A well-designed blog is a must, by definition, for photo bloggers, but professional photographers and Instagram addicts can benefit from having a photo blog, too.
That’s because a blog that’s set up to show off images does more than connect bloggers and fans. A regularly updated blog also helps pro photographers keep their portfolio current and helps them rank better in search results. And photographers with a following on Instagram can use a blog to reach a wider audience with their images and build a list of prospects who may want to buy prints, products, or how-to know-how.
To create a photo-friendly blog, you’ll need a theme that’s designed with images in mind. Here are four of our free favorite WordPress themes for photography blogs.
Camer is an image-grid based theme from Blogging Theme Styles. Images on Camer’s pages only display text when site tap or mouse over them, which keeps visitors’ focus on your work, not your words.
Camer’s layout for computer screens features a full-width text header above a 4-column image grid. On phones, Camer displays images in a single column.
The free version of Camer is designed to work with Gutenberg, the new modular editor for WordPress that’s meant to make it easier for users without web design backgrounds to create and update their websites. Camer’s free version includes an unusually wide array of design options, such as five page templates, thirteen sidebar position options, a built-in menu for social media feeds, and more.
To get tools to let you adjust the width of each section on your pages, plus additional layouts, page templates, and sidebar positions, you can upgrade to Camer Pro ($49).
Himalayas from Theme Grill is one of the most popular single-page themes around, and it’s a great option for photo bloggers who want to keep their site simple while showing off their best work.
The full-width banner slider is followed by a blog section with featured images and text snippets and a portfolio section that’s all images with mouse-over/tap text display. There’s a built-in call-to-action button so you can invite your visitors to sign up for your newsletter, contact you to book a sitting, or visit your online store. Services and portfolio widgets help showcase your work, too.
The pro version ($69) is WooCommerce compatible and includes Google fonts along with font size, color palette, and slider options not available in the free version.
3. Image Gridly
Photographers can display their work and their words with Image Gridly from Superb Themes.
The name probably gives away that the layout for this theme is an image grid. Unlike Camer (above) Image Gridly overlays titles on the lower third of each image, so users can see text related to each photo without having to tap or mouse over.
Image Gridly’s desktop display includes a full-width banner photo with a three-column image grid below it. On smartphones, Image Gridly’s display has a full-width banner followed by featured post images displayed in a single column.
Image Gridly’s free version is a great choice for showing off photography, but it lacks some of the features that other free themes include, like tools to customize the theme’s appearance, Google fonts, and speed and search optimization. Upgrading to the premium version (starting at $26) adds these features and tools.
Juliet is a minimalist, image-heavy, feminine theme from Lyra Themes that’s a solid choice for photo bloggers who enjoy writing about their work. It’s designed as a fashion blog theme, but the full-width image header followed by a 4-column row of featured images from different blog categories works for other types of photography, too.
Juliet is responsive, WooCommerce compatible, and lightweight for fast image load times. The free version also gives you options for image and text logos, overlay colors for the banner, background color and image, sidebars, headers and footers, and two different skins.
Although the free version has enough features to get most photo bloggers off to a strong start, the pro version ($35 plus $8/month for support and updates) has a lot to recommend it, like a lookbook template that could make a great portfolio tool, additional video display options, Jetpack-powered social media sharing tools, and an email subscription widget.
Picturing Your Ideal Photo Blog Theme
Each theme publisher offers a live demo so you can see how their designs look and work on computers, tablets, and phones. However, it’s a good idea to try out the themes you like with your own blog content before you commit to one theme.
As you try them out, ask yourself a few questions:
- How does the theme look with your content? Does the overall design of the theme work with the overall themes and mood of your photos? For example, a soft-looking theme like Juliet might be a great showcase for portrait photography but not so much for shots of brutalist architecture.
- Do you want to make money with your blog? If you plan to sell prints of your work on your site, display ads, or set up a customer service chatbot to connect with potential clients, does the theme integrate easily with the tools you’ll need to use?
- How quickly does your site load with the theme installed? Images can dramatically slow down page load times, which can lead to lower search-results rankings, more bounces, and less traffic overall. Ideally, each page on your photography site should load in less than 3 seconds.
Once you start using a theme, keep an eye on your blog’s bounce rate, the average length of time visitors spend on your site, and whether conversions are increasing, falling, or staying flat to get a sense of whether your theme is helping visitors get the most from your content.
You can also listen for feedback from your visitors to see what they think of it. Do the images display properly for them? Can they navigate around the site easily?
Use their questions and comments to get a clear picture of where the theme is working for you and where it may need improvement. Then, optimize your photo blog with these essential tools.