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Zenfolio vs SmugMug

Zenfolio and SmugMug both offer online platforms for photographers but have very distinct differences. Zenfolio offers photographers a comprehensive end-to-end solution built to meet photographers’ needs at every step of their workflow. SmugMug is more attuned to consumer and hobbyist photographers to share their images.

Here’s a comparison of both photography platforms across five aspects:

  1. Website Design and Customization
  2. Automated Workflows
  3. Client Galleries and Proofing Features
  4. Booking and Scheduling Management
  5. Ecommerce, Pricing Tools and Order Fulfillment

The conclusion is based on the detailed comparison of features relevant to photographers building an online portfolio, focusing on client interaction, marketing capabilities, workflow efficiency, pricing assistance, and e-commerce options.

Comparison summary: Zenfolio vs SmugMug

The biggest difference between Zenfolio and SmugMug is their approach to automated workflows and efficiency. Zenfolio offers comprehensive tools including beautiful client galleries and integrated online selling and marketing. Flexible features like folders and galleries allow photographers to organize, deliver and sell images by sharing private galleries or displaying galleries directly on their website. These features are perfect for individuals photographing weddings, portraits, or action sports.

In contrast, SmugMug lacks the automated workflows Zenfolio provides, making it less suitable for photographers who manage multiple aspects of their business and desire maximum efficiency in their work process.

What is SmugMug?

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SmugMug is an online photo hosting service founded in 2002 with simple solutions aligned more for the needs of amateur photographers with some tools for entry-level professional photographers, including a platform to showcase, share, and sell their work.

Today, SmugMug services include customizable website templates, private client galleries, and e-commerce options. The platform enables password protection, watermarking capabilities and supports budding photographers with the ability to share images with friends and family.

What is Zenfolio?

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Zenfolio is a comprehensive end-to-end website builder and online business solution designed specifically for professional photographers to display and sell their work. Zenfolio offers a fully integrated suite of tools tailored to help photographers present and market their photography to clients and more efficiently run their business.

Since its launch 20 years ago, Zenfolio has been empowering photographers with a powerful platform that has supported more than 500,000 aggregate photographers worldwide. It provides an array of features including modern, freshly designed and easily customizable website templates, secure client galleries, and integrated selling options. The platform also offers marketing tools and analytics to help photographers understand their audience and grow their business.

Recently, Zenfolio introduced Custom Layout blocks and gallery sharing via QR code along with new website template designs and fonts, enhanced client access, and a Folder Organizer feature to streamline photo management.

Zenfolio is positioned as the most feature-rich platform to help photographers facilitate e-commerce, offering a blend of beautiful image and video presentation, galleries, powerful pricing and selling tools, and a smooth user experience for both photographers and their clients.

Zenfolio vs SmugMug: Pricing

At every plan tier Zenfolio offers better pricing and value.

Zenfolio

SmugMug

Zenfolio provides a more comprehensive end-to-end solution with advanced features for photographers at a lower price point than SmugMug, making it a superior choice for photographers seeking value and functionality.

Zenfolio Plans:

  • Zenfolio offers more integrated features at each plan price point.
  • The seamless workflow solution helps photographers grow their business.
  • Photographers can choose the tier that fits their website, gallery and storage needs.
  • Services include fully integrated booking, scheduling and online store.
  • The Zenfolio end-to-end integrated workflow solution is both efficient and a great value.

SmugMug Plans:

  • SmugMug emphasizes unlimited storage across all plans.
  • Each service plan has additional selling and customization options.
  • The Portfolio plan is designed more for entry-level photographers.
  • The Pro service level includes additional e-commerce features.
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Zenfolio PortfolioPlus vs SmugMug Portfolio

$23/month – unlimited pages, unlimited galleries, unlimited price lists, 150GB storage, HD video, Lightroom integration, custom online store, marketing coupons & campaigns, domain name, custom watermark, and analytics

$31/month – unlimited storage, Lightroom integration, gallery sharing, custom watermark, online selling and order fulfillment

Zenfolio ProSuite vs SmugMug Pro

$40/month – everything in PortfolioPlus + unlimited storage, 4K video, multiple custom watermarks, integrated scheduling, selling and workflow tools

$45/month – everything in Portfolio + multiple price lists, marketing coupons, client favoriting and download limits

Zenfolio Plan Pricing

  1. Portfolio Plan ($9/month): Tailored for photographers just starting out or those who already have a gallery website and are looking to enhance their web presence. The inclusion of features like Lightroom integration, watermarks, and AI People Filter makes the Zenfolio Portfolio plan a great value for emerging photographers who need tools to begin showcasing and protecting their work online.
  2. PortfolioPlus Plan ($23/month): With 150GB storage, a multi-page website, blog, and online store, PortfolioPlus is tailored for photographers who are starting to book regular sessions and selling their work online. Advanced PortfolioPlus design options for fonts and colors appeals to photographers who want more customization and their own branded professional look for their online presence.
  3. ProSuite Plan ($40/month): Aimed at busy professional photographers and studios, ProSuite offers unlimited storage, 4K video hosting, advanced website features, and automated tools for booking, scheduling, and photo culling. The inclusion of multiple watermarks and comprehensive online store features makes ProSuite a perfect end-to-end solution for professionals who are looking to streamline their workflow and maximize revenue.

SmugMug Plan Pricing

  1. Portfolio Plan ($31/month):  SmugMug’s Portfolio plan is for photographers who want to start selling their work and archive images. Features like integrated cart and checkout, full-service print lab integrations and the ability to set profit margins might appeal to those who are ready to begin monetizing their photography.
  2. Pro Plan ($45/month): This plan targets professional photographers who want to expand their business. The inclusion of multiple price lists, selling custom photo packages, and the ability to offer branded packaging are for photographers looking to offer a certain level of customization in their sales process.

Zenfolio PortfolioPlus vs SmugMug Portfolio Comparison

PortfolioPlus is a more business-friendly option to start selling.

Both Zenfolio and SmugMug offer platforms to start selling, manage and expand their businesses to meet the needs of photography entrepreneurs. Zenfolio offers an entry level Portfolio plan for part-time photographers looking to start delivering images in an online gallery and launch a portfolio website, while SmugMug no longer markets a basic plan.

SmugMug’s Portfolio plan at $31 per month offers unlimited photo storage and includes a suite of features to facilitate online selling with integrated payment processing, automatic tax collection and full-service print lab integrations.

The Zenfolio PortfolioPlus plan is more affordable at $23 per month and provides a comprehensive package that includes 150 GB of photo storage, HD video hosting, a multi-page website, and blog capabilities. The PortfolioPlus plan offers advanced customization options for fonts and colors to emphasize a personalized and cohesive client experience.

Additionally, Zenfolio PortfolioPlus includes marketing tools such as coupons, email templates, and automated workflows that are particularly beneficial for photographers focused on growing their businesses.

Zenfolio ProSuite vs SmugMug Pro

A seamlessly integrated suite of business tools gives ProSuite the edge.

Zenfolio and SmugMug each offer professional-level services designed for photography business and studio owners. The Zenfolio ProSuite plan is $40 per month, less costly than SmugMug’s Pro plan at $45 per month, yet it delivers more feature-rich solutions for photographers with advanced workflow needs including high-volume wedding, sports and event specialties.

SmugMug’s Pro plan spotlights customization and client interaction, with features such as multiple price lists, coupons, lab order control, and branded packaging for a tailored client experience.

The Zenfolio ProSuite plan is more comprehensive for working and higher volume photography businesses with an integrated workflow solution. It includes unlimited photo and 4K video hosting, a multi-page website with beautiful new template designs, blogging capabilities and an integrated online store.

Zenfolio also provides automated scheduling and marketing tools, AI-powered photo culling, Smart Pricing, and advanced watermarking options. Designed to streamline workflow from shoot to sale, ProSuite assists photographers managing multiple clients and looking to reduce the time spent on post-shoot tasks.

Zenfolio vs. SmugMug:

Website Design and Customization

New Zenfolio design templates and custom blocks offer more unique styling.

Zenfolio and SmugMug both offer online portfolios, essential for any photographer or studio owner looking to showcase their work. However, the approach to website design and customization differs significantly between the two platforms.

The Zenfolio Custom Layout block-based website designer equips photographers with powerful yet easy customization options within the template chosen. So even users without advanced technical skills can quickly create a professional-looking website that reflects their unique style and branding. The pre-built templates with fresh trendy styles serve as a starting point, but the real value lies in the custom design blocks, allowing for a high degree of personalization. This ensures that each photographer can create a unique online presence to help stand out in a crowded market.

In contrast, SmugMug’s website architecture and design tools do not offer the same level of flexibility. SmugMug might not cater to those who want to inject more personality and branding into their site.

Zenfolio vs. SmugMug:

Automated Workflows

Zenfolio offers advanced workflow and automation.

Zenfolio automated workflows are a significant advantage for photography business owners looking to dramatically streamline their operations and save tons of time. By enabling automated order fulfillment at the client booking stage, Zenfolio reduces the manual interaction often required after a client makes a booking. When a client session is booked, the order processing, gallery settings and pricing lists are handled automatically. This helps a photographer focus more on creative aspects of their work or growing their business, instead of getting bogged down in administrative tasks.

Zenfolio shoot-type automation tailors the gallery design and marketing approach based on the type of shoot uploaded. This enhances the client experience with a personalized viewing gallery aligned with their photoshoot – like Wedding, Event and Sports sessions. The ability to upload folders of galleries and maintain a nested gallery structure both in the account and on the website is another time-saving feature, allowing photographers to organize their work efficiently and present it professionally without the need for manual updates.

Zenfolio AI-driven grouping, rating, and culling of images is a powerful tool that can save hours on tedious tasks. Instead of manually sorting through hundreds or thousands of images, Zenfolio PhotoRefine.ai can assist in selecting the best shots and help a photographer deliver quality work to clients in a timely manner.

SmugMug does not offer automated workflows or comparable advanced technology, which means that photography business owners using this platform would need to manually handle or outsource many of the tasks that Zenfolio automates.

Zenfolio vs. SmugMug:

Client Galleries and Proofing Features

The proof is in the experience – your photography clients will love Zenfolio.

Zenfolio offers an elegant and highly interactive experience for the photographer’s clients. The ability to favorite and comment directly in the gallery allows clients to easily communicate their preferences and feedback efficiently. This direct line of communication can save time for both the photographer and the client, eliminating the need for back-and-forth emails or calls to discuss image selections.

Zenfolio offers advanced control over gallery downloads, a significant feature for photographers to closely manage their digital assets. The ability to set different gallery download settings and control who can download images helps protect the photographer’s work. Settings ensure that only authorized users have access to high-resolution files, which is invaluable for protecting image rights and preventing unauthorized distribution.

Other Zenfolio proofing tools, including AI People Filter, further enhance and expedite the client experience and selection process. Clients can quickly find and review images where a particular person is featured, which is useful for weddings, large family shoots and events.

SmugMug’s client proofing options are more limited. While clients can select favorites, the lack of commenting and automated email features means that photographers may need to rely on external communication methods to gather detailed feedback.

Zenfolio vs. SmugMug:

Booking and Scheduling Management

Automated booking and payment saves time for Zenfolio photographers.

Zenfolio booking and scheduling is a streamlined approach that is valuable for photographers looking to automate an often time-consuming business process. By enabling potential clients to view available dates and services and book sessions online, Zenfolio not only simplifies the booking experience for the client but also significantly reduces the administrative and communication burden on the photographer. Photographers can focus more on their craft and less on the cumbersome logistics of scheduling and communication, which can be especially helpful during busy seasons or for those operating with limited administrative support.

The Zenfolio booking and scheduling feature provides substantial advantages for busy photographers. For instance, a wedding photographer can offer couples the convenience of checking their availability and securing a date without the back-and-forth of emails or phone calls. 

Zenfolio also enables taking online payments at the time of scheduling, with automated payment reminders helping photographers manage their cash flow. The automated creation of galleries at the time of booking further streamlines workflow. The Zenfolio auto-fulfillment service is a standout feature that significantly enhances the efficiency of a photography business. Orders placed can be automatically processed then shipped directly to the client, not only saving time but also providing a seamless and professional experience for the client, leading to higher satisfaction and repeat business.

While SmugMug offers a platform for showcasing and selling photography, it lacks integrated booking and scheduling tools. For a photography business owner, the absence of these tools means that they would need to rely on external systems or manual processes to manage bookings.

Zenfolio vs. SmugMug:

E-commerce and Order Fulfillment

Zenfolio is geared to help photographers ring up sales.

Zenfolio e-commerce capabilities are structured to meet the diverse needs of a photography business owner with a comprehensive and customizable selling platform. The service allows photographers to offer a variety of products, including lab-fulfilled products, digital downloads, self-fulfilled products, and packages. This flexibility is an advantage for photographers who work in different genres, such as action sports or event photography.

Zenfolio supports photographers with tools to assist in their pricing strategy with default price lists, configured by shoot type, alongside the Smart Pricing tool which eliminates the guesswork from setting competitive prices. This feature is particularly beneficial in a real-world scenario where researching local market rates can be time-consuming and complex.


Marketing is a critical aspect of building a business and Zenfolio excels with the ability to offer coupons, gallery banners, automated reminder emails, and automated seasonal marketing campaigns to help photographers grow their client base and increase revenue.

SmugMug offers a selection of e-commerce and order fulfillment options and a range of lab-fulfilled products. While SmugMug provides an ecommerce platform, it does not match the level of customization and marketing tools that Zenfolio offers.

Note: this comparison is based on current available published pricing and information as of June 2024.