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Extremely Essential Camera Skills
Incredibly Important Composition Skills
Super Photo Editing Skills
Simple Wedding Photography
Really Easy Retouching
Awesome Album Design Skills
Before / After
Before/After: Black & White
The Creativity Field Guide
Backup or Die
How We Did It: Lobster Island

Review: Carbonmade Online Portfolios

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There are so many online portfolio services available these days it can really make your head spin! Carbonmade is part of that group, but manages to stand out from the crowd because of two things: simplicity & personality.

With over 373,532 portfolios created, and counting, it’s obviously working.

See, some portfolio services are like the biggest Swiss army knife you’ve ever seen—they can do everything and anything. If that’s what you’re looking for, then Carbonmade isn’t for you. But if you’re looking for something really easy to use, that simply shows off your photos, you should check these guys out.

They also manage to infuse their whole service with their awesome personality. Hitting the homepage you see a unicorn and an octopus on a mountain! Dig deeper and you’ll even find a dragon!! It makes the experience so much more enjoyable when you get chuckles and smiles from the design. I don’t know about you, but I think the internet should be fun!! Whee!!

What It Does

Like I said, what Carbonmade does is simple: it helps you show off your work. The site you’ll create is all about doing that. You can’t add music, there aren’t a billion extra pages, or booking calendars, or any shiny effects. It shows off your photos, and lets you tell people about yourself.

That’s it.

Well, to expand a bit, this is what you can do with the paid account:

  • Add 500 images (organized into 50 projects) and 10 videos
  • Add your logo
  • Customize colour (dark or light), layout options, font (serif or sans serif), image size (big or normal)
  • Add Google analytics to track stats
  • Choose privacy settings
  • Add a custom URL
  • Fill out your About section, add your photo, email address, areas of expertise, etc.

There’s also a free account with 35 images and 5 projects, so you can try out the site and see if you like it! It doesn’t include custom logos, big images, or other neat things that you’d probably want if you were using this professionally.

Our Carbonmade Portfolio:

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How It Will Help You

Blogs Vs. Portfolios

For years photography portfolios have been about doing everything—showing off your work, letting people know who you are, giving them tons of details about your business, booking calendars, contact forms, et cetera and so on.

However, once blogs hit the scene, a lot of people (ourselves included) saw that they had a lot of potential to replace portfolios. They’re better for SEO, keeping people up to date with your work, showing who you are and why you shoot, and keeping customers interested in you over the years. Blogs rock.

So a lot of people got rid of the portfolio, and moved to a blog, which was cool. But wait! You still want clients to be able to see your very best work really quickly, without having to scroll through pages and pages of your blog. A portfolio is still valuable.

Simplicity

This is where I think Carbonmade really fills a need. It’s simple, non-fussy, focused on images, and just the ticket to compliment a strong blog. 

When we switched to just a blog I made a few simple portfolios from scratch with HTML, just to get something up there. They looked nice, but the problem was that they were a pain to update.

Easy Peasy

And so, another great benefit of Carbonmade. This thing is seriously easy to use.

When I tried it out, I created my entire portfolio in one night. Done. The most work was just choosing which images I wanted to use! You don’t have to resize photos, it does it automatically!! Yes!! And organizing the photos is just drag and drop, easy peasy. The whole process is clear, fun, and you don’t need to know any coding!

Save Some Time!

So the biggest thing here is that you’re going to save a lot of time, and you’re actually going to update your portfolio. You want your clients to see your best stuff, so your portfolio should be current. If you’re using a site that takes a lot of work to update, you probably will resist doing it, and your clients end up seeing old work. Bad news.

And, with Carbonmade, you’ll ensure that people see your photos. That’s what a portfolio should be all about, after all! Use your blog to tell your story and communicate with your audience. Use your portfolio to show your very best work.

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Tips:

  • Show your photos BIG! Go for impact
  • Save your logo as a PNG file to make it transparent
  • Pick your very best images for your portfolio. Focus on quality!
  • Add a description to your projects to personalize them. Show your clients that you connected with the people in the photos
  • Play with the layout options to get different looks
  • Use some HTML in the About section to add links, underlines, and bold

Limitations

I’ll take a second to talk about what would be considered “limitations” with Carbonmade.

It’s definitely very simple. You can’t choose a custom colour or pattern for the background. You only get a choice of dark or light for the look.

 Some of the customization options:

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So, it’s not necessarily easy to match to your branding. However, I just added our logo, and I think it fits really nicely. You’ll need to take a look and see if it would work for you. Brand consistency is important.

Though, to be fair, photos look best when they’re on a white or black background, where your attention goes to the photo and not the site. For a portfolio, this is probably a good thing!

The layout options can be changed, but they’re pretty simple. They show your projects in rows and columns of your choosing. No drop down menus or any of that flashy stuff.

You should certainly keep that stuff in mind when you’re looking for a portfolio. If you want something really customizable, you’ll feel limited with Carbonmade. But, if your goal is just a really simple portfolio to show off your work, they aren’t really “limitations” so much as strengths.

Pros:

  • Clean design focuses on your images
  • Customization options let you add your logo, custom domain, etc.
  • No code required!
  • Super easy to use, and fun!
  • Lots of drag and drop simplicity
  • Can include videos
  • Large image size<
    /li>
  • Ability to add captions and descriptions
  • Don’t need to resize images

Cons:

  • Limited customization (depending on what you want)
  • Free version is limited in how much you can do (mostly just for trying the service out)

Conclusion:

Carbonmade isn’t for everyone. Lots of people will feel limited by the options.

However, many people have been looking for something exactly like this. It’s focused on the images, easy to use, and quick to setup so you can get back to shooting more awesome photos to show off!

If you use a blogsite as your main web presence, Carbonmade could be the perfect simple portfolio to display your very best images!

Convinced?

The Carbonmade paid plan is $12/month. The free plan is, well, free! You can check out a demo here if you want to really dig in and try it out.

Review Details

Carbonmade dropped us a line to see if we wanted to check out their service. They hooked us up with a free account so we could get a feel for all the options. They were super helpful, no pressure, nice guys. They just genuinely love creating a tool to help people show off their work. We don’t receive any compensation for giving a positive review.

Our Portfolio

Wanna see the portfolio for our portrait business that I made with Carbonmade? Check it out here!

Lauren Lim

Hey friend, I’m Lauren! I’m a photographer and head ninja here at Photography Concentrate. I’m downright obsessed with photography, and love sharing it with super cool folks like yourself. When I’m not shooting, or writing, you can find me cooking (and eating!), traveling, and hanging out with wonderful people.

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Simple Wedding Photography

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Discussion

34 Comments // Leave a comment

  1. Wow! Looks easy and simple – like you said. Thanks for sharing. Will definitely be checking into this further.

  2. Looks fantastic. Thanks for sharing the info. And I love your portfolio – especially the Amanda + Richard shoot and the lighting. Nice!

  3. For something with more customization options, but still drag and drop and easy to use, check out Wix.com. It's a drag and drop site builder/host for flash sites. I believe they also have an HTML5 option so that it can work with apple mobiles.
    They have a free option as well, but I think the Wix logo is present.

  4. I want it!!! Wow..I need it.

  5. Sounds like a great option/addition to a blog site.

  6. This looks really interesting! Thanks for the thorough review and the chance to win:)

  7. This looks like it could be exactly what I'm looking for! Thank you for reviewing Carbonmade.

  8. This looks really neat :) Thanks for sharing!

  9. looks great! I'm definitely going to check it out! =)

  10. I've actually tried out their free portfolios before, but couldn't get over the font! I love love love the look of yours – maybe if I win I'll try again!

  11. Mark Olwick says:

    Can you direct link to individual portfolios or photos?
    Is social sharing embedded?
    What image protections are built in to prevent people from stealing them?
    Does it work on an iPad, iPhone or other mobile device?

    Thanks,

    mark

  12. thanks for the review, sounds like a great site!

  13. Wow! Looks so simple and clean. LOVE!

  14. Cynthia says:

    Nice and very user friendly.

  15. Rob+Lauren, you two always give new and creative advice. It's definitely appreciated. Your portfolio is to the point- very refreshing to see. Thanks!

  16. What a great way to show off your photos!

  17. I've been using carbonmade for some time now. The premium features are worth it. Hosting+web design in one. Good job!

  18. A few months back I needed a portfolio quickly to apply for a photography job, so I used carbornmade's free version. It was so easy! Plus I got the job!

  19. going to check it out right now!

  20. way cool! On my way to check it out!

  21. Oooh! Me! I use Carbonmade but only the free account.

  22. Your portfolio looks great. I have a free account and it's super easy to use.

  23. I had the free account as my first ever online portfolio. im game :)

  24. I also dumped my portfolio site in favor of a blog, and am considering adding one back in. Thanks for this giveaway!

  25. Jocelyn says:

    Yikes! Looks awesome. I'll check out the free version and hope that I'm a winner.

  26. I feel lucky!!!! <333

  27. Looks Pretty Awesome!

  28. Looks really cool!

  29. super cool review!! You guys are fantabulous!

  30. amazing giveaway! i love carbonmade sites! So classy :)

  31. i think it's always great when there's new ways to showcase images. wonderful!

  32. Filipe Pereira says:

    I love this kind of apps… want it!

  33. At the risk of sounding like a groupie, I just LOVE your photos. Gorgeous. Thank you for sharing. They inspire me to keep practicing.

  34. Thanks everyone for playing!! And huge thanks for the kind words about our portfolio! We're definitely really happy with how it turned out, and how quick it was to set up!

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