How to build a photography portfolio website

Using the free SmugMug website templates

This website contains affiliate links to the products and services I use and recommend. You won’t pay any more for the products or services but I may get a small commission. Thank you

Building a photography portfolio website using a free SmugMug template is really easy to do.
SmugMug have around 26 free photography portfolio website templates to choose from. 
The great thing about SmugMug is that you can try SmugMug free for 14 days.
On the free trial with SmugMug you can also try out the free photography portfolio website templates.

Create an online photography portfolio

In this post I will show you how to create an online portfolio for your photography using SmugMug.
On this website I also have tutorials how to use SmugMug. SmugMug isn’t hard to use but there is lots you can do with it from sharing, storing and selling your photography online.
I have a discount off any new SmugMug account so if you decide to continue with SmugMug after the free trial you can save money off too.
Click here to sign up with SmugMug >  
(no credit card details are required to start)

Step 1. Sign up

Like I have said already SmugMug is free to try out for 14 days you just need to sign up to start.
Credit card details are not required and if you sign up and start through this link you will get a discount if you decide to continue with SmugMug.

Step 2. Upload photos

Upload your photos to a SmugMug gallery. 
To build a photography portfolio website with SmugMug you need your photos uploaded first to a SmugMug gallery. Then you can easily add the photos onto the website. You don’t need any codes to build a SmugMug website.
It is easy to upload photos into a SmugMug gallery, just hit upload and upload your photos.
I have a full video on all the settings on a SmugMug gallery here >

Display photography online

If you are just wanting to display your photography online on a SmugMug website then make sure your SmugMug gallery Visibility is set to Public in the security and sharing section. This is so that visitors to the website will be able to see and view your photography portfolio images on the website. 

Step 3. Check contact information

Once your photos are uploaded. 
Next check your contact information is correct, this information is used for your contact form which is already made for you. 
To do this go to the top right corner of your website where there will be a profile icon.
Click the icon and select edit my profile.
Here is where you can choose a photo for your profile icon, this photo will appear on the contact form too. You can change the cover photo here and you can also change the email address where emails from the visitors to the website will go to. 
I have a blog post how to customise a SmugMug contact form here too >

Step 4. Choose a website template

You can easily create your own unique design for your photography portfolio website with SmugMug. Or use one of the free photographers portfolio website templates which are available. No codes are required to make these websites which is great it’s dead easy, just add your photos.
I’ve used the Duke template from the SmugMug website templates to create my own show dog’s website, because it’s so easy to use.

Free photographers portfolio website templates

To find the free SmugMug website templates you need to be on the Photo site of your SmugMug website which is the homepage. Or click Photo site in the top bar to get to them all.
Next in the top right corner underneath your profile photo, there are 3 dots in a vertical line click those dots.
In the drop down menu click new site design.
This will take you through to all the free templates just click one of the templates to preview the design. If you don’t like the design just go back and choose another to change the SmugMug template. 
Happy with the template click choose this design, then either customize to customise the design or publish now and your photography portfolio will be live online.

Step 5. Change the photos on the template

The template which you have chosen can easily be customised to suit your photography and branding. The photos and amount of photos which appear on the template can be changed too. 
This is known as customising a SmugMug website.
To change the photos which appear, click Customize in the top bar on the Photo Site
Look for the wrench icon on the content block.

Click the wrench or (tool) icon and the content block settings box will appear. 
Depending which content block is used on the template will depend which settings are available.
To change the photos displayed, on the settings box in select from you have a choice from recent photos, popular photos, keywords, a single gallery or photos. Make a choice then depending what you choose as your setting will determine which photos are displayed.

how to build a photography portfolio website

Within the content block settings you can change the layout of the content block within the basic settings. In this example with the multiple photos content block, the photos can be displayed either in a grid style, vertical which is one photo after another as you scroll up the page. Collage landscape or collage portrait which are like a masonry style.
You can then decide which size the photos are displayed at. 
In the display section of the settings you can change the amount of spacing in between the photos. 

If the images on the SmugMug template are set to a square shape and you are a landscape photographer looking to display panoramic images. Don’t dismiss the template because you can see how easy it is to change the settings of the shape of your photos displayed. 

Step 6. SmugMug themes

Step 6 of how to build a photography portfolio website using SmugMug.
Once you are happy with the photos which are displayed.
You can change the colours of the website if you would like to make your photography portfolio unique and get creative this is easy to do with the SmugMug theme.
Unlike a WordPress theme which is the whole look and style of the website with a new WordPress theme to install which will change the whole appearance of the website. 

On a SmugMug website the SmugMug themes are the just the colours and font styles on the website which can easily be changed.
To change the colours or the font on the website template or on the SmugMug theme just click Customize in the top bar on the Photo Site.
A  customise panel will appear down the side of the website. In the customise panel look for Theme.  

Active theme

The Active Theme within the Theme section is the SmugMug theme which you are using. Which means colours and font style on your SmugMug website is coming from the active theme which can be changed. 
By clicking on the wrench icon in the active theme section you will bring up another settings box where you can change the colours and font.

Change SmugMug theme

You can also change the SmugMug theme. To do this again in the Theme section look for Available Themes.
Here you will find lots of different SmugMug themes to choose from and try out. There are bokeh backgrounds, different colours, abstract backgrounds, textures, patterns and more. There is also the standard SmugMug dark and SmugMug light to choose between. Which is the classic SmugMug website nearly black and the light is an off white if you would like a brighter website for your portfolio.

Step 7. Create a page

Easily create pages for your photography portfolio by going to the organize area.
Click Organize in the top bar to get there. 
In the left top corner look for Create or the + button, here you can create a gallery, folder or web page.
Choose Web page to create a page for the website.
There are 10 different page types to choose from, including a custom page which is a blank page.
Pre made template pages for your about page, photography services you offer and more templates for displaying photos.
The pages on the website can be customised exactly the same way as the homepage, just drag and drop content blocks onto the web page.

Step 8. Add pages into the navigation menu

Easily add the pages which you create into the navigation menu. 
Custom URL’s can be added too into the navigation menu. A search box can also. be added so visitors to the website can search by keywords to find your photos. 

Step 9. Remove the SmugMug logo

You can remove the SmugMug logo or branding from the website I have a video on the Tutorials page how to easily do this.

Step 10. Add a custom domain name

If you would like or have a custom domain name you can add it to your SmugMug website.
I have step by step instructions how to do this here >

Step 11. SmugMug SEO

Apply some simple SEO (search engine optimisation) steps to your SmugMug website. 
I have a useful SmugMug SEO blog post which will help you set up the SEO for your photography portfolio.

Scroll to Top