It’s easy to forget that sometimes that WordPress can be used for more than just a blogging platform. Due to its open nature, and thanks to many theme builders, it can easily be turned into a gallery to show off your latest work. Why should you take time away from working on paying jobs to work on your own gallery? There are a slew of themes for WordPress that can do the job for you, and many offer easy customization so it isn’t too obvious that your gallery is an off-the-shelf solution.
We’ve gathered up a nice selection of free and paid solutions, so you can get that gallery working for you right away — no matter what your budget!
Free WordPress Portfolio Themes
Ascari: A very artistic theme, with a unique “top” button that follows you as you scroll down the page so that the user can quickly return to the point from which they began. This one is definitely more about just showing off your work, but it does it in a beautiful manner.
CSS Gallery: CSS Gallery is built with web designers in mind. Each image on the front page can rated by site visitors, but when they click on the examples, they are taken to the live version of that work. Theme also features spots for GoogleAdSense and 125X125 ads, and, best of all, it’s free.
f8: f8 allows you to customize colors, fonts, front page categories, contact info, slideshow height and other options all from the theme options page in the admin section so that you may change it to your heart’s content. All thumbnails link to full blog posts where you can then provide your users with as much information as you like about the work you did.
Gallery: Built on the Thematic Theme framework, this dark gallery theme is quite the eye catcher. The top row is all 125×125 ad spots, but after that each image is a separate gallery link that when you hover over it, the image slides up to show you the name. The individual post pages will give you more information about the work, who designed it, and where it can be found, as well as allow users to rate it and to leave comments.
iQ2: iQ2 is a fully skinnable, widget-ready, WordPress theme directed at photographers wanting to show off their work, but is easily usable for anyone wanting to show off their works or designs. It does require you download and install the PhotoQ Photoblog Plugin as this is what powers the theme. No charge is associated with this theme, but donations are welcomed.
Monochrome Gallery: Monochrome Gallery is a premium theme for all types of artwork that needs to be shown off. Unlike some of the other offerings, this one will allow you to add quite a bit of text about the work so that you can better explain any finer details the readers may need to know while browsing.
Ocular Professor: Ocular Professor is very abstract, and focuses more on the artistic side of presentation, but would be perfect for the designer who specializes in unusual themes and designs. Has a “featured post” function that will take a post and place it outside of the normal timeline, so it will be “sticky”.
Phantom: A dark theme that includes a rating system for your work. Theme is free, but doesn’t appear to be very customizable.
PhotoWP: A simple WordPress photo theme with the usual bells & whistles including allowing users to leave comments, but that is about it. This one is focused completely on the work and nothing else, but it is free.
Sharpfolio: Examples of your work are displayed on the main page with a bit of information about each off to the side. Clicking on any of the images will give you a lightbox enlargement of the image.
Snapshot: Snapshot is a free theme from Woo Themes that mimics their own theme browser. This theme allows you to choose different layouts, easily drop in codes for Google Analytics & Feedburner, choose different color schemes from the admin section and more. The main pages have your standard thumbnails, but when a potential client clicks through they will find as short or as long a description as you choose to write.
Premium WordPress Portfolio Themes
Album: Album is a WordPress theme that is focused 100% on allowing artists, photographers and designers to showcase their work. The theme is available in seven different color schemes and costs $59.95 for a license.
Gabfire WpShowcase: Gabfire WpShowcase is built around the idea of designers showing off their work easily, while also linking directly to the live example of that work. Besides including an automatic image resizer for on-the-fly image adding, the theme has also been optimized for search engines and ads. A single site license will cost you $59.
Geometric: Geometric is certainly an oddball in the world of portfolio themes in that it also integrates a full standard blog alongside the portfolio. You get the best of both worlds, alone with 12 Geometric optimized widgets for showing things like your social homes, your Tweets, your Flickr stream and more. As with all the premium themes from WooThemes, this one will cost you $70 for a single site license, but it also features all of the usual customizing options.
Image Hunter: With this one you get an unusual look, as well as full control over the size of the thumbnails, how many to display, control over the categories and a whole lot more. Image Hunter is a premium theme from NattyWP that sells for $39.
iThemes Photo Gallery: Although the name of this theme only mentions photos, it is built to show off any form of graphical creative work. The header can either be text or a logo, and many other tweaks are available to customize the look of this theme. Cost is $79.95. There are also four other variations of this theme that mostly differ in the shape and size of the front page images. All five can be found at the link.
Photo Nexus: Photo Nexus is a premium theme that comes with both a light and dark variant for you to use. It allows you to set your categories, drop in the corresponding examples of your work, set the number of images to display and then it does the rest for you. Very reasonably priced at $20, this theme is all about showing your work and nothing else.
Portfolio WordPress Theme:This $39 theme allows you to customize the head quote text, all of the theme colors, font families, font sizes, fill a curriculum vitae to be displayed from a special page, and all of this can be done from the admin area. Also gives you the ability to easily add info like client name, URL and more to each entry.
ProPhoto: ProPhoto is very much designed to be a photographer’s blog, but without much tweaking it could easily be turned into a designer’s site also. Highly customizable, but comes at a hefty price of $179 if you do it all yourself.
Viz | Biz: A very stylish theme that allows you to separate between your latest work and featured work. You can click any thumbnail for a larger version of the image and a full explanation about it. Price is $79.
It’s almost impossible to pick which of these themes would suit everyone best because they are all unique in different ways. If I had to choose though, I would say CSS Gallery from the free ones, and Geometric from the paid selection. It really is up to each individual, though, to choose what will work best for them!
What are some of your favorite WordPress gallery themes?