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Author Topic: Where to create my photography website?  (Read 8506 times)

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« on: November 07, 2014, 20:27 »
0
I've been lax and it's really about time I put together my own photography website and gallery.

I work in IT and I'm perfectly comfortable maintaining a self-hosted website, however I'm no web designer and practically I think it'd make more sense for me to start with something on Wordpress or similar where I don't need to spend days setting up, and I can choose from an existing layout and customise from there rather than have to design something from scratch.  I don't mind paying for this.

Does anyone have any recommendations?  Or ones to avoid for that matter!


« Reply #1 on: November 07, 2014, 20:33 »
+2
You could take a look at Photoshelter. It's not the cheapest option but it offers a lot of tools to help manage sales. It has a good many top professionals among its users. You have to market yourself, though. I just use it for storage at the moment but having thousands of my images archived there means that I could quickly convert it for  direct sales
BTW, the fact that I pay a couple of dollars a week for the service means I can be confident that the site will continue to operate and that it is not suddenly going to use some obscure clause in the agreement to "monetise" my content by doing something I don't want with it. I'm employing them, rather than being an asset to be exploited.
« Last Edit: November 07, 2014, 20:45 by BaldricksTrousers »

« Reply #2 on: November 07, 2014, 22:20 »
+2
I have my site on Photoshelter too. Great for storage and for sharing assignment work with clients and impressing potential clients when they take a look.

My first two sales to publications this year covered the cost of my website for the year (I have the full pro account) and have had many buyers approach me to license my work who were specifically searching on Photoshelter's site since their search engine lets you search through just one portfolio or through everyone's. They have a great client base - lots of amazing photographers and lots of top-notch publications who search there and license directly from the photographer. I shoot a lot of local news/features type work and travel, so it's a great fit for me.

They ran a stock site themselves for a short time around 2008, but then switched to this model. They have lots of templates to choose from, and a back end archive you can use to organize and backup your work. Someone searching the site can find stuff in your "unlisted" galleries as long as you make it searchable, as well as the work you have visible in your front page galleries.

The staff is really helpful, they run a lot of webinars, and they actually answer their phones!
Feel free to PM me if you have any questions.

« Reply #3 on: November 07, 2014, 22:24 »
-1
if you're comfortable with the web check out the WP app symbiostock - it's easy to setup & only cost is the webhosting


« Reply #4 on: November 07, 2014, 23:19 »
0
I am working on a nice script with cms joomla.
So its complete free. Maybe i have to use a component. Maximum $35.
I will have a look. Give me two days more. I will reply if its worth to use.


« Reply #5 on: November 07, 2014, 23:55 »
0

@Wordplanet 
Your homepage is quite effective.
It looks like you use a Beam template. If yes, it would be great if you'd answer any of these:
--Do you have option of watermarking your homepage photos?
--How do you populate homepage with photos - random? handpick all/some of them?
--Are you, clients happy with your site's navigation, especially when viewed in iPad and similar?

(I use one of their traditional templates.)

Thanks! - Ann

I have my site on Photoshelter too. Great for storage and for sharing assignment work with clients and impressing potential clients when they take a look.

My first two sales to publications this year covered the cost of my website for the year (I have the full pro account) and have had many buyers approach me to license my work who were specifically searching on Photoshelter's site since their search engine lets you search through just one portfolio or through everyone's. They have a great client base - lots of amazing photographers and lots of top-notch publications who search there and license directly from the photographer. I shoot a lot of local news/features type work and travel, so it's a great fit for me.

They ran a stock site themselves for a short time around 2008, but then switched to this model. They have lots of templates to choose from, and a back end archive you can use to organize and backup your work. Someone searching the site can find stuff in your "unlisted" galleries as long as you make it searchable, as well as the work you have visible in your front page galleries.

The staff is really helpful, they run a lot of webinars, and they actually answer their phones!
Feel free to PM me if you have any questions.
« Last Edit: November 07, 2014, 23:58 by ann »

Millionstock.com

  • Architecture; Arts; Historic buildings, Landscapes

« Reply #6 on: November 08, 2014, 04:00 »
0
My advice is to use the Wordpress add-on called Symbiostock. The result is a nice gallery and ecommerce site with your portfolio.
I've used this solution, and I'm very satisfied. Check out the result at www.millionstock.com
Cheers!

Dook

« Reply #7 on: November 08, 2014, 04:02 »
0
I use Livebooks.

Lightrecorder

« Reply #8 on: November 08, 2014, 05:25 »
-1
if you're comfortable with the web check out the WP app symbiostock - it's easy to setup & only cost is the webhosting
What about the pro plugin?? Its not free

« Reply #9 on: November 08, 2014, 13:05 »
0
For me Smugmug rules. Just because of unlimited storage. I have there all files in original size, protected. Great LR plugin.

Short article I wrote about photo hosting : http://blog.petrtoman.com/2014/03/why-should-you-consider-paying-for.html

You can check my site at : http://www.petrtoman.com

update: the only thing that I am missing, is custom licencing (you have only personal/commercial) +  fotoQuote for RM , like PhotoShelter can provide
« Last Edit: November 08, 2014, 13:13 by Toopy »

« Reply #10 on: November 08, 2014, 13:14 »
+4
if you're comfortable with the web check out the WP app symbiostock - it's easy to setup & only cost is the webhosting
What about the pro plugin?? Its not free

It isn't free and I'm not sure you can get it any more, but you don't have to have it to operate a site - and there are many sites in the network which don't use it. My site does, and mine also had a fair bit of customization to get the look I wanted (which isn't ideal, but ...)

I had recently taken a look at a WordPress plugin called Easy Digital Downloads (I looked because Envato had a newsletter item offering to pay for themes for it). It is free and there are paid plugins as options. There are also a couple of themes that target photography web sites.

I'm not in a mood to go switch to another WordPress plugin that may or may not go away in the future, but I think if I were starting from scratch today with a site I might give this a serious look:

https://easydigitaldownloads.com/

https://easydigitaldownloads.com/themes/photostore/

https://easydigitaldownloads.com/themes/stocky-stock-photography-marketplace-theme/

There are WordPress plugins for watermarking, although I've never used any (and there are some complaints about the image quality in some of the ones I looked at). One of the advantages of something like Easy Digital Downloads is they have multiple payment options and I think there's something that handles VAT as well.

steheap

  • Author of best selling "Get Started in Stock"

« Reply #11 on: November 08, 2014, 14:17 »
+2
I have a symbio site, but I also wanted a "fine art" portfolio site that doesn't cost me each month (or year). I had a Smugmug site but I was annoyed about the way the price went up - even though it is a very nice site.

I created my own wordpress site using the Photocrati theme last year. I wrote about why I chose this on my blog.http://www.backyardsilver.com/2014/02/creating-portfolio-photo-site-wordpress/

Steve

Lightrecorder

« Reply #12 on: November 08, 2014, 15:06 »
0
if you're comfortable with the web check out the WP app symbiostock - it's easy to setup & only cost is the webhosting
What about the pro plugin?? Its not free

It isn't free and I'm not sure you can get it any more, but you don't have to have it to operate a site - and there are many sites in the network which don't use it. My site does, and mine also had a fair bit of customization to get the look I wanted (which isn't ideal, but ...)

I had recently taken a look at a WordPress plugin called Easy Digital Downloads (I looked because Envato had a newsletter item offering to pay for themes for it). It is free and there are paid plugins as options. There are also a couple of themes that target photography web sites.

I'm not in a mood to go switch to another WordPress plugin that may or may not go away in the future, but I think if I were starting from scratch today with a site I might give this a serious look:

https://easydigitaldownloads.com/

https://easydigitaldownloads.com/themes/photostore/

https://easydigitaldownloads.com/themes/stocky-stock-photography-marketplace-theme/

There are WordPress plugins for watermarking, although I've never used any (and there are some complaints about the image quality in some of the ones I looked at). One of the advantages of something like Easy Digital Downloads is they have multiple payment options and I think there's something that handles VAT as well.

Installing Theme from uploaded file: easy-digital-downloads.2.1.9.zip

Unpacking the package

Installing the theme

The package could not be installed. The theme is missing the style.css stylesheet.

Theme install failed.

Trying to click the details or demo link

Oops! That page cant be found.

I was excited for a minute there, and it all came crashing down :(

PaulieWalnuts

  • We Have Exciting News For You
« Reply #13 on: November 08, 2014, 15:10 »
+4
I currently have three sites I'm doing ongoing testing with. Photoshelter, Photodeck and a Graph Paper Press Sell Media Wordpress site.

Photoshelter has variations of templates depending on if you go with a Classic or Beam plan. Some plans allow total customization, some don't.

Photodeck has several templates that are highly configurable and allow some customization.

Graph Paper Press is totally customizable and they just released a design-it-yourself theme. Plus their Sell Media has a bunch of add-ons.

I've tested dozens of web platforms. I'd suggest evaluating those three.

« Reply #14 on: November 08, 2014, 15:35 »
+2

@Wordplanet 
Your homepage is quite effective.

Thanks Ann

It looks like you use a Beam template. If yes, it would be great if you'd answer any of these:
--Do you have option of watermarking your homepage photos?

With the particular template I've chosen, I don't think so - they're really just large thumbnails and I think that watermarks would be very distracting so it hasn't been a concern for me. Once someone clicks on them, the watermark will show up and you can still watermark the full size photos and turn the watermark on and off in Beam like you can with the traditional templates. Just like with the classic templates, you can use the default watermark or a png you design yourself. You can also customize the watermark's location - much more consistently than with the traditional site. You can also set the maximum size of the large photos so they look good on today's larger screens. Full size on my 27" iMac they look really good. And sharing my work via a projector from the site they look amazing.

I like this particular template because it lets views page through my photos randomly to see the full breadth of my work of via gallery to look at just what they want. And like the classic templates, they can also search my hidden (i.e. "unlisted") galleries.

There are other template choices that don't have the same cover page layout and they may have different watermarking options.

--How do you populate homepage with photos - random? handpick all/some of them?

The Template I've chosen is called "Shuffle" so yes, it's random. But there are many others to choose from. Since I shoot a lot of different types of work I like the randomness. I can move around the galleries to change the order but can't control which photo shows up where (hence the name shuffle, although if you have any html skills this might be possible since the templates are customizable -My html skills are rudimentary at best but all the templates can be customized to some extent even without any of those skills. I love the way the site looks and I did it all myself straight from the template.

There are other templates that give you more control about which photos are featured within the design of the template itself - e.g. some give you a large photo across the page from each listed gallery you choose to feature (more along the lines of what you're used to before Beam but with a lot more options and a nicer look IMHO) - there are templates with page splits and other options too. They also just added 4 new templates, so there are many to choose from. The switch to Beam was easy.

If you only want to feature a handful of galleries and keep the rest on the back end searchable, that's possible too. The back end still works the way it always has, and there's a new LR plugin now - which I haven't tried yet - which lets you update on LR and replace the photo on PS automatically.

I find the Beam templates much easier to navigate than the templates I've tried out with my blog via Wordpress - I can never seem to get my blog layout to look anything like the template I'm using and am wishing I'd stuck with blogger. Just my personal experience, I know the OP has skills I don't. The Beam layouts look professional and you can do it yourself quickly and easily with no html skills whatsoever.

--Are you, clients happy with your site's navigation, especially when viewed in iPad and similar?
(I use one of their traditional templates.)

The Beam templates were designed to be smartphone and tablet friendly and in my experience with the template I've chosen, it seems easy to navigate. You can just click on one photo and then slide to the next on your phone or click on a gallery name and slide through the photos. Even older relatives who wanted to check out my work on their smartphones seemed to have no trouble. It resizes to fit the device.

The only issue any of my clients (the handful purchasing portraits) have mentioned have been when they've tried to order prints (this goes back to pre-beam days but also since then). They seem to have difficulty using paypal via the system so I've ended up using Miller's - my favorite lab for portraits - and having the work drop shipped when I get a check from them or delivering to them in person. I don't do a lot of portrait work. The magazine, book and editorial website clients I've dealt as well as a few museums and galleries have all contacted me directly via the inquiry form on the site, then negotiated with me via phone or email. I send out terms -RM or RF - in my invoice. I think that the personal contacts I've made via the site have been great and I can keep these clients abreast of what I'm doing which has led to more work. Beam is just like the traditional site in that I can set up a lightbox to share with clients so they can download comps and send them links to private galleries that they can share in making choices about which photos they want. I don't think I've taken advantage of half of what they have to offer but have used it with all kinds of clients.

The editor of a local magazine I've shot for over the years just found one of my stock photos on my site and it's going to be next month's cover. The editor knew about my site since I use it to send her lightboxes and galleries, and the last time I did a shoot for her remarked on the new look (thanks to Beam) so she went on and did a search just in my gallery and found all sorts of RAW photos I had uploaded and ignored, hidden in my archives (but searchable), and now one is going to be a cover photo.

I did notice an uptick in visits after I was a featured photographer and am eager to explore Lattice their new photo-sharing endeavor (those photos aren't watermarked) - but with PS6 and CC's content aware fill I'm considering whether it's even worth keeping the watermark on my large photos.

Thanks! - Ann

Hope this was helpful.

I have my site on Photoshelter too. Great for storage and for sharing assignment work with clients and impressing potential clients when they take a look.

My first two sales to publications this year covered the cost of my website for the year (I have the full pro account) and have had many buyers approach me to license my work who were specifically searching on Photoshelter's site since their search engine lets you search through just one portfolio or through everyone's. They have a great client base - lots of amazing photographers and lots of top-notch publications who search there and license directly from the photographer. I shoot a lot of local news/features type work and travel, so it's a great fit for me.

They ran a stock site themselves for a short time around 2008, but then switched to this model. They have lots of templates to choose from, and a back end archive you can use to organize and backup your work. Someone searching the site can find stuff in your "unlisted" galleries as long as you make it searchable, as well as the work you have visible in your front page galleries.

The staff is really helpful, they run a lot of webinars, and they actually answer their phones!
Feel free to PM me if you have any questions.
[/quote]
« Last Edit: November 08, 2014, 15:39 by wordplanet »

« Reply #15 on: November 08, 2014, 15:59 »
-1
if you're comfortable with the web check out the WP app symbiostock - it's easy to setup & only cost is the webhosting
What about the pro plugin?? Its not free

It isn't free and I'm not sure you can get it any more, but you don't have to have it to operate a site - and there are many sites in the network which don't use it. My site does, and mine also had a fair bit of customization to get the look I wanted (which isn't ideal, but ...).....


the pro plugin (and the sitemap plugin) are still available.  leo has given me a license to distribute them to my clients or you can get them thru the symbiostock site

Shelma1

« Reply #16 on: November 08, 2014, 16:50 »
0
I use the free Symbiostock theme. Very happy with it. Starting to get sales more regularly now. My site:

http://vector999.com

« Reply #17 on: November 08, 2014, 17:18 »
0
I wouldn't recommend Photoshelter. The reason why they got lots of photographers with them is because what they do best and spend most effort on is to advertise themselves as a platform. Not much effort on improving functionality. I decided to go with them for my first website because i thought they have got so many people, they must be good. Oh boy i was wrong. Their functionalities are very limited, limited number of pricing profile; number of licenses, of pages; you can not name your license; you can provide your own license terms but they will be only supplementary; and because they take commission on your sales you dont have freedom of delivering your files to your clients as you need to. For over a year i had been with them, no progress was made on any of those areas, maybe they dont plan to. In their forum you can see many are unhappy with them, many have and are jumping ship, me included. I moved to photodeck and it is so much better, not only for the theme designs but also for unlimited possibilities of handling your pricing, licenses and terms, no commission, and within a year that i am with them, i have seen improvements every month.

PaulieWalnuts

  • We Have Exciting News For You
« Reply #18 on: November 08, 2014, 17:39 »
+1
I wouldn't recommend Photoshelter. The reason why they got lots of photographers with them is because what they do best and spend most effort on is to advertise themselves as a platform. Not much effort on improving functionality. I decided to go with them for my first website because i thought they have got so many people, they must be good. Oh boy i was wrong. Their functionalities are very limited, limited number of pricing profile; number of licenses, of pages; you can not name your license; you can provide your own license terms but they will be only supplementary; and because they take commission on your sales you dont have freedom of delivering your files to your clients as you need to. For over a year i had been with them, no progress was made on any of those areas, maybe they dont plan to. In their forum you can see many are unhappy with them, many have and are jumping ship, me included. I moved to photodeck and it is so much better, not only for the theme designs but also for unlimited possibilities of handling your pricing, licenses and terms, no commission, and within a year that i am with them, i have seen improvements every month.

I'd have to agree with this. They have a lot of limitations, take forever to fix problems and add new features, and always seem to be in various stages of "Beta". There's a lot of stuff I like about them but they seem to totally lack technical direction and leadership. Plus they seem more focused on releasing marketing guides to get contributors to drive site traffic then making site improvements.Yes their forum is loaded with unhappy people.

Photodeck regularly releases new features without problems and the site is very slick. Especially the user experience. I submitted a site bug I found and they fixed it within a couple days. With Photoshelter that email would have went into a black hole and the bug probably would still be there years later. I really like Photodeck. They need to make some improvements with their image management functionality which is one area Photoshelter has some advantages. Like with duplicate detection. Photoshelter automatically prevents duplicates, Photodeck doesn't. May not seem like a big deal but to me it is. I hope Photodeck implements this at some point. Photodeck definitely seems to have their gameplan in order. Oh, and Photodeck's forum doesn't have any unhappy people because they don't have a forum.

« Reply #19 on: November 08, 2014, 17:42 »
+1
My needs are simple on Photoshelter, so I'm happy with it.  I get more than enough sales each month to pay for it, so that works.  The only thing I hate is the huge jumble that you end up with for categories or image links, unless you go through the image manager.

« Reply #20 on: November 08, 2014, 19:05 »
+1
Thanks all, you've given me a lot of food for thought, and research to do.

« Reply #21 on: November 08, 2014, 19:18 »
0
Paulie-

Photoshelter only takes a commission on the sales you make directly via the site's paypal interface. Someone clicks, buys, and it's done without your involvement. I think it's worth the 10% if I don't have to do anything at all in terms of making a sale. I'm not sure how well that aspect of the site works, as I've mentioned some portrait clients seemed to have trouble with the interface, but it's not a big part of my business.

I checked with PS the first time a potential client contacted me via the PS "contact me" interface and then negotiated specific usage and pricing with me, asking me to email the photo and invoice to them directly. They paid me via paypal but not via the site. I was told that in such circumstances, even though they contacted me through the site to license a stock photo, I did not owe PS any commission. The commission only comes in when someone goes on the site directly and downloads and pays there. Regular clients can also download files I've sent them via lightbox  and send me a check after I invoice them, and again, that doesn't require a commission.

I think it all comes down to what you're looking for. For me, a site that lets me put the same photo in different galleries without having duplicates, gives me over 1 TB of online backup, markets itself to the kinds of clients I'm seeking and also lets me share galleries targeted to potential clients on a site that looks very professional, works.

Apparently a lot of events photographers are happy with them but my experience in that realm is limited. I've had a lot on my plate this past year and haven't marketed my site much at all but it still gets me inquiries from assignment, fine art and stock clients - I'd love to be able to offer framed artwork through the site too and need to check on the new printers they've added to see about offering canvas and metal prints directly. Right now I send those inquiries to FAA but it would be nice to offer prints from my site. I know a few photographers who offer prints directly from their Photoshelter sites and they have a growing number of printers around the world with whom they are affiliated.

When you're finished testing all three sites the comparison would be interesting to hear.

« Last Edit: November 08, 2014, 19:23 by wordplanet »

« Reply #22 on: November 09, 2014, 01:11 »
+2
Similarly to Paulie, after a little research I was toying between Photoshelter - Photodeck, Graphic Paper Press Ktools and CMS account.

I ended up running with Graphic Paper Press's Stock Photography Theme (due to price) and chose Photodeck over Photoshelter because of the option of payment via paypal.

If I were to be honest, I would say hold off on the Graphic Paper Press site. The site appearance looks good to its credit but is very buggy at this stage, the upload (processing of images) is slow and frequently drops images and the keyword search functionality is limited.  I contacted the tech support on a site glitch issue that (uncannily) struck exactly when i hit the 4000 image mark and they brushed me off to my hosting provider (who stated it was a template .php script error lol). I ended up canning the project (for the time being), might have another go when I have a little more time in the future. Hopefully by then the bugs will be fixed.

On the other hand, can't speak praises any higher for the Photodeck site and the backend upload/categorise. The people behind Photodeck are truly awesome.

« Reply #23 on: November 09, 2014, 01:35 »
+1
I actually ended up using two sites.  I did a self-hosted wordpress site for my about/portfolio/blog page and then I use Smugmug for selling fine art prints and downloads of stock photos.

I did a ktools site several years ago but had problems when my hosting company made changes for security reasons and killed my store.  I spent some time trying to figure out how to fix it (with Ktools help and with the hosting company's help) but no luck.  I'm sure I could have figured out how to do it if I knew more about web programming but I don't have the time for that.  So that's why I went to Smugmug.  It always works.

PaulieWalnuts

  • We Have Exciting News For You
« Reply #24 on: November 09, 2014, 12:04 »
+1
Similarly to Paulie, after a little research I was toying between Photoshelter - Photodeck, Graphic Paper Press Ktools and CMS account.

I ended up running with Graphic Paper Press's Stock Photography Theme (due to price) and chose Photodeck over Photoshelter because of the option of payment via paypal.

If I were to be honest, I would say hold off on the Graphic Paper Press site. The site appearance looks good to its credit but is very buggy at this stage, the upload (processing of images) is slow and frequently drops images and the keyword search functionality is limited.  I contacted the tech support on a site glitch issue that (uncannily) struck exactly when i hit the 4000 image mark and they brushed me off to my hosting provider (who stated it was a template .php script error lol). I ended up canning the project (for the time being), might have another go when I have a little more time in the future. Hopefully by then the bugs will be fixed.

On the other hand, can't speak praises any higher for the Photodeck site and the backend upload/categorise. The people behind Photodeck are truly awesome.

I'd agree with this too. The upload process for GPP/WP is painful. And I ran into a file size limit error that took days to figure out one of the WP files needed a code change to accept bigger files.

If I had to pick a single system it would be Photodeck.


 

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