Friends often ask us for recommendations on how to set up their own personal websites, but don’t have the budget to build something custom. Here is my take on it.
It’s hard to find good, free (or even cheap), web site templates. You may want to experiment with either a free hosted wordpress blog (http://wordpress.com), or a free tumblr account (http://www.tumblr.com). Both have a lot of free web templates to choose from and you might find one you like.
I would sign up with both and poke around a bit to see which one you like the best. Although both market themselves as blogs (or ‘tumble-logs’, which is for short-form blogging), they each let you create basic pages, too. You might find the multimedia features are lacking (especially if you are used to a paid service dedicated to photographers, for example) but with the right template I’m sure you can display your portfolio nicely.
Both with let you point your own web address to your new site (wordpress charges something like $12/year for this).
I would start with a free wordpress account for now (https://en.wordpress.com/signup/) and if you like it you can upgrade to use your own URL later. You can explore the themes they have at http://theme.wordpress.com/themes/.
Tumblr has some nice themes too. Generally I think tumblr expects you to post short little blog snippets rather than use it to host a full website (tumblr themes are at http://www.tumblr.com/themes/), but you might find a template that works. (You may also want to explore posterous.com, which in my opinion has less artist themes but better functionality for group-blogs where you have multiple people posting to the same site.)
I’d create accounts and both and try to build a simple “About” page to see which you enjoy working with more. Good luck!