I’ll try to sum up my experience without going too deep on this! I have used nearly every service out there (zenfolio, smugmug, photoshelter, squarespace, wordpress (nextgen), artstorefronts, and I just tried out darkroom) I also have seen the backend for WideRange Galleries so I have a little bit of experience there.
In short, there is no perfect solution but there are some very good ones.
Meant for wedding/portrait photographers. It works well but is expensive and has a somewhat high commision on prints sold. They use mpix for prints which is an okay lab, not top quality for landscape photos, but decent. You can also self-fulfill prints using your lab of choice, but they do take a commision. It looks pretty good overall, images display well, cart works well, back end is user friendly. I used zenfolio for years and was quite happy with it, but the price is a bit too high now.
It is fairly customizable but you will need to implement some html/css to get it looking just the way you want it. You can only sell prints through bayphoto and whcc which are good options, but you are limited to their labs, you cannot self-fulfill. Their commission on sales is insanely high at 15%, plus the annual fee is high too. The backend is very good at organization, etc.
This is targeted at stock photographers largely but can be used. I haven’t used this for many years, but back in the day my images did not display properly on this platform, I would hope this is fixed now. They are also very pricey and take a large commision. The backend is powerful but not user friendly.
This is what I’m currently using and it is terrible for selling prints, it’s only sort of okay for a displaying a gallery. It is not setup for selling prints or using labs, you have to set up individual products for each print you want to sell and self fulfill. The backend is nice, but very limited and clunky after you do anything beyond the basics.
I used this for a year and it creates a professional looking site for selling prints. It has a feature where you can preview the print in different rooms/sizes and the backend works fairly well. There are some labs you can tie into that use ASF as well, but then you are limited to only their products and nobody else’s including your own. The biggest downfall to ASF is the initial cost, they will set you up with a high pressure salesman who will promise you the world and tell you how much money you will make, eventually they will pressure you in to the initial set up fee, I think it was $2000, and then a yearly fee on top of that, and a 10% commission on top of that! While it’s a good product, I absolutely HATE how sleazy they are with their sales tactics and money grabs.
Using wordpress requires a plugin, the best one I have come across is NextGen Gallery. If you’re looking for ease of use, this is not it. It is highly complex to set up. I am fairly versed on wordpress and want to move to this, but I haven’t found the time to devote to fully learn how to use and set up this plugin because it’s so complex. I have reconsidered my decision to move to this after hearing that it is one of the slowest plugins for wordpress, I haven’t tested this myself, but I can believe it.
This one was new to me so I gave it a quick try. I have to say I’m impressed at how sleek and simple it is to set up. If you want to get up and running selling prints with next to no effort, this is amazing. The prices are very good, commission is high on the free plan, but what a great way to test it out and see if you sell anything. The plus plan is very cheap and the commission is quite low, especially considering they are fulfilling the print for you. I reached out to them to see what labs they use and they were reluctant to share, but they did tell me. I won’t share it with the world, but they do use good quality labs similar to what smugmug uses. The customization options are extremely limited, but the interface is quite nice looking. You cannot self fulfill with this platform.
Fine Art America
I used this for a while and wasn’t terribly impressed. You are mixed in with a sea of other artists and they use algorithms to bring some to the top. The thing is unless you got on this bandwagon early on, it would be very hard to get anywhere with it now. It’s not terribly professional looking and it’s not something you own. I did get some test prints done and the results were quite good surprisingly.
Wide Range Galleries
Long time NPN member @Jack_Brauer does his own web development and design and this is what many of the big name landscape photographers use. This is the best option around, Jack designs it specifically for you using his very powerful backend. You have to self fulfill everything, so it is great for people who do their own printing or want to use a specific lab. The backend is very easy to use, it looks very professional. The only downfall is the initial price, you are paying for a professional web developer to create a site for you. The setup cost starts at $3000 and goes up from there, but after that it’s only $240/year. For professionals this is the way to go, not for someone starting out.
How’s that for too much info? I should write blog post on this, sheesh! In short, Darkroom does sound like a good option for you, haha!