What is Royalty-Free Editorial Stock Photography and Can You Earn Money From It?

The post What is Royalty-Free Editorial Stock Photography and Can You Earn Money From It? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.

Photographs of just about anything can be sold as royalty-free editorial stock photography. How they are licensed is defined as either editorial or commercial. An image sold with an editorial license can only be used in news or general interest publications like;

  • Blogs
  • Textbooks
  • Magazines
  • Newspapers
Royalty Free Editorial Stock Photography - What is it? Poi Sang Long Festival in Thailand

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

An editorial stock photo cannot be used to directly promote anything for profit.

Photos sold by a stock agency with an editorial license are more limited in how they can be published. Commercially licensed photos can be more broadly used, but there are more restrictions on what they contain.

What’s the difference between editorial and commercial stock photo licensing?

Editorial stock photos do not require model or property releases.

You can submit photos of individuals or whole crowds for editorial licensing and no model release would be requested. If you submit any photos of people for commercial use, signed model releases are required. Whenever a person can identify themselves in a photo, a release is required if the photo is to be sold with a commercial license.

Royalty Free Editorial Stock Photography - What is it? Crowds During Song Khran Festival in Chiang Mai

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Commercial licensing prohibits the inclusion of any copyrighted elements in your photos. Any branding or products must be removed from the photos. This also goes for people and private property. These things must be accompanied by an appropriate release form. If they’re not stock agencies will not accept the images into their collections.

Editorial licensing allows visible branding, products, people and property. However, no manipulation of the content is permitted.

Royalty Free Editorial Stock Photography - What is it? Market Tattoos

I would not be able to submit this for sale under an editorial license because I have removed a logo from the man’s shirt. © Kevin Landwer-Johan

If you have a photo of something containing a logo or company name, you can remove it and still license the photo with a commercial license. When uploading editorial photos, you will be asked to state that you have not manipulated the photo in any way. Editorial stock photos must depict things as they really were when you took the photo.

Most stock agencies have disclaimers attached to editorial licensing of photos. The buyer is in control of how the photos will be used and must be made aware of the restrictions and their responsibilities. Stock photo agencies make it clear they are not liable for how the purchaser uses editorial photos.

Are there restrictions on the types of photos you can upload?

Most royalty-free stock agencies don’t have many restrictions. So long as you are uploading photos within the bounds of common decency, you won’t have any problems. Check with each stock agency where you wish to submit photos. They will be able to provide you with their company policy on what they want you to upload.

The law in most countries allows you to photograph anything you like from a public space. However, in doing so, you must not infringe on the rights of others or abuse their privacy. Photographing military facilities, power plants and other important infrastructure can sometimes get you into trouble. Check with local laws before you do.

Don’t just upload any old pictures. Make sure to only submit your best images. The market has become so saturated with photos that it’s increasingly difficult to make sales. Make sure your pictures stand out from the crowd.

Royalty Free Editorial Stock Photography - What is it? Woman with a SLR Film Camera

I do have a signed model release for the woman in this photo, but because of the branding on the camera I could only sell it with an editorial license. © Kevin Landwer-Johan

How do you know what photos will sell?

You really don’t.

Predicting how well editorial stock may sell is very difficult.

If you have a good photo of a spectacular event or happening of international significance, it will likely sell well. If you were the only photographer to capture this amazing occurrence, then it will certainly sell better. However, these type of situations are extremely rare.

Carrying your camera with you wherever you go will increase your chances. It will also sharpen your awareness of what a good editorial image can be as you learn to focus your attention. If you leave your camera at home, it won’t happen.

Upload a variety of images and build up a large number of your photos in a stock agency website. Doing this gives you practical experience of what will and will not sell. There are many variable factors involved.

If you can build up a solid base of your own photos, you will be able to analyze which ones sell more consistently. You can then use this information to plan what you will photograph.

Royalty Free Editorial Stock Photography - What is it? Checking Their Messages

Annual events can make good subjects for editorial because the can be used year after year. © Kevin Landwer-Johan

Once you have this information to work with you can decide on a niche or two to concentrate on. Look at which of your editorial stock photos sell the best and which of them you enjoyed making the most. This is what you will be best to focus your efforts on.

Royalty-free stock agencies boast collections of millions of photos. They contain photos already of pretty much every subject you can think of. You need to take better images than the ones they are already selling.

Browse these collections for ideas. See what others have done and come up with a new angle. If you see that there is a number of similar images that sell well, and you can produce photos of the same subject, do so. Don’t just copy. Improve on what’s already been done.

Update images you find that might be out of date. Has your city’s skyline changed recently? There may not be many new photos of it online yet.

Has there been some big news recently that you can illustrate with a stock photo? This will have to be ongoing news, or you’ll need to produce and upload your photos quickly so as not to miss the moment.

Royalty Free Editorial Stock Photography - What is it? Flower Parade Float

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

How many agencies can I upload my editorial stock photos to?

You can choose to upload exclusively to just one agency or to as many as you have time to service.

Signing an exclusive contract to supply just one agency has certain benefits. However, you are restricted to only their customers buying your photos.

Supplying to many agencies takes time. Each stock library has its own requirements and contracts, and you must understand these and follow their terms closely. If you don’t, you may find you’ll have many of your photos rejected for one reason or another.

Royalty Free Editorial Stock Photography - What is it? China Girls at New Year

© Kevin Landwer-Johan


Do your research and understand what’s required before you start uploading photos to sell as editorial stock. You will probably find you have a huge number of images on your hard drive you can upload.

If they’re only stuck on your computer, you’ll never make any money from them. Uploaded to a stock agency, you won’t get rich overnight, but you will earn something over time.

Taking a business-like approach to stock photography is best if you are serious about it. Treating it too casually, not paying attention to what’s working and what’s not, will not bring you success. You’ll need to stick with it and consistently upload to make a really good go of it.

The post What is Royalty-Free Editorial Stock Photography and Can You Earn Money From It? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.

12 Tips for Overcoming Common Wedding Day Setbacks

Weddings are filled with love, laughter, and a lot of pressure. Brides and grooms put a lot of thought into every detail of their day and even the most perfectly planned wedding can encounter problems that can affect you, the photographer. There are no two weddings alike, however, there are common setbacks that can happen at any wedding or event that you may be photographing.

wedding portrait couple on by the ocean

1. Running short on time

The photography timeline is set out so that everyone involved can stick to a schedule. That allows all of the important details and people to be photographed. Unfortunately, running late or short on time because of any reason can be a cause of stress to everyone involved. 

wedding day photography - groom getting ready

If you are caught with less time, the first thing you should do is to assure your client that everything is okay and these setbacks are really common on the wedding day. Make sure that you mention you can make up time later and offer suggestions to the problem.

For example, if the bride has taken a little longer than was originally planned to get ready and now you only have 10 minutes for family photos, suggest to the bride that you can snap a few in that 10-minute window and also after the ceremony.

wedding day photography - 2 bride photos

If you are waiting for someone to arrive for photos, make use of the time and photograph details, other people with the bride and groom, individual photos, or more photojournalistic photos. It’s important to keep taking photos no matter the setback, this will keep the bride and groom calm knowing that you aren’t missing any detail and it can distract from the problem.

Usually, you can make up the time later and get the photos you need either during cocktail hour or during the reception. You can photograph details, portraits, and even get some interesting lighting using flash during the reception.

bridal party - wedding day photography

Photos of the bridal party during the reception because we ran out of time beforehand. You can always try and take photos later in the day if the time runs short.

2. Having too much downtime

It is rare to have downtime when photographing a wedding but it can happen. Having downtime usually occurs during the getting ready phase, waiting for the bridal party, or reception parts of the day. It’s okay to have downtime, however, there is nothing worse than seeing vendors, especially photographers, sitting down and waiting it out during these times.

Sure, it’s perfectly fine to use this time to go to the bathroom or take a snack break. Your break just shouldn’t be more than 10 minutes.

wedding dress hanging up - wedding day photography

Make sure to use the downtime wisely. Prep for the next round of photos, check batteries or set up off-camera lighting. You can also do test shot in the next location where you’ll be photographing.

Even though you’re waiting for the next event to come, never stop photographing any and all of the little details. In short: there is always something to photograph and do while you’re waiting.

3. The bride is full of emotions

I will not use the term “bridezilla” because I don’t believe it’s fair to the bride. Wedding days are high pressured days and brides are usually nervous and full of emotions before walking down the aisle.

It doesn’t matter if the couple is doing a first look or are getting ready in the same room, some brides are more nervous than others.

bride and her girls having fun - wedding day photography

If this is the case, don’t mention anything! Even if the bride is nervous, anxious, or even angry, just redirect the focus on something else like her dress or that she looks beautiful. Reassure her that everything will be okay and tell her to just enjoy the moment now.

As the photographer, it’s your responsibility to help the bride relax and feel very natural as the day unfolds. Always keep a positive attitude and try to transmit that same vibe to the bride and groom. If they feel like you are there for them, it will make all the difference in the photos. If you’re excited about the wedding, then they’ll be excited.

4. Family telling you how to do your job

Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been photographing weddings, you will encounter a family member or friend who wants to tell you how to do your job at least once.

wedding couple in the grass - wedding day photography

When you encounter this type of setback, don’t make any negative or sarcastic remarks. Thank them for the idea they offered and move on. You can also comment that you’ve been photographing weddings for X number of years and are experienced in taking photos. Better yet, just go along with what they are saying and don’t say anything in return.

If they are asking for a particular photo, take the photo. If you already have, kindly let them know that you got the shot earlier in the day. This will keep them at bay knowing that you are taking all of the most meaningful photos.

wedding rings and hands - wedding day photography

At the end of the day, the guests will remember you more than you realize and if you make snarky or sarcastic remarks it may result in a negative view of your professionalism. You are there to photograph your bride’s day and that also means tending to the requests of her guests (they’re well-meaning).

5. When there is no planner or coordinator

If the couple has opted to not have a planner or coordinator, it is up to you to make sure to assist the couple during the wedding day.

Technically it isn’t your responsibility, however, helping with putting on boutonnieres, adjusting centerpieces, and placing the veil will always help you to capture the best photos possible.

girls wedding party - wedding day photography

Work with your couple before the wedding to make a schedule of the most important parts of the day that you’ll be covering. This way, everyone knows what time the family photos are happening, what time the dance starts, and what time you’ll be photographing the dress. Knowing when and where all the events will take place will give your couples peace of mind.

Having a schedule, or itinerary, will also help to move things around. For example, if the bride is late for her bridal party photos, you can take photos of the people who are there so switch to the groom’s family photos.

wedding couple leaving the church - wedding day photography

Photography is service based and as such, you should always strive to give your clients the best service possible. If that means acting as coordinator for the day to capture the best photographs possible, by all means, do it.

You can also have a family member or member of the bridal party to help to coordinate and fix any problems that may come up during the day.

6. Vendor Meals

There is nothing worse than working a wedding and having to eat a vendor meal during dinner. Everyone works differently, yet vendor meals can be a huge setback, especially if it consists of a sandwich and an apple. 

You can prepare for this by taking snacks or even a full meal. Pack an icebox or lunch bag with your favorite snacks and perhaps a little something more just in case you will be having a vendor meal.

wedding day photography - wedding cake

Try asking the couple if they are okay with you taking an empty seat during the reception or getting in line for the buffet at their event. Most guests won’t mind because, by that time, they will have seen how hard you’ve been working all day. Luckily, most couples now invite their vendors to eat dinner or make sure that they’ve had something substantial.

In any case, take your snacks and water because you’ll need them throughout the day, whether you get a vendor meal or real dinner.

7. Little time with bride and groom

Sometimes, wedding day timelines can get a little compressed leaving less time for the most important photos (next to the ceremony). However, you can create stunning photos of the bride and groom all in one spot without having to move them to different locations.

To achieve this, download 10 of your favorite poses for couples onto your phone and photograph each one from different angles. Take individual photos of the bride and groom, including details of their wardrobe.

6 wedding couple poses - wedding day photography

Without moving the couple very much, you can get many different poses and photos in a short amount of time.

When you take advantage of posing in one spot, you can get lots of different photos from different angles in less time. Subtle changes to posing like facing the bride toward the groom and then facing the bride away from the groom can offer more variety.

Using one location can maximize the time you have for photos because moving from one location to another can often waste time. This way you can focus on them and getting great expressions.

wedding couple - wedding day photography

For example, pose the couple in front of a plain wall, facing each other, hands around the bouquet. Take one photo of them in this pose full length. Take another mid-shot asking the groom to kiss the bride on the cheek while the bride smiles and looks down at her bouquet; that’s two photos.

In this same pose, get close and take a photo of the kiss. Next, go behind the couple and photograph mid-shot. Still in the same pose, get a close-up of the groom’s hand around the bride’s waist from behind the couple; the makes five photos without moving the couple.

After you have worked through one pose, choose another and work through it until you have all possible photos. This technique will ensure you get the most photos out of each pose in little time, without moving the couple.

8. Rain

Depending on where you live, what time of the year you’re photographing, and weather conditions, it could be that you get hit with rain on the day of the event. If this does happen, maintain a positive outlook and always try to help find solutions to work around the rain.

wedding day photography - b/w bride

When rain strikes, switch to an indoor location or a location with covered walkways.

Change locations for photos. If you were going to do the family photos outside of the church, try moving the family inside the church or better yet, to the reception location. Look for options where you have awnings, covered walkways/breezeways, and inside a home or venue. 

two wedding photos - wedding day photography

Sometimes, the weather clears and you’re able to go outside for the remaining portraits.

You can also take advantage and get creative with the wedding photos. Ask the couple if they are willing to pose in the rain under an umbrella. You might be surprised how many are willing to get something a little different!

9. Drunken guests

It’s not uncommon for wedding guests to want to start the party early. Work with the coordinator or the bride and assign a family member to take care of the drunken guest. If they are part of the family, try and keep them away until it’s time for them to be in photos.

shot of alcohol - wedding day photography

Try as best as you can to be nice and not comment on their state of being. Drawing attention to their behavior can upset the couple more and ruin the time you have for photos. Be really direct in posing and communication and always stay positive.

10.  Clashing with the wedding coordinator/planner

Although it is rare when vendors don’t see eye-to-eye during an event, it is really important to stay close to the couple. If you need something particular make sure to run it by the couple first. They have the final say on everything that goes on during the day.

couple poses - wedding day photography

Always maintain a high level of professionalism and make sure that you aren’t seen being rude or speaking rudely to the other vendors. If the clash worsens, tell the bride that you and the coordinator/planner have differences and suggest options to help maintain order.

Communication is key and it’s always best to go to the couple if you experience backlash or trouble with another vendor.

11. Other photographers/weddings at the same portrait location

This is probably the most common setback in the wedding industry. Many couples tend to choose the same locations for the portrait session.

If there are other photographers at the location before you arrive, simply introduce yourself and let them know that you’ll also be photographing a wedding. Ask them if they plan on using another location for photos and if they’d be willing to switch it up after a certain amount of time.

wedding Pasadena - wedding day photography

This location in Pasadena, California is really popular for bridal portraits. There were at least 3 other photographers there at this time.

If there are a lot of photographers and events, simply choose a spot at the location that is free of people. Staying clear of other photographers’ background and watching out for people walking into your frame will keep the portraits clean.

12. Guests taking photos during the ceremony

Keep in mind that the wedding guests are an important detail in the couple’s day. Each was given an invitation to share and be a part of the wedding.

Having said that, some guests will take it upon themselves to take photos of the most important parts of the day, namely, the ceremony.

lady taking a photo at a wedding ceremony - wedding day photography

When this does happen, gently tap the guest on the shoulder, with a smile and motion to them that you need the spot in order to take a great photo of the couple. Most guests will move out of the way and not be bothered by this gesture.

This also asserts that you are the main photographer while staying positive and professional with guests. This non-verbal gesture also works with other vendors like videographers.

bride's maid and bride selfie - wedding day photography

It’s also a good idea to let the guests take their photos first and then position yourself to take the profession photos afterward. This way, you’re letting guests take and share their own shots but also letting them know that you need to take these important photos as well.

couple kissing - wedding day photography

The more photos the couple has of their day, be it from your camera or from their guests, the better. They’ll appreciate you for letting guests enjoy themselves by taking their own photographs.

In Conclusion

couple dancing - wedding day photography

Wedding photography is the most important take away from a couple’s wedding. However, it is not free from mishaps during the day of the event.

Each wedding can have one or more setback, it’s up to you the photographer to work around them and find solutions quickly. Maintain a positive attitude and always reassure the client that everything is photographing beautiful.

Have you experienced any of these or other setbacks at a wedding you photographed?

The post 12 Tips for Overcoming Common Wedding Day Setbacks appeared first on Digital Photography School.

4 Tips for Helping People Feel Comfortable During Their Portrait Session

Sooner or later, almost everyone has to sit alone in front of a camera for a grad portrait or professional headshot. It is almost always an uncomfortable experience for portrait clients. But it’s easy to forget this as photographers.

When I great people for their portraits they often confess things like, “I’m terrible with photos,” “I feel sick,” or “I hate my face.”

Perhaps because I’m so empathetic, I’ve developed a knack for making the most nervous and hopeless people shockingly excited about their photos.

In this article, I’ll show you how I do it so that you can make even your most uncomfortable portrait clients happy with their experience.

Black and white head shots - 4 Tips for Helping People Feel Comfortable During Their Portrait Session

I am personally drawn to black and white portraits.

1. Simple Light Setup

Since everyday life already throws you a heavy load of distractions and difficulties, I always encourage photographers to keep their projects as simple (but meaningful) as possible.

No matter how you choose to light your portrait subject, I recommend you do it as simply as possible. The point is to put all your focus on the person you’re photographing, not on equipment.

I either use natural light (a window and a reflector), or a one light setup inspired by Zack Arias.

Window Light

The benefit to natural light is that there are no flashes of light or large umbrellas to make the person feel as though they are at a high-pressure professional photo session. Your subject’s imagination is filled with the photo shoots they’ve seen on TV and you should relieve that pressure for them.

Natural light studio setup - 4 Tips for Helping People Feel Comfortable During Their Portrait Session

This is my natural light setup.

Window light portrait - 4 Tips for Helping People Feel Comfortable During Their Portrait Session

This is a portrait taken with that window light studio setup.

Using natural light and a silent shutter with a mirrorless camera allows the photography part to be as invisible as possible.

One Speedlight

My one light setup includes a speedlight with a 60-inch umbrella and a reflector.

One Light Setup - 4 Tips for Helping People Feel Comfortable During Their Portrait Session

This is my one light setup. It’s one speedlight with a 60-inch umbrella.

One light portrait - 4 Tips for Helping People Feel Comfortable During Their Portrait Session

This photo was taken with that one light setup.

Once set up, you should forget about your gear (the window, speedlight, and the camera) and focus 100% on your subject.

2. How to Focus

This isn’t about your camera, but focusing on your subject in order to make the best portraits possible.

If you are at all self-conscious as a photographer, it is absolutely critical that you do not focus on yourself.

Perhaps you’re nervous because of a lack of confidence, or because you’re worried they’ll hate their photos. Forget all that and just focus on your subject.

Small talk

“A portrait is not made in the camera but on either side of it.” — Edward Steichen

Female head shot - 4 Tips for Helping People Feel Comfortable During Their Portrait Session

You can use small talk to distract the subject from their own nervousness and self-consciousness in front of the camera. Talk about their business, their kids, or the last trip they went on. Anything that will distract them from being camera shy.

Warm up

Feel free to warm up with some “test shots,” even if you don’t really need them. Have your subject sit in front of the camera for a few shots where you’re doing nothing but “testing the light.”

Direct them a little bit, but nothing too serious. I sometimes transition into the real photos by saying something funny like, “Okay the light is perfect, now let me see a cheesy smile.” It can often lead to some laughter and the first candid photo.

Female headshot, laughing - 4 Tips for Helping People Feel Comfortable During Their Portrait Session

Candid portraits are the most joyful part of a portrait session for me. You don’t have to be a comedian to make people laugh. Just connect over something in your life and laughter will eventually flow.

Male headshot with suit. 4 Tips for Helping People Feel Comfortable During Their Portrait Session

I’ll often try to match the expression with the clothes my subject is wearing. I think a softer expression is more suitable for formal wear. But I’ll try everything at the moment and decide what looks best later.

Candid portraits

“There is one thing the photograph must contain, the humanity of the moment.” — Robert Frank

Yes, even a professional headshot session should include some informal candid photos. Candids are real, and even if you’re after a posed photo, candids are the path to discovering who they are when their guard is down.

Female headshot laughing - 4 Tips for Helping People Feel Comfortable During Their Portrait Session

When people can laugh together there begins to be a comfortable connection.

Female headshot - 4 Tips for Helping People Feel Comfortable During Their Portrait Session

We often laugh because of the tension created by a joke. But even real-life discomfort or tension can lead to the eventual release through laughter.

3. Finding Soul

“Look and think before opening the shutter. The heart and mind are the true lens of the camera.” — Yousuf Karsh

I don’t care whether I’m photographing real estate agents, future lawyers, high school grads, or “mompreneurs.” I treat everybody like an executive, valedictorian, or royalty during their portrait session.

We’re all much deeper than our occupation, even though it may be a deep expression of who we are. Fill your sessions with lightheartedness and true human connection. When you look through your photos later, you should be able to see the moment that your subject finally became relaxed.

Once relaxed, you’ll find the “real” person that was trapped below the surface of fake smiles and self-consciousness.

It may take you 10 minutes or more to get there, but it is the point in the session that you can move through your creative vision with your subject. You can show them how to squinch (Peter Hurley’s famous technique with the eyes), strike more advanced poses, or move in for close-ups.

Female headshot - 4 Tips for Helping People Feel Comfortable During Their Portrait Session

Once I know I have made the portrait that the subject needs, I move on and try other things. I love this very soft expression and the way that her hair creates a frame around her. This won’t likely appear on her business card, but I think it’s a wonderful portrait.

4. Completely Candid

“It’s one thing to make a picture of what a person looks like, it’s another thing to make a portrait of who they are.” — Paul Caponigro

Being inspired by photojournalism and the idea of capturing truly raw, candid, spontaneous photos, I decided to try a portrait session with no posing. All there would be was conversation and pictures.

Here are some of the results, which I love.

Close up female headshot - 4 Tips for Helping People Feel Comfortable During Their Portrait Session

This photo is all about the eyes, and whatever is going through her mind makes me want to laugh!

Female soft light headshot - 4 Tips for Helping People Feel Comfortable During Their Portrait Session

A completely candid photo portrait session means taking a lot of photos. Some of them looked posed, but it was a matter of quickly noticing something that looked right and capturing it before the moment passed.

Window light headshot - 4 Tips for Helping People Feel Comfortable During Their Portrait Session

I used a window as a natural light source. There were moments of silence during our conversation when she just looked out the window. Those were wonderful chances.

Portrait of a mother and her son - 4 Tips for Helping People Feel Comfortable During Their Portrait Session

Leave room for surprises in your portrait sessions. You may find yourself thinking, “Did this client dare to bring their kids to a portrait session?” True, they’ll tear your studio to pieces and distract her from her professional portrait session. But along with a little chaos comes life and surprisingly human moments. In the middle of it all, her son came up to be nursed. Maybe this is what Robert Frank meant about the “humanity of the moment.”

Mother hugging son portrait - 4 Tips for Helping People Feel Comfortable During Their Portrait Session

The portrait session was supposed to have been for her. But who she is on her own isn’t who she is completely. We’re all much deeper than ourselves and are who we are partly because of the people around us.

Portrait of a mom nursing her baby. 4 Tips for Helping People Feel Comfortable During Their Portrait Session

Perhaps you know your subject has reached their maximum level of comfort when they can nurse their baby even while the camera is still clicking. I’m thrilled to photograph people one on one and make portraits that they’ll use as authors or business people. But I’m even more thrilled when those portraits become intensely human moments.

 Get Comfy

The next time you greet a nervous portrait client, remember that the experience has been hyped up in their mind. Distract them from their discomfort with small talk, warm them up with “no pressure” test photos, and make laughter a part of your session.

Include the candid photos when you deliver their photos. Even if they don’t use them for business purposes, they may be the photos they (and you) love most.

I’d love to hear what else you do to help people get comfortable in front of your camera. Let me know in the comments below.

The post 4 Tips for Helping People Feel Comfortable During Their Portrait Session appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Tips for Better Bridal Portraits

If you think that bridal portraits are a thing of the past, you are greatly mistaken. Bridal portraits have taken on new life in the wedding photography industry and are every bit as important as they were before.

bride in three poses - Tips for Better Bridal Portraits

What are Bridal Portraits?

Bridal portraits were once taken in a studio, and subsequently when faster and lighter cameras were made available, on location. This is where the bride dresses up in her day-of wedding dress and poses alone. Sometimes the groom would join her.

The photographer would then take several poses of her with her bouquet and veil. So basically, it’s a chance for the photographer to take their time and photograph the bride in many different poses.

Tips for Better Bridal Portraits - two photos of brides in a pink room

This bride was in her home next to a big sliding glass door that let in light even though it was raining.

Now, bridal portraits are taken during the wedding day, thanks to digital photography. Usually right after the bride is done getting ready or during the bride and groom portraits.

It’s a good idea to take portraits during both times to get a more diverse set of bridal portraits, especially if each location is different than the other.

bride on location - Tips for Better Bridal Portraits

Same bride as the one above, this time at the location we photographed the bride and groom photos. It provides a different feeling and look than the ones taken in her home.

Ask the bride to have a little more time during the getting ready and bride and groom portraits so that you can focus on her. She will appreciate the gesture, knowing that you are going to capture her as a beautiful bride on one of the happiest days of her life.

Why are they important?

Bridal portraits are such an important part of the photographic timeline because each bride takes a lot of time to find the right dress, the right look, and choose just the right bouquet for her wedding day. As the photographer, it’s your job to photograph these details with a lot of attention if they hold a particular meaning to the bride.

bride near a window - Tips for Better Bridal Portraits

I used window light through sheer curtains in a hotel room to create a soft light on the bride’s face.

For example, her something blue might be a ring that her mother wore and gave to her on her wedding day. There might be something special on the bottom of her shoes or tied to her bouquet. All of these details are important during bridal portraits and you need to get detail photos of each.

bride by a window, her shoes and bouquet - Tips for Better Bridal Portraits

Bridal portraits are also a great time to get the bride completely alone so that she can have some breathing room before the big day starts.

It’s a great way to quiet the nerves and focus on her and how happy she looks.

bride reading a letter b/w - Tips for Better Bridal Portraits

A special moment in between posed portraits. The bride reads a letter the groom wrote for her.

Bridal portraits aren’t just for the bride alone, though, sometimes the groom will join in as well. This gives you the opportunity to create really solid portraits of the couple together on their wedding day without anyone else present.

bride details - Tips for Better Bridal Portraits

bride holding her veil - Tips for Better Bridal Portraits

When you take bridal portraits on the day of the wedding, be sure to ask your clients for extra time so that you can make sure that you get enough of the bride alone, the bride and groom together, and all of the important details the bride and groom will be wearing.

Bridal portraits inside

Brides usually get ready inside a hotel or in their home. If this is the case, carve out some time before she has to leave to get the bride alone.

Take her to another room where there is sufficient window light. Window light is the best, in my opinion, because it gives you enough light but also casts off into the room allowing for shadows to define silhouettes.

Sit the bride down on the edge of a chair and have her face the window. Change it up and have her stand full frontal toward the window. The poses and variations are endless and you’ll have beautiful soft light to give her a glow.

bride 3 photos - Tips for Better Bridal Portraits

Use window light and if need be, fill flash bounced off the ceiling to create a soft light on the bride’s face.

In some cases, especially in the home, you can take the bride to other rooms or locations within the home that offer more options. Like the photo above, where I took photos of the bride in her living room in her house. I did use flash to bounce light since it was raining that day, however, she is calm and relaxed.

getting ready - Tips for Better Bridal Portraits

Here we see a detail photo of her dress as well as the bride sitting below her grandparent’s wedding photo.

Don’t be afraid to move furniture if you have too. It’s best to move furniture than working around it and missing the opportunity for a great photo. Just make sure that you put it back as you found it.

On location

When you’re out photographing the couple’s portraits, don’t forget to get individual portraits of each, especially the bride. On location may offer better opportunities to get the full dress from both front and behind.

Tips for Better Bridal Portraits

Take individual portraits of the bride and groom if they opt to have the bridal portrait session together.

If the bride has a long veil, you can play with lifting it into the air and dropping it to get some really interesting photos. Having her hold her bouquet and getting up close makes for a great photo.  Capture her shoes in action as well, especially if she has put something special on the soles.

outdoor bride - Tips for Better Bridal Portraits

Being on location gives you more room as well to have the bride walk, turn, spin, and have fun. Photograph her in different types of lighting and backgrounds. Experiment with close up photos as well as full-length photos.

Try lifting and having the veil blowing in the wind. Letting the bride move around a bit can loosen nerves and get the bride comfortable in front of the camera.

Tips for Better Bridal Portraits

Bridal portraits before or after the event

As important as bridal portraits are on the day of the wedding, sometimes you’ll have the opportunity to photograph the bride before or after the wedding. Many photographers call this a “day after session” or “trash the dress”.

Tips for Better Bridal Portraits - hawaii

These two photos were taken during the wedding day.

couple on the beach - Tips for Better Bridal Portraits

The same couple as the previous photo but the day after their wedding. The photos are more relaxed at a different location, and with different styling.

Bridal portraits are important on the day-of because of all that day’s details, however, portraits taken either before or after the day of the event can offer clients a chance to have a more relaxed look.

The bride may wear her hair differently and use perhaps a different dress altogether. Giving you more opportunities to pose her differently and add to the photos taken on the wedding day.

Tips for Better Bridal Portraits

Photos were taken the day before the event.

Taking the bridal portraits before or after the wedding can also give you the opportunity to photograph in an entirely different setting than that of the wedding day. Giving you more creative freedom while the couple is more relaxed.

sunset beach photos - Tips for Better Bridal Portraits

Two photos were taken the day after the event.

It’s not just about the bride

More often than not, the groom may join the session as it gives you more time to create more portraits of the couple as well as individually. Focus on taking details of both the groom and the bride.

couple kissing - Tips for Better Bridal Portraits

When the couple poses together, you have more time to allow them to just be themselves, especially if you are doing a before or a day after session.

couple with antique classic car - Tips for Better Bridal Portraits

Try offering the couple something more of a stylized photo session so that you can use props to tell more of the story. This will give them an entirely contrasted look compared to the one that they are going to have on their actual wedding day.

couple near lily pond - Tips for Better Bridal Portraits

In conclusion

Bridal portraits are growing in popularity both on the actual wedding day and before or after the event. Having this extra time to photograph the bride alone can add to the collection of photos that you will deliver to her allowing her to remember how she felt that day.

couple by Hard Rock cafe - Tips for Better Bridal Portraits

In addition, bridal portraits offer the opportunity to capture all of the important details that the bride took so much time to choose. Bridal portraits let you capture the bride in a more intimate way both individually or with her groom.

couple on the beach - Tips for Better Bridal Portraits

Take advantage of this time and allow your creativity to flow so that get some really amazing photos of the bride either before, on, or after her wedding day.

The post Tips for Better Bridal Portraits appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Adobe Portfolio – This Unsung Hero of Creative Cloud Could Save You Money

I have used Adobe Lightroom since version 4 in 2012. After upgrading to version 5 and 6 in the following years, have really grown to appreciate its workflow, comprehensive suite of editing tools and the digital asset management.

When Adobe switched to a subscription model for Lightroom and announced they would no longer offer the product as a standalone license, I started looking at other options because I didn’t want to be locked into a perpetual pricing model. I was already paying nearly $100/year for a website and as a hobbyist photographer with a family and a full-time job, the thought of paying another $120/year for Lightroom seemed crazy.

That is until I discovered Adobe Portfolio and had a complete change of heart.

Adobe Portfolio website landing page

A bit of background

In 2015 I got serious about doing photography work for clients. At that time, I recognized the need to have a professional easy-to-use website to attract clients and showcase my work. I tried a number of options before settling on Squarespace.

Their $96/year fee was entirely reasonable to me because it provided access to dozens of templates as well as a worry-free website I did not have to update or maintain like a self-hosted WordPress installation requires. I appreciated how easy Squarespace was to use as well as its rich set of features including blogging, podcasting, and even tools for buying and selling goods and services.

A few years later as I was investigating software options to replace Lightroom, I stumbled across Adobe Portfolio entirely by accident. I certainly never intended this barely-mentioned service to be the fulcrum on which my decision to subscribe to the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Plan would rest!

The more I examined what Portfolio had to offer the more I realized that the subscription which includes Portfolio along with Lightroom and Photoshop would be ideal for my needs as a part-time photographer.

This is the homepage for my own Adobe Portfolio site. When users hover over one of the sections with their cursor it shows the name of that particular photo gallery.


While Squarespace handled all my website needs with aplomb, it also offered many things I did not use at all. Portfolio, on the other hand, is almost anemic by comparison but uniquely suited to fit the basic needs of most photographers.

It does not have all the options, tools, integrations, and flexibility of other platforms including Squarespace, Wix, Weebly, and WordPress. But as a photographer who just wanted a simple way to showcase my work, it fit the bill perfectly.

For me the choice was clear. I could sign up for the Creative Cloud Photography plan for only a few dollars more than what I was paying for my Squarespace website and get Lightroom, Photoshop, and a beautiful website that did everything I needed. I canceled my Squarespace account, signed up for Creative Cloud, and couldn’t be any more pleased with how things have worked out.

Start with a theme

If you have a Creative Cloud plan you already have access to Portfolio and you can get started by visiting myportfolio.com and entering your Adobe ID. After that, you begin the process of building your website by selecting a theme. Right away you may notice one of the significant shortcomings of Portfolio compared to other website services. There are only eight themes from which to choose. This dearth of options can be a source of frustration if you’re used to a myriad of themes on other platforms.

Adobe Portfolio themes

Some photographers might balk in horror at the idea of only having eight template options but I saw it as a way of streamlining my design approach. I couldn’t spend hours poring over different templates if I only had eight to choose from, so it only took me a few minutes to select one that suited my tastes just fine.

The templates do allow for some editing and customization but you are limited to the basic look and feel of how they are laid out. This approach is similar to how many mainstream website platforms operate and is well suited to photographers who would rather spend their time taking and editing pictures instead of poring over lines of HTML code.

It’s also worth noting that you can change templates at any time. So if you are not sure where to start you can just pick one that you like and begin editing with the freedom to change it later. I settled on the Mathias template but any of the eight options would work well for photographers who want a simple, pleasing, and functional website.

Lightroom Integration

The ace in the hole for Portfolio and a standout feature that allows it to really shine despite its lean feature set is the way that it integrates seamlessly with Lightroom. This is a huge boon for photographers who rely on Lightroom for their editing and digital asset management, and one of the big reasons it makes sense to consider Portfolio as a worthwhile website platform.

On the editing screen, there is a giant blue Add Content button which gives you access to four different options: Page, Lightroom Album, Gallery, and Link. Any photo collections in Lightroom CC, or those you have synced with Lightroom CC from Lightroom Classic CC, will show up as options when you click Lightroom Album. There is no need to export images and upload them individually. Choose Lightroom Album and the full Lightroom Web interface will load which will let you select any of the albums to be automatically displayed on your website.

You can also manually upload pictures via drag-and-drop interface but I found it much easier to manage images by loading them from Lightroom.

add content Adobe Portfolio

Editing Website Content

In addition to loading images directly from Lightroom, you can create content right from within Portfolio. This is useful if you want a few image galleries to showcase your work while also having elements like an About Me and pricing pages. Individual pages can contain blocks of text and images with captions, and elements can be re-ordered using a simple drag-and-drop interface. There’s even an option for inserting a Contact page which can contain many different fields that you are free to customize.

After creating a Page, Lightroom Album, or Gallery the ever-present floating menu lets you edit the unique characteristics of the element you just created. This floating menu took me a little while to get used to but now I don’t mind it at all.

My contact page using Portfolio.

It never really goes away but you can expand and collapse the panes and use the three horizontal lines at the top to move it around so it’s not in your way. While you can’t go so far as editing the actual CSS code you can make changes to things like background color, page header, and fonts.

editing options Adobe Portfolio

It won’t take you long to get the hang of this workflow but you also may get frustrated at what initially feels like a criminal lack of options. As you poke around with the tools available you will likely hit some brick walls, just as I did, when you find out you can’t insert pull-quote text boxes, customize the appearance of individual blocks of text, or embed elements such as a blog feed. Slideshow options are limited as well, and this is where some people might hang their head in frustration and run back to WordPress with open arms.

However, keep in mind that the purpose of Adobe Portfolio is to offer a simple way for photographers to showcase their work. It’s not supposed to be a comprehensive all-in-one web publishing platform, and within the context of that framework, the limitations in terms of choices and options make a little more sense. You can add a custom logo, change the appearance of your pages, embed dozens of web elements, and even password-protect your site if you so choose.

site options box - Adobe Portfolio

Portfolio lets you use a custom domain name as well, and though this process is fairly straightforward it does add a little extra to the cost of the service. Portfolio nor Adobe cannot actually register your domain so you will need to go to a third-party site like Dreamhost, Hover, or Register to set it up. Most domain names cost about $15/year which isn’t much but it does bring the total cost to around $135/year when you add that to a Creative Cloud subscription.

setting up your page in Adobe Portfolio

The Happy Middle Ground

The entire idea of a website might seem like somewhat of an anachronism in today’s social media-saturated internet. Many photographers have elected to forego a traditional web presence entirely in favor of building a brand and following on social media.

The downside of this approach is that your audience experience can be tainted by design decisions and embedded advertising entirely beyond your control, and there are always going to be a subset of potential clients who choose not to engage on social media at all and will, therefore, miss out on the chance to view your work.

My family portrait gallery.

Websites might not have the shine and excitement that they once did but there are still plenty of good reasons to build and maintain your own presence on the internet. To that end, Adobe Portfolio offers a compelling set of features for literally no cost at all if you already subscribe to any of Adobe’s Creative Cloud plans.

If you don’t currently subscribe to Creative Cloud but do pay a third-party provider to host your website you might want to give Portfolio a second look. Think of it as paying about the same as you are now for a website, but with the added bonus of world-class photography software like Lightroom and Photoshop thrown in at no extra charge.

Adobe Portfolio options

Your opinion of Adobe Portfolio will likely depend on your needs for a website and your expectations of what Portfolio can offer. If you want an extensive do-everything website solution, Portfolio is going to fall short in many respects and you’d be better off with something like Squarespace.

But if you want a simple platform that lets you display your work for the world to see, in a manner that you choose, without any intrusive third-party advertising or corporate mining of your personal data, I can’t recommend Portfolio highly enough.

Rating: 5/5

The post Adobe Portfolio – This Unsung Hero of Creative Cloud Could Save You Money appeared first on Digital Photography School.

What are your greatest fears as a photographer?

In light of two big losses in the creative space – first that of Kate Spade and then that of the much loved and idolized Anthony Bourdain, there are a lot of questions being asked in the creative industry around success and personal happiness.

Why did this happen? What could have triggered these terrible tragedies? How many more are silently suffering? Is there such a thing as too much success? And alternatively what does success truly mean to us creatives?

Taj hotel Mumbai India at Sunrise - What are your biggest fears as a photographer?

Before I go any further with this article I have to make some things very clear. This article is not intended to make light of the situation(s) that lead to the demise of either Kate Spade or Anthony Bourdain. If anything, I really want us, the creative industry, to really sit up and take notice of the challenges and difficulties we all face in achieving our own levels of success.

I still use my Kate Spade wallet. In fact, it was the first wallet I gifted myself when I landed my corporate job 15 years ago. There was something about the Kate Spade brand that really resonated with me at that time – it symbolized femininity, freedom, success, and achievement.

Anthony Bourdain inspired me to dream big dreams and instilled a love of travel and people unlike anyone else I had ever seen. The fact that both of these global icons were lost in such similar situations really pushes us to ask those difficult questions around success, hustle, and challenges that go hand in hand.

So let’s start by addressing some of the most common fears that we photographers face on a day to day basis.

Fear #1 – How to make money as a photographer?

Let’s deal with the elephant in the room – I don’t think there really is a correct way to answer this question. Just as there are hundreds of genres of photography – from the super-niche to the really broad – there are hundreds of ways to make money with your photography.

Some of the most commonly explored ones are around consumer photography services, photography education, product sales, commercial photography, visual branding, etc.

I am of the opinion that diversifying your portfolio to include a few different revenue streams is a smart way to do business as a photographer. Diversification not only gives you the creative freedom to explore different genres of photography but also encourages you to learn new techniques and skills.

Additionally, earning a steady income during the off-season helps reduce the anxiety around money.

Moody Summer Florals - What are your biggest fears as a photographer?

Florals as images for digital screensavers as well as postcards and thank you cards are a nice way to sell prints and diversify your photography income.

Fear #2 – How to learn all the required technical stuff?

Photography is as much a science as it is an art form. If you don’t believe me just take a look at your camera user manual. To really get good at the art of photography you need to understand the technical terms as well as the soft skills like composition, posing, communicating, etc. There is a lot of stuff to learn and understand to really excel in this craft.

Luckily there are many online classes as well as in-person workshops that teach and train you in various aspects of photography. While you can really learn a lot from free courses, articles, and videos, there is a lot of value to be had in workshops and classes. Not only do you get to connect with professionals in the areas that you want to specialize in, you also get to meet others who are in the same boat as you.

Don’t view other photographers as your competitors. Instead, view them as your peers. These are the people who understand you and the passion you have for this field because they have it too. Focus on building your community of friends, peers, and people who you can connect with when you have difficulties and challenges.

Having a strong support system is really important especially in creative fields.

Fear #3 – That you don’t have the right gear

Let’s break this down into one simple question. What does one need to create an image? The answer is a camera!

It truly does not matter what camera you have. Just google iPhone photography and you will find some amazing artists who are creating phenomenal work with just their phones. Similarly, if you search for photographers who use entry-level DSLR cameras, you will find many great photographers who still work with a basic DSLR camera and a kit lens!

You don’t need the latest full frame or mirrorless camera and pro-grade lens to create great images. Focus more on learning and understanding the technical skills than on the gear.

When you are just starting out, experiment with different cameras and lenses to see which ones feel right. Rent or borrow gear from other photographers so you can become good at creating great images no matter the gear.

For the first two years of my business, I only had one camera and one lens. I rented the gear I needed depending on the job which helped me keep my costs low. There are many ways of being successful without going broke.

Pelican Flying over the water -

You will need different gear to photograph wildlife than you would to do food photography for a restaurant. But that does not mean you need to go buy all the gear out there for each and every genre. Use the basics first and then add on when you are ready!

Fear #4 – That your work isn’t good enough

In any field of work, the only way to produce great work is to do the work. There truly is no such thing as overnight success. You might look at someone who seems to have achieved a lot (which is really subjective by the way) and think that they have it easy.

But you don’t see the true reason for that success. You don’t see the late nights, the hustle, the constant planning and execution, the anxiety over money, the failures, the challenges and the struggles. You don’t see them because they are generally not talked about openly.

So before you question how to produce great work, go ahead and consistently do the work. Get out there and photograph even when you don’t want to. Photograph in different lighting situations to understand light. Work with different subjects so you know how to interact and communicate to get the look you want.

Reach out and connect with other creatives and collaborate on projects. Everyone who wants to make it big is willing to do the work, are you?

Sunset on the water with a cruise ship

Great work – work that you are proud of – takes practice. So get out there and practice everyday.

Fear #5 – Not getting any clients, inquiries, and bookings

You can have the best portfolio, the best website and the perfect studio space. But it all means nothing if you are not getting a steady stream of inquiries and clients.

The only way to really get clients and bookings is to actively go seek them. One way to seek new clients is to put yourself out there as a photographer/creative artist. Network with people from different industries, pitch your work to your ideal clients, market your work effectively and the inquiries will come.

Sure this will take time but if you are in this industry for the long game then take the time to make a mark with your work.

Japanese temple in San Francisco

Fear #6 – That your portfolio isn’t diverse enough

Look, we all start somewhere and there is no shame in that. I remember when I first started building my portfolio I had a ton of pictures of my kids and those of my friends and family. I would practice every opportunity I would get with people I knew.

Slowly I started getting confident about my work and made it known that I was an aspiring family photographer. I didn’t focus on the sale but instead on building a network of clients. I networked with other photographers via in-person meetings as well as online forums and learned as much as I could about the business of photography.

 Moody white flowers photos

So when you are just starting out, put yourself out there. Ask friends and family if you can practice your photography skills on them. Reach out to others and see if you can collaborate.

There is no lack of ways to build your portfolio – you just have to get comfortable with asking.

Fear #7 – Not knowing how to market yourself

We live in a very different world now more than ever. Everything is online and everyone is online. Traditional forms of marketing like print ads, radio, and TV don’t do as well as online and social media marketing.

Since social media and online presence seems to be the new status quo, make sure you have an online presence. And remember social media is all about being social! So make sure you are being social online by sharing a little bit about you and not just your work. Work on building a relationship with clients and potential clients because people will only buy from brands (and people) that they know, like and trust.

Invest in social media marketing and advertising as well as traditional forms of marketing. A lot of my work still comes from word of mouth and referrals, so make sure you are taking advantage of those channels as well.

Wedding couple against Chicago riverwalk background

Sharing and promoting your best work as part of your marketing campaigns is a great way to grow your reach and your business.


I hope these tips were helpful and shed light on some of the commonly expressed fears that others including myself regularly experience.

Please remember that you are not on an island without any help and nor are you the only one going through all these emotions and feeling of anxiety around your work. We all face these same issues time and time again.

The key is to objectively work through them and come out strong. If you are truly passionate about photography and want to make it a career, keep up the hard work and the fruits of your labor are bound to be as sweet as can be!

The post What are your greatest fears as a photographer? appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Review of BlogStomp Software for Photographers

Blogging is a very important marketing tool for photographers. However, it can be quite a time-consuming task having to process the photos for each post in Photoshop or any other editing application. The BlogStomp software, in my opinion, has changed blogging for photographers.

Review of BlogStomp Software for Photographers

A collage of images made with BlogStomp.

What is BlogStomp?

BlogStomp is a simple blogging software that allows you to drag and drop the files you wish to use to create photographs the exact size that you want. You can make collages, or batch process many photos for a gallery, social media, or other storage devices. 

BlogStomp also lets you add your own logo to the final photos either on tabs or on the image itself. 

Review of BlogStomp Software for Photographers

BlogStomp interface.

There are many features for personalization so that your final photos are ready to post where you want. It cuts the blogging process by more than half the time, especially if you are creating a rather photo-heavy post or gallery. BlogStomp also creates a folder on your desktop of the photos that you have “stomped” which makes it easier to find and upload them to wherever you are posting images.

Key Features

Image Processing

The most useful feature of BlogStomp is in the “Freestyle” tab where you can choose one or more photos to create collages. Here you can preview, modify, crop, add text, and choose the best layout to suit your needs. 

Review of BlogStomp Software for Photographers

On the right, you can see the various layout options as well as make your own custom layout.

Settings Tab

In the “Settings” tab, you can choose the image width, how much of a border or margin between photos you’d like to have, as well as add a tab underneath the photo. In this same tab is where you would add your logo.

You can also choose the output settings where you can customize the file names, set where you want your Stomped folder to be located on your computer, and configure how much sharpening you want for the final images.

Review of BlogStomp Software for Photographers

In the settings, you can change the layout size, border, margin, and select the template you want to use. In Output, you have the option of giving the files a specific name and choosing where you want the Stomped folder to be placed.

Freestyle Tab

Review of BlogStomp Software for Photographers

Add a color block and place it below or next to your photo.

Review of BlogStomp Software for Photographers

Double-click to switch out photos in the layout.

Hitting the “Mix it up” button will cycle through different layouts using the photos that you have chosen to give you options. You can also double-click and switch the photos.

Batch Tab

The “Batch” tab will process all of the photos that you have in the sidebar individually to the size and settings that you have previously set up. This can save you a lot of time if you are uploading a lot of photos into an online gallery for viewing. 

Review of BlogStomp Software for Photographers

Batch process all of your photos at once.

Media Tab

The “Media” tab allows you to “stomp” the photos onto a storage device, like a USB stick, so that they all fit. This is really helpful when dealing with huge files that you want to keep all on the same USB, or similar storage device.

You can drag and drop your photos or choose from the ones that you have already previously “stomped”.

Review of BlogStomp Software for Photographers

Don’t worry about storage space, this option will fit your images onto your media device.

BlogStomp also creates a folder on your desktop of the photos that you have “stomped” which makes it easier to find and upload them to wherever you are posting. 

The app will also let you know if your image is not the right size originally for the final output size. Which is helpful because this can mean the difference between publishing a pixelated image or a high-quality image.

Post Directly to a Blog or Social Media

You can stomp your photographs directly onto any of the following blog sites: WordPress, Tumblr, Blogger, ExpressionEngine, and Live Journal. Simply set up your blog details and begin writing. Use the stomped photos that you have created, add categories, and publish all from the same app.

Review of BlogStomp Software for Photographers

Choose from these blog sites. Stomp Software says they will be adding more sites to the list soon.

Use BlogStomp to also post directly to Facebook or Twitter. Insert your login details and use the photos that you’ve stomped previously. 

In the Freestyle tab, you also have the option of sizing the photographs for Instagram or Facebook covers (above). This comes in handy when you’re publishing to social media often or using a social media app like HootSuite which requires the photos to be square in order to post to Instagram, for example.

Review of BlogStomp Software for Photographers

Posting to Twitter with BlogStomp.

Upload to Gallery services

In the “Gallery” tab, you can set up any of the following gallery/proofing services: Shoot Proof, SmugMug, Zenfolio, and Photoshelter. It’s really easy to set up and get your galleries uploaded in half the time.

Review of BlogStomp Software for Photographers

Why use BlogStomp?

I think it goes without saying that editing a wedding or image-heavy blog post in Photoshop or the like can take hours. Using BlogStomp as part of your workflow can help reduce the time that you are spending at the computer by processing your photos for your blog, galleries, storage devices, and social media in one fell swoop. 

I have been using this app for more than five years and it has served me well in so many ways. All of the photos in my past articles have been processed using BlogStomp. The photos that I use for social media are processed in BlogStomp.

Create marketing material in minutes with the collage layouts for both print and online. I have also used it for creating inspiration boards for future sessions.

Review of BlogStomp Software for Photographers

This is a final stomped photo with a white tab below the collage and my logo added.

In addition to saving you time, it is also really simple and easy to use. Each feature is easy to navigate without any extra hoops or steps. It’s a straightforward app that helps you blog faster and share your photos with the best quality. 

How much does it cost?

Finally, it’s priced reasonably for the amount of use that it will get. There are two options: Individual and Studio Pack. 

The individual option includes two installs on different computers and is priced at $49. The studio pack includes 5 installs on different computers and is priced at $89. It’s a one time fee and it really is the best value for an app like this. 

Review of BlogStomp Software for Photographers

You can create many different collages with the features inside BlogStomp. Change the background in settings, add a stroke to the images, choose the margin size between photos, and add rounded corners all in the same app.

Other Stomp Software

BlogStomp is just one of three Stomp Software apps offered by the company. 

Album Stomp is a great software for designing albums and Album Prufr is proofing albums where your clients can preview and make changes. The company offers a bundle option for all three on their website.

Review of BlogStomp Software for Photographers

Not convinced? The company offers you the opportunity to download a free trial before purchasing. You can use the full version with the app logo/watermark. This is great for learning to use the app and seeing first-hand whether this is an app that could work for your workflow.

In conclusion

Blogging can be a daunting task with hours of photo processing. But thanks to BlogStomp and the Stomp Software, blogging has never been easier and faster without compromising on image quality or style. 

Use this app as a part of your regular workflow and cut the time that you spend at the computer. Overall, the app is worth its value in both time and quality. Test the app for yourself before you make the decision to buy. You won’t regret it.

The post Review of BlogStomp Software for Photographers appeared first on Digital Photography School.

5 Crucial Mistakes You Need to Avoid When Photographing Clients

Don’t make these 5 crucial mistakes when photographing clients!

Over the years I have read dozens of articles explaining tips, tricks, and things to keep in mind for successful photo sessions. As I was wrapping up a family shoot recently I started to think about the situation from the opposite end of the spectrum. Kind of as a way of giving some advice to my younger self or other photographers who might still be honing their craft.

So instead of five tips to try here, are five things you should never do if you want your photo sessions with clients to run smoothly.

5 Crucial Mistakes You Need to Avoid When Photographing Clients - family photo

Mistake #1 – Not showing up on time

This one is a bit of a carryover from my childhood and is based on a lesson my dad taught me at a very young age. Whether my siblings and I were going to church, to school, or even just to a friend’s house he would repeatedly stress that we ought to arrive at our destination at least 10 minutes early. If we show up on time, he reminded us over and over again, we’re already late.

That might have been a bit of an oversimplification but the lesson still sticks with me to this day. It’s also one that is especially true when it comes to photographing clients.

If you are to meet at a certain location at a certain time, do not arrive when you have agreed to. Instead, make sure to get there at least 10 minutes early, and that’s the bare minimum. The earlier you arrive the more you can prepare, especially if the session is outdoors or in another type of uncontrolled environment.

fossil watch - 5 Crucial Mistakes You Need to Avoid When Photographing Clients

As my dad would say – if you get there on time you’re already late.

Arriving early allows you to assess the situation, get your cameras and lenses in order, double-check your settings (did you remember to turn on Image Stabilization? Are you still shooting at ISO 3200 from last night’s star-trail experiment?) and mentally prepare yourself for the photo session.

It also sends a message to your clients that you’re responsible and you care about the job. If you show up on time you might end up arriving after your clients. If they’re like my father and got there early they may be wondering where their photographer is. It doesn’t take much effort to arrive well in advance but it can pay huge dividends and set a positive tone for the rest of the photo session.

Mistake #2 – Don’t dress casually

portrait of a couple in a garden - 5 Crucial Mistakes You Need to Avoid When Photographing Clients

Your clients go out of their way to dress for the session. You should too.

This one is a big deal for me because I’m perpetually wearing the same clothes I wore in college: jeans and a t-shirt. It’s my go-to outfit for just about any situation and there were a few times early in my photography work with clients that I treated sessions as just another day out when I could dress casually. However, doing that sends an unfortunate message to your clients that you can easily avoid with very little effort.

Jeans and a t-shirt might seem fine to you but your clients might take this as a sign that you are a bit of a slacker or that you don’t care enough about your work (or them) to look the part. Clients are more likely to see your work as high-quality if you take the time to dress up a bit.

Wear nice clothes as a way of projecting a professional image. It will help clients have a more positive view of you, your work, and the session as a whole.

family sitting on the grass - 5 Crucial Mistakes You Need to Avoid When Photographing Clients

Some clients prefer a more casual style for themselves, and that’s fine. But it never hurts for you to wear nicer clothes as a way of projecting an image of professionalism.

Mistake #3 – Don’t make fun of your clients to get a laugh

Tell me if this sounds familiar. You’re doing a photo session and it’s going reasonably well but your clients aren’t responding quite how you would like. You’re trying to get them to loosen up, relax, and smile but they still seem a bit reserved and hesitant. As a result, your pictures just aren’t quite as good as you know they could be.

So you decide to crack a joke at the expense of one of your clients who is balding, wearing mismatched socks, doesn’t realize his shirt is un-tucked, or maybe just not quite paying attention.

Oh no, the glare from Bob’s head is messing up my camera! Hang on a second, I’m being blinded over here!

Does that scenario ring a bell? I have almost done this on a couple of occasions but stopped each time, and I’m so glad I did. You might think your comments are benign and all in good fun, but the person might be sensitive about the very thing you are pointing out. You could easily cause some hurt feelings or even downright anger.

Your clients might respond to these quips with laughter but on the inside, they may feel something entirely different that could cost you referrals, repeat business, or in-person sales.

family walking on a pathway - 5 Crucial Mistakes You Need to Avoid When Photographing Clients

This family was an absolute joy to work with. I would never want to sacrifice meaningful professional relationships with them or anyone else just for a quick laugh.

The damage that is done by what seems like benign comments could linger for a long time and have consequences well beyond the session itself. Instead of aiming for a cheap laugh, strive to maintain a level of professionalism when interacting with and photographing clients on a shoot.

If you get to know them a bit (another benefit to showing up early!) they will be more likely to loosen up, cooperate, and give you the type of pictures you are really striving for.

Mistake #4 – Don’t use your phone during the session

I know how tempting it can be to reach for your phone during a photo session, and there might even be a thousand good reasons to do so. What if it’s a text from your landlord? Maybe your cousin sent you a Snapchat message about his new job? What if your spouse is going to be home late and needs you to pick up the kids? Certainly, your clients would understand if you peeked at your phone for just a bit…right?

They might understand, but they might also wonder why you are getting distracted while they are paying you to do a job. One little peek at your phone often turns into two, then three, and pretty soon you find yourself missing shots or watching your clients roll their eyes in exasperation because you’re looking at your phone more than your camera.

portrait of teenagers - 5 Crucial Mistakes You Need to Avoid When Photographing Clients

My advice is simple, just ignore your phone. Better yet, leave it in your car or put it on silent and stick it in your gear bag. If you think you might need to check it during a session, tell your clients in advance (yet another reason to arrive early) and ask their permission to take a minute at a certain pre-planned time to do so.

This might seem overly restrictive, but it’s so easy to get caught up in the alerts and messages on your phone that you might not even realize how much you are actually using it. Your clients will probably not notice if you are NOT using your phone, but they will certainly notice if you ARE using your phone and they might not want to hire you back as a result.

Mistake #5 – Don’t over-extend the session

Many photographers charge clients a certain amount based on the length of time that they offer for sessions. One-hour portraits, two-hour engagements, 15-minute minis, or 3 hours of wedding plus 2 hours of reception coverage, for example.

This usually works well and gives both the photographer and the clients a set of shared expectations, but it can backfire in some unexpected ways depending on the type of clients you are working with.

little girl in a blue dress - 5 Crucial Mistakes You Need to Avoid When Photographing Clients

15 minutes in and this precious little girl was ready to be done. Extending the session would have made her fussy and stressed out her parents too.

Know when to fold

There’s a line in an old Kenny Rogers song that’s quite à propos for photographers, “You got to know when to hold ’em and know when to fold ’em”. As a photographer, you need to learn how to read the situation, watch your client’s body language, and get their input on how to proceed when you feel like the session needs to draw to a close.

Your clients might be paying you for a one-hour session but if the kids are fussy, the grandparents are tired, and the shirts are getting sweat marks after only 40 minutes then you really need to find a way to shut it down tactfully and gracefully.

The best way I have found to do this is to keep an open dialog with clients throughout the session. Talk with them as you take their pictures and let them know that you are willing to adjust as needed especially if kids are involved. Your clients expect you to be in charge and they often won’t speak up for fear of being rude or confrontational.

So read the situation closely and take the initiative if you think it’s time to put the camera away. Your clients will probably be glad you did.

couple portrait - 5 Crucial Mistakes You Need to Avoid When Photographing Clients

Talk to your clients and make the call

I have had parents thank me profusely for ending sessions early because their children were wilting after only 30 minutes. I once did an entire one-hour family session in 20 minutes on a single spot in a grove of trees because three generations were involved and the elders were exhausted and tired.

In both situations, I got input from the clients constantly and let them know that I was aware that people were ready to be done even though there was still time left on the clock.

The time might not be up, but if the session needs to be over then you have to bring it to a close. Extending it needlessly just to fill the time allotted could cause more headaches than it’s worth. Alternately, don’t go over your time unless you get permission from your clients. If they are expecting one hour and that time is up, don’t keep shooting unless you’re sure it’s fine with them. Doing otherwise could come across as rude or insensitive, no matter how good the pictures turn out.


I hope this gives you a few ideas to try or, more accurately, to avoid the next time you are photographing clients. If you have any tips on what to avoid I’d be glad to have your input in the comments below, and I’m sure other dPS readers would as well!

The post 5 Crucial Mistakes You Need to Avoid When Photographing Clients appeared first on Digital Photography School.

How Much is an Image Worth? Tips for Pricing Your Photography

One of the questions that a lot of photographers ask, is how much I should charge for my images? It is very hard to do, and hence a lot of artists struggle with it. There is so much more involved, and many don’t quite understand. So, how do you go about pricing your photography?

How Much is an Image Worth? Tips for Pricing Your Photography

Flinders Street Station, this image took me about 3 years to get and I spent hours processing it. Hence it would have a high price on it.

Learn from the masters

There is a great story about Pablo Picasso, the famous artist. It goes like this.

Picasso was sitting in a Paris Café when an admirer approached and asked if he would do a quick sketch on a paper napkin. Picasso politely agreed, swiftly executed the work, and handed back the napkin – but not before asking a rather significant amount of money. The admirer was shocked and asked, “How can you ask for so much? It only took you a minute to draw this.” Picasso replied, “No, it took me 40 years.”

Whether this story is true or not is hard to know for sure, but it has a very good point. Most people do not consider the experience of the artist. Along with that are many other factors, like your education, the cost of equipment, and not to mention the time you spend creating the photo.

How much to charge, as you are going to see, is a complicated question and does depend on many of those factors. They are often things that people don’t really think about. Many photographers just pluck a price out of thin air and go with it. If I’m telling the truth, I have to say I was the same. I would constantly give different prices for my images.

Now I have a system in place and it is all based on the following.

How Much is an Image Worth? Tips for Pricing Your Photography - yellow flowers

I do macro for fun, so this was shot in my garden one morning and processed quickly. The price wouldn’t be high for this image.


You have to take into consideration any education you have done to learn or improve your photography. It doesn’t have to be formal education, like a university degree, but if you have paid money for it, then you need to consider the cost.

Something like a Bachelor of Fine Arts will cost you thousands of dollars. You will never recover your money if you are only charging people $20 an image, for instance. How many will you have to sell to pay off the degree at that price?

What about other short courses you may have done? Ones that are just a few weeks long, or those that are done online. You need to think about how much they cost and the time you spend doing the classes and learning to do all those new skills. There are so many online courses, from learning how to use your camera, to how to edit your photos.

dock with blurry clouds - How Much is an Image Worth? Tips for Pricing Your Photography

While I enjoy this kind of photography, it isn’t part of my main body of work. Therefore, it would never be editioned as it isn’t worth as much.


If you are anything like me, you have spent a great deal of money on your photography gear. Though you also need to think about what you have bought in the past and what you have now. For instance, how many cameras have you had? How many lenses have you had over time?

Consider all your accessories as well. Think about your camera bags, tripods, filters, memory cards, camera straps, etc. These are often forgotten, but they all add up and should be considered when pricing your photography work.

purple flower - How Much is an Image Worth? Tips for Pricing Your Photography

This was taken with a good macro lens and an expensive camera so those factors should be taken into consideration when pricing the image.


Every time you go out to take photos, how much time do you spend in the field? Don’t think just about the length of time it takes to take a photo. You need to think about how far you traveled to get there and back. Did you have to drive around quite a bit?

When I go out shooting I can be gone all day. I might leave early in the morning and not get back until late that night. During that time, I may have traveled over 250 miles or 400 km, and used a tank of fuel. Not to mention having to buy two to three meals. It all adds up and if you are selling your images you need to consider these things as well.

Then what happens when you get home? The images are put onto your computer and then processed. It is going to be different for everyone, but you will likely spend anywhere from 15 minutes to several hours on each image. All this time should be considered when you are pricing your photography.

You should be giving yourself an hourly rate so you can add that up at the end to add to the price. While you may have gotten several images to sell in that one trip, you can divide it up and spread it out over the series.

How Much is an Image Worth? Tips for Pricing Your Photography - dark moody image

This image is a combination of two and I spent many, many hours on it. I would ask for a high price for this one.


If you plan on selling your work as limited editions, then it will be worth more as you can only sell so many. When you do a limited run of an image they must all be identical and numbered, according to where in the edition they are, for example, 1/10, or 4/10, etc.

An edition is where you decide how many of that image you will sell. The number is up to you, 10, 20 or 100, maybe more if you think the image will be in high demand. However, the more there are in the edition the lower the value will be.

You have to be very organized to edition work and keep very good records. Once the edition is sold, you cannot sell anymore. There is some debate as to whether you can rework the image so that it looks different, but that is perhaps for another article.

dark image of a city skyline - How Much is an Image Worth? Tips for Pricing Your Photography -

This image would be part of my body of work and would definitely be put into an edition, perhaps with a limited run of 10.


Most know that you have to include the cost of printing. If you are selling the image you need to make sure the print is a good quality. Printing it yourself with a cheap printer and ink is never a good idea. Most of those will fade with time and you will be selling someone a print that won’t last a lifetime or more.

Make sure that wherever you get the work printed that it is archival. There is nothing worse than buying a piece of art from someone and then in 10 years it is gone because it was printed badly.

When you are preparing your work for sale, make sure you get the cost of a professional printing job and include that in the price.

- How Much is an Image Worth? Tips for Pricing Your Photography - lighthouse at night

An image that was done for fun. It would still be printed well, but the price would be lower than others.

Working for free

This may seem like a good idea, it gets your foot in the door, but the reality is that it rarely works. Once people know they can get images from you for free then they will continue to expect that. When you stop, they will just go to the next person. You should always charge for your images and your work.

You should also not sell your images for next to nothing. Think about how you are harming the industry by doing so. If it were any other industry and people were selling their services or products for much less than others it would be considered wrong, or cheap would mean not good. You need to consider every aspect when pricing your photography

sunset lighthouse - - How Much is an Image Worth? Tips for Pricing Your Photography -

This is a bit of a throwaway image, taken during a time-lapse with a few hundred others. Still, it would never be given away for free.

Next time

So when someone asks you how much is your image worth, think about all the things that have been mentioned here. Of course, you are not going to charge thousands, but you want to get some of what you have spent back. Each time you sell one photo you have to work out how you can start to recoup the costs you have outlaid for your photography.

Please share your thoughts, if you have anything to add, on pricing your photography tips in the comments section below.

The post How Much is an Image Worth? Tips for Pricing Your Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Free Versus Paid Photography Portfolio Websites – Which is Best for You?

One of the joys of photography is sharing it with the world. Once upon a time, a photography portfolio was a collection of prints, but digital photography and the internet have changed everything. Photography portfolios these days come in many forms, and they are almost exclusively online.

So, do you need a portfolio, and how do you decide where to proudly display your photos for the world to see?

Long exposure landscape photo of rocks at sunset, Mt Maunganui, New Zealand - photography portfolio

Why You Need a Photography Portfolio

You may be asking why you need a portfolio at all. Maybe you’re happy keeping your photos to yourself and never sharing or printing them for anyone else to see? It’s your photography, and you can do what you like with it. But, there are a few benefits that only come from sharing your work, though.

A photography portfolio allows other people to see and enjoy your creations. I’m betting you love not only the process of creating images but also the final product. So why not let others appreciate your artwork too?

You will be driven to stretch yourself and work on improving your photography if you put it out there for others to see. This is often a quiet voice nudging you to try a new technique or take a workshop or develop your post-production skills. A portfolio opens your photography up to critique, which is a little daunting, but I’ve found it to be positive and helpful most of the time.

noosa heads sunshine coast queensland australia - photography portfolio

A portfolio is also necessary if you ever plan to sell your photography. This isn’t for everyone, and I wouldn’t recommend that this be your primary motivation, but it’s worth considering. You may not think you want to make money with your photography, or not yet at least, but if and when that time comes, you will be better prepared if you already have an online presence and portfolio.

Free Versus Paid Photography Portfolio Websites

The options for displaying your photography portfolio online can be a little overwhelming. A quick google search for “photography portfolio website” returns 48 million results. The first question you need to ask is whether a paid or free service is best for you? There are many options within each category, but they each have their pros and cons.

It’s also worth noting that “photography portfolio” doesn’t necessarily look how you expect. In fact, you may already have a portfolio online, you just aren’t thinking about it in that way yet. Let’s look at a few of the options and you’ll see what I mean.

Free Services

If you’ve ever shared any of your photos online, whether on social media or on a photo-sharing website, then you already have an online portfolio. Although not generally considered portfolio websites, some social networks actually make great free portfolios.

Photo sharing websites are a great place to display your portfolio for free. They’re aimed more towards photographers than most social networks, so often include features that may assist you in using them as your primary portfolio.

Sunrise at Urangan Pier, Hervey Bay, Fraser Coast, Queensland, Australia - photography portfolio


Other than being free, the biggest advantage of free services is the volume of traffic. The larger websites are among the biggest on the internet, so the potential for people seeing your photos is far greater. With all these visitors and traffic comes community. The ability to engage with other users is a huge advantage in my opinion. They have become the modern camera club. They are places where you can not only find an audience for your work, but other photographers to inspire you and network with.

Free services are constantly pushing forward with new features and technology, so you get to be on the cutting edge. The regular updates can be frustrating at times, but I think the good far outweighs the bad in this regard.

These are also the places that you are likely to be found by buyers. One of my first magazine features was an image that was found on Flickr by a photo editor searching for a specific image to buy. Again, this isn’t for everyone, but something worth considering if you are wanting to sell your photos.

Landscape photo of Two Mile Bay, Lake Taupo, New Zealand - photography portfolio


There are downsides to using a free service, though. The biggest one for me is that you are depending on someone else’s platform to build your portfolio. Their primary interest is profit, not making you rich or famous. They can and will change things whenever they like and you have no say in the matter. If they close down or are sold to a new owner, that can mean a lot of hard work goes down the drain.

You have little or no ability to customize your profile page, meaning you have no options for how your portfolio looks. This may not be something you’re concerned about, but it’s worth considering. Free services make money by either selling ads (social networks) or offering premium features to users (photo sharing sites). This is fine, as it keeps the service free for those who don’t want to pay, but it means you’ll miss out on some of the best features the service has to offer.

You’re probably already using one or more free portfolio services, or are at least aware of them. Let’s take a look at a few of the biggest ones and see if they’re right for you.


The photo-sharing website Flickr has been around forever and was one of the first places I began sharing my photography when I started out. With around 75 million users, it is a giant in the photo-sharing world. Flickr’s biggest strength lies in its communities. I have been involved with many Flickr groups where I have met lots of other photographers and learned a ton.

flickr free vs paid photography portfolio websites

Flickr’s popularity has declined over the last few years as users have moved on to other things, and the Yahoo-owned website (recently acquired by SmugMug) hasn’t done itself any favors by being incredibly slow to innovate and keep up with the competition.That being said, it still has a thriving photography community and is worth considering.


Like many Flickr users, I abandoned ship when I discovered 500px, a newer photo sharing website that offered many of the same features but with a fresh new user experience. 500px also used an algorithm that meant you were far more likely to see amazing photography on its “popular” page. The standard of photography seemed higher, so it naturally attracted a lot of photographers.

500px has never reached the same volume of users as Flickr, with current numbers sitting around 12 million, but the service has added new features like communities and their “Marketplace”, which is essentially a way to license your images to sell as prints or stock.

500px free vs paid photography portfolio websites

500px has made headlines recently in the photography world after it was sold to VCG, the “Getty Images of China”. This has been a hugely controversial issue for 500px users, and there has been a mass exodus of previously loyal users. Don’t let that be the deciding factor for you, as 500px still has a lot to offer as far as free portfolio websites go.


You may think of Instagram as just another social network, but you might be surprised how many photographers are now using it as their primary portfolio.

I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that Instagram is currently the world’s number one photography app, and for good reason. People want to go where the masses are. With over 800 million users, there is no question as to whether it’s a place to consider sharing your portfolio.

instagram free vs paid photography portfolio websites

Instagram can be used in many different ways, but if you choose to use it as a portfolio, you must learn to be selective about what you share. Try to resist the temptation to share every photo. Curate your feed well, and you will have a portfolio that will attract people to it. If you must share photos of your cat, try using Instagram’s awesome Stories feature.


Just like Instagram, Pinterest has grown into a social network with a massive number of users, and it has the added advantage of being heavily visual. It’s a great place to be able to share your portfolio with the potential of being seen by a large audience.

Pinterest allows you to create boards and then “pin” your photos to as many boards as you like. You can create a different board for each photography category or location, such as “Weddings” or “Australia”. You can even have a “Portfolio” board where you only pin your best photos.

pinterest free vs paid photography portfolio websites

Pinterest also allows you to pin web pages, so if you have a blog you can pin your posts. The ability for others to re-pin your pins to their own boards means your work can be seen by a lot more people. You can also create inspiration boards for re-pinning other photographers’ pins. With all these features, Pinterest is definitely worth considering as a place to share your photography portfolio for free.

Paid Services

When it comes to paid photography portfolio websites, there aren’t as many options, but the ones that are available give you pretty amazing bang for your buck. Most professional photographers use one of these services these days, but that doesn’t mean you have to be a professional to use one.

They all have a range of options that vary in cost and features, but if you are considering a paid service for your portfolio, I’m sure you can find something that will fit your budget and needs.

Pros and Advantages

As with the free options, these services have their pros and cons. The biggest advantage, in my opinion, is the ability to customize how your portfolio looks and feels. You can change colors, layouts, text, logos, etc., all without needing to know how to code websites.

noosa national park sunshine coast queensland australia - photography portfolio

Most of them include unlimited storage for your photos, meaning you can upload as many high-resolution images as you want. This not only means you never have to delete another photo to make space for new ones, but you also have a copy of your photos backed up in the cloud.

The ability to sell your photos as prints or license them as stock directly from the website is a major attraction for many photographers. Each service’s e-commerce system works differently, but if this is a feature you want, you will find something that works for you. Some paid portfolio websites also allow you to deliver image files directly to clients, which works great if you’re a wedding or portrait photographer, or if you want to deliver files directly to a magazine, etc.

If you have a blog, some of these services will allow you to integrate your domain with your portfolio. For example, you can make your portfolio URL something like “portfolio.yourdomainname.com” rather than “yourname.photoshelter.com”. Visitors to your portfolio won’t even know that they’re on another website.

Driftwood bench seat on sand dunes overlooking Mount Maunganui Beach at sunset. - photography portfolio

Cons or Disadvantages

As you’re paying for premium features, there aren’t as many disadvantages of using a paid service. The main one is that they don’t have the social element that you get with photo-sharing sites or social networks. Getting your portfolio in front of eyeballs is a lot harder without the ability for viewers to engage with your work like they can on social media.

Although you have far more options to customize the way your portfolio appears, you’re still at the whim of the website that it is hosted on, and therefore how it functions. If you don’t like the features a website offers, it’s take-it-or-leave-it.

The following paid photography portfolio websites are by no means an exhaustive list, but these are some of the largest and most popular amongst photographers.


This is the first paid portfolio service I used for my own photography. PhotoShelter offers some of the best photography portfolios money can buy. Their websites look and work great, and their e-commerce features are second-to-none.

You can sell and license your photos directly through the website, and they even offer self-fulfilled printing if you want to print and ship images yourself. Although it’s one of the most expensive services, PhotoShelter is a solid option.

photoshelter free vs paid photography portfolio websites


I switched from PhotoShelter to SmugMug a few years ago after running an experiment to see how the two big boys compared in terms of Google search traffic. SmugMug won hands-down, so I moved my portfolio over. The two are very comparable in terms of cost and features.

If you want a beautiful portfolio website that works well and offers unlimited storage, I would definitely consider SmugMug. They also offer a solid e-commerce system, although they let themselves down with their refusal to allow self-fulfilled printing, despite users requesting it for years.

smugmug free vs paid photography portfolio websites


I haven’t used Zenfolio personally, but from what I’ve seen and heard from other photographers, it’s a service worth considering. Their websites look great, although aren’t as customizable as the competition. Zenfolio is one of the more affordable services available, especially if you aren’t planning to sell your photos. It’s definitely, worth a look.

zenfolio free vs paid photography portfolio websites

Editor’s note: I personally use Zenfolio (screenshot below) and have used their print fulfillment services for clients, as well as for file downloads. It all works seamlessly and you can set your own prices with the Pro or Advanced plans. So, I can add my recommendation for this service. 

Zenfolio photography portfolio of Darlene Hildebrandt, dPS Managing Editor.

Self-Hosted Website and Portfolio

The last option sits somewhere between paid and free, and is yet another option to consider. If you want total freedom to customize and run your portfolio website however you want, you need your own self-hosted website.

The easiest way to do this is with an installation of WordPress on your own domain. It’s cheap and easy to set up with a service like BlueHost. Once it’s up and running, the options for your portfolio are endless. There are many free and paid gallery plugins, and if you want to sell your photos you can do it directly from your own website with a plugin like WooCommerce, all without having to pay anyone else a commission, so you get 100% of the profit.

If you have time (and are technology savvy) and you like to have total control over how things look and work, this is a great option. It does require a lot more user input, though, so be careful about rushing into it. If you prefer something that’s easier to set up and does most of the heavy lifting for you, one of the paid services is probably best.

tea tree bay sunset noosa heads queensland australia - photography portfolio

How do you choose?

With so many options, it’s hard to know which is best for you. The good news is that whatever you choose, nothing is permanent. I have used almost all of the services that I’ve mentioned in this article. They all worked for me at the time that I used them, and then I moved on when they no longer served my needs.

Try one or two of the free ones and see if you like them. If you think one of the paid services might be for you, they all offer free trials, so you don’t need to commit until you’re ready.

Whatever you decide, remember to have fun and don’t take it too seriously. Sharing your photos with the world can be one of the most enjoyable parts of photography. I would love to know about your experiences with portfolio websites. Have you used any of the websites mentioned? Are there any others you would recommend? Questions? Let me know in the comments area below.

The post Free Versus Paid Photography Portfolio Websites – Which is Best for You? appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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