Gadget Bag: Get Your Images Online

Instead of paying to have a website custom-made from scratch, try one of these powerful, easy-to-use options designed for photographers like you

This Article Features Photo Zoom


Taking time and exploring nature with a camera is half of the enjoyment of outdoor photography. The other half is sharing the images with friends, family and coworkers and seeing the looks on their faces when you show them one of the real portfolio pieces that you brought back. Sending images over e-mail can be a pain for senders and recipients alike, and most photo-sharing sites lack the design and organization that do justice to your images. When you want to display your images online, a web service that specializes in making customizable sites for photographers is the best way to go.

Getting your images into a gallery show can be a daunting task, but making your images available in an online gallery allows you to present your photography to a potentially huge audience without the need for a sales pitch. It’s even possible that sharing your images in an online gallery could provide you with an additional revenue stream through the sale of prints or even the occasional stock image.

Making a photography website that could properly show off your images used to mean hiring a web designer and spending a lot of money to do it from scratch. After the site was built, you would be at the mercy of your designer to make any adjustments, add images or create a new gallery. Things are much different today. Online tools have improved to the point that you can produce a highly polished and professional photo website with a minimal investment of time and money. What’s more, many of the available online tools provide e-commerce capability, so you can make your images available for sale if that’s of interest to you.

We want to acquaint you with some of the companies who offer complete website packages for a photographer. What’s similar about all of these options is that they make it easy to create online galleries, are relatively inexpensive and offer an adequate amount of flexibility to keep most photographers happy. There are underlying differences with each company, so it’s worth digging a little deeper to find the solution that represents the best fit for you. Most of these options allow a free trial period so you can get a better sense of which will work best for you before making a commitment.

This Article Features Photo Zoom


PageScene ( from SimplePhoto allows you to quickly set up a website with unlimited galleries, slideshows and pages of your photos. The design of the web template is customizable, and you can add music and links to blogs, forums and other websites. The service includes free search engine optimization and access to SimplePhoto’s consulting support team. The annual fee is $299, which includes hosting and a free trial of SimplePhoto’s e-commerce software, which provides a simple solution for photographers to sell images directly to customers.


Some of the world’s top photographers are putting liveBooks ( to use, and with good reason. First and foremost, liveBooks provides you with the ability to create a stunning display for your photographic images with an elegant user experience. When you visit a site created with liveBooks, you’ll probably have a difficult time believing it was created with online tools. At only $39 per month, liveBooks offers a very affordable way to create an attractive photography website. liveBooks also has partnered with Pictage to enable the sale of prints directly through your site. You can try liveBooks free for 14 days to see what’s possible.

Think of it as an online tool for creating your own boutique stock agency. PhotoShelter ( offers tools for organizing your photos, creating and customizing a website to share those photos, tools for promoting your site and integrated options for selling prints or digital downloads. You pay a 10% commission on sales to PhotoShelter (deducted automatically at the time of sale), in addition to your monthly fee, which ranges from $9.99 to $49.99. You can sign up for only $1 for the first 14 days to test any of the plans, or try the feature-limited Starter plan for free.


SmugMug ( has long been a popular solution for many amateur and professional photographers to share their images online with a wide audience. Over time, SmugMug has continually added to the range of features available through the site, to the point that you can use SmugMug to create a completely customized online gallery with the ability to share and sell your photos. Recognizing that in many cases you need to share images only with the client, SmugMug also includes the ability to apply privacy settings to individual photos or galleries, or to the entire site. The combination of features makes SmugMug a great solution for photographers who need to promote their images to a large audience, as well as selectively share images only with specific clients. Prices range from $39.95 to $149.95 for an entire year.

This Article Features Photo Zoom


When you review the features and plans available from Zenfolio (, you may very well assume the pricing they show is per month, not per year. The truth is, Zenfolio offers a lot for the money. With prices ranging from $25 to $100 for an entire year, and with generous (and even unlimited) storage space, you won’t need to think about how many images you’ve uploaded. Also included are excellent organizational tools, beautiful gallery templates, strong security and protection features, and the ability to sell your images directly through the site. Through a partnership with online print lab Mpix (, you also can streamline the process of fulfilling orders for prints and other photo merchandise.


Perhaps one of the most surprising aspects of clickbooq (, besides their choice of spelling for the company and website, is the fact that a contact phone number is easy to find on their website, I was able to get through to a real live person within moments of dialing, and they offer 24/7 customer support. The real emphasis of clickbooq is onsite design, and they have some attractive options.

Pricing options primarily revolve around the payment structure (for example, paying monthly versus yearly) with the same set of features available for all customers. Designed primarily as a solution for making portfolios available to clients, some photographers might find the image storage limitations a bit, well, limiting. You can store up to 2,000 images, but only five to 10 portfolios of 72 images each can be shared with customers at any given time. As such, clickbooq is truly a photo portfolio solution. The excellent design options will appeal to many photographers, but it’s important to understand the limitations before signing up.

When Tim Grey started using the Internet, there was an instruction manual included. Seriously. Learn how Tim can help you optimize your images to perfection for sharing online (or anywhere else) at


    So, you’re encouraging people to forgo hiring a web designer in favor of a generic online photo gallery?

    Come on, guys.

    While we’re at it, why hire professional photographer to shoot your wedding when you can just have your brother Frank (who has a digital camera!) do it for free?

    I would never suggest this to anyone thinking about hiring a photographer, and I would have hoped you guys would extend the same courtesy to freelance web designers.

    Abell Smith,
    web designer

    Not for nothing Abell, but I’m not a social worker, and I’m not interested in supporting a freelance web designer out of principle. If my “brother Frank” is pretty damn good at photography, then yes… he will definitely be shooting my wedding over a professional that could cost four times as much.

    The same goes for photography websites… if an online service can provide me most of what I would get out of a custom web designer, then you better believe I’ll opt for shelling out a couple thousand fewer dollars to get my photographs online and saleable. I invested in a Zenfolio Premium account last week and I’ve been very happy with its features… at only $100 per year, it was a no-brainer. You can even link Zenfolio accounts up to an existing domain name that may own, so you don’t have to use the [username] style web address.

    In the world of web design the truth holds true, you get what you pay for. If a $100 dollar website for the rest of the world to see is what you want then that is what you will get. Just like all the other $100 dollar sites.
    And for brother Frank with the camera, go for it Frank, it’s just a wedding.

    I highly recommend Smugmug! I’ve been with them for 7 years now…their customer service is out of this world – incredible!!! Their pro-sites are totally customizable and you can protect your images with watermarks and righ-click protection! And if you need any help customizing your site, there is a great photography forum called Digital Grin where Smugmug users can guide you through the process!

    If you decide to open up a Smugmug account, you can save 5 bucks with this code: kvY8zzgccaUH6

    Justin makes a great point. While a professional photographer might be what’s in order for, let’s say, a wedding, you’re not going to hire them to take pics for you throughout the year. The same could be said of a professional looking site. While there may be times a professional designer is in order (you’re a professional who makes a good living and wishes to host an online portfolio for your clientele), most of us are aspiring to that level and don’t wish to pay the price tag that goes along with it unless we’re getting the paycheck as well. And, Abell, the idea of a hiring a freelance over an image hosting service that may have something better to offer is ludicrous. If the freelance wants my business, he’s going to be competitive and offer something better than what these gadgets have to offer. Then, and only then, I may consider hiring them. But I sure as hell am not, as Justin puts it, a social worker who is on this earth for their financial benefit.

    I have business websites that run on pre-designed platforms, but are fairly customizable in that I can add custom content. I hired a web designer to guide me through the process of creating custom pages and headers, and also for guidance in social networking for additional exposure.

    The agreement is piecemeal; I do what I can and the web designer does the rest. This has worked very well and is cost effective. I have invested well under $1,000 for his time; The alternative was a build from scratch site and the cheapest quote for that was $2,500.

    Seems to me a smart web designer would offer services for both building websites from scratch as well as setting up the clients websites on pre-designed platforms.

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