Premiere Bay Area Wedding Photography Blog by Trifon Anguelov Photography

1090 Clark Avenue, Mountain View, CA 94040 | (650) 930-0743 |

Smugmug vs Zenfolio: Photo Sharing Site Comparison


Abstract Image by Trifon Anguelov PhotographyA portfolio is a must for any visual artist: graphic designer, animator, videographer or photographer. It presents potential clients with quick overview of the artists best work and sets the expectations of what to expect. It helps to visualize the vision and experience of the artists into 8-10 pieces of work.

I as a photographer decided to build and maintain online photography portfolio so that my clients can see my best images. And not just the images but also post-processing skills which I have built over time.

And are there plenty of choices one has for online portfolio? Yes. Way too many. But after reviewing some of them I was able to distil the options to two which I decided to consider: Smugmug and Zenfolio. The good part is that both offer 30 days evaluation period during which one can test the features of each offering and take them for a “test drive”. At the end as all things in life, it comes down to making a decision.

For me the choice was Smugmug based on my needs and features which I think worked better for me. Here is the list of some of the decision considerations:

– Smugmug offered a complete customization (can write your own HTML and CSS, customize the headers and footers of the page, many menu options, custom HTML contact, info pages, etc) which is what I needed to tailor my website to my vision and needs

– Smugmug had much better website site-index (this is what search engines read to understand the website organization and crawl it, then add the results to their index). if you are planning to offer services and make money from the website, then you need to be placed higher in SE results and site-index helps

– There are more than 20 website themes on Smugmug to start with (you can stay with the default themes or use them as starting point and change to your taste and needs) as base foundation and them modify and customize. Having choices is better and having more choices is best in my view. I used one of the templates and them changed the background color, fonts, layout to come up with the final look for my photography website

– Smugmug offered access to up to 6 professional photo labs (including one I like BayPhoto.  Zanfolio uses MPix  which is also good choice) which my clients can order prints from. Again, lots of options is best as each client might have used one of the 6 labs in the past and feel comfortable with the prints quality, so the whole experience is better

– Smugmug customer support is more responsive (during the trials of both I had questions on how customize the templates and fount Semugmug support answered within 1 hour while Zenfolio took more than 6 hours)

– Smugmug picks up the image tags you assign in Lightroom and adds them to each image you upload. You can also add hyper-keywords to each image which are later being picked up and indexed by the search engines. This allows your images to be available in the images search for certain search terms (family photographer, baby pictures, etc). Gold when you need clients to find you online.

– Smugmug has up to 12 levels of gallery hierarchy (you can have Portraits (first level) : Headshots, Baby, Family (second level) : Headshots Male, Headshots Female, Baby Newborn, Baby One Months, Baby Two Months, etc (third level) etc. useful if you want to sell prints and need to organize your images by themes in different dimensions.

– Website customizations are available from grin Smugmug forums and many users have already shared examples of their layout customizations and HTML / CSS code.

– Smugmug offers a hierarchical organization of site layouts. On the top level there is a content that will appear on all pages, followed by a gallery specific content, and on the bottom there is a page specific content.  Each level can be customized and edited for the greatest flexibility in site customization. It’s bit more complicated than Zenfolio layout organization but once one understands it, is is quite easy to build and customize the site and pages.

– e-commerce on Smugmug allows much more customization and greater control over the pricing and offers much more merchandize options. For a starter,Smugmug offers much more print options of paper type, framing, gallery wrap, canvas, etc. – using photo sharing site on mobile devices is a must nowadays. I tested on both Motorola DROID and Apple iPhone mobile phones as well on Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 tables. Some of my images were not displayed correctly on iPhone when using Zenfolio but on Smugmug the image rendering was working flawlessly.  While using Smugmug the images appreared sharper on Galaxy Note tablet compared to Zenfolio. Each Smugmug gallery has an option to apply default sharpening on all images from the gallery which I guess made the difference.

– The new Smugmug interface was recently released and new set of tools were added to further customize these templates and add in basic elements to further customize the front page or galleries: slideshow, HTML and CSS boxes. Adding to the website is as easy as drag and drop into the desired position and later customizing all the settings by drop down menus.

– Optimization for all three user devices: tablet, browser and mobile devices.  Rendering is adjusted for each screen size and I find the images and text are scaled down very accurately. Some long titles in the menu options wrap on mobile screens but it still looks very well.

– Social networking integration has been added to Smugmug by having complete set of customization to add and modify blog, Facebook, Google+ and Twitter links. These links can be added on both the front page, galleries and on each HTML page which makes is easy for your clients to share the site and pages with their friends.

– Lastly, Smugmug offers website usage statistics for the views per site, gallery and individual pictures which is useful to understand the visits and views of your galleries and site as overall. And if this is not enough or granular, there is seamless integration with Google WebTools and Google Analytics. Registration code is easily pasted into a designated field without having to modify any code or meta tags.

Decision however depends on how comfortable you feel on customizing photo sharing website and do you really need to do it. Zenfolio offers out of the box with less customization option, while Smugmug offers powerful customization but needs  HTML and CSS, web design knowledge for customization (out of the box is fine).

Whichever you decide to pick, look for discount promo codes. Most photo sharing websites offer promotions and why pay more. At the time when I made my choice, Smugmug was offering  20% discount. Bu so did Zenfolio as well. The market for photo sharing sites is very competitive and saturated so the competition is heating up and companies are offering sign-up discounts.

To see my photo sharing site and photography portfolio using Smugmug, visit:


Think differently? Agree or disagree? Drop me a line or more in a comment section…

Trifon Anguelov Photography

Portrait and Wedding Photographer in Mountain View, CA, 94040


Author: Trifon Anguelov

Photographer in San Francisco Bay Area, California. Currently based in Mountain View, California, I am specializing in portraiture and events photography. Working with clients to fulfill their needs for personal and business, headshots, children portraits, family portraits, corporate headshots and portraits, commercial photography and events photography. In my free time I also enjoy photography landscapes and wildlife.

40 thoughts on “Smugmug vs Zenfolio: Photo Sharing Site Comparison

  1. I have been reading several of your articles and I thought I will leave a Short Reply: Thanks =)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for recommending this on FB to me. I’m busy checking outSmugmug right now 🙂

    Don’t go look at my site just yet, something went horribly wrong :/

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tamiay, glad to hear you found Smugmug vs Zenfolio article useful. It took me two months to completely polish my Smugmug site. it takes time but at the end, after putting the majority of the templates and context on place is actually much easier.


  3. Reblogged this on cliousa and commented:
    This is very useful article. Helped me to make a choice and pick Smugmug.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Awesome article. Thank you for outlining the differences between both. I need to pick a new photo sharing site and this gives me good understanding of both. You rock.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for the feedback. I am glad the info was helpful to you and your decision. I have more updates will I am planning to add soon. Learned more about Smugmug after using it for more than 2 years for my wedding photography portfolio and site.


  5. That is a really good tip especially to those new to the
    blogosphere. Short but very accurate information… Many thanks for sharing this one.
    A must read post!

    Liked by 1 person

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  15. Thank you for your review. I want to decide these days which one to use and you gave here info that I can consider.


  16. Keep on working, great job!


  17. Love your blog. Regular reader here. I am glad you have “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and I can get notifications about updates and new comments.

    I am also a Smugmug user and cannot think of switching to another service. The only thing which I wish they do better is to upgrade their product more frequently. Many features have been requested in the past but slow to come live. Go Smugmug!


  18. Regular reader of your blog. First time commentator 🙂

    Great info. Useful tips. Keep up the great work.



  19. Hi there, I enjoyed reading through your article. Wedding photographer myself in South Carolina I find your blog very informative. You definitely know a lot about wedding photography. Wish others share as much as you do.

    Thank you!


  20. Very useful info! Exactly what I needed. No wonder your page rank on top of Google. Have been using Smugmug and considered Zenfolio before but glad I didn’t switch. Smugmug has been updating their app regularly and 100% agree with your points.

    One feature that I like a lot is download the entire gallery button. no more me zipping and mailing the gallery to clients. not they can do it on their own.



  21. Hi! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you if that would be ok.

    I’m absolutely enjoying your blog and look forward to new posts.



  22. Hi. I found your blog using Bing search while looking for other San Francisco Bay Area wedding photographers. This is an extremely
    well written article.

    Love your blog. Already bookmarked it and sure will be returning back to read
    more. Thanks for the post.



  23. I love it when photographers share their knowledge and experience. It makes us all better wedding photographers. I am still a beginner but learned a lot by reading your blog.

    Great site, keep it up!


    • You nailed it. This is one of the reasons I invest time into my blog. Sharing information with other wedding photographers is a great way to elevate the wedding industry and also meet local Bay Area wedding photographers.

      Glad you like it.


  24. Oh my goodness! Amazing article dude! Thank you. Subscribed to your RSS feed for future articles.

    Thanks for the quality wedding photography info!! You rock!!



  25. Excellent post. I have been trying to pick a photo sharing site for some time. Your post helped me to choose Smugmug. Great work!


  26. Thank you for the comprehensive article. I learned a lot to make my decision for photo sharing site. Glad I found your website. Wish you also consider to compare sites as 500px and squarespaces. These have been on my list as well.



  27. Oh my goodness! Awesome article dude! Many thanks, However I am experiencing troubles with your RSS. BTW running Safari and NetNewsWire RSS reader.

    I don’t know the reason why I can’t subscribe to it. Is there anyone else having identical RSS problems? Anyone that knows the answer will you kindly respond?



  28. I simply wanted to comment and express a gratitude to you for the unique ideas you are posting on this site. Very useful info to learn and share. Look forward to read more posts in the future (already read your entire blog). it is hard to find nowadays wedding photography blogs that don’t just write about gear and trying to push affiliate links to make a commission. Very little photographers take time to share and educate. I am glad I find your blog. Will be a regular visitor from now on.

    Thank you again for the hard work. You rock!


  29. Great Smugmug vs Zenfolio comparison but I am actually looking to sign up for 500px. Anyone has good links to 500px pros and cons, or have 500px site and can comment?

    I am not a wedding photographer but do mostly landscapes and looking to sell them online. Plus don’t want to spend too much money to setup portfolio site and online store.

    Thank you guys.


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