Whether you’re an avid hobbyist or a working professional photographer, at some point you’ll be looking to create a website and/or photoblog to showcase your work, and at that point you’ll be looking for a fast, reliable webhost. While there are many popular hosting sites out there, photographers have a few specific considerations to keep in mind when choosing their hosts.
Things to keep in mind when looking for web hosting for a photography site:
As you’re probably well aware from the innumerable image files on your own personal computer, photographers (and videographers!) need a lot of storage space. And the last thing you want is to be limited on the amount of images you can upload to your site. Luckily, most of the larger web hosting companies offer “unlimited” disk space with their hosting plans (unlimited within the shared resources on the server). If, however, you’re wanting to go with a smaller, local company, make sure you don’t underestimate your data needs when it comes to buying a plan. As far as the larger companies are concerned, InMotion Hosting and GreenGeeks both offer solid state drives (SSDs) at no extra charge for better and faster storage performance. (They also offer unlimited storage.)
If you plan on having an extensive photography site and/or need more resources than your hosting service supports, you might want to consider cloud hosting. Cloud hosting allows you to get resources as you need them, so your cost is based on usage, not a flat fee. Some hosting companies like Dreamhost have well-established cloud hosting options available together with standard hosting.
Whether you’re looking to feature your photos on a content management system (WordPress being by far the favorite) or wish to build your own site via PHP, you’ll need to have an easy-to-use, intuitive backend tool box available to you. These days, the most popular web-building toolbox is cPanel, but you hosting services like Dreamhost who don’t offer cPanel can still be good options as long as they offer an intuitive, user-friendly option. You’ll also want the host to provide a variety of CMS options and image gallery options so you can be sure to get the look you want.
Website loading speed is one of the most vital elements to keeping viewers on your page, and of course, images are one of the main causes of slow loading. Since you’ll undoubtedly be having an image-heavy site, finding a host and a plan with faster loading options (this doesn’t have to be a dedicated or VPS plan, although if you have the money and want to ensure fast loading speeds, these might be the way to go). To decrease loading times, some web hosting companies are including content delivery networks with their premium hosting plans. A content delivery network allows your photos to be accessed from a server closer to your visitor’s website so they don’t have to wait as long for their display.
Just about everyone needs customer service and/or support with their website at some point in the life of their hosting. For best results sure that the company you choose has both telephone and internet options 24/7, and that the support comes from native English speakers. This is especially important if you’re building your own site, although even the casual user will need support at times.
5. Make Sure Your Content Is Allowed
Some web hosting services have very broad interpretations of what they consider “pornography,” so if you’re a photographer that does Boudoir photography or anything similar, you’ll need to keep this in mind when choosing your hosting. For example Bluehost has a strong policy against explicit images, while Dreamhost is fine with Boudoir as long as the subjects aren’t nude. If you’re a photographer who shoots artistic nude or similar photography, you’ll need to consider an alternative hosting company.
6. Local and/or Sustainable
Although not specific to photography sites per se, many finding a local and/or sustainably powered web host may fit in with your values. If so, there are a number of companies to choose from. They may not have the stellar prices that some of the larger companies have (though many of the larger companies are also moving to renewable energy), you’ll have the pride of knowing you’re supporting your local economy and be able to stop on in and talk to a real person when you’re having problems. An of course, if you’re the type of person who is comfortable doing everything remotely, you can still do that, too.
Top Choices For Web Hosting For Photographers
InMotion is employee owned and operated company that offers stellar services to photographers and other image-heavy customers. It features
- Unlimited storage and bandwidth.
- 24/7 customer support. They answer phone calls, emails, and chats almost instantly, they truly are helpful and knowledgeable when it comes to their services.
- Multiple options for your website design including WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, as well as 10 other image gallery applications.
- Max Speed Zone options that allow you to choose which of their data centers to serve your site. This lets you choose a data center closer to your area that can deliver much faster load times.
- Support for PHP 4, 5.2.17 & 5.3.10, MySQL 5, PostgreSQL, Ruby on Rails and Perl. Also allows photographers to 1-click set up their album websites in just a few seconds by choosing a large set of album software including WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, Gallery2, etc. via cPanel.
- A premium website builder that provides more than 500 photogallery site templates and allows to customize the color scheme, header and create the flash animation.
- 90 days money back guarantee
Dreamhost has more than 1500 servers, state-of-the-art data centers, and a full time staff of more than 100 employees, they host over 1 million domains. But more importantly, they have thousands of loyal customers. They are super-reliable and are also one of the few top recommended hosts by WordPress itself.
- Unlimited disk storage and bandwidth
- Unlimited Domain Hosting
- 24/7 support via live chat, email and Twitter
- 1-Click WordPress Installer
- Unlimited Email Accounts
- 100% Uptime guarantee
- 97-day money back guarantee
Their only drawbacks are that they don’t provide phone support or cPanel. Otherwise, they’re one of the best, larger hosting services out there.
Canvas Host: (A Local, Green Example)
If you have a smallish site, live in the Pacific Northwest and are looking for a local, green-powered hosting service Canvas Host is a solid option. They feature
- fast and reliable servers
- CentOS/cPanel hosting platform offers secure, reliable, no-oversell hosting services.
- Hundreds of popular, instant-install scripts like WordPress, Joomla and Zen Cart.
- Incredible, caring 24/7 human support. (Really, they’re amazing!)
- 9% Uptime Guarantee
- Free Account Setup
- 100% Renewable Energy
They don’t offer unlimited storage space, so they may not be your cheapest choice if you’re needing a huge amount of storage, but their overall services top any that I’ve experienced from larger companies.
Of course, they’re only one example. If local and/or sustainable is important to you, do a bit of digging. You’ll probably be able to find a top-notch service somewhere in your bioregion.
You may have noticed I haven’t mentioned prices. In my experience, prices aren’t really that important when choosing a web host. What’s more important is the quality of service, up-time, ease of back-end navigation, availability of the technical support, and staff knowledge. In the end, as far as prices are concerned, you tend to get what you pay for.