I’ve been looking for a place to host my portfolio and, while there are a lot of offerings out there, I’ve narrowed it down to a couple of options that are interesting and suit my needs.
I’ve discussed this previously on google+ but, since I never really got any feedback there, I decided to bring it up here as well. You should still check out the google+ post, since it brings up some points that I’ll probably forget here.
It’s inevitable that some of the photos you take will stand above the rest and those are the ones you want to showcase in a nice way. I use flickr as my main place to upload photos; it works, it’s relatively cheap and it has a huge user base, which enables you to get some amount of exposure even without spending too much time or effort on it. What flickr doesn’t provide, however, is a sleek and polished way to display your very best work. My best work still gets uploaded there but it gets kind of lost in the sheer amount of photos on display. I’ve remedied that problem a bit by migrating family snaps to google+, which is pretty much the first social network I use (recently deleted my never used facebook account, never liked that place). So I have a place for bulk uploads and a way to share family snaps with the people who would actually care to see them, but a place where my best work can shine by itself is still missing…kind of.
I’ve found two places that I quite like, both with some pros and cons. Let’s have a look at both of them.
500px: There’s a lot to like about this site. The first thing you’ll notice is the quality of the photos here; good work simply gets the spotlight and it makes the whole site feel like a place where quality matters. The next thing you’ll notice, after uploading some photos, is how good those photos look. Simply put, I think 500px displays photos a lot better than, for example, flickr. They are the stars of the show, just the way it should be. However, the main reason I’ve started using this service is for the portfolio page you get. You can check mine out here. With a free account you get unlimited uploads but you’re limited to just one collection and you can’t use all the themes for the portfolio. The way I’m using the site is that I’m a lot more strict about what I choose to upload compared to flickr. Only the best gets uploaded here and of those uploads, only the top picks gets added to the portfolio.
It’s not all good though, there are problems with the site as well. For starters it can be kind of buggy and slow. Actually, those are pretty much the only complaints, but they’re pretty big ones. Flipping through a portfolio isn’t anywhere near as fast as flipping through the lightbox on flickr, there’s a considerable delay. It isn’t just my computer either, I’ve tried on several systems and browsers, it’s just slow. There has also been problems with the portfolios simply not displaying properly. I know they’re working on improving the site but it seems to be slow going. Those are the main issues I have and it’s what’s keeping me from putting down the $50/year to upgrade and get unlimited of everything.
The alternative to paying would obviously be to stick with the free account but, nice as it is, I don’t really like the fact that all my photos are lumped together in the portfolio. I would like to separate some different styles or, at the very least, separate the bugs from the people in different collections.
Carbonmade: The first thing to notice about carbonmade is how extremely simple it is. That’s a bit of a double-edged sword; the simplicity certainly makes it fast to set up and easy to maintain but, at the same time, you will probably wish there were some more options. This wouldn’t be such a big deal if it wasn’t for the cost of upgrading, which is a rather ridiculous $120/year. If the price was around that of flickr, say $25, it would be an attractive offer. As it stands, upgrading is out of the question. So what does a free account get you? It gets you 5 collections, an improvement over 500px, and 35 images, a huge step back, 35 is a pretty small number. Granted, it does force you to really pick your best and only your best shots. However, it would also force me to stick to only my portrait work or only my macro work, which isn’t really what I want. If I stick to only portrait shots, 35 might be enough to show off a wide enough variety while making sure the quality is kept high.
So what does it look like? You can see my portfolio here. I’m not overly fond of the starting page but once you get to the collections, things look better. With an upgrade you can choose to display bigger pictures, which would have been nice (but not $120 nice). One thing I really like here is the speed, it’s lightning fast to flip between pictures, very nice. The speed seem to come at the cost of some quality loss though – the images look slightly softer than they do on 500px.
Those are my main alternatives at the moment and personally I think I’m leaning towards 500px, with some reservations. I’m certainly open to suggestions though, perhaps I have missed some brilliant offerings out there. I’ve looked a bit at smugmug and zenfolio and, while nice, they seemed a bit too complicated for my very basic needs. The attentive reader will have noticed that I have a poll up on this very matter, so leave me your opinion (you’re going to tell me to spend my money, aren’t you?) and let me know what you use for your own portfolio.
More discussion and no photos today, sorry about that.