How to Create a Winning Online Photography Portfolio

Date Posted:23 January 2017 

If you’re creative, having an online portfolio to showcase your work is essential. Not only will it ensure that you have a platform from which to present your work to the world, but it will also assist you in connecting with potential clients and employers, while building your personal brand.

Building a portfolio can be daunting, as many believe it’s a time consuming and complicated process. Thankfully there are many free or low cost online tools that make building your very own portfolio straightforward. There are also some very easy guidelines to consider before you start compiling your work.

Curate what you want to present

Taking your time to really select your best work should first and foremost be a task you dedicate time to. It’s not about showcasing all the work you’ve ever completed, but more about showing the type of work you want to be doing. Behance's Chief Designer, Matias Corea, has viewed thousands of online portfolios. In an interview with Mel Ravenel he stated, “One piece of advice I got from my mentor was to always showcase the type of work you want to be doing in the future.”

Presenting your portfolio items

Once you’ve chosen a few items to add to your portfolio, you need to decide on how you want to present them. Matias said that when presenting work online you must “First, contextualise the project with a short paragraph. Add a title that makes sense and gives a hint of what this project is about. You want this to be quick reading — you need to be able to glance at it and understand what it’s about.” This first image and snippet of information needs to be interesting enough to engage the viewer and make them want to find out more about the project.

Less is more

It’s always important to remember that it’s better to showcase a few incredible projects you are really proud of, rather than building your portfolio with dozens of items that are just ok.

Using high quality images and links (where applicable)

Lee Munroe says that a good portfolio should always have large, high-quality images, which are easily accessible to the viewer. If you have worked on a website or an extensive project for a client, adding a link to the completed work is an informative addition for any future employer. Munroe also added that when describing the project, it’s often useful to list the different skills required to complete it or write a few sentences about the different stages of the project.

Website domain and hosting

While we can discuss some of the best online platforms to use for creating an online portfolio, it’s also important to consider whether or not it may be worthwhile upgrading to a custom URL, which will ensure your site will be far more search engine friendly. The best way to create a searchable domain name is to keep it short and without characters or numbers. It is also a good idea to add in a keyword that is relevant to your work. While the three main options for hosting include subfolders, subdomains and separate domains, the first two are the best for search engine optimisation.

Online platforms

  • Photo Shelter is a popular platform for photographers. It’s user-friendly format allows you to build your own portfolio while controlling the images, fonts and layouts. There’s no coding needed and it’s strongly integrated with social media websites to allow for greater promotion and content sharing.
  • Orosso is another online portfolio building site that allows you to create your own portfolio without the need for coding. It’s relatively quick and easy to use. Architects, artists and designers often use Orosso because it helps create that strong online presence required to attract future clients. They have a 14 day trial so you can test it out for free.
  • FolioHD is a viable self-hosted portfolio platform suitable for models, designers, photographers, architects and artists. There are three main plans you can choose from, basic, power and pro. The basic is free, but it only allows you to upload 36 media files. With the power and pro plans, you’ve got access to privacy options, Google Analytics and up to 2000 media uploads.
  • DeviantART is the biggest online community of artists and art admirers. With more than 28 million members, it’s a starting point for many artists and is an easy way to get your work in front of an audience. DeviantART offers a simple platform where you can set up a portfolio of your work and even build a fanbase for your brand. DeviantART Shop, part of deviantART, also allows you to sell your work online.

Make it count

Creating an online portfolio requires careful consideration. It’s about putting your best work out there for the universe to appreciate. If you take your time curating the work you want to showcase and select the best online platform for your work, you’ll be able to create an outstanding online portfolio that will showcase your work to fans, potential clients or future employers.


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