PhotoShelter Review: Can It Grow Your Photography Business?

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Not only is PhotoShelter one of the top website builders on the market (especially if you’re an artist), but it also offers a wealth of other services for visual creatives: including digital asset management for brands, secure image delivery for photographers, and a range of AI-driven and ecommerce-focused features.

For the purposes of this review, though, we’ll be focusing solely on PhotoShelter’s website building capabilities.

Below, we’re running the rule over PhotoShelter: looking at how easy its website-building tool is to use, whether it represents good value for money, and what kind of help and support is on offer – plus plenty more about PhotoShelter’s tools, features, and online selling functionality.

If you want to know the top competitors and alternatives to PhotoShelter, the list below shows the five top-rated platforms from our most recent round of research:

What Is PhotoShelter?

PhotoShelter is a photography website builder that allows you to create a crisp, clean, and customizable portfolio website.With PhotoShelter you can design, build, and then start selling through a unique portfolio website, that fits your personal and professional brand’s look and feel to a tee.

PhotoShelter free trial website screenshot
PhotoShelter is already relied on by 80,000 photographers.

What Are PhotoShelter's Pros and Cons?


  • Refreshingly affordable, with a 14-day free trial and paid plans starting from just $10/month (billed annually).
  • PhotoShelter’s cheapest paid plan is surprisingly feature-rich, offering almost all the functionality of PhotoShelter’s most expensive package.
  • Its templates are mobile-friendly and responsive, meaning they render well and are easy for your users to interact with on all types of devices.
  • Strong ecommerce capabilities allow you to list, sell, and accept payment for your art in 23 different currencies – although you’ll pay a fee to do so.


  • PhotoShelter only offers nine preset design templates to build your website’s look and feel around, which can feel creatively restrictive.
  • It’s not the easiest website builder to use: there’s no walkthrough when you first sign in, and its lack of drag-and-drop functionality makes it cumbersome to get to grips with.
  • There’s no phone support or live chat, and – beyond PhotoShelter’s helpful Support Center – the only way to seek assistance is by filling out a form on its website.
  • Not suitable for anyone who isn’t an artist or a photographer.
  • If you’re on the Basic plan, you’ll pay PhotoShelter 10% on every piece or art of photograph you sell through your website.

How Easy Is PhotoShelter to Use?

PhotoShelter is super simple to get started with. Just enter your name and email address, create a unique ID for your portfolio, and select, from a drop-down list, your main reason for setting up an account.

You’ll then be rushed straight into PhotoShelter’s site editor, where you can get editing.

The builder generates a preset layout for you. This is nothing special – a standard layout displaying demo photos in a grid-like layout – but it is easy enough to replace the these with your own images, and to add text to each. Helpful blue circles signpost key areas of the builder, and help you get to grips with how the builder works.

PhotoShelter site editor screenshot
PhotoShelter doesn’t provide a walkthrough to acquaint you with its interface, although those blue circles are handy points of reference for newbies.

That said, we wouldn’t describe PhotoShelter as immediately intuitive. For starters, there’s no walkthrough to introduce you to the builder’s various features and layout. You’re left on your own to figure it all out for yourself.

Secondly – and in contrast to leading website builders such as Wix or Squarespace – PhotoShelter doesn’t offer drag-and-drop functionality. This makes it difficult to gain as much creative control as you’d ideally like; leaving you restricted by the confines of PhotoShelter’s pre-existing HTML5 templates and architecture.

PhotoShelter site editor screenshot 2
In a website-building epoch where ease of use is the hottest commodity, PhotoShelter’s lack of drag-and-drop functionality feels like a glaring omission.

Still, being limited to these mobile-friendly templates isn’t such a bad thing – especially when they look as good as PhotoShelter’s do. We’d like to see a few more, though… for a website builder with PhotoShelter’s creative credentials and impressive ambitions, nine templates feels slender (especially when compared to the hundreds of templates Wix offers!)

PhotoShelter East template screenshot
This template, East – which PhotoShelter describes as “a simple, yet interactive way to showcase your best work” – is one of just nine the website builder offers.

How Much Does PhotoShelter Cost?

PhotoShelter comes with three pricing plans: Basic, Standard, and Pro, ranging from $10 to $45 per month (billed annually).

While most website builders offer tiered pricing plans – with each ascending plan unlocking more and more advanced features – PhotoShelter is notable in that all plans offer almost exactly the same set of features. The only difference? The amount of cloud storage each plan offers for hosting your all-important images.

  • PhotoShelter’s Basic ($10/month, billed annually; $12.99 billed month-to-month) plan offers 4GB of cloud storage.
  • The Standard ($25/month, billed annually; $29.99 billed month-to-month) provides 100GB.
  • The Pro ($45/month, billed annually; $49.99 billed month-to-month) plan serves up unlimited storage.

All plans give you access to PhotoShelter’s entire litany of features, with one exception: the Basic plan doesn’t come with PhotoShelter’s built-in client proofing tool.

You can also access PhotoShelter on a 14-day free trial – with no credit card required. This free trial grants you all the features you’d get with a paid PhotoShelter offering, with 4GB of storage for your images as you build. There are no setup fees.

PhotoShelter pricing plans screenshot
PhotoShelter’s paid plans start at just $10/month – when you select annual billing – and go up to $49.99/month when you purchase a month-to-month package.

What Are PhotoShelter's Key Tools and Features?

PhotoShelter comes with an impressive array of features, including:

  • Customizable, mobile-ready, responsive HTML5 templates to make your site pop
  • The ability to use your own domain name, and deliver photos via FTP, password-protected links, or quick zip files
  • Retina display-optimized images, and the ability to upload any image format – including PSD, RAW, PDF, JPG, and TIF.
  • Straightforward Vimeo, WordPress, Tumblr, and Instagram integration
  • Unlimited file size and site traffic
  • Lightboxes for image selection and client collaboration
  • Built-in SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and social media tools
  • Professional images security (such as watermarks) and site-wide image search and keyword capabilities

What Are PhotoShelter's Ecommerce Capabilities?

Looking to sell your photos or artwork online? Good news! All PhotoShelter’s plans come with built-in ecommerce functionality as standard.

That means you can not only showcase the fruits of your creative labors online, but sell them, too. You’ll just need your own merchant account – or Stripe, or PayPal – to ensure you can get paid (and in 23 different currencies, too). As for fulfillment, you can do this yourself, or take advantage of PhotoShelter’s simple integrations with WHCC, Printique, and Loxley Colour (UK) for a more hands-off approach.

PhotoShelter ecommerce functionality screenshot
With PhotoShelter, you can set prices, sell your art online, fulfill orders with ease, and accept payment in up to 23 currencies.

All this talk of selling through PhotoShelter, however, begs the question – how much does it cost to do so?

Well, when you utilize PhotoShelter’s ecommerce features, all sales invoices will be subject to a transaction-level handling fee – charged on your next monthly billing cycle – and which varies depending on the plan you’ve selected:

  • Basic: 10%
  • Standard: 9%
  • Pro: 8%

So, if you’re planning on selling a lot through your PhotoShelter website, it makes sense to opt for the Pro plan – given that, with a sufficiently high sales volume, the percentage savings you’ll make will offset the higher month-to-month outlay of the subscription cost.

But for those turning to PhotoShelter more as a repository for their artwork – rather than for selling through it – the Basic plan should suffice.

What Is PhotoShelter's Help and Support Like?

PhotoShelter’s website promises “exceptional (live!) support” that’s “just a click away”. A bold claim – and one we were keen to look into.

PhotoShelter help and support website screenshot
PhotoShelter’s website promises live, high-quality support, but the specifics of this were initially unclear to us. (As was the question of whether the people featured here are actually PhotoShelter employees…or simply actors in a stock image!)

In reality, PhotoShelter’s help and support isn’t terrible – but nor is it as comprehensive as the above copy suggests.

There’s no phone support, for example, and no live chat service either. To seek a resolution for your issue, you’ll instead need to get in touch with PhotoShelter’s team by submitting a request through a form located on its website.

PhotoShelter request support webform screenshot
Need support from PhotoShelter that can’t be solved solo? You’ll need to submit this form on its website, with a description of your issue, to request advice.

We recommend this option for pressing or complex queries that need a tailored reply.

For more basic issues, PhotoShelter has a wide range of self-service support resources on its website, in the form of a Support Center. This includes articles on a huge breadth of topics relating – but not limited – to customizing, selling through, and optimizing your PhotoShelter website for search engines, as well as how to upload, share, and deliver photos.

PhotoShelter Support Center screenshot
PhotoShelter’s Support Center contains a respectably robust plethora of self-service support articles, how-to guides, and FAQs.

Summary: Is PhotoShelter Right For You?

Above, we’ve covered just about everything you need to know about PhotoShelter – well, as much as you can know without taking this photographer-oriented website builder for a spin yourself! The question is, should you give PhotoShelter a try?

Ultimately, PhotoShelter is a solid website builder for photographers and artists – just not really anyone else.

It’s relatively easy to use, given you don’t have to know code – although its lack of a walkthrough and complete absence of drag-and-drop functionality makes the user experience a cumbersome one to begin with. (Especially if you lack prior experience tinkering with a website builder or similar software.)

PhotoShelter’s help and support is also lackluster. Phone support is missing, and a live chat tool should be the absolute minimum (especially for a company whose website promises live support!)

Still, PhotoShelter isn’t without its benefits.

All its plans – not only its starting one, as is the case with many website builders – are affordable, and you can access PhotoShelter’s benefits for as little as $10/month. Plus, PhotoShelter doesn’t restrict its best features to its most expensive plans: a surprisingly and refreshingly egalitarian approach to pricing that lets even the most cash-strapped artists (and aren’t we all?) access the features they need. And the fact that PhotoShelter’s ecommerce capabilities aren’t restricted to the upper pricing tiers is a big bonus, too.

Our advice? That, if you’re an artist – and if you’ve already tried one or two website builders and still haven’t found the right one for you – give PhotoShelter a go. There’s a 14-day trial, so you have nothing to lose.

If you don’t like PhotoShelter, or if this is your first time website-building, you’ll be better off opting for a more accessible, user-friendly website builder such as Wix or Squarespace. (Squarespace, in particular, scores highly in our in-house research for its excellent design templates and visual pizzazz.)

For more information about these builders, our Wix review and Squarespace review are brilliant places to start. Alternatively, our guide to how to sell art online will give you everything you need to turn your image-selling dreams into lucrative reality – so go get started!

Written by:
I’ve written for brands and businesses all over the world – empowering everyone from solopreneurs and micro-businesses to enterprises to some of the ecommerce industry’s best-known brands: including Yahoo!, Ecwid, and Entrepreneur. My commitment for the future is to empower my audience to make better, more effective decisions: whether that’s helping you pick the right platform to build your website with, the best hosting provider for your needs, or offering recommendations as to what – and how – to sell.


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