Big life events tend to be accompanied by countless images of every important moment, but in today's digital world, what happens after that? You're probably not going to print them all for a book, and uploading them all to large photo-storage sites seems rather impersonal. For photos like these, you need something you can customize to fit your style without any sort of platform branding slapped on top, with optional password protection for privacy if you need it. And of course it shoud also work with your very own custom domain name.
Fortunately, there are a ton of great options available. Some edgy and modern, and some more flexible and subdued. And best of all, they're not going to cost you a fortune to maintain. For $10 USD or less, you can create something quite amazing.
SmugMug was built for preserving your digital photos on a nice, clean website. And it goes above and beyond to make sharing easy, with simple downloads, social connectivity and a platform to turn photos into prints or products for easy gifting. If you bill annually, the Power tier is only $5/mo billed annually, and gives you unlimited photo uploads and design control.
Image credit: Nicolesy Blog, which also has a nice description of the changes SmugMug made from their old platform to their new one.
Zenfolio is one of the more well known photography specific platforms, and was built "for photographers – both amateur and professional – to organize, display, and sell their images with uncompromising quality." To use your own domain name you'll need the Unlimited plan, which offers unlimited storage for $5/mo billed annually.
Format (which recently changed from 4ormat) is billed as a site for creative professionals to build an online portfolio, but its clean templates, flexible pages and slick blog integration makes it a wonderful option for amateur photographers and adventurers. Basic plans are $5.75/mo billed annually, and give you 50 pages, 100 images and 100 videos to play around with.
Salon.io is an extremely unique platform, as it gives you control of your layout like none other. You start with a completely blank canvas (no templates), then add in photos and videos and embeds in fixed width, variable size or completely user-controlled grids. The Basic plan includes everything most users will need (10 pages, 500 images), and costs 29€ for a lifetime membership (no recurring payments!), but to get password protection you'll need the Easy Business plan, which is 99€/year, slightly above the $10/mo threshold.
Exposure is a bit different than the standard photo gallery platform—it's meant to give people the chance to weave photos into a narrative. To turn your grand adventures into something more than just a collection of photos with no context. Prices are hard to find before you sign up, but maintaining a Pro account (which give you custom domain support) costs $8.25/mo if billed annually.
Squarespace has been around for quite a while in web years, and now in its sixth iteration, it's become one of the web's leading platforms for creating striking sites with minimal effort. Plans with unlimited storage start at $16/mo if billed annually, but the $8/mo annual plan has plenty of space for most users.
Virb is a versatile platform for all kinds of websites, but one of its best features is how its templates beautifully display photos. And Virb makes pricing easy, with unlimited everything, including pages, photos and customization options for a flat $10/mo.
500px isn't a traditional photo gallery site—it's more of a social network for discovering great photography. And it's really awesome if that's what you're looking for, but for traditional photo galleries it may have been a bit much. Before you decide, take a look at what the platform offers, as well as the "Awesome" plan, which gives you the ability to create your own site within the 500px community for $6.25/mo billed annually.