Now that you’ve started your portfolio it’s time to share it with the world. One of the most daunting tasks for many photographers — and creatives alike — is choosing a place to display your work, after all this is your passion and how it’s presented is crucial. Before we jump into the various options, let me mention that finding a portfolio layout can take hours of searching. just to find the exact look. While you may enjoy the search, It is essential however that you eventually get your work out there. Sometimes free options are helpful when you have limited time and resources but when you set aside the time to search you should choose wisely.
WordPress & Themes
In my last article on portfolio platforms I mentioned the flexibility and efficiency of WordPress, well now we are going to dive into its options and capabilities. One of the key principles to remember is that “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” basically keep it simple yet functional. One of my favorite features of WordPress is its ability to change the look and function of your website by using themes.. Think of themes as phone cases or spring jackets, where you are able to change the colors & even function of what you had on before. When it comes to portfolio layouts these are a few of my favorite themes of 2016.
PIXELGRADE — PILE
I recently setup Pile to run my photography website C-WELL PICTURES. I choose Pile because it was UNIQUE yet Simple. Remember what I said about simplicity earlier? While there are many who’d say I need more options I’d say removing what’s unnecessary and keeping what’s necessary and what works is better than having excess. We see this a lot as photographers and artists — people who want everything thrown in when they’re paying for something — this mindset only cheapens the quality and takes the artist out of the equation. Pile does the opposite, it leaves in what’s needed and removes the fluff.
Here’s an example: When dealing with the headers on any given page
there are tons of options everything from video backgrounds, image backgrounds, text sizes, a slideshow and most importantly the position of your text. Some of these options and more are available on other themes but to me one of the most essential option is where the hero text is placed. There are plugins like Visual Composer that gives you all the options in the world — when it comes to laying out your site — but with that plugin the developers skimp on simplicity and ease of use. As a result myself and many others don’t use themes that come bundled with Visual Composer.
While I was setting up Pile I realized there were a few things I wanted to change. Wanting to change a theme is common, as developers aren’t catering specifically to you, they might be catering to a particular market but your uniquely you, so don’t be surprised if you want to modify a few things. Within a few weeks, when I went back to my downloads area in Theme Forest, I noticed that Pile 2 was forth coming. The preview image looked interesting and after waiting about 2 months it was finally here. At first glance it looked pretty much the same minus the Hero area (top header area that displays the image for any given page).
When I looked a bit deeper and started to work with it I found there were a ton of features added such as:
- Lazy loader an overlay animation that displays as your page loads
(which can be turned off and on by the way).
- Menu & logo areas now have more options
- Bug fixes the page builder has been cleaned up and works better
- WP forms & installs when setting up the theme and flows well with the Pile 2
- Social Sharing has been added
- Portfolio grid also received some upgrades
I am quite sure that Pixelgrade isn’t resting easy now that Pile 2 is here in fact the week of the release there was an update which addressed some of minor issues. Overall Pile is my goto theme because it has a proper balance of form + function. What would I change about Pile 2? Well here are few things:
- I would have mobile options for the hero areas as the desktop layout dictates more of what the mobile can and cannot do.
- More Options for video professionals (play button colors)
- Layout templates (where I can save a layout and use it again)
ThemeBeans — Charmed Pro
Theme Beans to me sits as an hidden gem in the WordPress Theme community. While owner Rich Tabor isn’t the best developer out there his attention to detail is something very few in this community demonstrate. Charmed Pro is clean and uncluttered, It displays your work with speed and its overall experience is smooth. Charmed also incorporates video into your portfolio which is a great bonus.
Features that Like:
- Speed and ease of use
- Mobile version is spot on great responsive work doesn’t take away from the site’s presentation.
- Floating Hire Me button so clients can book nice touch.
- Clean and fluid light box
- Lazy Loading of images as you scroll down 🙂
What I’d like to see:
- Top menu option not just side
- Color schemes
- Customized blog (similar to the portfolio layout)
- Inline Video where the user clicks on an image with a video icon and the video start to play in a lightbox similar to – Instrument’s video
Charmed isn’t a top menu portfolio theme and I get that, yet it’s so uncluttered you want to take it’s simplicity and speed to a different layout — this is what I was explaining when I said that themes aren’t catered to the individual but to a collective industry.
Avoc is a theme that uses some of the similar functions of Pile yet it is totally different. Avoc displays its portfolios with a Wolf Parallax. This unique additions gives you a floating image and text that can move with the visitor as they sweep past your images with their mouse. Though I have Avoc last on my list of portfolio themes it’s far from being the least of these 3. This theme has the most options out of all the themes listed here. For instance Wolf parallaxes can be adjusted by percentage so an image can take up most of the screen while the text takes up a small portion & vice versa. Avoc also has hero options from Full height, to 80%, to 50% of the height of the window which means you have more control over how your hero images are displayed. Your pages are designed using a page builder which works through the use of columns and rows or if you’d like you can use a wolf parallax.
Features I liked:
- Page builder with good flexibility
- Lots of options to choose from (buttons / spacers / galleries)
- Lots of header options to choose
- Wolf Parallax different but useful
What I’d like to see:
- Ability to save page layouts to be used again
- The ability to drag and drop elements from different rows on the same page
- More mobile options where you can turn on/off items when on mobile devices
Choosing a theme, as most things in life boils down to your preference. It is important though, that we aren’t caught up in the sheer options and the aesthetics. A theme must on its own be able to get the job done. Once your can display your work and give users the ability to navigate your site then options and aesthetics should be considered.