouTube.

  23. Avatar for caro gray caro gray says:

    Hi – Chris, this is great, I wasn’t sure what to do – I have been asked to start a web site as have started to sell my work, was told either to hire someone for enormous amounts or to get free web sites.. so I am interested in ‘Inmotion Hosting’ but there are different levels – what level is needed the least expensive if you don’t need to download large files? and do I need to get my domain name first – I have my photography name but of course I would like to keep this name and not have to change it.. sorry to be so ignorant.. can you give me any advice..

    • Avatar for Chris Sorbi (Admin) Chris Sorbi (Admin) says:

      Get your domain first from Name Silo (Link and coupon is on this page) and then get your hosting. Inmotion packages are all the same speed and bandwidth so get the cheapest one if you have one domain name.

      Hope this helps.



  24. Avatar for sondage rémunéré avis consommateur sondage rémunéré avis consommateur says:

    Hey! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you
    if that would be okay. I’m definitely enjoying your blog and look forward to new

  25. Avatar for Becca Becca says:

    Great article! I hire photographers to shoot for a magazine, so I see a lot of terrible photography websites. Some photographer website pitfalls I notice a lot include:

    • Background music (I refuse to hire anyone who has it. No exceptions.)

    • Not clearly identifying your location. Spamming your page with other cities you’ve shot in for SEO purposes without saying where your home base is will not do you any favors. Be clear so I don’t have to worry about paying for mileage.

    • The “About me” section is a cutesy list of facts about you. I’ve seen it all… “I love Nalgene water bottles! I have a giant blue bowl that I love eating cereal in! I get embarrassed buying toilet paper!” Nobody cares… I can already tell you’re a human; show me you’re a professional.

    • If you list “Wildlife photography” as a specialty and include a gallery of pictures you took at your local zoo just in case someone from National Geographic stumbles upon your site and wants to give you work, there’s no hope for you. There isn’t much skill involved in shooting a captive animal. You aren’t impressing anyone.

    • Blogs that don’t contain a steady stream of client work. If you can’t commit to regular posts, having a blog is shooting yourself in the foot. I want to know I’m not the only one hiring you his month. And using pictures of your own kids or pets as filler won’t fool anyone.

    • Using a contact form in lieu of posting an email address. I get that it’s easier for the site owner to weed out the spam by doing this, but it’s frustrating for anyone who needs to keep a paper trail for their business. If I find someone I really want to work with but can’t find their email, I have to do a lot of hunting to figure out an actual email address to circumvent the contact form, but in some cases I’ve had to just look elsewhere.

  26. Avatar for Meghan Lopez Meghan Lopez says:

    Hi Chris,

    I wanted to thank you for this great article and I have decided to go with both NameSilo AND InMotion as per your recommendations and thus far, I have been impressed with the customer service with InMotion and the ease/pricing of NameSilo. I am in the process of creating my new photo biz (focused in the real estate photography), but will likely move my family photo biz website over to InMotion once it is up for renewal. I did put your name in as my source of referral, not sure if it matters or not.

    I will say that I use a purchased template for my sites currently (I use ThemeForest for WP sites), as I have spent my start up money elsewhere (finally upgraded to an iMac, a few new lenses, etc.)…but look forward to being able to have a uniquely built site for me in the future.

    Anyhow, just wanted to say thanks for the suggestions.

    • Avatar for Chris Sorbi (Admin) Chris Sorbi (Admin) says:

      Hi Meghan,

      You are very welcome. Just remember that when you transfer your other website, you may not have to pay for the hosting again depends on what package you bought from Inmotion Hosting as most of their packages allow you to have more than one website under the same account.

      Good luck to you and let me know if you need any help.



  27. Avatar for Leslie Dean Brown Leslie Dean Brown says:

    Funnny post. I appreciate your directness/honesty.

    What are your thoughts on using your own name for branding as opposed to a made up name?

    I am mostly planning on talking about street photography on my site and thinking about calling it something more appropriate than my own name. At this stage it is just a blog as I like to write about photography just as much as shooting. It’s not yet a viable business. I’m also looking at getting into logo design/illustration as I am not even sure I want to work as a photographer (I enjoy it too much). So I’m thinking about separate websites…

    I notice that all the people promoting the use of people’s own names for photography websites seem not to be practicing what they preach. So I’m leaning towards changing the name to something else, making sure all the blog posts show up with my name, and then using the url domain name as more of a basic “here’s all the things I do” type thing if anyone wants to know more about me and what I do. What do you think?

    • Avatar for Chris Sorbi (Admin) Chris Sorbi (Admin) says:

      Hi Leslie,

      You don’t have to use your own name, what I was hammering home was using keywords in your domain name such as “Photography” to give you more boost in SEO. It’s actually much better to have a domain name like rather than having, as the “newyork” and “baby” are both keywords and have far more search interest than using your own name.

      Hope this helps.

  28. Avatar for Lindy Lindy says:

    Fantastic tips. Thanks a million! Going to tidy up my site….

  29. Avatar for michelle michelle says:

    Hi there… if I register domain and then purchase hosting, can I build the website easily myself or does it involve coding. I would like your opinion on sites and also, please explain HOSTING to me again – I’m so confused! Thank you

  30. Avatar for Lienuks Lienuks says:

    Good, honest, straight to the point article. I am an amateur and I am in process of building out my website (I am using a Themeforest photo template), hosting it myself. I will be re-reading this article later and checking of on hits and misses. Nevertheless, thanks for helping to remove “the rose colored glasses” that we all ware time to time 🙂

  31. Avatar for Grace Tyler Grace Tyler says:

    Awesome blog post! Thank you. I’m just getting started with my new website. Your tips are huge. Going to implement some right now!!!! lol

  32. Avatar for tina marie tina marie says:

    Hi Chris,
    I am a novice, macro floral photographer. I have started showing my images in a local gallery. I think my images are beautiful, yet I wonder how well the demand is for floral photography!? I am also dabbling in abstract black and white images as well as color.
    Nonetheless, I want to have a professional website this year, but I NEED someone like you to guide me through each and every itty-bitty step…..All this lingo confuses me….hosting, domain name, server, etc…obviously, I am computer-illiterate!
    Would you, could you be my mentor and help me? PLEASE!! May I email you or call you for the basic steps?
    Thank you for your time and expertise….Tina Marie

  33. Avatar for Chris Sorbi (Admin) Chris Sorbi (Admin) says:

    Janice, call me at 406-992-0032 and let me see what i can do for you.

  34. Avatar for Janice Sheppard Janice Sheppard says:

    aaaaahhhh. so much to learn. thanks chris. i was told their domain fee, after a year, is 11.99/year. i initially took it to be $11.99/month. i dunno. i’m kind of overwhelmed with it all right now. either way, i now have the domain pointed to inmotion, i have an email address. i just have to build the website. they say they have templates. i am not a coder and i honestly don’t have the time or the desire to learn coding. do you think the preset templates with inmotion are worth using?

  35. Avatar for Janice Sheppard Janice Sheppard says:

    another question, sorry. is there any reason why i shouldn’t purchase my domain from inmotion? i just looked at their options and saw that a domain can be bought there. if it’s better to go with namesilo, naturally i want to do that. if it doesn’t matter, then one stop shopping is attractive. thanks.

    • Avatar for Chris Sorbi (Admin) Chris Sorbi (Admin) says:


      You should never buy your domain from the same place that you’re hosting your site. If anything goes wrong, you’ll lose everything. You did the right thing buying the domain from Namesilo and hosting from Inmotion. Nothing is ever free, and free domain means the next year you’ll pay for it double.

  36. Avatar for Janice Sheppard Janice Sheppard says:

    very impressed with the positive feedback you’re getting with this article. i’m new to this and have been looking for the best way to go about starting up a website. there’s a lot of stuff to wade through out there, but i think you just made it much easier for me. i’m going to take your tips and go with them. glad i found this. wish me luck.

    • Avatar for Chris Sorbi (Admin) Chris Sorbi (Admin) says:

      Good luck to you Janice 🙂 Just stick with common sense, keep it simple and you’ll do just fine. Happy New year.

  37. Avatar for l l says:

    Thank you for the awesome tips. This was a very fun and helpful read.

  38. Avatar for Chris Chris says:

    Hi Chris,

    I need a site with portfolio and e commerce options. Unfortunately I have Go Daddy as host for another 5 years just for fyi. I have a friend who was going to create my site but now doesnt want to put the time in and is steering me to Zenfolio or Photocrati. Its very time consuming for him to do it. Bummer. Whats better? Zen or Photo? Any other suggestions would be appreciated. I cant shell out much to have a site built. I know its costly.Thanks for your help man.

  39. Avatar for Chris Chris says:

    Hi Chris,

    I need a site with portfolio and e commerce options. Unfortunately I have Go Daddy as host for another 5 years. I have a friend who was going to create my site but now doesnt want to put the time in and is steering me to Zenfolio or Photocrati. Its very time consuming for him to do it. Bummer. Whats better? Zen or Photo? Any other suggestions would be appreciated. I cant shell out much to have a site built. I know its costly.Thanks for your help man.

  40. Avatar for John Hibbs John Hibbs says:

    Hi Chris
    I wanted to ask your thoughts on Clickpic, as a photographer I need a online portfolio and I tried to learn about web design a few years ago but found it to difficult. I decided to use a online website/template that I could design myself with out to much hassle and I came across Clickpic. I have been with them for a few years now and my subscription has recently ended and I am thinking about moving over to as it maybe better than Clickpic in terms of layout,image size, design etc.
    In your opinion what do you think is better of the two?



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  42. Avatar for Charles Charles says:

    I found some of your points informative, but not concrete. I know of a few photographers who have massive blog followings, amazingly productive businesses and produce amazingly high-quality work and they break some of your “rules”. At the end of the day people have different ways of doing things, which can still produce the same outcome as yours.

  43. Avatar for amanda baker amanda baker says:

    Hi Again Chris!

    So I was afraid to list my incomplete website above before, as the template I used (BluDomain) really looks like A#@ on mobile devices. I was wondering…. do you have some advice in reagards to vs something like I already use a pretty robust host (ICDSoft) and am really torn between between the two listed above. I just a user friendly, no music, no BS to the point Blog-site. I am over posting to a blog, then a website, then facebook….

    Oh, did you see Jasmine Stars apology recently? Guess she isn’t all that and a bag of chips. Thanks for the guidance… all the best!

    • Avatar for Chris Sorbi (Admin) Chris Sorbi (Admin) says:

      Hi Amanda,

      Prophoto themes run on WordPress, they just make cookie cutter themes for photographers. It’s just that they charge you for a theme, if you like what they have to offer, give them a try, but remember that 1000 others might have the same exact theme as yours.



  44. Avatar for Karen Walters Karen Walters says:

    Excellent post !! Such mistakes can be a great loss for a photographer because photography website works like a business card and helps them to attract new clients. They have to showcase their photographs in an eye catching style and impress their potential clients.

  45. Avatar for Marshall Marshall says:

    This article is awesome! All of your tips are spot-on. Thanks for taking the time to write a great piece.

  46. Avatar for Sunny Sunny says:

    Hi! Thank you for the great tips. Yet, there is one thing that i don’t understand. If it is all about content, content, content, then why does one have to have a custom built site. Would not good content sell on a even a generic template? Confused and am wondering if you are simply a more even keeled Jasmine simply pushing better services.

    • Avatar for Chris Sorbi (Admin) Chris Sorbi (Admin) says:

      Hi Sunny,

      What I meant was that if the work is hideous, a million dollar website won’t make a difference. Assuming that the work is half decent, a custom built and optimized website is a necessity for those who take their business seriously. It all comes down to the individuals at the end. Some people are quite content living in a single wide trailer, and some appreciate a well designed and built house. These same people do their business the same way. Some pay attention to their shops, and some just want to have an illusion of a shop. If you’re happy with your single wide, good for you. I’m not selling anything here either. Nowhere did I say call me to make a website for you, and it’s not fair just to assume that, just because my profession happens to be in line with the subject of the article. I wrote this article because this is what I do every day, and I figured it would help a few.

  47. Avatar for amanda amanda says:

    I love your to the point stance! Thanks.

  48. Avatar for Xandré Xandré says:

    Hi Chris! Thank you for a great article!! (& extremely funny!!) I have been blogging for a few years now (wordpress) & love it! My true passion is travel! For a long time I have been seeing a lot of “photographers” & thinking that I can do way better! I have been thinking into making photography a more ‘beneficial’ part of my life (I still need practise in photographing people though!!) But so much the whos who – here is my question! I am a total noob when it comes to websites etc!! I am reading up on where to begin and what to do & know (I want to do things right when I start!). I love the wordpress templates & was wondering what the difference is when you start on wordpress or when you download the template form (I have no idea why you would download it to begin with? How does that even work? Why?) Kind Regards! 🙂

    • Avatar for Chris Sorbi (Admin) Chris Sorbi (Admin) says:

      Hi Xandré,

      I absolutely love your work. If you’re not doing it professionally, you’re missing out. Almost every one of your landscape pictures are postcard quality and you should definitely go PRO. It’s very refreshing to see amazing work. Now to answer your question, the WordPress free blogging service is just for blogging (i.e mommy blogs) and the WordPress software (the one that has to be installed on a host) is a professional version. (free) account will limit you considerably but the (self hosted) will allow you to do as you wish. If you like, you can call me any time (My number is on my contact page) and I can explain it better or answer any questions you may have.



      • Avatar for Xandré Xandré says:

        Hi Chris!!! Wow, thank you so much for the compliment!! I am beyond flattered!!! I would LOVE to go pro, but have no clue where to start!! (I am a structural engineer by day!) Thank you for the explanation! I have experienced quite a few limitations, & now know why!! Thank you for taking the time to comment! I will definitely contact you in the future with questions and/or advice!! I have bookmarked your site & will be returning regularly!! Keep well!! 🙂

  49. Avatar for Staci Staci says:

    Hey, Chris. I am a woman and newborn photographer, and I was not at all offended. I actually like your writing style, appreciate your candor and in fact, will admit that I was guilty of some of the things you point out. But four years into my business, I’m much wiser and a better photographer. Yet the customizations I paid for with my CMD site made it so difficult for me to update my site, that the site doesn’t reflect how I’ve grown. I’ve pretty much abandoned updating it. Hence the reason why I’m redoing my web site. I need a site that gives me more control. Great article, and +1 for InMotion Hosting. I’ve been hosting my site and blog with them for years and they’ve been great.

    • Avatar for Janice Sheppard Janice Sheppard says:

      from someone who hasn’t started a website yet, thank you for this.

    • Avatar for Chris Sorbi (Admin) Chris Sorbi (Admin) says:

      Hi Staci,

      I’m glad to see a non-offended reader once a in a while 🙂 The problem with custom CMS websites are that some designers and developers try to make it even more difficult for the client to update or change their sites with hope of making more money. I completely disagree with this practice and I know exactly how you feel. However, you should keep your software updated for security reasons, even if you hate your website. If you need any help, go to my contact page and either shoot me an email or call me and i’ll point you to the right direction.

  50. Avatar for Diyaksha Diyaksha says:

    Hey, thanks for the great tips and great read. very enjoyable and so true. Love your honesty. Im trying to get ideas for my website which is being designed. I have no idea where to start but im much more informed now.

  51. Avatar for Mike Mike says:

    Hi Chris

    Came across this site while doing a bit of a search for a friend who is looking to start a photography business and set up a site.

    Just wanted to say … WOW … cracking article and love your sense of humour. Baffled how anyone could get offended by the content.

    Absolutely love your no nonsense, plain and direct “tell it as it is” approach and everything I read makes a lot of sense.

    Have sent my friend the link to this page hoping she can get something from this.

    I’m just an amateur enjoying my photography so weebly works for my sharing with friends and relatives ….and not an ugly baby in sight.

    thanks again for your words of wisdom 🙂

    all the best


    • Avatar for Chris Sorbi (Admin) Chris Sorbi (Admin) says:

      Thanks Mike, nice to hear someone actually liked it 🙂 Have your friend come over and if she has any questions i’ll be glad to help.



  52. Avatar for eric hayne eric hayne says:

    I’m building my first site (apreseat the advice above) where do you recommend going for help when one runs into a problem

  53. Avatar for Meghan Meghan says:

    Some nice tips, but I could have done without the casual misogyny. I agree with you about the trends in some sites being ridiculous but there’s ways to say it without being out of line. Calling a bad site bad isn’t sexist, but assuming that only female photographers are capable of it, attributing a woman’s success that you don’t agree with to the shape of their ass is. Obviously you’re doing okay for yourself so I doubt you’ll give a damn what this woman (who doesn’t have the trendy site you so loathe by the way) thinks, but, since as you’ve been so fond of saying in the comments, you like to call it how you see it, I thought I’d do the same.

    • Avatar for Chris Sorbi (Admin) Chris Sorbi (Admin) says:

      Hi Meghan,

      I have no problem, you can say whatever you like here, and I don’t sensor anything. I don’t assume that only female photographers are capable of having bad websites; there are a millions of horrendous websites who men and men only are responsible for. My audience here is 95% female hence the example and the tone directed towards the female photographers. Saying that, women are more likely to go “super-cute” than guys.

      As always take what’s useful to you and leave the rest. I wrote this article to shine a better light on this topic as a developer stand point with hope of helping others. If someone finds it rude, so be it.

      Thanks again for stopping by and don’t be shy to write more. If you have any tips for others, share the goodness.



  54. Avatar for Elyse Elyse says:

    I looked up Jasmine Star for the hell of it after reading this. Her site literally made me nauseous. The little video intro was super lame. I felt like I was watching an infomercial. And I HATE the whole photo reel thing. The photos moved too fast and it made me dizzy. Granted I am super tired after staying up ALL night with my daughter but still… Anyway, I’m glad I came across this. My husband is currently learning code and website building and wants to help me design my site. I will be favorite-ing this page to share with my husband later.

  55. Avatar for Natalie Natalie says:

    Wow, pretty harsh. I seem to be doing okay despite my “garbage” website! Truly rude. Couldn’t you exclude picking on one site and still scream all your opinions?!

    • Avatar for Chris Sorbi (Admin) Chris Sorbi (Admin) says:

      Hi Natalie,

      I’m sorry that you feel that way, but sugar coating the obvious would have been more insulting. I called it what it is, a very badly done website. We are all adults and no one is passing on trophies for the kids who came last, so my best advice is to swallow your pride and actually redo your site. I did criticize your website but don’t take it personally, I wasn’t talking about your photography, and I’m happy for you that you are doing OK. Give it your best and you’ll be doing way more than OK.

      All the best,


      • Avatar for Really? Really? says:

        I had to come back for this one. In defense of Natalie, this has nothing to do wih sugar coating. I find using that term to be cop out excuse for blatant rudeness. In the real world mature people know how to speak appropriately with regard to others, no matter what the forum or situation. How can she not take it personally? Really guy? Because you wouldn’t have taken personally correct? Just because you can trash someone on a public forum doesn’t mean you should. Believe it or not there are some really nice grown-up ways of getting your point across without being mean spirited. Your response to her could have been great. Ugh.

  56. Avatar for Emma Emma says:

    I know who Jasmine Star is, but I’ve never heard of you??

    …and does White Dress Photography know you are trashing their website??

    Kinda rude don’t you think…?

    I didn’t get anything from your article, and I find WordPress templates look really ‘cheap’ and generic.

    • Avatar for Chris Sorbi (Admin) Chris Sorbi (Admin) says:

      Hi Emma,

      This article wasn’t about WordPress for you to find it cheap looking or not. Furthermore, I don’t need to ask permission to say something is bad or not. Thanks for reading it anyway.

  57. Avatar for Amelia Amelia says:

    Hi Chris, I have been doing photography for 3 years as a business now. but I have been taking photos from the time I was 7. And I have been thinking about opening a photography website for about a year now but I don’t know what to do. I have a facebook page for my photography, I’m only 16, so I know I have a lot to learn about photography and making websites that s why I’m asking before I do anything I can’t undo. My photo teacher told me to make a tumblr and something I can’t think of. What do I need to do or make, in the next two years to make a photography business make it?

    Thank you

    • Avatar for Chris Sorbi (Admin) Chris Sorbi (Admin) says:

      Hi Amelia,

      I don’t recommend you spending a few thousand dollars at this point on a website. Keep on taking pictures and classes and improve your skills first. If you still love it after a couple of years, then go for the website. The matter of fact is that you can’t make any money from your pictures until you’re a little older (I’m sure you hate hearing that). For now, stick with Facebook, tumbler and other social services. Don’t give up though, keep on shooting, that’s the only way you can improve and make it at the end.

  58. Avatar for lori lori says:

    Hi my name is Lori. i’m currently building a photography website and i must say this article is AWESOME! thank you so much for your bluntess and for stepping on my toes here and there! It’s nice to see someone elses point of view 😉

  59. Avatar for Eric Killingsworth Eric Killingsworth says:

    Hey Chris!

    Great article! I know you gave an example of a garbage website for photography, but do you have any examples of non-garbage photography website?


  60. Avatar for Donna Donna says:

    Hi, my name is Donna. 20+ years as a professional photographer, striking out on my own. I am researching website hosting, design, domain registration, etc. A lot to learn. I’ve read that it is better to separate your hosting site from your website domain. Do you agree? You recommended Inmotion Hosting as a great hosting service. So what service would you recommend for the website? Any information you can send me would be beneficial. A good friend of mine is an applications programmer and she said she would be happy to help me as she has been wanting to build a website. I’ll take any advice and info at this point. Thank you for your help.

  61. Avatar for mary mary says:

    hi my name is mary really interested in becoming a photographer but i dont know how to do it
    please call me at 215-478-7452 i would love some tips thx mary

  62. Avatar for Product Photographer Brighton Product Photographer Brighton says:

    For me, great photography and proper website optimization must work hand in hand. Of course, you have to attract visitors through the primary photos.Without the appealing picture galleries, a website is lifeless. On the other hand, I commend that contents are probably the best sources to gain more popularity.

  63. Avatar for Achim Drescher Achim Drescher says:

    Great piece of advice. I agree with you to an extend. I moved away from the custom build website because of cost and the time it takes me to work on the website.

    I generate the website from Photoshop Lightroom. Not the ideal setup, but cost effective and quick.

    A great way to optimise your photos for the web is the Photoshop feature Save for Web. It creates good looking images and reduces the footprint. Also another big thing for SEO is not use generic Picture names such DSC_1234. Rename it to support your search engine keywords and always use heaps of text / keywords in the ALT text.

  64. Avatar for Mike Mike says:

    I do real estate photography. I’ve been working with someone that has been established in this field for years. He has a website, but I’m looking to create my own, to provide a different set of products. I have a Zenfolio account, and it has some functions, that are very useful to me, such as password protection of images for proofing, before purchasing, and an easy to manage file organization structure. However, it does not seem to have an ideal storefront type or representation, that a standard website has. Should I consider Zenfolio a substitute for a website, or complimentary to one?

  65. Avatar for Elisa Elisa says:

    Hey Chris!

    Would just like to first off say how bloody awesome your article was! A great laugh and a breath of fresh air!

    I Live to travel the world and take photos but have gotten side tracked with different work opportunities and a shit load of excuses! I Really appreciate your advice and have a few questions. I have looked into both namesilo and inmotion and very excited about using their services. I used word press for ages and have in the last few years grown to hate it as well as all the other BS photography travel blog set ups that are all much too flashy and all look the same. My question is with InMotion are they able to create a website that can also maintain a blog? Not just a blog but very important also links to all social media sites. Simple but encompassing all networking tools!

    Hopefully this wasnt too much and I appreciate any advice you can give me as this Is my year to get it all finally up and running in a professional manner!

    Thanks Heaps!

    • Avatar for Chris Sorbi (Admin) Chris Sorbi (Admin) says:

      Hi Elisa,

      Inmotion Hosting is a web host, although they have designers that work for them and they do design website, my suggestion is to only use them as your web host. I’m a web developer and designer (hint hint :)), and I can tell you that you’ll find cheaper and better designers elsewhere. Their hosting service is fantastic nevertheless.

      As for WordPress, I’m really surprised that you hate it. If done professionally, WordPress can be practically the best web publishing platform for photography website. My advice is to buy a domain name (if you already don’t have one) from namesilo, (use coupon: NEWNAMESILO) and then signup with Inmotion Hosting as your host. Either hire a developer to make you a great website, or find a cookie cutter template and get on with shooting.

      Here’s a simple but nice photography website I did for a client. (Clare’s Photography). The bulk of the work is in the back end as it’s a full shopping cart integrated website where clients can see and purchase their prints in one go. This is actually a wordpress driven website.

      Hope this helps.

  66. Avatar for Cassandra Cassandra says:

    Fantastic advise! And you are very funny- I enjoyed reading. Thank you(-:

  67. Avatar for Ralph Mrad Ralph Mrad says:

    Thank you!

  68. Avatar for John John says:


    Very useful info thanks.
    I’m an amateur photographer and been using ClikPic to display photos but want to try something different.
    I’ve seen some good reviews for PhotoShelter and was wondering what your opinion on it is? it seems to have good search optimisation and convenient way to print and sell photos (if needed)


  69. Avatar for Sarah Sarah says:

    Hi, thanks for all the awesome information! Do you have an opinion on the one click install of WordPress versus the manual install? I read that the one click install can leave your site more vulnerable to hackers, do you think this is true?

    • Avatar for Chris Sorbi (Admin) Chris Sorbi (Admin) says:

      That’s not true Sarah. There is absolutely no difference between the two. Just make sure that you use a good name for your database and username, a very strong password, and if you see an update available after installation, update the software.

  70. Avatar for Meredith Meredith says:

    Hi, I’m another female looking to get started with a more professional website for my photography business. 🙂 BlueHost was recommended to me as a hosting site and I’m just curious if you have an opinion on it. I’ve looked into InMotion as well and can’t decide between the two. BlueHost has add-ons such as: SiteLock Domain Security – $14.99 per year, and Site Backup Pro – $12.99 per year… Not sure if these are necessary. I was also told to then buy Prophoto… If I don’t do prophoto, you are saying I can create my website just buy purchasing the hosting? Sorry for my ignorance. I’m just concerned that without a ‘templated’ site I would not be knowledgable enough to set up a professional looking website. Thanks for your help!

    • Avatar for Chris Sorbi (Admin) Chris Sorbi (Admin) says:

      Hi Meredith,

      Blue Host is not a good host in my opinion. They are part of EIG hosting group (a giant corporation buying small hosting companies and ruining them) and they have a very shady track record. Their shared servers are extremely slow and customer service is mediocre at best. Don’t let them fool you by add-ons. SiteLock Domain Security for $14.99 per year is a meaningless feature. You can get the same thing for free on your domain anyway. All these hosts will give you free domain name for the first year but don’t do it because they will charge you for it the next year and they will charge you double.

      Here’s what I suggest:

      Go to Namesilo and enter your domain name, create an account and proceed to checkout. Pay for at least 5 years of domain services. Use the coupon (NEWNAMESILO) to get a discount as well. (enable domain privacy, it’s FREE not 14.99)

      Set the custom Nameservers to:

      Then go to Inmotion Hosting and get the Business launch hosting plan for $5.95 a month and register for two years.

      You can still use Prophoto, it has nothing to do with the hosting provider. Prophoto makes WordPress templates and WordPress is a one click install with Inmotion Hosting.

      Hope this helps you out.

  71. Avatar for Jen Jen says:

    Hey Chris,

    Great article! Can you shoot me some info on your services & what it would look like to build a site for me? Thanks!


    • Avatar for Chris Sorbi (Admin) Chris Sorbi (Admin) says:

      Hi Jen, send me your phone number from the contact page or give me a call and i’ll walk you though the process. It all depends on what you need and what you need it for.



  72. Avatar for Serene Lew Serene Lew says:

    Hi Chris,

    Appreciate the great tips! Succinct and helpful

    Like to hear from you given my current situation. Right now I am a hobbyist, and I’m exploring the option of doing freelance jobs. So I will be working on my portfolio in the next couple of months.
    Do you reckon I should get a site while on my first couple of of jobs, or hang in there for a while more?

    On showcasing my portfolio, I’m thinking of these:
    1. Using ProPhoto, Jimdo, Photocrati or WiX
    2. Use a host like the one you suggested

    Am I on the right track? It’s so baffling as I go through the different websites for a photography business

    Thanks in advance!

    • Avatar for Chris Sorbi (Admin) Chris Sorbi (Admin) says:

      Hi Serene,

      Don’t use services like ProPhoto, Jimdo, Photocrati or WiX, you don’t need them. Get yourself an account from Inmotion Hosting and you’ll have everything you need. As for waiting until you get a few jobs, that’s something that you need to decide yourself. You either want to be a photographer or you don’t. If you do, there is no reason to wait. Freelancing without a good website is hard and extremely disappointing. Your clients want to see your sample work and if you can’t show them your work in a professional manner, they’ll just go with the next guy.



      • Avatar for Robert Couldry Robert Couldry says:

        Great article, Chris, thank you as I am just starting out getting my photography onto a web site. For starters I am taking your tip about InMotion. Already the 24/7 support is impressive (I live in Australia)!
        But one thing confused me in one of your replies (to Serene) where you said something like ‘dont use Photocrati, you dont need them, get an account with InMotion and you have everything you need’.
        Isnt a WordPress theme like Photocrati (cost $79) which is running on an InMotion account a viable option? .

        • Avatar for Robert Couldry Robert Couldry says:

          Or are you saying Photocrati is built into the InMotion package LOL

          • Avatar for Chris Sorbi (Admin) Chris Sorbi (Admin) says:

            Hi Robert,

            What I meant was that there are better and cheaper options if you want a pre-designed theme. WordPress has over 1500 free themes and one ought to catch your eye for a starter. Inmotion is just a host.

  73. Avatar for Johnathan Crowly Johnathan Crowly says:

    Chris, you should be a comedian. I laughed so hard reading this post that my wife thought I was going crazy. I agree 100% with what you’ve written and thank you for taking the time to write it. We’ve decided to use Inmotion hosting based on your recommendation and we’ll get in touch with you soon as we have a request.


  74. Avatar for professional photographers mississauga professional photographers mississauga says:

    A great article according to me on make website with any issue . I appreciate with the content written in the article

  75. Avatar for Brian Brian says:

    Do you design and develop sites custom? Im interested to see if you do…

    • Avatar for Chris Sorbi (Admin) Chris Sorbi (Admin) says:

      Hi Brian, Custom work is all I do:) I’m booked with 8 projects at the moment so if you’re not in a hurry, give me a call or send me an email from the contact page.



      P.S. You have a great eye and I love your work.

  76. Avatar for Tina O Tina O'Keeffe says:

    Hi Chris,

    I took your advice and Inmotion Hosting are now in the process of building my site. So far so good, they have been very helpful. A question – I will be selling images via downloads as well as prints, canvases etc but I do not want to do the printing etc myself. Do I need a third party to do this for me and if so can you give a recommendation.



    • Avatar for Chad Cunningham Chad Cunningham says:

      I’d be interested in finding out more about this as well! This is the reason I thought I needed a site like smugmug to handle the printing and shipping. I’m just not sure what companies to the best job with this.

    • Avatar for Chris Sorbi (Admin) Chris Sorbi (Admin) says:

      I sent the information to your email Tina, best of luck to you.:)

      • Avatar for Paul Paul says:

        I need some help, I want to pay to have a website set up and I was going to use smug mug as host. Is smug mug not a good option for that. I also didn’t have photography in the URL name. How important is that.
        Thanks very much in advance.

      • Avatar for Lou Lou says:

        Hi Chris,

        Great article – just what I was looking for as I am about to create a website for my photography and was hoping to get it right from the start – So a big Thank You.

        I am creating a plan on how to go about things and weighing out my options – are you able to tell me too please, what my options are for printing & shipping if I don’t want to do it myself.

        I might contact you for further pointers and help – I hope you won’t mind?


  77. Avatar for Johan Rivera Johan Rivera says:

    Great tips!
    In fact I emailed to inmediately to close my deal with them.

    • Avatar for Chris Sorbi (Admin) Chris Sorbi (Admin) says:

      Godaddy sucks big time. They are more expensive than everyone else, worst customer service, separate database servers, and more advertising and garbage add-ons than a Superbowl half-time.

  78. Avatar for Jason Leavy Jason Leavy says:

    thank you so much for your pointers..They gave me a good idea of some do’s and donts.

    I have used smugmug in the past and am sick of their BS of taking huge portions of my sale profits. and that my web address is

    i would really appreciate some guidance if I could leave my cell and Skype and you could walk me through some things like u offered above? I’m a second year photo student at RIT and am very ambitious…. Theres just so many options for places to start.

    my cell is 609-417-xxxx and my Skype is jason.xxxxx (Jason, I edited your personal information so you don’t get any unwanted spams)

    Feel free to text or call me! Thanks again!


    • Avatar for Chris Sorbi (Admin) Chris Sorbi (Admin) says:

      Hi Jason, I hope the info I sent to your email was useful. Best of luck to you.

      • Avatar for Chad Cunningham Chad Cunningham says:

        Wow, I was just about to try SmugMug as well! Any chance I could latch onto this advice before I make a mistake? Thanks for any help!

      • Avatar for Michelle Lescatre Michelle Lescatre says:

        I am in the beginning process and like Jason I was thinking about SmugMug to sell client pictures…could you send me that same info you sent him?


        • Avatar for Chris Sorbi (Admin) Chris Sorbi (Admin) says:

          Email sent 🙂

          • Avatar for S. Fleming S. Fleming says:

            Great article. Very informative. And pretty funny (shamefully so – but truthful). I’m female and I don’t see the point in arguing with the truth. I’ve thought the same things with a lot of women photographer’s websites that I’ve some across. I can never understand why there is so much on the site. Everywhere. Also, I came across J. Star’s website by accident for the first time recently. I thought what a beautiful website and beautiful photographer, but I couldn’t get a sense of her photography. Your article gave me insight on why her site is the way it is. Photographer’s listen up. I’m just starting out and I’ve heard from clients, would be clients, as well as casual observers how they don’t like those flashy photographer’s websites with too much content (they hate dealing with the site). I’ve been told not to do this and to let my photographs speak for themselves. Period. I couldn’t believe it when I was hearing this about photographer’s websites that I was swooning over (content heavy, but beautiful). It was nice to have this reiterated by the author of this article. Currently I am with Zenfolio (website not done). I would really like to have a website that is not built on templates. I have no idea how to go about any of this. Chris, I would ask that you please send me the same information that you sent to Jason Leavy. Thank you.

  79. Avatar for Shaun Anthony Shaun Anthony says:

    Hey Chris, I’ve been up all night reading because I’m trying to redo the my website. When you mention hosting a website your self, our you referring to storing it on my home system or using a service like Network Solutions. I would like some insight to doing a new site.

    • Avatar for Chris Sorbi (Admin) Chris Sorbi (Admin) says:

      Hi Shaun,

      Self hosting doesn’t mean on your own computer, it means paying a hosting company to do it for you. You could set up your own server but it will cost 20 times more and you’d be spending lot of your time maintaining it and scratching your head. Don’t use Network Solutions, there are better hosts out there such as Inmotion Hosting which I use for all my clients and for my own sites. Give them a try, you’ll be happy with them.



  80. Avatar for MBD MBD says:

    Great article, thank you! Never heard of Ms. Star but you are right, mediocre at best; yet, it provides the necessary inspiration to get me started.
    I do have a couple questions I am hoping you will be able to answer. First, my goal is simply to show my photography (the gamut: old grant work from the 90s – to some recent family Christmas photos). I will not be using the site to sell the work. That having been said, would you still say that something like tumblr is a bad idea? It has great templates, staying power, no code fus, can simply direct my url there… I really don’t care about that un-unique templated, tumblr url impression. Many great bloggers use it (ie. not a teen diary) – why not me (given my above caveats)? Is there something more I am missing? It isn’t great for batch uploads but otherwise it is just the “impression” aspect you are advising against?

    Secondly, what about copyright? Do you put that on each image, or just on the website itself?

    Thank you.

    • Avatar for Chris Sorbi (Admin) Chris Sorbi (Admin) says:

      If you just want to have a web space so you can show off your pictures to your family and friends, by all means, go for it. If you are planning to ever say that you do this professionally and want to attract customers, then you need to have a self hosted website.

  81. Avatar for Yesenia Yesenia says:

    I love how you are honest and straight forward and not suger coated. 🙂 Opened my eyes!

  82. Avatar for Anna Anna says:

    LOLL This was HILARIOUS!! AND GOOD AT THE SAME TIME! Thanks a mili!!

  83. Avatar for Steve D. Steve D. says:

    In your “10 commandments that photographers should follow” #5 states “Don’t use free blogging services like or blogger. These free blogging services are for amateurs.”
    But in a response to Anne-Marie Comte (June 28, 2012 at 2:35p.m.) you wrote “If you are using WordPress, your life is a lot easier.”
    This seems contradictory. Are you for or against WordPress?

    Steve D.

    • Avatar for Chris Sorbi (Admin) Chris Sorbi (Admin) says:

      Hi Steve,

      WordPress has two different versions. One is a downloadable software which you can host yourself and the other is a free blogging platform they offer. Your adress would look like (for having a custom domain name they offer it for a fee but you still don’t have access to the code). On the hosted version, you ave complete control over everything which is what I suggested to Anne.

      The WordPress software itself is an opensource software and it is a great publishing platform. However you should host it yourself so you can have your own domain name and complete control over your website. To download the opensource version, you need to go

      Hope this helps.

  84. Avatar for Jamal Jamal says:

    Do you mind if I quote a few of your posts as long as I provide credit
    and sources back to your site? My blog site is in the very same niche as yours and my users would genuinely benefit from a lot of
    the information you provide here. Please let me know
    if this ok with you. Cheers!

  85. Avatar for sue sue says:

    You are hysterical, thanks for the great advice and the laughs x

  86. Avatar for Peggy Streetman Peggy Streetman says:

    I am wanting to start a photography business so I have been doing a lot of research on things I need to do to get started. I typed into my search engine “How to make a photography website” and that’s how I found you. I laughed so much, read it all again and laughed more. I just wanted to thank you for the awesome tips, but most of all for the hysterical laughter.

  87. Avatar for Megan Cates Megan Cates says:

    So, without being to harsh, I was wondering if you would consider taking the time to go to my website, see what I have and tell me which direction to go. I can’t afford to have someone create a whole new site for me and I use smugmug for my galleries just because it’s quick and easy to upload. I just don’t really like them much. Any tips on who I can use for the gallery part of my business would be great. I order my prints through Mpixpro, but my clients can’t order online and it becomes a hassle if they live out of town. I love photography and just do it part time and my work is getting really good. I just have not had a chance to upload my most recent stuff. Thank you! I understand if you are too busy to look at it.

  88. Avatar for Paul O Paul O'Rourke says:

    Great article thanks. I am in the process of getting a web site setup and will be using a lot of what you have highlighted. Really great to see people put information list this up for free. Thanks again.

  89. Avatar for Crystal Crystal says:

    What is your thought on selling digital downloads from your website and/or clients viewing proofs online. My photography business is dance photography and I want to take it to a digital level. The cookie cutter sites want to charge an arm and a leg to allow my customers this ability.

  90. Avatar for Yaro Yaro says:

    “photoshoot for their ugly baby” I work with newborns and that was hilarious, great advice. I guess Milly has a 30 sec intro.

  91. Avatar for Emily Emily says:

    I could not agree more, Milly. I thought it was informative if you could get past how arrogant & ignorant it is.

  92. Avatar for Milly Milly says:

    I came on here looking for some tips about starting my photography website. Whoever wrote this piece needs a lesson in manners, or a good slap. It’s ignorant, insulting and intolerable. Tips for women photographers? Here’s a tip for you, take your own advice and jump off a bridge yourself.

  93. Avatar for Irina Irina says:

    Hi, I am also stuck, I am trying to build a website and I can’t figure it out. I’m glad I landed on this page today after googling for the past week through difference website templates and searches of how to do this the best way. Can’t you help me out, I am looking for everything you have pointed out here and don’t know where to start.

    Thank you so much,

  94. Avatar for Andrea Andrea says:

    Hi there…so I am taking your advice and heading over to InMotion but I have NEVER started my own website before? Could by chance lead me into the right direction? I am a photographer, yes female 😉 and not sure where to start!

    Thank you so much for your time!!

    • Avatar for Chris Sorbi (Admin) Chris Sorbi (Admin) says:

      Hi Andrea,

      Send me your phone number or Skype username (from the contact page) and I can walk you through it.:)

  95. Avatar for Anne-Marie Comte Anne-Marie Comte says:

    thank you so much. I appreciate your help.!

  96. Avatar for Anne-Marie Comte Anne-Marie Comte says:

    yes, I purchased a photocrati theme by wordpress

    • Avatar for Chris Sorbi (Admin) Chris Sorbi (Admin) says:

      If you are using WordPress, your life is a lot easier. Just export your jpg images using whatever software (Lightroom, Photoshop,…) for web, keeping the quality around 80 or 85 (depends on the picture). Do everything else as you normally do.

      Go to your WP dashboard and install a plugin called “smushit”. This plugin automatically compresses all your images as you upload them. The results are quite good and small in sizes. This is as good as you can get it without getting too technical.

      • Avatar for Dravasp Shroff Dravasp Shroff says:

        Buddy 3 Words For You…

        YOU ARE EPICESTESTT ! Thanks a ton, building a new website and I was lost on Image Loss Less Compression Technique being a design major student.

  97. Avatar for Anne-Marie Comte Anne-Marie Comte says:

    yep, I am pretty ignorant. Would you kindly share the step you take to compress an image with lossless image compressors and still get a great result. I am building a new website and want to show my photos on a bigger scale.
    thank you

  98. Avatar for Chris Sorbi (Admin) Chris Sorbi (Admin) says:

    I’m sorry (but not surprised) to hear that Ed. Look into better options and you’ll be much happier.

  99. Avatar for Ed Cortes Ed Cortes says:

    Thanks !
    I just got one of those special “show it” designs from sitehouse last month, its cost me a kidney and I can’t fix it at the Showit software. Its sucks. I’m feeling robe.
    Photo journalist. Norway.

  100. Avatar for Jason Wilcox Jason Wilcox says:

    Great advice, I’m just starting off, I’m a photography student, and truly have a passion and a unique eye and I want to do things right from the beginning. Thanks again

  101. Avatar for Tom Morgan Tom Morgan says:

    Hi Chris, thanks for the great post. We are redesigning our site (we mostly do wedding photography) and we would like to make it faster. I checked out your speed optimization page and we were shocked by the result of our site. Do you think that a photography website can be fast like your site? (Photos aside of course)

    • Avatar for Chris Sorbi (Admin) Chris Sorbi (Admin) says:

      Hi Tom, of course it can be. It all comes down to optimization of the code and the graphics and ultimately to your own upkeep. I grantee AA rating or your money back. I have replied to your email and i’ll be happy to help you out.

  102. Avatar for Cynthia Rankin Cynthia Rankin says:

    Thank you so much for your wonderful advice. I am an artist, probably slightly dyslexic but nonetheless I see things in a twisted state most of the time. I will take all of your advice and use it to the best of my ability and improve my love, my passion and my ultimate goal… showing others what GOOD photography really is.

    • Avatar for Chris Sorbi (Admin) Chris Sorbi (Admin) says:

      Hi Cynthia, Thanks for the kind words and wish you the bests. I emailed you the contract and other info so please let me know.

  103. Avatar for Laura Laura says:

    Nice tips, thanks for sharing. I also get irritated with Jasmine, her photography work is not all that great, but somehow she is the queen of everything.

    • Avatar for Angela Angela says:

      Hi Chris,

      This was great – I love your writing style. I’m in the process of reworking my (shitty) website so I really appreciate the tips. It’s interesting as I’ve noticed I’ve felt more and more pressure to come up with some fun, snazzy website, to compete with the other ones out there. Realistically I just want a simple site to showcase my work, so it was nice to hear your take on that too. Most of my business at this point has been word of mouth anyways! I do wonder if some of the things you gripe about in here are actually good for certain photographers targeting a specific market? For example cutes-y might work for the mommy market? Thoughts?

      Laura – I hear you 100%. I love checking out other working photographers, especially in my area, and am constantly surprised at how successful some of the crappier ones can be. The thing is they’ve learned to sell themselves – they exude confidence and people eat that up. We can’t really fault them for that though. In fact it’s something I can appreciate about them (albeit quite often being annoyed by it). Jasmine has created a brand of herself and clearly it’s working for her! Her direction isn’t one I’d personally want to take, but she has set herself apart and made herself desirable in the eyes of the client…

      • Avatar for Chris Sorbi (Admin) Chris Sorbi (Admin) says:

        Hi Angela,

        Thanks for the praises and your comment. There is a fine line between cute and pushing it. There is nothing wrong with having a cute website, specially if the photography style is asking for it, but always put the functionality first. As for Jasmine, you are absolutely right. She is one of a kind and it definitely works for her. She is a Donald Trump without the head rag, and seems to have the same followers too:)

        • Avatar for Capt Mike Capt Mike says:

          Guess I’d disagree slightly about Jasmine. In addition to her gimmick, she is an unusually attractive woman. That by itself increases traffic, and encourages people to look longer.

          People are naturally attracted to pretty people; that’s why we usually see pretty people in advertisements. Might not be fair, but it is part of life.
          Very strongly agree about advice to make sites easier to view, and even more so about the fundamental value of photography. Excellent advice
          Capt Mike

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