PhotoShelter vs. SmugMug: Which is Better?

PhotoShelter vs. SmugMug: Which is Better?

Choosing between PhotoShelter and SmugMug can be tough for photographers. Both platforms offer a lot of features and benefits, but which one is the best for your business? In this article, we will compare the two platforms and help you decide which one is right for you. We’ll discuss the pros and cons of each platform, as well as some tips on how to get the most out of them. So, let’s get started!

What is SmugMug?

SmugMug is an online photo sharing, printing and storage service.

It was founded in 2002 with the goal of creating a simple way for photographers to showcase, store and share their photos.

With SmugMug, users can upload digital images from any device or camera to their own personal gallery on the site. They can also print their photos, create customized products such as mugs and cards, or send digital images as gifts. SmugMug also offers a variety of sharing options such as email, Facebook and Twitter.

SmugMug’s main features include unlimited storage space, custom galleries, secure archiving and backup services, support for RAW image files as well as various customization options. The service is available in a free version with limited features or paid subscription plans. For professional photographers looking for an easy way to showcase their work online, SmugMug could be the perfect solution. It provides the tools needed to control how your photos are presented online while still offering the convenience of an online gallery.

What is SmugMug?

It’s also a well known name in the industry, which can help you stand out if you’re looking to promote yourself as a professional photographer. SmugMug is a great platform for photographers of all levels and offers a range of features that make it worth considering. [1], [2], [3]

What is PhotoShelter

PhotoShelter is an online platform designed to help photographers manage their photos and videos, as well as sell them.

It provides a variety of features, including storage and organization tools, e-commerce capabilities, and portfolio websites for showcasing work. PhotoShelter also allows photographers to easily share images with clients or other collaborators.

The platform provides users with an intuitive dashboard that simplifies the process of sorting through hundreds or thousands of files. With it, photographers can create collections based on specific criteria such as keyword tagging, location data, dates captured, or even camera settings used when taking the image. This makes it simple to quickly find the desired file. Additionally, PhotoShelter offers a variety of built-in editing tools to help photographers quickly adjust image settings and optimize the visual appearance of their work.

PhotoShelter also features a secure e-commerce platform for selling digital files or prints. It supports multiple payment gateway options, provides detailed order tracking and analytics, and includes built-in promotional tools for marketing images.

Finally, PhotoShelter offers portfolio website templates that allow photographers to put together attractive websites with ease. These sites feature an intuitive drag-and-drop interface, customizable layouts and designs, optimized SEO settings, and support for a variety of media types such as videos, slideshows, PDFs, and more. [1], [2], [4]

What is PhotoShelter

Comparison of SmugMug and PhotoShelter

As you can see both SmugMug and PhotoShelter provide photographers with an easy way to store, share, and sell their work online. In this section, we’ll take a closer look at how the services compare.

Image storage options

Image storage options are a crucial part of any photo-sharing platform. As digital images become increasingly popular, it is essential that users have the ability to store their photos safely and efficiently. With the right image storage options, photographers can share their work with ease while also ensuring that all of their images are secure.

The most important factor when it comes to image storage is security. Users need to know that their photos will remain safe and private no matter what happens on the platform. The best way for platforms to ensure this is by offering top-notch encryption measures like two-factor authentication or end-to-end encryption. This ensures that only authorized parties can view the photos, protecting them from potential breaches or data theft.

SmugMug offers unlimited storage with no file size limits, making it an ideal option for photographers who need to store a lot of photos. It also offers encryption measures such as two-factor authentication and full disk encryption (FDE), so users can rest easy knowing their images are safe from prying eyes.

You can also store various file types on SmugMug. This includes JPEG, RAW, HEIC, PSD and other popular image formats. To install RAW files however, you need to sign-up for the most expensive subscription plan.

PhotoShelter doesn’t offer unlimited storage right off the bat, for that you need to upgrade to the Business Plan. PhotoShelter also supports various image file types including JPEG, HEIC, PNG, PSD and more but it doesn’t support RAW files without an upgraded subscription plan. What you can’t upload whatsoever is videos, so if you’re looking for a video storage solution, SmugMug might be the better option.

Website & Portfolio Builder Simplicity

In the world of digital photography, a photographer’s website is his or her platform for displaying work and connecting with clients. Having an easy-to-use portfolio builder to create a professional looking website is essential for any photographer in today’s market.

Both SmugMug and PhotoShelter offer great portfolio builders that make it simple to create attractive websites quickly and easily.

SmugMug is famous for its interactive website and portfolio builder, which makes it simple to customize your site’s look and feel. SmugMug also includes a range of pre-made templates so you can get started quickly. Drag and drop feature allows for easy organization of your page. It also has over 25 add-on features to customize the website, like adding a contact page or photo blog.

PhotoShelter offers similar features as SmugMug but takes a slightly different approach to creating your website. Its streamlined website builder allows for full customization of text, color scheme, photographs, logo, menus, sidebars and more. The demo gallery it offers is a great way to get an idea of how your portfolio will look when published. It also allows for multiple page setups and easy organization of images.

You can customize the gallery to match your brand and add a range of features, such as social sharing buttons, e-commerce solutions and contact forms. PhotoShelter also enables automatic website backups for security, so all your data is safely stored. And you can set-up a custom URL for your website if you choose. You can’t do that on SmugMug unfortunately.

Comparison of SmugMug and PhotoShelter

Selling Options

Another crucial aspect for photographers is the ability to sell their photos. Both SmugMug and PhotoShelter have great options for selling images, but they do differ in terms of features and pricing.

SmugMug offers a comprehensive set of features that allow you to easily upload your photographs, add descriptions, and set up payment plans. All payments are taken care of through Stripe or PayPal which makes it easy to collect payments from customers. You can also issue refunds if needed and create coupon codes for discounts. The platform also allows for custom watermarks on images so you can protect them from unauthorized downloads.

You can set private galleries on SmugMug that require a password to access, perfect for selling premium content like prints or personal photos. Additionally, you can also add custom pricing to images and enable downloadable options with downloads expiring after a certain period of time. As for the commision that SmugMug takes, it stays at 15%.

PhotoShelter is another great platform for selling your photos as it offers multiple features including e-commerce capabilities, galleries showing stock photos, and the ability to sell licenses for commercial use. You can easily set up shopping carts and manage orders from within the platform. It also allows for seamless integration with third-party payment processors such as PayPal or Stripe so collecting payments is easy. Commision wise, PhotoShelter takes between 8% to 30% depending on the plan you choose.

Client Proofing

Proofing is an important part of the photo-sharing process, as it allows clients to review and approve images before they are posted on the platform. By proofing their images, clients can ensure that only the highest quality images are shared with their followers and audience.

Not only does proofing allow clients to check for technical flaws in their photos such as color correction, sharpness, etc., but it also gives them a chance to confirm that the photos accurately reflect their personal brand or message. Additionally, since many photo-sharing platforms have specific rules about what types of content can be posted, proofing helps ensure that all posts abide by these regulations.

SmugMug features password protected galleries which clients can use to review and proof images. This makes it easier for photographers to share photos with multiple clients without having to go through a complicated process of emailing drafts back and forth.

PhotoShelter also offers an intuitive proofing system that allows photographers and their clients to collaborate on projects in real-time. You can set access to galleries based on account roles so it’s easier to manage the proofing process. Additionally, buyers can select a personal favorite from a batch of images before choosing to buy them!

You can also select the time period during which the proofing will take place as well as restrict how many images a client is allowed to review at one time. This helps control the process and make sure that buyers only see what’s necessary.

Comparison of SmugMug and PhotoShelter


When it comes to deciding between PhotoShelter and SmugMug, cost is a major factor. Both platforms offer different plans, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. So which one is the better value for photographers?

PhotoShelter offers three subscription plans: Basic, Standard and Professional. The main differences lie in the storage capacity you get, and the features available to you. For example, the Professional plan includes unlimited storage plus advanced features such as SEO optimization or proofing tools. Similarly, SmugMug offers three subscription plans: Basic ($13 per month), Power ($28 per month) and Pro ($45 per month). With all three of them you get unlimited storage and customizable pages, but the higher plans (Power and Pro) provide additional features such as social media integration or proofing tools.

When it comes to the cost of PhotoShelter, their Basic plan starts at $10/month while the Pro plan is more expensive at $45/month. At the end of the day though, the decision between PhotoShelter vs SmugMug will depend largely on your personal needs and budget. [1], [2], [3], [4]

SmugMug Pros & Cons

Now that we’ve gone over what PhotoShelter and SmugMug have to offer, let’s take a more detailed look at the pros and cons of each platform.

SmugMug has several advantages that actually put it ahead of PhotoShelter in many respects.

20 customizable template options

Customizable templates are a great way to make your website look professional and unique. SmugMug offers 20 different templates that you can customize with ease. The templates are fully customizable, allowing for easy editing of fonts, colors, layouts and more. This makes it easier for photographers to create an eye-catching website without having to mess around with HTML or CSS code.

Unlimited storage available

As we mentioned earlier, PhotoShelter and SmugMug both offer unlimited storage for their paid plans. However, SmugMug takes it a step further by offering unlimited storage even in its Basic plan. This makes SmugMug a great choice for photographers who need large amounts of storage but don’t want to pay too much for it.

Effective SEO

The power of SEO cannot be ignored. It can make or break a website’s success, and SmugMug has taken this into account with its effective SEO features. The platform offers several tools that allow you to optimize your site for search engine rankings, including page titles, meta descriptions, custom URLs and more. This makes it easier to get your website noticed in the vast online world of photography.

Customizable eCommerce functionality

SmugMug also offers customizable eCommerce features that make it easier to sell your photos online. You can easily add a shopping cart, accept payments via credit card or PayPal, and even set up subscription services for regular customers. This makes it easy to monetize your photography business without having to pay extra fees or commissions.

On the other hand, there are also some drawbacks of using SmugMug. For example, there is no free plan available and the customization options are limited compared to PhotoShelter. Additionally, the pricing structure can be confusing for some users as there are multiple plans to choose from each with different features and prices.

SmugMug Pros & Cons

Supports video uploads

Although both PhotoShelter and SmugMug offer support for many file types, only SmugMug supports video uploads. This makes it a great choice for photographers who also want to showcase their videos on the same platform as their photos. Moreover, you can also add captions, descriptions, and tags to your videos so that they are more easily searchable.

However, SmugMug isn’t 100% perfect either. It does come with some negatives. While those may not be a dealbreaker for all photographers, they are worth considering before you make your decision.

Lack of free version

Unlike many other photography hosting platforms, SmugMug does not offer a free version. This means that photographers who don’t want to pay for the service will have to look elsewhere. Additionally, some of the premium features on the higher-tier plans such as SEO tools and customizable templates are not available in the Basic plan.

Doesn’t support self-fulfilled printing

SmugMug does not offer any self-fulfilled printing options, which means that photographers will have to rely on a third-party printer in order to print their photos. This can be inconvenient as it requires extra steps and can also add additional costs.

Limited client profiling options

SmugMug also offers limited client profiling options, which means that photographers will have to rely on other methods such as surveys or interviews in order to gain more insight into their clients’ needs and preferences. This can be time-consuming and may not provide the most accurate results. [1], [2], [3]

PhotoShelter Pros & Cons

Let’s move to the pros and cons of PhotoShelter, so you can make a more informed decision about which platform is best for your needs.

Provides tons of guides and helpful content

One of the main advantages of PhotoShelter is its commitment to helping photographers succeed. They offer tons of guides and helpful content, so you can easily get up-to-speed with their platform and all its features. You’ll find tutorials on how to upload photos, use the image editor and proofing tools, optimize your website for search engine optimization (SEO), and much more!

PhotoShelter Pros & Cons

In-depth eCommerce capabilities

PhotoShelter also offers in-depth eCommerce capabilities, so you can easily set up an online store and start selling your photos. You can personalize page layouts and product descriptions, integrate with payment processors like PayPal or Stripe, and even manage taxes for different countries.

Extensive proofing tools for clients

For those who need to collaborate with clients, PhotoShelter’s proofing tools are essential. You can set access rights to galleries based on account roles, and even restrict the number of images a client is allowed to see at one time. This helps maintain control over your process and keeps buyers from getting overwhelmed.

Lower sales commissions

Next, PhotoShelter offers lower sales commissions than SmugMug. With PhotoShelter you only have to pay a commission starting from 8% for all your sales, compared to the standard 10-15% min charged by most other photography websites. This makes selling your photos with PhotoShelter more profitable and cost-effective.

Self-fulfilled printing

Finally, PhotoShelter also provides self-fulfilled printing options. This means that you can have prints made and shipped directly from the platform without having to outsource or use a third-party printer. This is great for photographers who are looking to save time and money on fulfilling orders.

Despite all these pros, PhotoShelter isn’t perfect. It’s important to be aware of its drawbacks too:

Limited storage on lower plans

One of the main drawbacks of PhotoShelter is that its lower subscription plans (Basic and Professional) only provide limited storage space. You’ll need to upgrade to Business or Enterprise plans for unlimited storage, which can be expensive.

Doesn’t support video files

Another downside is that PhotoShelter does not support video files. This may be a deal-breaker for some photographers who need to display and sell their work as digital downloads or streaming videos.

PhotoShelter Pros & Cons

Only nine customizable templates

While PhotoShelter does offer website customization, the platform only provides nine customizable templates. This can be limiting for photographers who want to create unique and eye-catching websites that stand out from the competition. [1], [2], [4]


Does SmugMug support RAW files?

Yes, SmugMug supports RAW files. However to upload them, you will need to purchase the most expensive SmugMug plan, which costs $45 per month. This plan allows for unlimited uploads and storage for RAW files and other image formats.

What is better than SmugMug?

The answer to this question really depends on the individual photographer’s needs. In general, PhotoShelter offers a more comprehensive suite of features than SmugMug does. It provides photographers with advanced customization capabilities for their website, such as detailed SEO and analytics tracking tools. It also has powerful photography portfolio features and marketing automation tools built-in, so it can be used to market your photography business in ways that SmugMug cannot. PhotoShelter also allows users to easily set up online stores where they can sell digital prints and other items directly from their site.

Do professional photographers use SmugMug?

Yes, professional photographers use SmugMug. Photographers who are serious about their work will opt for the Professional Plan, which allows them to create unlimited galleries with advanced SEO and marketing tools to help increase visibility in search results. Additionally, they can create portfolios with password protection and detailed sales reports, as well as add additional customizations such as a domain name, custom email address, and logo.

SmugMug also offers various integrations with other services including Adobe Creative Cloud applications like Photoshop and Lightroom, making it even easier to manage photos in one location. Plus, when users sign up for an annual subscription of either the Standard or Pro plan, they get access to exclusive discounts from leading photography brands like B&H Photo and Manfrotto.

In short, SmugMug is highly recommended for professional photographers who need extra features to showcase their work in the best possible light.

Is SmugMug a good place to store photos?

Yes, SmugMug is a great choice for photographers who are looking for an easy-to-use platform to store their photos. It offers unlimited photo storage and sharing options, as well as customizable portfolio templates and features like eCommerce integration, password protection and secure backups. You can even add customized text to your photos or albums with the integrated HTML editor. All of these features make it one of the best online platforms for storing digital images.

What are the benefits of PhotoShelter?

PhotoShelter provides photographers with a powerful and customizable platform to showcase their work, sell prints and products, and manage their business. Photographers who use PhotoShelter have access to a wide range of features that allow them to make the most out of their photography.

PhotoShelter’s intuitive design allows for easy customization of individual galleries, portfolios, or websites. It allows photographers to create an online store powered by Stripe payment processing and lets them easily upload images from their mobile devices using the Android or iOS apps. PhotoShelter also provides custom URLs (example: as well as publish-ready HTML5 websites so that photographers can get up and running quickly.

PhotoShelter also provides photographers with powerful tools for selling prints, digital files, and products through an integrated e-commerce platform. Photographers have access to a range of options when it comes to setting their own prices, including the ability to customize pricing for different sizes or formats, provide discounts for larger orders, and even offer subscription plans. PhotoShelter also lets photographers easily integrate their account with Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) so they can start selling without leaving the platform.

Useful Video: Photographer SHANNON WILD explains why she uses PHOTOSHELTER


Both Photoshelter and SmugMug are excellent online portfolios for photographers. They both have a lot of features to help you showcase your images in the best possible way and provide you with tools for marketing, analytics, and e-commerce.

The main difference is that Photoshelter has a more comprehensive range of features than SmugMug, particularly when it comes to smoother website building process and analytics. However, SmugMug is friendlier to use and offers more flexibility when it comes to customizing the look and feel of your portfolio site.

Ultimately, the choice between Photoshelter and SmugMug will depend on what kind of photography business you are running. If you need detailed tools for SEO optimization or selling digital files, then Photoshelter is probably the right choice for you. On the other hand, if you are just starting out and need something easy to use and customize, then SmugMug could be your best bet.
No matter which platform you choose, make sure to take advantage of all its features in order to get the most out of it. With either Photoshelter or SmugMug, you can create a standout portfolio website that will help you build an audience and grow your photography business.
Good luck!