High quality free WordPress themes for photographers

This is the first post in my new #ThemesFor series, in which I handpick the best free and premium WordPress themes for use in niche-specific contexts. In this post, I take a look at the world of artistic photography.

How do some of the world’s leading photographers display their work online and which WordPress photography themes can be used to create similar portfolios?

Part 1: Exploring the niche

I began my research by surveying the websites of 17 influential contemporary photographers, including:

Julie Blackmon (USA)
Nick Brandt (UK)
Edward Burtynsky (Canada)
Mitch Epstein (USA)
Tierney Gearon (USA)
Franco Fontana (Italy)
Sebastian Kim (Vietnam)
George Giorgiou (UK)
Erwin Olaf (Netherlands)
Joseph Hoflehner (Austria)
Mark Neurdenburg (UK)
Martin Parr (UK)
Terry Richardson (USA)
Hiroshi Sugimoto (Japan)
Spencer Tunick (USA)
Ellen Von Unwerth (Germany)

In reviewing these sites, I noticed 3 different homepage layouts. Each layout has a significant impact on the way the artist’s work is received.

Layout Type 1: Single Photo + Navigation Menu

This layout style is the most popular of the three. It consists of a single image, often at the centre of the page, with a simple navigation menu either in a left hand sidebar or in the header area. This type of layout uses whitespace to pull the visitor into the main photograph, mimicking the experience of a contemporary photo gallery.

Examples of artists using this layout include Martin Parr, Spencer Tunick and Josef Hoflehner.

Layout Type 2: Fullscreen Photo

This layout type removes all whitespace and immerses the visitor in the artist’s world. It is a great way of communicating a particular vision, aesthetic or theme to an audience in the blink of an eye. This approach is used by Tierney Gearon and George Giorgiou.

Layout Type 3: Thumbnail wall / Masonry

The final pattern, and one that is more rare, is the use of a full screen thumbnail wall (aka masonry layout). You can see this in use on  Terry Richardson, Sebastian KimMark Neurdenburg and Franco Fontana‘s websites. This layout gives the visitor an immediate overview of the artist’s subject matter and style range.

Part 2: The WordPress Themes

Let’s start with a selection of free WordPress photography themes that emulate some of the layouts highlighted above. All of these themes can be used to set up artist portfolios with minimal effort and minimal cost.

1. Expositio

Author: WPShower
Type: Horizontal sliding portfolio with left hand navigation menu.
Price: Free

2. Touchfolio

Author: Dmitry Semenov
Type: Horizontal scrolling portfolio with left hand navigation menu.
Price: Free

3. Silvia

Author: ThemeJunkie
Type: Thumbnail grid layout with top level navitaion menu.
Price: Free

4. Tography (Lite)

Author: Quema Labs
Type: Thumbnail grid layout with top level navitaion menu.
Price: Free (see premium version below at #11)

5. Blackoot Lite

Author: Iceable Themes
Type: Dark background blog layout.
Price: Free

6. SKT Photo Session

Author: SKT Themes
Type: Fullscreen photo layout with top level navigation menu.
Price: Free

7. Gusto Photography

Author: ApertureWP
Type: Masonry layout with sidebar navigation and Instagram widget.
Price: Free

8. X Portfolio

Author: ApertureWP
Type: Masonry layout with sidebar navigation and Instagram widget.
Price: Free

9. Aperture

Author: ApertureWP
Type: Masonry layout with top level navigation.
Price: Free

10. Focus

Author: Devpress
Type: Elegant gallery homepage with top level navigation menu.
Price: Free

Will Ellington

Will Ellington

Teacher, WordPress enthusiast, mountain hiker, Japan lover, book reader and film fanatic.

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