If you’re looking to create your own website, finding one of the best website builders can save you precious time and money. Luckily, there are many quick and simple solutions out there that let you create your own site without needing to code.
Format is aimed at photographers looking to put together an online portfolio, gallery, or store. As well as tools to help you build a professional photography website, it offers solutions for running an online photography business, plus cloud storage to protect your work.
In this Format review, we’ll go through the ins and outs of this website builder to help you determine if it’s right for you, and if it's one of the best website builders for photographers.
Format: Plans and pricing
For creating your website with Format, you’ll need the Portfolio product, which is available at four price points: Basic ($7 a month), Pro ($15 a month), Pro Plus ($25 a month), and Premium ($40 a month). That’s based on annual billing; if you want a monthly rolling subscription, the prices go up to $20.99, $34.99, and $55.99 for Pro upwards.
What differentiates the packages is the number of images you can host (1,500 for Pro but unlimited for the more expensive levels), number of themes (limited in Basic but a full suite of pre-designed templates in the higher levels), and premium design elements (only in Pro Plus and above). Business tools are also differentiated, with Premium allowing 1,000 products in an online store, versus just three in Pro, for example.
The Workflow business tools (shareable client gallery, contract builder, file transfer tools, and other useful solutions) range from free to $40 a month, but you aren’t required to purchase these to use the website builder. They are included in the Pro Plus and Premium Portfolio packages.
Unsurprisingly, Format’s features are focused on the needs of professional photographers and artists.
Making your site look great is easy with Format’s suite of templates. They’re designed with particular professional situations in mind, such as for wedding photography or to showcase your artworks. If you want more of a gallery set-up, you can select different scrolling or slideshow formats.
Although the range of templates is not as exhaustive as with other website builders, the fact they’ve been designed with the professional in mind means you are quite likely to find something that suits. All templates are also optimized for mobile.
Format prioritizes quick loading for high-res images, but doesn’t reduce quality. This is crucial for presenting your work to an audience. You can also host video directly with Format rather than needing to go to the hassle of hosting elsewhere and then embedding. Additionally, it’s easy to add watermarks to your images to protect them.
Format makes it easy to integrate an online store with your site, with no fees on your sales. Plus, you can connect a custom domain (free for one year with your Format package), get a custom Google email address and Workspace features like Calendar and Drive, and use Format’s SEO tools to make your site easy to find. Plus, access the Workflow professional solutions like client galleries and easy file transfers.
Integration with key photo editing software is another facet of Format that makes this website builder ideal for photographers and artists. You can publish to your site or client galleries directly from the software.
Format: Interface and in use
Format has an iOS app, but this is for managing content rather than website-building, which should be done on a computer. The builder itself opens with a quick wizard to help you select the best template for you. Once you’ve set up the basic site, you can edit the individual pages and upload your content fairly quickly.
But the website builder is not always hugely easy to navigate; for example, opening "Edit Design" takes you to a master design editor, from which it’s hard to get back to your original page. However, overall, the builder is fairly simple and, if you don’t want to deviate from the template too much, allows you to set up your site quickly.
Format provides a searchable knowledge hub and 24/7 live chat with experts, who promise to get back to you within a few hours (although in testing they replied within just minutes). Additionally, its magazine area includes helpful blog posts that address different aspects of photography and portfolio creation. Finally, if you’re really stuck, you can even get Format to build your site for you.
Alternatives to Format
There are lots of website builders to choose from, although not all are aimed at photographers like Format. Wix is one of the best-known general site builders, and includes a Pro Gallery option and video embedding. It also comes with a fun Artificial Design Intelligence feature that creates a personalized template based on your needs.
With a free version available, and premium packages at $14 to $18 a month, Wix might be better for those on a budget. However, it doesn’t come with the full range of professional tools like Format’s Workflow.
For an alternative aimed at photographers, Smugmug also makes it quick and easy to create a portfolio or gallery. Priced at $8 to $50 a month, it is marginally more expensive than Format. One advantage is that it comes with an Android app, and promises in-app editing rather than needing to do everything on a computer.
Again, it lacks the full range of business tools that Format has, but could be ideal for you if you’re an Android user.
Format: Final verdict
Format has lots to recommend it for photographers, including a focus on high-quality images (that you can easily watermark), gallery-style templates, and editing software integration. If you’re not a professional photographer or artist, a cheaper alternative like Wix might work better for you.
But if you’re looking to sell your photographs online, Format also offers a range of business tools specifically aimed at photographers that should help you streamline your career. For this particular purpose, Format is a great specialist choice, and deserves it place among the best website builders for photographers.
Further reading on website builders
Check out our buying guides outlining the best ecommerce website builders and the best small business website builders, if you want to see what more specialized focuses for site builders look like. If you're more experienced, take a look at the best web hosting services with which to host your bespoke site.