Build Your Online Photography Portfolio Faster with Zenfolio

Build Your Online Photography Portfolio Faster with Zenfolio

Looking for the best option to build your website or portfolio can be a daunting task with so many options out there. Are you looking for one to share your photos and videos, maybe book your clients directly online, a way to share proofs, sell prints and other products, or is there something else you need on your site? 

When I looked for a platform to host my digital portfolio, I decided to go with Zenfolio, as it met most of my needs and was one of the better-priced options. I could have made my own portfolio website, but I decided I would use one of their templates and all the functionalities. Hey, it saved me the trouble of coding and designing a website.  

Fast-forward to now, and I have rarely made changes to the look of the site. I did change templates a few times but mostly just added the new galleries and client work for proofing. It was past time for a fresh look, and it was a perfect chance to try out their new, updated platform. 

Website Builder

I figured this would be the perfect time to go ahead and separate my model work from my other portrait work, which, honestly, I should have done before, but I didn't want to create more work for myself. With the previous platform, you were locked into selecting from a group of different templates and then a few different layout options for those templates. Now, with their website editor, you have a lot more options. You can select current content blocks and move them around, make several changes (including font choices), or simply delete the block if you do not need it. Instead of trying to fit what you need into a template, you can add and make changes how you see fit. 

Currently, there are 11 different templates to choose from, with more on their way. Even with the current options, you have a massive amount of possibilities by simply customizing and adding new content blocks as needed. You may not have the time to sit and customize the look, so having more options to choose from will help minimize time customizing or get you to a better starting point if one of the current templates doesn't quite fit what you are looking for. 

With so many people accessing their content on their phones and tablets, it makes sense why Zenfolio went with a mobile-first approach with this new platform. You can easily modify your site to show certain sections on their phones, tablets, or computers.

Editing SEO is now easier. All images can be done by page view.

Video

While I am keen on the new design element, that's not all. Like many other photographers, I have dabbled in video work for several years, but I never really pushed that side of the business. There have been some improvements for having videos within Zenfolio. If you like sharing behind-the-scenes videos with your galleries or if you offer video service with your shoot in packages or as an add-on, you can share both in one convenient place. 

  • Supported file types: MP4 and MOV
  • Streaming resolutions of 360p, 480p, 720p, 1080p
  • File size limit: 3 GB
  • Video duration: 20 minutes

Smoother Workflow for Photographers

A few of the reasons why I went with Zenfolio, in the beginning, were the option for proofing galleries and the ability to partner with print labs for quality prints. Anything that makes the process smoother is a plus in my book. And now, it's even better. One of Zenfolio's focuses has been to help automate as much of the platform as possible so I can focus on the photography side of things. Many of us have to wear many hats and perform many different roles and duties. We can now take off some of those with new features like BookMe Scheduling and Invoicing. You can take bookings 24/7 online and collect payments instantly. Offer different packages, session types, options of locations? You can have it all listed, making it easy for your clients to pick, eliminating some of the back and forth. 

Your dashboard also comes with a new look. You did see some of this in the previous version, but the update lets you check out your stats with a glance. If you are not sure what else you need to do with your site, the first widget acts as a guide to completing your website. Compared to the previous version, this one has a cleaner visual display that you can edit as needed.

I still have some work to do on getting my new site up and running, but I do like a lot of the updates. Having a background in web, I do miss the option to edit the HTML code on custom pages if needed, but I don't really see the need to with the multiple content block options and the customizability of the new platform. It's best to have an idea of what you want on your website, think of what pages and info you need, and have it ready. Think of what packages and options you want to have listed and what you would like to automate. Also, if you plan to feature only selected galleries, have those ready. It will save you time, as you won't be hunting for it when you are building, as you can spend a lot of time with the different options available. 

You can compare the different plans to see which fits best for you here, and while you are there, you can sign up for a free trial. 

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6 Comments
Jan Steinman's picture

Darn! Subscription!

I thought this was about the open-source ZenPhoto: https://www.zenphoto.org

Alexander Petrenko's picture

Zenfolio has notoriously slow upload speeds. At least from Europe.

Michael Steinbach's picture

Slow to load on the user side as well here in the US.

Matthew & Krystena Roberts's picture

Hey Alex! We tested out Zenfolio at the beginning of the year as an alternative to switching from the stagnant SmugMug platform. It turned out to be an absolute bust. The LR plugin was janky and didn't work well, their bulk uploader was broken completely, their file and photo management system was utterly useless and clunky, and overall, I'd rate it as a big miss. Their online documentation about what their platform can do is a complete marketing farce, and definitely tricked us into wasting about 4 weeks of our lives trying to get it to work properly with any kind of workflow.

Ultimately, we wound up on PixieSet, which has most of the features ZF is trying to build (slowly and unsuccessfully). The only thing that PS is missing is online booking, but I think that's coming soon. We have had to alter our workflow pretty substantially to move from SM to PS, but we're getting the hang of it.

If I had to offer anyone advice, it would be to stay very far away from the unreliable and poorly built new ZenFolio platform, and consider either SmugMug or PixieSet instead.

Jenn Cain's picture

I recently started using Zenfolio and I'm very pleased with it! I'm still making final edits to my site but it was really easy to build a very professional website with my images. I had one of my clients test it out and they loved how easy it was to see their images and make purchases online. I'm excited to try out their booking and invoicing next. I agree with the writer that Zenfolio makes everything smoother and easier.

Alexander Petrenko's picture

Zenfolio is not that great for SEO, it seems. I couldn’t find your site by googling “Jenn Cain Photographer“. Is it live already?