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The Best Photography Website Builder

In this article I'll explain why I recommend two website builders above all others for photography websites and portfolios.

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Updated Jun 30 2021 Steve Benjamins Steve Benjamins

In this post, we’re going to show you the two best website builders for building high-quality, photography portfolios.

We’ve spent the last few months researching portfolio websites and trying different website builders— so you don’t have to.

Our conclusion: Squarespace and Format are the top-2 best website builders for photographers.

Let’s dive right into more details.

What is a photography website builder?

Photography website builders are user-friendly website building tools professional photographers use to showcase their online portfolio and boost their photography business.

Typically, such builders offer photography templates you can pick from to build a site in minutes. Plus, they include a drag-and-drop, visual editor and all functionalities and customization options a photography portfolio might need.

Best Rated

Squarespace

Best All Around

Try Squarespace

Format

Best For Client Proofing

Try Format
  • Squarespace is the best all-around website builder. It can power photography websites but also many other kinds: blogs, e-commerce, small businesses, and more.

    What To Like

    • Templates — Squarespace has outstanding templates. Many will work perfectly for photography portfolios. They also have excellent template customization. See templates for examples.
    • Tons of Features — Squarespace has more features than Format and features such as blogging and e-commerce are much better. See features for more.
    • Easier Page Creation — Squarespace has a visual editor that lets you preview your page as you create it (Format does not).
    • Excellent Ecommerce — Squarespace has better e-commerce than Format.

    What Not To Like

    • No Client Proofing — Because Squarespace is for all kinds of websites they haven’t built the same backend for client proofing that Format has been moving into. You’ll need to rely on a 3rd party proofing tool.

    Editing a page in Squarespace.

    Templates

    Template: Minetta

    Template: Minetta

    Template: Tepito

    Template: Tepito

    Template: Elliot

    Template: Elliot

    Template: Beaumont

    Template: Beaumont

  • Unlike Squarespace, Format is just for photography websites. That focus means it also an advantage on very specific photography features— such as client proofing.

    What To Like

    • Templates — Format templates are more unique than Squarespace.
    • Client Proofing — Format has tools and workflows around client proofing.
    • Format Prints ⁠— Sell your creation without worrying about inventory or shipping.

    What Not To Like

    • Page creation not always easy — Customizing your Format website isn't as intuitive as Squarespace.
    • Bare Minimum Features — For example, e-commerce is pretty limited.

    Editing a page in Format.

    Templates

    Template: Peak

    Template: Peak

    Template: Flash

    Template: Flash

    Template: Skyline

    Template: Skyline

    Template: Exposure

    Template: Exposure

Features

Photo Galleries

Feature Squarespace Format
Instagram Feed Yes Yes
Disable Right Click Can be done with code injection. Yes
Automatic Watermarkers No ⁠— you can use a plugin like Powr, though. Yes ⁠— Automatically watermarks to client galleries (not website galleries though).
Focal Points Yes ⁠— Images can have a focal point that is cropped around. Useful for square thumbnails. No — You can't set an image focal point.

Client Proofing

Feature Squarespace Format
Client Gallaries No — You’ll need to use a 3rd party (Ex: Pixieset) for client galleries. Yes ⁠— Workflow is Format’s client management system.
Password Protected Pages Yes Yes

Ecommerce

Feature Squarespace Format
Online store Yes Yes
Digital Products Yes Yes
SSL Certificate Yes Yes
Custom Email Notifications Yes — You can customize customer order emails. No — Customers receive a default order email.
Payment Processor Stripe, Paypal, Apple Pay, Square, and Afterpay Paypal ⁠— No direct credit card option
Product variations Unlimited variations 1 variation — For example: size or color but not both.
Taxes Yes — You have to manually add taxes for states and provinces. No — You can’t charge taxes to your customers.
Integrations Aftership, Delighted, Easyship, Printful, inFlow, Orderdesk, Aftership, Printique and more None
Analytics Yes No
Appointment Scheduling Yes No
Customer Accounts Yes No
Sell on Instagram Yes No
Discount Codes Yes Yes

Other

Feature Squarespace Format
Social Media Sharing Yes Yes
Blogging Yes Yes
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Yes Yes
Bandwidth Unlimited Unlimited
Photo Storage Unlimited storage Limited - Starts from 100 GB, so nothing to worry
Upload images from Desktop Desktop, Dropbox, Lightroom, Capture One
Video hosting No Yes
Slideshow Yes Yes
Photography Tutorials No Yes
Customer Support Yes Yes

Pricing

Feature Squarespace Format
Plans (Annual) Personal $12 / month Business $18 / month Basic Commerce $26 / month Advanced Commerce $40 / month Free Workflow Plan ⁠— only 10 client galleries Pro $15 / month Pro Plus $25 / month Premium $40 / month
Custom domain Yes Yes
Domain Name $20 / year $20 / year
Free Domain Name For 1 Year Yes ⁠— on annual plans Yes ⁠— on annual plans
Free Professional Email from Google for 1 Year Yes ⁠— except on Personal plan Yes ⁠— except on Free and Pro plans
Gmail Hosting $72 / year / email $72 / year / email

More Photography Website Builders

Squarespace and Format are our recommended photography website builders— but there are definitely other website builders worth checking out for photography:

  • Wix — Squarespace's #1 competitor.
  • Cargo Collective — Maybe the most popular photography site builder.
  • Pixieset — Beautiful client proofing galleries.
  • Pixpa ⁠— Primarily a photography website builder, but expanding in other categories.
  • Carrd — For one page websites. Significantly cheaper.
  • SmugMug — One of the more popular photography website builders.
  • Zenfolio ⁠— Decent templates yet comparatively expensive plans to show, share & sell your photography

Frequently Asked Questions

What's the best free photography website builder?

Squarespace and Format do not have free plans. I'd recommend trying Ucraft if you want a free photography website. Otherwise see my Free Website Builders roundup for an overview of the best and worst free website builders.

What about Wordpress?

Wordpress is great— but I stopped using Wordpress a few years ago and I have not looked back. Website builders like Squarespace and Format take care of everything: including hosting, domains and performance. That give's you peace of mind. Wordpress let's you configure everything but it can often mean you spend time messing with domains, updating Wordpress and dealing with incompatibilities— whereas website builders *just work*.

Should I make a photography website if I already have Instagram?

Definitely! Instagram is a fine place to build an audience but don't rely solely on it. Instagram controls the relationship to your audience: they decide whether you can post links and they decide where you show up in your followers timelines. Your photography needs a home on the internet where you are in control. That's critical for the long-term health of a business.