Your online portfolio is part of your marketing strategy as a photographer. You may not have unlimited amounts of capital to create a fancy website, but there’s good news. You can create a portfolio and showcase your photos for free.
That’s right — free. These hosting websites allow you to build your site and gather good customers without spending a dime on hosting. These options can ensure that you have a place to showcase your best work. Let’s take a look at the top eight options.
Why Do You Need Image Hosting?
You can’t afford to lose your photo archives by keeping them locked down in hardware. By uploading your photos to a hosting site, you have better insurance that your collection will exist somewhere even if your hardware fails.
Image hosting can also free up storage space on your computer if you need it. You can upload your images to an external hard drive and then easily access them through your hosting storage solution. You’ll kill two birds with one stone.
You’ll also be able to work with them faster, sharing with family and friends, or sending potential clients to your portfolio with just a simple click of a button. It’s not a matter of whether you should upload your photos to a hosting site — it’s a matter of which one.
The Best Free Photo Hosting Sites
These eight websites will allow you to upload and store photos for free, streamlining your sharing and enabling you to create backups for your photo catalog besides your hard drive. Here are eight to watch out for.
Flickr — Best Classic Viewer
The OG of photo-sharing sites, this image hosting option is still around and still going strong. It does have a paid version, but for beginning photographers, it’s plenty.
The free option allows you to upload up to 1000 high-resolution images and share them through a social-media-like feed. You can group based on type or other characteristic markers and easily search for similar images.
You can comment on photos from other photographers and have them do the same with yours, giving Flickr a more community-like feel. Groups are available for you to share your photos, helping raise your visibility and create a sense of community.
Flickr’s most significant feature is that community. Even the free accounts have a thriving community of people able to comment and showcase talent. You can use Flickr to integrate with a variety of other tools or just to showcase what you can do with your camera.
You can share photos quickly, and the interface is still very user friendly. It may not be the household name it was a few years ago, but for photographers, it’s a deal.
While you do have the choice to share photos far and wide, the privacy settings can also help protect images. You can allow your current clients to view their albums and make purchases without showcasing the photos for the world to see.
It also has a few basic editing tools you can use to upload and edit your photos all in one go. The interface is easy to use, and if you do decide to upgrade, it’s simple to do so. If you’re just getting started, however, the free option is plenty.
Who Should Use Flickr?
Beginning photographers or those looking for a community would thrive on the platform. Although it’s home to billions of photos, you can target like-minded photo communities and use the easy share links to bring visibility to your photos.
It can be a source of inspiration for beginners and help fuel newer, better images. You’ll be able to navigate through the community site and showcase your work.
- Editing tools embedded
- Communities make visibility easier
- Easy sharing tools
- 1000 photo maximum for the free site
500px — Best For Photo Licensing
This option is a professional site designed to showcase your images for free. You’ll be able to upload seven photos per week with a maximum of 2000 photos for the free section. The sharing features are robust, mimicking social media sites and making it easy to get your photos in front of an audience.
The site is well known in the industry, increasing your chances that a curator or editor will stumble across your portfolio. It’s also home to millions of users in the community, so you can easily find inspiration and comment on other photos.
It’s not as large as something like Flickr, but that means there’s less competition for photos. You’ll be more likely to stand out if you can perfect your photography craft.
The most prominent feature of 500px is the streamlined interface. It showcases your photos cleanly and efficiently, making it a simple online portfolio. The community aspect is another good option that provides both inspiration and feedback.
While you’re limited in the number of photos you can upload with the free version, if you’re an art photographer, you may want to limit your uploads anyway. This is a site to showcase the best of your best.
It offers the chance to comment on others’ photos, and showcase the portfolio, but it doesn’t integrate directly with social media. However, you can set up licensing for stock photos, helping create a side income or a full-time hustle if you get good at it.
You get inbound statistics to gauge the popularity of photos and ensure that you’re able to give the people what they want. It’s suitable for growing as a photographer and jumpstarting the career.
Who Should Use 500px?
If you’re experimenting with stock photography as a side hustle or you want a streamlined, professional portfolio, this could be a good option. You’ll be able to build your photography career and experiment with different types of sharing methods.
It’s best for semi-professional photographers and professionals who are on a budget. If you don’t produce a ton of photos, but instead create single shots as a form of art, this is a good option.
- Licensing options
- Less competition
- Visible to curators and editors
- Small upload limits
IMGBox — Best Streamlined Option
This option gives you a streamlined way to share single images and host them forever. It offers unlimited storage, and you don’t even have to sign up for an account. Just upload your photo and copy the link. Done.
The biggest draw of this option is that it’s the portfolio for someone who doesn’t want a “portfolio.” It allows you to pick and choose your images and never worry that they won’t be available online. It promises to be around forever.
The site accepts multiple file types, and with an account, you can access all your photos later. Social media sharing is easy to use and helps bring comments from other viewers.
You can sign up for a free account or simply upload a photo you want hosted to receive the link. Getting an account helps you access all the available features, but it’s not necessary. Social media sharing is easy and intuitive, and community options are straightforward.
You get unlimited storage space with this option, but the portfolio options aren’t as robust as others. However, it’s simple and easy to use.
You can share the images via links, and the interface is fast and efficient. The codes embed into websites or where you need to share an image. When you upload the photos, you can choose the appropriate file resolution and go.
- Easy, straightforward uploading
- Embeddable codes for each image you upload
- Unlimited number of images
- 10 MG per image
Wix — Best For Website Capability
The Wix option allows you to create a website rather than just a portfolio. If you’re moving to a more professional stance or have more complex projects to show off, Wix could be a good choice.
You can arrange your portfolio on Wix, much like a full website with a bigger user map and organized sections. This gives you more freedom to build and arrange something that works for you.
Wix is a free site, which means you won’t have a branded domain. If you’re just starting out or you don’t care about or need a fully branded area, this is a good budget option for a quick website.
Wix allows you to control the display of your photos, creating a more unique site based on your branding or personality. It’s easy to use if you’ve ever done any web development before — even basic experience setting up features for social media will work.
You can jumpstart your website with simple drag and drop elements and templates and create sections for different aspects of your photography.
Google crawls Wix sites, so with full information on your website, you have the potential to come up in someone’s search results. While you won’t have a branded domain name, Google search potential is a valuable tool.
For a free site, Wix gives you a ton of control over how, where, and when your photos are displayed. You can create a simple landing page or get creative with a full-fledged website. All your photos load in full resolution and the site maintains mobile optimization.
Load times are relatively fast, and Wix has good uptimes, so your website will be available. You can embed social media icons and share links directly from the site as well.
- Looks and behaves like a full-fledged website
- Full-resolution photos with mobile optimization
- Use friendly settings
- Non branded domain name
Imgur — Best For Gif Creation
Imgur is a fun site where photos go to become those viral gifs you see floating around on the internet. You can choose to share your photos with the community or upload photos and share them privately with the embedded link.
This informal photo site is perfect for those shots that don’t follow professional photo rules. This is the place for that hilarious photo of your kitten or pictures of your friends laugh-reacting. If viral fame is your goal, Imgur can help get you there.
The site is free and stores your photos for as long as you wish. Uploading is straightforward, and you can always switch between public and private settings depending on your photo needs.
Imgur mimics other exclusive photo-sharing sites with a community section designed for discovery and a photo grid to make viewing easier. The grid helps you organize and tag your photos and allows you to customize your network.
Imgur stores your photos indefinitely and offers unlimited uploads. There are file size restrictions for certain types of pictures, but the site does make it easy to adjust.
With embedded linking to individual photos, you’ll have an easy way to share your photos through social media or email. Reddit is a popular destination, as well.
The site doesn’t give you much control over what your personal grid looks like, but that’s not the point. This is an excellent site if you tend to share images one by one instead of as a full portfolio.
The privacy settings are straightforward, and you’re never locked into one setting (unless a photo goes viral). You can change back and forth as you need to or set privacy settings for multiple images as you’re working.
- Excellent sharing options
- Less formal hosting site
- Facilitates viral sharing
- No branding options
Free Image Hosting — Best No-Strings Option
With this option, you don’t even need an account to upload photos. Just start uploading your photos and use the embedded links to ensure that you can share your photos far and wide.
Free Image Hosting gives you a quick place to upload photos if you don’t always need a public sharing repository. You get a secure HTML code to share pictures, and everything is stored forever — no limits and no expiration dates.
It also gives you the option to list your photography business in their directory if you’re located in the US, making you searchable for anyone looking for a photographer or wanting to use your services after seeing your portfolio.
Free Image Hosting is stripped down and simple. That’s the whole point. If you decide to use it to store photos, great. If you only need a place to store a few things publicly for your project, this is the place to start.
The home page is dated looking, but that may make it more comfortable sharing with people who don’t have a lot of experience with web navigation. Despite its design, it has reliable functionality, and user navigation is straightforward.
Free Image Hosting doesn’t have a hyperlink shortener, so you’ll need to alter them through a different website if that’s important to you. However, without an account, you can still get an extraordinary amount done.
Signing up for an account gives you a more natural link to the photos you’ve already uploaded, so there’s a benefit to doing that immediately. But it’s a no-strings-attached choice if you don’t always use online portfolios.
Free Image Hosting pros:
- No strings attached uploading
- Simple user navigation
- No limits or expiration dates
Free Image Hosting cons:
- The site looks like it’s from 1996
PostImage — Best For Sharing Limits
When you upload photos to the web, they sometimes stay there forever. That may be well and good for some types of pictures, but what about when you want to share photos for a short period of time?
PostImage allows you to upload photos and set a time limit if you want, giving you the chance to share on forums or other places temporarily. It provides simple batch uploading, giving you the ability to resize multiple photos with one click.
The entire system is simple to use and gives you some nonstandard sizing options such as “message board” or “avatar.” Along with straightforward navigation, you get a small batch of features that make it simple to work with multiple photos at once.
PostImage makes it simple to work with batch uploading and batch editing. You get one-click optimization for a number of photo needs from full-sized monitor to tiny avatar images. It’s popular among forum users as well as people who need to share temporary batches.
Navigation is straightforward, and each image gets an embedded HTML link to ensure that sharing is easy. This link can go to lots of different places and provides the capability to manage photos individually or all together.
One of the best parts of this hosting site is the ability to set expiration dates on sharing for images. You can choose to share the link for 24 hours, for example, and after that period, the connection becomes inactive.
You can choose several different preset expiration options, so your photos are shareable, but you have more control over how long the images stay up without individual intervention.
Suppose you worry about your images being on the internet indefinitely. In that case, this option is going to give you peace of mind and ensure that you can control images without spending a ton of time uploading and then removing them manually.
- Sharing limits are automated
- Easy link embedding
- Batch uploading and batch editing
- Limited customization
IMGBox — Best For Multiple File Types
This simple option is a free site designed to make social sharing more accessible and commenting possible. You get a little bit of community without all the complexity of a full website. It provides you with simple uploading tools and works with multiple file types.
The navigation is user friendly and modern. If you’re sending clients to your photos, it provides a secure sharing link, or others can browse through your photo gallery to see your work.
It offers presets and easy editing tools for multiple photos. Sign up for an account, and you’ve got everything available right away to get started.
You don’t need to sign up for an account, but it does unlock the site’s full features. You’ll be able to store, edit, and share photos with the touch of a button. The social sharing features are simple to use, and you can begin commenting on other photo galleries right away.
The community of the site is smaller, so there’s less competition, and you’ll be able to find like-minded artists to inspire you and get pointers. It feels a little more intimate than some of the bigger photo hosting sites around.
The site allows unlimited storage of multiple file types and makes uploading pretty simple. You’ll have more freedom with how you work based on what camera file you’re using.
You do have some privacy controls with this one, but it operates better as a community effort. You can allow or disallow comments on your photos and upload or hide them with just as much ease.
The ability to hold photos in a grouping and then remove them is a nice feature. You aren’t hemmed in by a specific file type, so everything you need to work is open. Even if you’re working with multiple file types, you’ll have the same batch editing features and privacy settings.
- Works with multiple file types
- Batch editing with one touch
- Not many extended features
Choosing The Right Free Image Hosting
There are a few things to consider if you’re going to choose a free image hosting site. Take a look at these components to help you make your best decision.
Not all free sites are created equal. While you do have some free options with unlimited uploading, others limit your overall storage capacity. You’ll need to decide how many photos you’ll need to store and if you’ll want to delete batches of photos.
If you only need something to showcase your latest and best, the storage capacity isn’t that big of a deal. You’ll be overwriting your storage with your latest work. If you’re storing photos as a backup to your hard drive, you may hit the limits quickly and be disappointed.
One of the most common restrictions for free sites is uploading restrictions. This could include limiting the number of photos you’re allowed to upload during a given time period or restricting the photo size.
If you need to upload lots of photos at a time, check to make sure the free version of your chosen host doesn’t restrict you based on those numbers. If you tend to upload high-resolution images to edit or showcase, ensure that individual file capabilities are large enough for your purposes.
A few free sites automatically delete photos after a certain period of time. Again, this isn’t a deal-breaker by itself. If you only showcase your latest work, this makes things easier for you to maintain.
If you’re storing photos for the long term, you’d be disappointed to log in one day and see whole batches missing. Ensure that you know the parameters of storage before you choose a particular hosting site.
Photo resolution is one of your biggest deciding factors. You need to showcase your work the way you see it on your computer if you’re a professional, so choose something that allows you to set the parameters.
One excellent feature, if you can find it, is mobile optimization. No matter where your clients are looking, the site automatically makes navigation easier based on desktop or mobile browsing. If you’re using it as a professional selling tool, this is going to be the way to go.
Privacy And Other Features
Free sites have a wide range of capabilities and other features. As you’re working through your decision, think about what kind of editing tools you’d like and what kind of privacy controls you need.
If your primary goal is sharing, choose a free site that makes embedded links and social sharing options straightforward. If you want to interact with other photographers, check out the site’s community pages to see what’s available. If you only want a static page, you’ll want to look at your uploading and file type options.
Ease Of Use
When you navigate through the photo hosting site, look at it in two different ways. First, the website should be secure for you to browse and upload. Check out the editing and sharing functions to make sure that you can easily get your activities done without having to look up help modules.
You should look at it from your client’s perspective as well. Are people able to find your work easily? Can you share and search from all kinds of devices? Do the photos show up with an excellent resolution?
You should be able to navigate the site, and your client should be able to view your photos without having to ask too many questions. No matter what type of hosting site you go with, this is a big priority if you’re a professional photographer.
Even if you aren’t professional, you may not want to answer questions from your family or friends every time you send out a link. Make life easier on yourself and check for easy navigation.
Why Choose Free Hosting
Free hosting is perfect if you aren’t interested in spending your budget on an official website. You’ll be able to showcase work or store photos outside your hard drive for safekeeping. There are many free versions of hosting out there to give you a jumpstart on your budget.
It could also make for a good companion site to your professional gallery or website. For example, Imgur might be a great place to blow off steam if you don’t want to store your informal photos on your professional page.
Free hosting unlocks a variety of new projects and avenues you could take with your photography without increasing your budget. It’s an excellent way to experiment with other styles of photos or separate different batches.
Free hosting also makes it easier to temporarily share photos if you can’t or don’t want to give access to more permanent storage methods. This could be a good idea for sharing photos with strangers or for special occasions.
When To Move To Paid Hosting
If you have an established, thriving photography business and you’re spending more time trying to work around restrictions, it may be time to explore paid options. These are often only necessary if you’re working with your team and have multiple people in your business managing your collections.
The presence of paid options doesn’t limit you, however. Many of our free choices provide robust hosting options that almost rival their paid companions. It’s only when the restrictions become limiting to your art and livelihood that you might explore changing to a paid version.
Choosing a free hosting site will allow you to skyrocket your photography career or just share your work with family and friends. You’ll have the chance to build a portfolio online without having to overextend your budget.
Our list options are easy to use and offer a range of features designed to make your photography more accessible. You’ll have backups for your hard drive storage. You’ll be able to share photos on a variety of platforms. You’ll even be able to work with a range of file types.
Check to see that the free features cover your storage needs and work with the file types you like. Once you find an option with easy navigation and the editing or uploading tools you need, you’ll be ready to go.
For some, you don’t even have to sign up for an account, giving you a no strings attached way to share batches of photos. There’s no wrong way to host pictures. You only need to determine your needs and then begin uploading or sharing.