What sets great images apart? What do the most successful photographers do to make their work stand out? Often the difference between a great photo and a great photo that captivates and prompts exploration is a good showcase.
The goal of a photography portfolio site is to make photos shine, but the best sites do this while subtly expressing a style. A good portfolio design supports the images without overpowering or trying to outshine them. It can be simple and clean, or styled and characterized, but the important thing is that the personality of the photographer and the photos shine through.
That’s something each of designs featured in this showcase of the best photography portfolio sites achieves with flying colors. So how do these top fifteen portfolios make both their images and their personalities stand out? Exploring them, a few trends become evident.
Grids: Grids let users explore sets of images intuitively. Responsive, resizing, and irregular, these are much more than a digital photo album.
Mouse: Forget your regular cursor arrow. These sites turn your mouse into styled arrows, pointers, and gesture-capable extensions, letting you swipe, draw, tap, and drag.
Tags: The larger the portfolio, the more you need to be able to sort and curate. Filtering images by project, theme, subject, or even color, makes massive sites navigable and gives them personality.
Curation: These lightboxes, albums, and favorites lists let you create your own curated selection of images and store them for later review, letting you add a bit of your own personality to the site.
Social Media Integration: Want to share that image of the ugliest, happiest dog you’ve ever seen? These sites are tied into social media, letting you tweet or post to Facebook with a single click.
See how the best portfolio sites use, tweak, and make these trends their own.
The Top Photography Portfolio Sites
Tony D’Orio’s style is playful, colorful, and visually packed. His portfolio site masterfully brings out this style, using whimsical interaction to bring you in, bright color to draw your eyes, and a full-bleed grid to pack your screen.
Photos in the grid colorize when you hover over them. Select an image and the grid slides to the side in a non-traditional transition that is playful and pleasurable. The navigation makes browsing fun, and the lack of organization (the photos aren’t divided by project or into galleries) mirrors the artist’s own hectic, captivating style.
Each image tells a story, and the profile facilitates those stories by smoothly animating transitions, providing large image detail views, and using nifty cross-outs to check off previously viewed photos.
By Hello Monday
On his site, Steve McCurry describes his own style as “grounded in people.” He says he tries to “convey what it is like to be that person” through his images. His portfolio communicates this style by conveying McCurry’s own personality.
The site holds over 2,000 images, hundreds more than most portfolios can manage, yet still makes them easily accessible. The 55 galleries can be sorted by place, but also by theme. This gives you a direct look at McCurry’s artistic interests. The color scheme goes beyond the typical safe black and white, yet still expertly compliments the images’ colors.
You can find your way to the popular, well-trafficked blog from anywhere on the site. The entries are selections of McCurry’s photographs, curated by theme and subject, giving you an idea of what makes an image interesting to him. The site also features an in-depth bio that lets you peek into McCurry’s history.
Nick Onken’s youthful, carefree images shine in this playful, cheery portfolio. The simple red/white color scheme and font choices are lighthearted, and fit well with the bright, sunny photos. The design underscores the style, all without overpowering the light, airy images.
The bottom thumbnail navigation is a nice visual roadmap, and the grid view for galleries is responsive. The site and images have a blithe “be yourself” and “follow your bliss” tone, and the portfolio practices what it preaches. It features a Lightbox, where you can select your favorite photos to be rendered in an image flow, maybe to share with a happy, laughing friend.
Rickard Sund’s clean, often single-subject photographs are focused on the fashion. They draw your eyes single-mindedly to the models and clothes, with matte, unremarkable backgrounds. His portfolio is focused on the photos, more so than most. It uses the least intrusive of trends in service of his images.
There are no arrows or advance buttons to get in the way of the full-bleed images. Instead, navigate through the photos by gesture of your mouse, drawing lines to transition from left to right.
The interface is present but under the surface, popping up when you need it, and fading away when you don’t. Gallery titles and social media prompts display when you transition to a photo, but all meta data disappears if you linger. The portfolio structure itself fades away and focuses on the full bleed images with the most minimal of distractions.
By Hugo Ahlberg
Joshua Cogan’s images are almost anthropological. He is an observer of people and their everyday events. The photographs span many areas and subjects, few of which are the same but all of which have overlapping themes and commentary.
The site captures this interconnectivity with an intricate, interactive tagging system that allows you to navigate through main categories and themes, as well as create your own personal filters.
There’s granular social media integration, allowing you to share direct links to images. You can mark your favorite images, which are displayed on an unobtrusive bottom navigation bar and stored, making sharing your favorite images upon return visits simple.
Nicola Walbeck’s portfolio feels like it belongs to an architect, and it’s not just because there are so many buildings. The clean lines of the tiling, artfully divided galleries, delicate advance/return arrow boxes, sans serif font choices, and muted, subtle colors all point to an architectural bent. His images themselves reflect this style, with carefully framed angles and a keen sense of place, even in his portraiture.
One of the best things about the portfolio is the rare chance to see the photos in detail. Click in to an image and you get a hi-res, extra-large view that you can explore with the movement of your mouse. Scroll with your wheel or trackpad, and you advance to the next image.
More on Page Two
We are not quite finished yet. The bulk of this fine showcase awaits on page two. So be sure that you click over and check out the rest of the design excellence.