When it comes to picking a WordPress theme, photographers are likely to prioritize site design above all else.
However, while a photographer’s online portfolio should look good and site design matters, it’s even more important for the site to perform well. That means maintaining speedy loading times for site visitors, who won’t want to wait too long to view your photographs and will (hopefully) contact you once they see your work.
The best WordPress themes for photographers are those that have effective contact page layouts and are able to load quickly while hosting massive photo files.
The need for speed
Why is site speed so important for a photographer’s website? For one thing, Google uses site speed indicators to determine whether to show your site to its search engine visitors.
Also, research shows that 47 percent of people expect to see a web page load pretty quickly — like under two seconds. In fact, if your site doesn’t load in three seconds, most people will leave.
For photographers, this is a particularly tricky challenge, as photography sites host massive photo files that can slow loading times.
“Photographers create these beautiful works of art that result in high-resolution files that are usually quite massive,” explains Jessica Rhoades, owner of Create IT Web Designs. “For a site to load quickly, those photos have to be compressed, which can be frustrating for some photographers. But it’s a price that’s worth paying for a high-performing site.”
Because hosting such large files is just the nature of a photography website, the most important factor to consider when choosing a WordPress theme is weight. You want the most lightweight theme you can find. That way, the limited amount of loading time you have is for your photographs — not your theme’s website elements.
5 best WordPress themes for photographers
The following WordPress themes are lightweight, have quick load times, and include elements to display beautiful photography portfolios.
Neve was literally built for speed. This WordPress theme is flexible and suitable for businesses of all types, but because it focuses on speed performance, we named it the best option for photographers.
Aside from being speedy, Neve is also easy to use. The Neve team makes it simple to get started by providing multiple premade starter sites for you to build on. They’re incredibly intuitive to customize, even if you don’t know code.
Neve offers the following features:
- Mobile friendly and responsive website layouts (important for SEO)
- Flexible designs, some specifically made for photographers
- Lightweight, quality code that’s optimized for speed
- Custom header and footer options
- A support team to assist with frequent updates
You can start working with Neve for as little as $96 per year, and there are over 80 site demos you can check out before making your purchase. This example is a site demo built specifically for photographers.
The homepage includes strong visual elements, minimal navigation, and clear calls to action (CTAs).
The portfolio page displays photos in a flexible layout, surrounded by minimal design — so the focus is on the photographs.
The theme also allows site visitors to expand each photo further for a closer look.
Additionally, the Neve theme includes templates for About and Contact pages, so customers can easily get in touch.
Astra is another lightweight WordPress theme that’s easy for those without a technical background to use.
You can start using it for free, but there are affordable add-ons you may need to purchase to design the site you envision.
Astra provides access to these features:
- Integrations with page builders like Beaver Builder, SiteOrigin, Elementor, and Divi (another theme we’ll cover)
- Compatibility with the native WordPress Customizer
- A clean user interface
- Dozens of pre-built sites
- Seamless WooCommerce integration to build online stores
- 14-day money-back guarantee
You can start working with Astra Pro for as little as $59 per month. The Growth Bundle, which costs $523 per month, includes all plug-ins.
Some of Astra’s pre-built templates are specifically for photographers, like the one below.
A photo-focused homepage is intended to impress visitors when they first arrive, while an internal Services page makes it easy for potential customers to know exactly how they can work with you.
A crisp Contact page layout makes it easy to collect visitor information.
OceanWP focuses more on being user-friendly than on being fast — but it’s still fast. You can use this theme for free, and it provides a variety of ready-to-use demo sites.
OceanWP features include
- Adaptations to accommodate mobile traffic (important for SEO)
- SEO support to improve indexing and search rankings
- WooCommerce integration capability
- Compatibility with WordPress Customizer (or any page builder you choose)
Paid versions of OceanWP, which range from $54–$127 per year, provide additional functionality or support.
This homepage puts the focus on your photography but also includes a clear CTA so visitors know how to contact you, helping drive more business.
A customizable portfolio displays photos as a gallery — and it’s expandable, so visitors can also take a closer look.
This theme also features custom-built layouts for Contact and Services pages, so potential customers know how to reach you.
Divi is a WordPress theme powered by the Divi page builder, which are two separate items. You can use Divi as a page builder to help you customize other themes, or you can use Divi’s customizable WordPress theme, which is what we’re reviewing here.
Because it’s powered by a page builder, Divi is incredibly easy to use, but it’s also one of the most advanced WordPress front-end editors available.
You can get Divi’s WordPress theme for $89 per year or for a one-time fee of $249.
Divi provides these features:
- A highly adaptable WordPress theme
- Access to the Divi page builder, which allows you to visually build your WordPress site with drag-and-drop functionality
- 800+ pre-built layouts and 100+ full website packs
- WooCommerce integration, which may come in handy for selling prints
- Full access to Divi’s support team
- 30-day money-back guarantee
It’s worth noting that, for the lifetime fee of $249, you receive unlimited use of all Elegant Themes products, including Divi, Extra, Bloom, Monarch, the Divi page builder plug-in, all other WordPress themes, premium support, updates, and more.
Just like the other themes we’ve chosen, Divi offers a variety of pre-built sites, some of which are specifically for photographers.
This demo site example focuses on wedding photography and includes a variety of page layouts for blogs, pricing pages, project pages, and more.
It also features a landing page layout. Landing pages are most often used for marketing campaigns — like email campaigns or digital ad campaigns — and focus on convincing someone to purchase your photography services or prints before they leave the page.
GeneratePress is a highly rated, fast, customizable WordPress theme that many business owners trust for their web pages.
What helps make it fast is the ability to deactivate modules you’re not using. When someone comes to visit your site, they don’t have to wait for unused features to load in the background.
GeneratePress includes the following features:
- SEO optimization
- Many ready-to-use demo sites
- Responsive design for mobile traffic
- Translation readiness
A free version provides many features; there are also premium versions starting at $59 per year and going up to $249 for a lifetime.
Here’s an example of one demo site built for a photography studio.
The portfolio functionality makes it easy to display beautiful photos against a dark background.
The importance of contact forms
While displaying a beautiful portfolio is an important selling tool for your business, the most crucial element to consider when creating your website is site speed and contact forms.
If you’re looking for a contact form solution that encourages more form completions and drives more business for your photography studio — all while keeping your customer data organized and secure — try Jotform today.