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Zenfolio Review: Why Some Photographers Avoid It in 2024

Alexander Banerjee Alexander Banerjee Website Development Expert

Zenfolio offers a great all-in-one solution for photographers, with clever tools to help you display your photos, get booked for sessions, sell products, and receive payments. However, it’s not the most flexible website builder, and if you have a large image bank, you’ll need a higher-tier pricing package.

Overview

💯Free PlanNo
💲Starting Price$9.00
📄Number of Templates12
🔌Apps/IntegrationsYes
🛒E-commerce ToolsYes
Shared Reseller Dedicated Cloud WordPress

Zenfolio Has So Much to Offer, But a Few Issues Too

Zenfolio was born with a simple mission in mind – to give photographers an easy, all-in-one solution for displaying, sharing, and selling images online. This zeroed-in approach makes it a go-to website builder for many professional photographers, designers, and artists.

But is this just a case of clever marketing? Is Zenfolio really the best website builder for photographers? Or does it just offer a slim selection of tools that you could easily find elsewhere – perhaps for cheaper or with more features included?

Testing Zenfolio on everything from templates and ease of use to features and pricing, I discovered that it has a lot of potential. It has a good selection of baked-in features for photographers, including all-in-one solutions for getting bookings, selling, and creating client galleries, as well as some great photo organization and protection tools.

But the selection of templates is not the biggest – nor does Zenfolio offer the most flexible customization tools. Crucially, the storage on the lower-tier plan isn’t very generous, though it’s adequate for smaller galleries.

You can try Zenfolio for free for 14 days, but before you take the plunge on a paid plan, you might want to read on to discover whether this website builder is the right choice for you.

4.3

Templates

Zenfolio’s Designs Look Good – All 12 of Them

Zenfolio offers a total of 12 templates – most of which you can use for either single-page or multi-page sites – and 8 preset gallery layouts. For the most part, they are well-designed, with tasteful color combinations, clean lines, and animations that enhance (rather than distract from) your photos.

zenfolio-templates
Zenfolio’s templates are well-designed – but there aren’t many of them.

All templates are mobile-friendly, meaning your work will look good on all kinds of devices, and they are all available on every plan.

Overall, the selection isn’t huge, especially when compared to some of the “big name” builders (Wix, for example, has over 800 templates). This lack of option is important because the Zenfolio point-and-click editor only provides basic customization tools. You’ll see what I mean in a minute.

Still, the fact remains that Zenfolio’s templates look good and are explicitly designed with photography in mind. You can rest assured that your photos are in safe hands here.

4.6

Features

Designed by Photographers, for Photographers – And It Shows

Zenfolio wouldn’t be doing its job if it didn’t come with plenty of useful tools for photographers baked-in. Alongside standard features you’d expect from a photography website builder, like photo storage, display tools, social media integrations, and plenty of sharing options, Zenfolio comes with a few pleasant surprises.

Photo Management

You’d expect any photography website builder to have photo upload and management tools. But Zenfolio takes it to the next level with a whole variety of useful, well-thought-out features to help you keep your work organized – and even maximize sales.

From your Zenfolio dashboard, you can upload and organize your photos and videos (you get up to unlimited storage, depending on which Zenfolio plan you choose), create new galleries, add tags to photos, and set permissions:

  • Galleries: You can set up new galleries by genre, theme, or event.
  • Permissions: You have full control over who gets to see what’s on your website. For instance, you can create open galleries to entice new customers and showcase your work, and password-protected galleries for customers to proof and order. Clients can even add comments to individual photos.
  • Tags: You can easily organize your work using tags, which let you search for specific image types and even create new galleries containing only certain types of images.
  • Watermarks: This easy-to-use tool lets you add custom, protective watermarks to all your photos.
  • People filter: Using face recognition, the People Filter tool lets you sort through all of your photos looking for specific people – great for weddings and events.
  • Control downloads: You can set downloads on and off for different galleries or even individual images, as well as restrict sizes for free and prepaid downloads.
  • Lightroom Plugin. If you have Adobe Lightroom, you can integrate it with Zenfolio. It makes uploading photos to your site easier, and you can sync changes if you edit any photos.
zenfolio-galleries
The Galleries tab contains all the tools you need to upload and organize your photos.

You can also track client gallery interactions from your Zenfolio dashboard – seeing which photos are client favorites, monitor sharing, and enable proofing and downloading. It’s a great way to step up your business practices and profit from your popular photos.

E-commerce Tools

Rather than just helping display and manage your photos, Zenfolio helps you sell them with a selection of integrated e-commerce tools and partnerships with print labs around the world. Just keep in mind that you need to have a PortfolioPlus or ProSuite plan to get access to e-commerce tools.

Once your online store is set up, Zenfolio’s system takes care of managing orders and collecting payments, while the partner lab handles the order fulfillment and ships directly to your client.

Zenfolio imposes a commerce fee of 7% of your order subtotal, meaning the price before tax and shipping costs. It’s a bit high for premium site builder plans. And that’s in addition to Stripe or PayPal payment processing fees, which are usually about 3% of the total order cost.That is, so long as you don’t mind paying a service fee of 9.9% on sales for order processing.

zenfolio-e-commerce-tools
Creating packages is a great way to maximize sales. It’s all possible with Zenfolio.

Not only can you sell digital and print images, but also more than 100 photo products, including gifts like canvas prints and wall art. That said, your options will depend on which partner print labs are operating in your area. In mine, for instance, the variety was limited.

You can create your own price list or use Zenfolio’s suggested pricing structure, based on what other photography businesses are charging for the same kinds of shoots.

Marketing Features

Zenfolio is generous with its marketing features. Every plan allows you to track digital downloads and send personalized email invitations for clients to view private gallery pages. You can even send email invitations that match your site’s design, which helps with branding. The higher tiers can launch email campaigns and manage client lists.

And that’s in addition to decent SEO tools. While I prefer Squarespace’s fully integrated suite of SEO tools, Zenfolio has enough to cover the basics. You can optimize your pages’ meta descriptions and specify custom meta tags. You can also integrate your account with Google Analytics and other third-party tools.

BookMe Integration

Designed by photographers, BookMe automates booking, scheduling, gallery creation, and even commerce for professional photographers – saving you up to 40 hours a month.

Just be aware that on the first two plans, BookMe is a paid add-on. But for some, it will be worth the cost. You can add BookMe to your website to automate a number of functions:

  • Booking and payments: BookMe syncs with your calendar to show your availability, session types, and packages. Clients can book and pay for everything instantly.
  • Client galleries: When a client books a package, BookMe automatically creates a client gallery, ready to upload their photos. After the shoot, the client can log in, and proof and select photos to order.
  • Fulfillment: When a client makes an order, BookMe instantly redeems, processes, and dropships the products to the client’s door, without you having to lift a finger.

You can alter the BookMe widget’s brand and colors and add it to any website. The easy user interface works well on all devices so that clients can book packages with you on their computers or mobile phones.

4.7

Ease of use

So Easy It’s a Beginner’s Dream

I really can’t fault Zenfolio on ease of use. It perseveres every step of the way to make things as easy as possible for you, the photographer.

After you sign up for the free trial, the setup wizard helps you build an outline of your website by choosing a template and then adding images to your first gallery. You’re then taken to the Zenfolio dashboard, where a quick tour will show you how everything works. This introduction left me feeling confident I knew what I was doing.

Whatever you’re working on, the same sidebar menu is always on the left. Gallery management, website editing, SEO, etc, all have their own pages – but you can switch between any of them by clicking the left sidebar. This interface is more centralized than most other builders I’ve used and makes navigation efficient.

zenfolio-setup-wizard
These helpful blue tabs showed me the dashboard to help orientate myself.

Point-and-Click Editor

This feeling of ease and confidence continues as you start customizing your site. When you load up the website builder, you are greeted with a short introductory video – no getting lost here!

The point-and-click editor is relatively simplistic. There are enough tools to customize your website adequately, but you’re never going to get lost in all these features – this isn’t Wix. But there are some advanced features here and there. For example, you can choose whether to display page elements, like text, on mobile devices or not.

Rather than endlessly tweaking individual elements, the design aspect is more about making site-wide changes. So you can pick a background color, an accent color, a font pairing, a button style, and then rearrange and reorder elements.

zenfolio-customization-editor
Zenfolio doesn’t go overboard on the customization options, but there are enough to personalize your site adequately.

I felt I could do enough to make my site look like my own, but given the limited overall number of templates, it’s not going to be radically different from all the other Zenfolio websites out there.

Galleries

As you’d expect from a website builder for photographers, Zenfolio makes it super simple to create new galleries, organize your work, and set permissions.

From the “Galleries” tab in your dashboard, you can see and manage the galleries you have created and edit gallery presets – which are settings you can apply to all galleries automatically. There’s also a useful graphic at the bottom that tells you how much storage you have left.

Adding new folders (which is how you store photos on Zenfolio) or galleries (how they display on your website) is as simple as clicking a few buttons. Should anything be unclear, Zenfolio adds little explainers (hover over the ? to see more).

Once your photos are uploaded, more pop-ups explain the process of giving access to clients and guests, and creating collections. It really couldn’t be more simple.

Setting Up E-commerce

Getting your photography shop set up is – you guessed it – easy. There’s a handy three-step list to guide you through the whole process.

First, you need to create a price list. You can create multiple ones for different shoot types. If you’re not sure, Zenfolio can auto-fill your price list based on what other photographers are charging for similar shoot types and products.

Otherwise, you can fill in your price list from scratch. The automated options will create prices for packages and individual products.

You can then assign your price lists to different galleries. For instance, you may want to link your “Portraits” price list to that family photo shoot you did the other week and your “Weddings” price list to the wedding the week before.

Finally, you can connect to Stripe to ensure you get paid. It’s as simple as a few clicks, and then you’re open for business.

4.2

Support

Zenfolio’s “Award-Winning” Support Is Helpful, But Not Always There

Zenfolio describes its customer support as “award-winning,” so I expected great things when reaching out to them. The result was so-and-so.

On top of the how-to videos scattered across the Zenfolio interface, there are several different avenues of support, including live chat, email support, and a range of self-help resources.

Agents are available 24/7, in theory, but the live chat is only “live” between the hours of 6am and 6pm, Pacific Time. Any time outside of that window, you submit an email ticket and have to wait for a reply.

I’m not on Pacific Time, so when I loaded up the chat screen to fire off a query, all agents were offline. I sent off my email anyway, not expecting a speedy response. A good six hours later, I received a helpful response (with a useful screenshot) resolving my query.

zenfolio-email-support
The email support wasn’t exactly speedy, but the reply was at least helpful.

This isn’t what I’d call a 24/7 service (what if I was having a midnight emergency?), but in the interests of fairness, I decided to hang around a bit to see how responsive the live chat was during the online time window.

At 8.06am PT exactly, I fired off a message about bulk-importing my website content. Less than 1 second later, an agent called Stephanie was writing me a friendly and helpful reply.

zenfolio-live-chat-support
Stephanie admitted that the feature I needed does not exist yet – and I appreciated the honesty.

I tried again an hour or so later and received a response within 30 seconds. When they’re online, they seem to be pretty on the ball.

My verdict? If you’re on Pacific Time, you’ll most likely have quick and reliable support whenever you need it. Those living elsewhere in the world will have to contend with longer wait times. It’s not ideal – especially in emergency situations – but it’s not bad.

4.5

Pricing

No Free Plan, but Competitive Prices

Rather than a free plan, Zenfolio offers a 14-day free trial and three competitively-priced paid plans: Portfolio, PortfolioPlus, and ProSuite. The main differences between the three are the amount of photo storage offered and the e-commerce tools

Note that these plans are currently available in the US and the UK only. If you’re based elsewhere, you might find that the plans differ slightly in the names and features included.

The cheapest Portfolio plan comes with 15GB of photo storage (the maximum file size for individual photos across all three plans is 100MB). You get access to all basic tools like website templates, SEO tools, galleries and image finding, the People Filter, security, and social media integrations.

However, if you want to sell your work via Zenfolio, you’ll want to upgrade, as the Portfolio plan has no e-commerce features.

PortfolioPlus includes all of the above, 150GB storage, and some basic e-commerce tools, including prints ordering from OVI in various sizes and frames.

The highest-tier ProSuite plan gets unlimited storage, advance ordering capabilities with print labs, and lets you extend your product range by linking with additional labs. This is the plan for you if you want to make a thriving business from your photography, with a wide variety of product types.

If you want to use the BookMe tool, it comes free with the ProSuite plan. You have to pay extra to use it on the PortfolioPlus and Portfolio plans, making the ProSuite plan an obvious choice if you want to automate business activities.

Considering the features they offer, Zenfolio’s prices appear surprisingly reasonable. However, the limited storage on the first paid plan feels a bit restrictive, considering high-resolution photos take up a lot of storage space.

Pixpa, for instance, offers fewer features on its lower-tier plans, but all of them come with unlimited storage.

Cancellations & Refunds

It may be super easy to take out a subscription and get your Zenfolio website up and running, but cancelling your membership is not quite so simple. That’s because – unlike some website builders – Zenfolio doesn’t have a dedicated button for doing this buried in your account details.

Instead, you have to fire off an email to customer service so they can trigger the cancellation for you. Or you can find the Cancelling your account article in the support center and click the “Cancellation Request” button.

cancel-zenfolio-account
There’s no cancellation button in your Zenfolio account itself, but the support center offers a huge button!

Note that Zenfolio only offers refunds on annual plans and only within 30 days of signing up or renewing your subscription. If you cancel a monthly subscription, you won’t get your money back. Make sure you cancel your third-party apps, too, and back up your content, as there’s no guarantee you can recover it after you go.

If you’ve only signed up for the free trial and have decided Zenfolio isn’t for you, there’s no need to worry as your free membership will automatically expire at the end of the 14 days. Once your trial ends, your account and photos will remain online for an additional 14 days before being deleted.

Comparison

How does Zenfolio match up to the competition?

WixCompareOur Score4.9Compare
SITE123CompareOur Score4.8Compare
ZenfolioCompareOur Score4.5Compare
SimpleSiteCompareOur Score2.5Compare

Zenfolio REVIEW: BOTTOM LINE

In many ways, Zenfolio is a great all-in-one solution for photographers. It provides neat templates to display your images in their best light, top-notch e-commerce and photo organization tools, and a handy app for automating bookings, payments, and client galleries.

However, it stumbles by having limited customization and low photo storage on the first paid plan. If you want a tool for getting booked and getting paid, this could be it. But if you want somewhere to store and display your photos in perpetuity, you might find they don’t look the way you want or that you end up running out of space.

FAQ

Is Zenfolio a good website builder for photographers?

Zenfolio is a great website builder for photographers, offering useful photo management tools, well-designed website templates, and an all-in-one solution to help you automate bookings, client galleries, and payments. Its main drawback is limited customization, but its photo and client management features compensate.

Which Zenfolio plan should I choose?

The right Zenfolio plan for you depends on what you want out of your photography website. The main difference between the three plans is how much storage they offer and whether they come with e-commerce tools. If you want a solid site for working with clients, the entry-level plan is best; to prioritize selling prints, the top-tier plan is ideal.

Does Zenfolio have a free plan?

Zenfolio does not have a free plan. However, it does come with a free 14-day trial. Once your trial is up, you can opt to subscribe to a paid plan or simply let it expire. If you decide to upgrade, there are usually lots of special offers you can take advantage of.

Which is better for photographers, SmugMug or Zenfolio?

SmugMug and Zenfolio both have pros and cons. While Zenfolio has some great all-in-one tools, it limits your storage space on the entry-level plan.

On the other hand, all SmugMug plans come with unlimited storage and a wider variety of photo products that you can sell to clients. Customization is a bit limited on both services, though.

If you’re looking for something different, check how SmugMug and Zenfolio stack up against our other top website builders in 2024.
Alexander Banerjee Alexander Banerjee
Alex specializes in website-building services. Before joining Website Planet in 2021, he spent four years testing and writing reviews of website builders, web hosts, and VPNs. He also spent a few years as the editorial lead for a news startup. He earned his BA from Soka University of America in 2018. If he’s not reviewing website builders, he’s working on one of several hobby blogs he’s built on WordPress.
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Since they introduced ARCHIVING Zenfolio is unworkable for photographers

Zenfolio introduced auto-archive site is now a disaster They archive even though opted out gallery and give no warning

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JB___________, Great Britain
May 04, 2024
1
Sadly I have to leave Zenfolio

I've been a user since 2010. I have almost 75,000 client photos on the site, so not a huge amount. But a lot more than I want to migrate to a new host. Nonetheless the recently activated Archive function is a deal breaker. My clients use my Zenfolio site as their image banks and they want and need to access to those images immediately. My current solution is to upload a duplicate gallery if a client needs images - getting files out of the Zenfolio Archive is slow and frequently doesn't work at all. Maybe someday it will but I don't care, if they implement the function it needs to work right out of the gate. It is pretty much an indicator that Zenfolio doesn't understand the photo business at all. I do find it funny that I have to upload duplicate galleries, in that I'm doubling the storage space that any given gallery requires. Zenfolio may have just made their problem twice as bad. I'll also agree with other reviewers that Zenfolio is frequently very slow and sometimes barely functional.

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anonymus, USA
April 30, 2024
2
16 years ago, it was great, now I cannot view nor download my photos

Joined April 2008, all was well. Over the years, Zenfolio has become slower and s-l-o-o-o-w-e-r-r-r. In 2023, they introduced a FORCED archive feature, which rendered ALL my existing galleries useless, as i can neither view nor download. Support is useless, merely sending a wall of text thanking me for my 'patience and understanding' yet they still keep the clock going on my account. Effectively, they took my photos hostage and charged me for the privilege. Nice business model.

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anonymus, USA
April 03, 2024
1
Used to be great. Now it’s unusable.

I signed up with Zenfolio years ago because it looked great, worked great, and had fantastic e-commerce options built-in that were super-easy to use. Alas, over time the website has gotten slower and slower and s-l-o-w-e-r, with pages of photos now sometimes taking several minutes to load -- both on on the customer side and when uploading photos to the site. Pages now commonly time out before loading at all, even as other websites (and other hosting services) respond promptly and Speedtest shows swift capacity. The new auto-archiving "feature" was the last straw: making me and my customers wait 12-24 hours to access our own directories of photos is absolutely a deal-killer. I had created custom pages using sample photos from several of my directories, and suddenly they simply showed blank rectangles because their source images were archived. Worst of all, as I retrieved my photos to move them to a new website at SmugMug, I found six directories that were EMPTY, including two wedding photo folders. I can't offer professional wedding photography if my customer's photos keep disappearing. I would once have rated Zenfolio five stars, now I'm gone and rating it one star. (I've moved on even though my subscription is paid through October and Zenfolio refuses to refund the balance on my account.)

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Kevin Bacher, USA
January 08, 2024
1

I used Zenfolio for sharing old scanned photos with my family and friends, and to do the same with photos I’ve taken over several decades as photographer for a small now gone magazine that covered local (Long Island & NYC) night clubs as well as LGBT Pride events. The “archive” bit has killed that use! I’m now trying to decide which alternative service will suit my needs better.

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Alphonse Guardino , USA
January 09, 2024
As a user since 2006, I would never sign up for Zenfolio today!

Zenfolio's newly implemented 'auto archiving’ feature has ruined all organized galleries I’ve created since 2006...They're only allowing galleries to be accessible for up to 14 months, not only that but they're only allowing users to restore up to 20 galleries at a time?! Thanks a lot Zenfolio... 🙄 Now I need to find another service to host my photos.

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TommyC, USA
November 13, 2023
1
Not a good site

I can’t get into my account. Can’t get any help. They have a chat system that a Bot answers and promises help. Help never happens. I first had trouble on Oct. 29 setting up my website and galleries. In addition, I couldn’t log into my account. Tried again on Nov 3. Today is November 9 and I still haven’t had a response from that inquiry. Sent out another cry for help by email and their “chat” system about 2 hours ago on a Thursday, within the time of their “customer help” hours.

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anonymus, USA
November 10, 2023
1
Loved it until they hooked up with Stripe

I have a been a Zenfolio customer for 10 years and the service has been perfect for my business until they started using Stripe for their payment processing. Stripe basically requires the log in info and FULL ACCESS to your bank records! Because of this, I will no longer be accepting orders through Zenfolio while I shop around for a new website platform. Zenfolio... please reconsider your decision!!!

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Kristie, USA
December 16, 2022
1
Zenfolio’s new plans are amazing! Fast,Simple,Gorgeous!

This review is really outdated....REALLY outdated. I'm glad I started a trial with Zenfolio to find how awesome their new platform and plans are. I build a gorgeous site and was able to send out a client gallery the same day. My clients love how easy it is for them to see their images and buy prints. I love how professional it makes me look and saves me tons of time. Best purchase I made in 2022.

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Jenn, USA
December 09, 2022
5
Family sharingMulti User SharingExpert SupportBackupSmart syncPersonal SolutionBusiness SolutionTeams optionsOffline foldersFile history and recovery Read more reviews
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