Getting started with Adobe Portfolio

Adobe Portfolio is a web builder that is part of the Adobe Creative Cloud ecosystem. It is specifically designed to showcase images with the target market being photographers and designers who use the Creative Cloud suite. It isn’t available without a Creative Cloud subscription.

The USP of Adobe Portfolio is that it is integrated with Lightroom, a photo management and editing system that is also part of the Creative Cloud ecosystem. Images can be imported directly from Lightroom into a gallery and this can be updated with a single click as they are modified in Lightroom

I have tried various gallery plug-ins to display photographs on my web site but they have all had two major drawbacks:

  1. Images had to be exported from Lightroom as jpegs then imported into the image display system. If you want to edit or update the set of imported images in Lightroom, you need to manually work out what has to be changed.
  2. None of them had an easy way to get to the EXIF information for the photo caption. Captions had to be manually added on the website and there was no simple way of ensuring they were always associated with the image. Because of these problems, I became frustrated with all of these systems and gave up on the idea of using a gallery system for my own images.

I was introduced to Adobe Portfolio in a talk by Joe Houghton, who demonstrated how a web site could be created in a few minutes. I was sufficiently impressed to experiment with it and to try and create some galleries that reflect my photography.

I’ve been exploring the capabilities of Portfolio for a couple of weeks now. It’s a deliberately simple image gallery builder and I wouldn’t recommend it as a general-purpose web site builder. However, most general purpose systems are complex and I quite liked the simplicity and lack of choice in Portfolio. For me, the integration with Lightroom is the key feature that means I’m willing to put up with the app’s limitations.

As is the case with any app, you have to spend a bit of time understanding the general approach underlying the system. Some things are not obvious and, frankly, the documentation for Portfolio is pretty poor. So, here are some of the notes that I made for myself that I hope might be useful for others thinking of using Portfolio.

  1. The only structuring method that’s available in Portfolio is the notion of collections. Collections are collections of web pages, which can include text, photo grids, other media, etc. Nested collections are not supported so you need to organise your images into a two-level system. Confusingly, if you are a Lightroom users, Portfolio collections are more like Lightroom collection sets.
  2. Portfolio displays (by default) what it calls a Masthead with each collection. the default is that the masthead is the same for every collection but you can change this by clicking the custom masthead option. I use the masthead to title and introduce each collection. Strangely, you can only display a single paragraph of text with the masthead.
  3. To integrate with Lightroom, you create a Lightroom Album page (more confusing terminology and it’s really a Lightroom collection). This is NOT automatically synced when you change the images in Lightroom. Rather, you have to click on the cog associated with the page in the page list and chose Reset from Lightroom. You can integrate with any Lightroom collection that you have synced with the Adobe cloud.
  4. You can only associate a LR album with a single Portfolio page, even in different web sites. To import the same album into different pages, you need to create a copy in Lightroom. This situation is irritating and I guess a consequence of an implementation decision to have only a single link between a page and a collection.
  5. As well as integrating with Lightroom, photos can also be imported from files or directly from Lightroom. However, photos imported from Lightroom can’t be easily updated when you change them in Lightroom.
  6. Portfolio automatically imports captions and displays them with images. You can’t change the font or font size of the displayed captions. Titles are NOT imported. If you update captions in Lightroom, the changes are automatically synced to the Adobe cloud and so can be updated in Portfolio.
  7. All sites have a navigation section that directly reflects the page order shown in the page list. You can change this by moving pages around in the page list.
  8. The look and feel of a site are defined by the theme you chose. There are a limited number of themes and there is no scope for modifying individual themes. This positive side of this is that switching themes is simple and doesn’t met things up.
  9. I haven’t experimented with the limited customisations that are available. Nor have I tried cover pages.
  10. It isn’t possible to link individual images in a gallery to an external site. This means that you can’t sell individual images.
  11. If you are concerned with people stealing your images, you can disable right-clicking on an image so that the Download option is not available. You do this by choosing Settings/Site options/ Disable right-click.

The site I’ve created is currently a work-in-progress but you can see it at: