Facebook and Instagram are great social media platforms to build excitement about your images, but should not be used as an online portfolio to send your clients to. Some don’t have an online portfolio because they don’t have the budget or skills to build a website nor the desire to maintain a WordPress site. Here’s how to create an online portfolio showcasing the very best of your images and the best part, it’s free!

Why have a portfolio?

An online portfolio should be a collection of your very best images to showcase your skills as a photographer or as a model. It should represent the level of quality the client can expect if they hire you. Having the best of your best images in one place, along with your contact information, makes it easier to share with others and increases your online visibility — leading to more jobs.

One portfolio, multiple galleries

Photographers, imagine a potential client reviewing your portfolio to hire you for a portrait shoot. So why make them weed through your amazing landscape or macro images to view one or two portrait images? Instead, create multiple galleries filled with images specific to that gallery. After the client views the images they came to your portfolio for, they have the option to look at your other work.

Models have a little more flexibility. Most photographers or casting agents like to see a complete body of their work. Having a gallery filled with different types of styles may make them see how versatile you are. It’s still a good idea to have multiple galleries. If you’re applying for a casting at Disney, their casting agent may not be keen on seeing implied or nude photos. These images should have their own gallery marked NSFW.

Free online portfolio options

Although having a WordPress or website is best, it isn’t always feasible for everyone. Flickr, 500px, Behance or Adobe Spark are a few free options. Like Facebook, Flickr and 500px have a user community. This means you can build a strong network of followers. If you’re a model looking for work, a photographer or casting agent may stumble upon your portfolio. The same applies to photographers. The key is to interact and use members of the community in projects to cross promote each other.

A few limitations

As the saying goes, you get what you pay for. The free services mentioned do have a few limitations. One is a very long url — Uniform Resource Locator or better known as the full web address including the preface of http://. The best way to get around this is to purchase your own domain name, and redirect that domain to the long URL of the portfolio. You can also use a URL shortener such as Bit.ly or Rebrandly to further customize and create different links around your domain name. The long URL of my Flickr modeling portfolio — https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/albums/72157671567348548 — is shortened to vanelli.studio/ModelingPortfolio. Looks much better, doesn’t it?

Another limitation for photographers is you can’t sell a print of your images using these free services. If this is not your intention, then you’re fine. If, however, you want to have the ability to sell prints, look into paid services — for instance, SmugMug or Zenfolio. If you take this path, still create a portfolio but disable the shopping cart.

Whether you are a model, professional photographer or a weekend photographer, an online portfolio simply makes sense, especially since it is free and easy to create.


For more on Photography Marketing, see our weekly column.