There are literally thousands of photography WordPress themes out there that a photographer could use to build an effective website, so it is important to understand that not all themes are created equal. It’s easy to think that choosing a theme that is visually appealing is the key to keeping users happy, however using ‘visual appeal’ as your only metric can often be the biggest mistake a website owner makes.

In our theme reviews, we are going to discuss what we believe are the five main considerations when choosing a WordPress theme. This will help you find the theme that’s right for you! We’ll evaluate each theme based on the following:

  • Page load speed
  • Ease of use
  • Attractiveness of design
  • Mobile responsiveness, and
  • Extensiveness of functionality

To read more about each of these criteria, and why we think these are the metrics that matter, check out our article on things to consider when evaluating WordPress themes.

We will give our thoughts on each of these criteria when considering which are the best photography WordPress themes for photographer websites.

Anyway enough on that, let’s move on to the judging…

At A Glance

  • Modern clean design
  • E-Commerce Support for image sales
  • Client image proofing area

Border would be one of our top picks when it comes to considering the best WordPress themes for Photography. It it well thought through in its planning, meeting the needs of both the photographer and the user. The stylish page transitions are elegant and restrained but will set any website built with this theme apart from its competitors.

Page load (8/10)

Border loads quite fast. The demo site does have a high number of script requests, but it is the showcase of the theme’s full functionality, so this is to be expected. It ticks many of the right boxes when it comes to performance, such as leveraging browser caching, minimising redirects and minimising request size. It scores an 82/100 for desktop on Google Pagespeed Insights, but does fair worse for mobile due to general loss of download speed over mobile networks. This is a challenging criteria to satisfy for Photography due to the visual nature of the subject matter which will always see these types of sites loading more slowly that others.

Ease of use (6/10)

The biggest concern with this theme is the use of the modern mobile navigation icon for desktop. Whilst visually it is a nice point of difference, a user who is not familiar with browsing on mobile devices may not understand that it is the menu. The home page slider also includes a vertical navigation to the left of the page, which may confuse some users. Other than the initial potential challenge the of finding the menu, the general navigation is very good. The developers of this theme have done well to consider the possibility of the requirement for multiple levels of sub-menus. The gallery navigation is also excellent, with images opening in a light box style display and easy navigation between items in a gallery being available.

Design (10/10)

This theme is very attractive. A clever use of the white border to frame the website plays well into the photography thematics. A great choice of font family, size and weightings balanced perfectly with the right line heights and padding. We could name endless examples of very clever use of subtle animations throughout the theme, but one we particularly like was in the grid gallery, where it tracks the side of the image the user has entered from and applies a corresponding animation to the “+” symbol. A wide variety of layout options in the both the gallery and portfolio sections.

Extensive functionality (8/10)

Border have some great extra functionality included, with E-commerce support through Woocommerce. This will allow photo sales through the website. There is also a photo proofing feature which allows you to password protect galleries for clients to proof without needing to make the images public. These extras are evidence of this theme going the extra mile to meet the needs of the photographer as well as the end user.

Mobile Responsiveness (8/10)

Very good on mobile, the navigation flow is fantastic with sub-menus being well handled as previously mentioned. The E-commerce integration has been well thought out with great layouts ensuring a simple and clear user experience. The only problem we foresee for a photography website is that the home page slider crops the sides of the image to maintain the full viewport image height. Landscape is ok, but you would need to be mindful of ensuring the subject of your image is in the centre. Other than that the tap target sizing in the footer for the social media links is probably the only other concern with the icons being too small in our opinion.

At A Glance

  • Funky modern design
  • Interactive client proofing area with feedback
  • Well developed for image sales

“Photography” as the name would suggests is the perfect theme for a Photography website. From the demos we chose the “Center Align Menu” and “One Page” options as being our picks. The overall package offered by this theme is seriously impressive and left few boxes un-ticked.

Page load (7/10)

Page load on Photography was a little slower. This is due to the high number of requests of css and javascript files, which surprisingly have not been combined. They also have not compressed the images at all, so there is room for improvement for the user in that area.

Ease of use (8/10)

Intuitive menus for both desktop and mobile. Great gallery options with easy navigation, we particularly liked the thumbnail previews along the bottom of the page when viewing an expanded version of an image. Also the inclusion of the link to purchase is great for producing sales. Overall the theme is very intuitive for the user.

Design (9/10)

Great looking theme! Great choice of fonts, line spacing, padding and a variety of layout examples. The full width double columns on both of the chosen demos have a great example of how the user could incorporate both text and images into their content.

Extensive functionality (9/10)

Photography has some excellent functionality. In addition to the previously mentioned e-commerce support, there is also a beautifully skinned client login that opens to some excellent photo proofing functionality. Here the client can view, download and either approve or reject images. A nice filter then allows the user to view all their approved or rejected images. Would be nice if they allowed for a download of each filter but maybe they will include this in future updates.

Mobile Responsiveness (7/10)

Good on mobile, this theme also does a great job in handling multiple levels of sub-menus and provides a great e-commerce experience. We did find a few issues with alignments, but nothing crucial to the user experience. Tap targets for social media were just big enough, may be a little small for some people. Similarly to “Border” this them also sets the home image height to fill the viewport, so the site admin needs to be mindful to choose the right images.

At A Glance

  • Classic elegant design
  • Fast page load speed
  • Simple client proofing area

Aster offers a nice alternative to the more modern designs of the previous 2 themes. Offering a more classical elegant look, this theme offers a great user experience and a nice alternative for the home page layout.

Page load (9/10)

This theme loads fast and scores a 90/100 on Google Pagespeed Insights. It has a reasonable number of requests, minimises the size of the requests and leverages browser caching.

Ease of use (8/10)

This is a very user friendly site. It has clear, intuitive navigation and even has the word “MENU” included next to the icon at mobile level. There are clear instructions on how to navigate the horizontal scrolling layout on the home page and it includes a progress bar on page load.

Design (8/10)

While it is not our design style, this will meet many people’s tastes. The use of more classical textural elements produces an elegant feel. A good balance of fonts making sure to keep menu items and key headings in legible san serif styles.

Extensive functionality (7/10)

This theme provides key functionality for photographers with a password protected client area for photo proofing. It does not support e-commerce like the previous 2 themes, but is a great option otherwise.

Mobile Responsiveness (8/10)

Again a good job of the mobile adaptation. Touch targets are sized well and the navigation works well, again considering multiple levels of sub-menus. The only concern we have was the gallery functionality, where once open, you must close to use the main navigation menu.

More WordPress themes for photographers

Below are our thoughts on some of the most popular WordPress Photography Themes that didn’t quite make our top 3.

One of the themes that made it very close to our top 3, this theme is well designed, offers a great range of functionality, both generally and photography specific and responds nicely for mobile. It also has a great range of gallery options that offer an excellent user experience

While this theme boasts some nice features, it is a little more expensive than some of our preferable options. That said the major area we feel this theme lets the user down is with design. It is just not as striking and we felt the choice of fonts was not ideal.

We really liked the design of this theme, however felt that the functionality was a little lacking and certain key features were a little confusing from a user experience point of view.

The self-proclaimed “unusual photography wordpress theme” does have some nice functionality, however certain design choices with sizing of certain elements did leave us wondering.

We did really like this theme from a design and general functionality point of view. The reason it didn’t make our top 3 was a lack of photography driven functionality. The e-commerce demo seems to be more geared toward a general shop type application. The general font sizing for paragraphs is also way too small.

The design of this theme is clean, however it lacks enough industry specific functionality to make the cut in our opinion. The portfolio section was a little confusing from a user experience point of view, with certain items opening in light boxes and some opening as a post. Overall a few things we feel could be reconsidered.

We really like certain design choices with this theme, however we also found some problems. The navigation is strange and the font size is too small. Globally the paragraph text appears to be set to 12px, which in our opinion is too small. It should be at least 14px which falls in line with Google’s recommendations for readability.

This theme also has issues with the choice of font size by the designer. Menu items are set to 11px and paragraphs set to 13px. The general spacing of the layouts is very nice and we like that this theme does have some industry specific functionality with their proofing section.

While this theme is clean, it isn’t very striking. Texturally it would have been nice to see some variation in font weights, as it all feels a little heavy. The e-commerce integration seems to have been given very little consideration, with certain parts of the styling appearing to be out of the box Woocommerce styles.

We really liked this theme. Generally it is very well designed and developed. The site loads fast and they have done a great job with mobile responsiveness. The only let down on this theme is the lack of industry specific functionality. It would be nice to see a proofing area and also an e-commerce integration with a little more specific intent. The only downside was that the demo site was a little heavy on load.

BOW

This theme is beautifully designed, it really does showcase photography work perfectly and is elegant on mobile. The only drawback is that the functionality is quite limited. There is no support for for e-commerce or client proofing and the customisation options are quite limited without a layout builder for pages.

We weren’t overly impressed with this theme. The transitions are a little sharp and the overall user experience feels sub-optimal. There are some nice design elements but overall this theme falls short in our opinion with the lack of photography specific functionality.

This theme feels a little outdated. The vertical stripes on the home page really are a design concept of yesteryear. This also limits the navigation options until you click through to one of the featured internal pages. To improve the user experience you would need to choose one of the other home page layout options. The proofing section doesn’t appear to have any feedback functionality for the client which kind of defeats the purpose if it really is just a password protected gallery.

We really did not like this theme. The design is unimpressive and is very outdated. The features and functionality are not in line with modern premium WordPress themes.

This theme provides enough basic functionality for a photography website, however the design is a little all over the place with some parts being quite nice and others being very average. An example of this are that the headers on each page are very large, heavy in font weight and become truncated beyond a certain length which is not ideal. In contrast the main menu items are very small and the font weight is too fine.

This theme doesn’t really seem like a photography theme, other than the fact that it uses full cover images. The design is a bit outdated and the functionality is average. The thumbnail bar along the bottom of the gallery page is either glitchy or just not well thought out. There really isn’t anything overly exciting about this theme from a photographers point of view.

This theme has a reasonably non-offensive design, but again probably doesn’t really fit the mould for what we would consider a theme specifically designed for photography. The fact that it loads as sort of a one-page site could also be a draw back when it comes to digital marketing.

We like the concept of this theme, the home page has a very elegant look and a layout with point of difference, however the carousel itself is quite glitchy. It doesn’t scroll with ease, often either moving too fast or too slow when you try to swipe across the images. There are a few design issues we can see, but probably the main thing holding this theme back from greatness is the lack of any kind of advanced functionality specific to photography.

This theme actually ticks a lot of boxes. It has been well developed and has some really nice advanced functionality including a great client proofing section and e-commerce support. Where this site is let down is in its design. The choice of colors and fonts really doesn’t do this theme justice. The site is also a little heavy on load.

The design and functionality for this theme is a little outdated. The home page image grid on the demo is also very glitchy. There is no photography specific functionality once again begging the question of whether this really is a photography WordPress theme or just a multi-purpose theme packaged as a photography theme. Overall we were not very impressed with this theme.

This theme is trying too hard to be different. There are too many hidden hover states and the general home fader on the demo is very sharp. Again it is missing all the advanced functionality we would like to see in a theme built for photography sites.

This theme is pretty average. It does not offer a proofing section or e-commerce support and the design is not that exciting. The gallery options are not too bad, but the rest of the theme is underwhelming.

The design is boring and the options limited when it comes to this theme. The navigation items are too small and the social icons almost illegible. For the money there are much better themes out there offering a lot more.

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