Porphyrins are attractive compounds for optical applications. We have been investigating the relationship between molecular structure and optical properties of a number of porphyrin compounds. Structural variations explored include insertion of metal ions, extension of conjugation, halogenation and formation of multimers. The characterization of these chromophores includes measurement of UV/Vis, fluorescence and fluorescence lifetimes. Furthermore, we have investigated their nonlinear absorption, refraction, excitation dynamics as well as oxidation/reduction behavior. Based on our observations, clear recommendations can be made for the design of optical limiting chromophores.