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Personal Website Advice
Justin Berl, Photographer, Assistant
Moon Township | PA | USA | Posted: 3:48 PM on 03.14.16
->> Currently, I'm using a portfolio site by SiteDesignWorks out of California that I won years ago at PhotoPlus Expo in NYC. They've been slowly making changes to the format but not at the pace I'd like. So I'm leaning towards making the switch to a different site. Photoshelter is at the top of my list because of the Archive aspect so clients can easily get to the photos they want.

What platforms do most of you guys use? Also do you separate your portfolio site from your archive site, or do you keep it all together?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated
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Stanley Leary, Photographer, Photo Editor
Roswell | GA | | Posted: 4:49 PM on 03.14.16
->> PhotoShelter!!!!
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Stanley Leary, Photographer, Photo Editor
Roswell | GA | | Posted: 4:50 PM on 03.14.16
->> is my PhotoShelter website. Love it because of all the things you can do from selling images using Fotoquote built in pricing, selling prints, blog and more.
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Cooper Neill, Photographer, Assistant
Dallas | Tx | USA | Posted: 5:12 PM on 03.14.16
->> I had been using photoshelter for my archive for years with a different site (samexhibit and virb) for my digital portfolio - when photoshelter came out with their new layouts I went all in with them for my archive and portfolio and haven't looked back since.
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Kevin Krows, Photographer
Forsyth | IL | USA | Posted: 7:15 AM on 03.15.16
->> Justin - I think you will find many Sportsshooter members supporting PhotoShelter almost by default. I think that's because they have been the standard by which all other options are compared for many years. However, that doesn't mean that better options (for you) don't exist or that there will never be a service that does it better than PhotoShelter.

Keep in mind that people will advocate what they know best and what they have the most experience with. That's both good and bad. Good for their expert insight on what they use. Bad because it excludes objectivity when it comes to other options.

Do yourself a favor and make a detailed list of what is important to you and your business. It should include both current needs as well as future needs as well. You want to choose a service that addresses both with room to grow.

Almost every service out there has a 10-14 day no-cost trial period that will allow you enough time to snoop around. Most have user forums to get ideas and you should have access to there support staff via email or phone as well. Once you have found a service to your liking, subscribe to a month-to-month plan until you have built the core elements of your site and you are ready to go live by redirecting your domain to your new site. Once you're settled in and comfortable, you can always upgrade to an annual plan with a lower cost. Starting out month-to-month simple allows you to walk away should you discover something you don't like.

I went through this process three years ago. Spent 60 days exploring my options. Spent 4 months building my new site and transferring images and another month testing and getting feedback from trusted individuals. 7 months and I went live with my new site. (most of that time was used transferring 300,000+ full resolution images).

Included in your due diligence needs to be room for a review of the companies ownership, their management, and their technical advancement to meet needs of their clients with new features. There have been couple of services that have closed their doors because they didn't have the capital to upgrade their infrastructure or the human resources to redevelop their application to today's standards. for example, closed its doors last October. You can glean information through user support forms as well as review profiles of key people on services like LinkedIn.

I'm not personally advocating any service. Just encouraging you to do your homework and make the best decision for you.
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Doug Pizac, Photographer
Sandy | UT | USA | Posted: 11:32 AM on 03.15.16
->> DOUBLE ditto to Kevin's advice above.

You're not just investing in a site, you are investing in your business' financial future. As Kevin said, there are pros and cons to every website manufacturer/platform. Many years ago when I looked at doing a website for myself I took weeks doing a comparison chart of various providers and found one that fit my needs very well even though it was not one of the "popular" providers.

For me, I have a computer background from my college years so designing a site using Dreamweaver worked for me. For others not so technically inclined there is WordPress. WP is a great platform, however it is not as customizable as doing it yourself -- similar to iTunes wanting to control the process versus doing it yourself in Windows. In-between the two is Adobe's Muse program that acts very similarly to InDesign where you can do drag/drop content, resize it on the fly, etc. You do the design and it creates the coding to make it work. I'm looking at switching to it as it will save me time writing code. The downside is that Muse is part of Adobe's CC subscription plan, which has been a complaint in itself on SportShooter.

Just keep in mind that the most important aspect/goal is to find a website presentation that showcases your work the way you want it to look, and if that means Photoshelter then great, or if it means using WordPress or Muse then that's great too. But you're not going to know which works until you do your homework and play with various platforms first similar to test driving new cars. And to help you with that, I suggest you find specialty User Groups in your area and attend their monthly meetings. You will not only learn about the platforms, but you'll meet those who know them inside/out and can tell you the pros/cons of each in comparison to the competition. Plus, if you need help with your site you have a support group with a variety of solution suggestions.
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Bill Streicher, Photographer
Riverton | NJ | USA | Posted: 2:49 PM on 03.15.16
->> I use photoshelter for

but it's only used to showcase work and not for sales. My only concern is I can't seem to get it to view correctly on an iphone, but that may be because my settings aren't set up the right way.
Good Luck
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Bryan Woolston, Photographer
Baltimore | MD | USA | Posted: 5:33 PM on 03.16.16
->> I can't say enough great things about Photoshelter. From the ease of use to the customer service... not sure how they could improve. It did take me bit of time to find which layout looked the best on desk and mobile. Having looked at so many fellow photographers sites, even knowing when they use Photoshelter, it hard to tell its a template. There are so many ways to customize your look, It always looks unique. Good luck

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Randy Sartin, Photographer, Assistant
Knoxville | TN | USA | Posted: 7:42 PM on 03.16.16
->> Bryan, that is one nice site!
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Doug Pizac, Photographer
Sandy | UT | USA | Posted: 8:38 PM on 03.16.16
->> In looking at the personal websites listed above I found everyone has mighty fine imagery. Super work. However, I noticed a difference between half of them on their "About" pages. Two of the four label themselves as a freelance photographer while the other two are simply a photojournalist or photojournalist/visual storyteller.

I read an interesting article a couple weeks ago about how you brand yourself affects your image to others and your earning potential. Even though the term freelance means independent, it is becoming a label associated with cheap labor. While the story was about writers I saw a similarity with photographers and how they think of themselves.

The bottom line of the story was if you want to make yourself appear professional and earn the associated fees, do not label yourself below your persona. This would be like calling yourself a cook versus a chef who is thought of as being highly skilled/trained and therefore highly paid.

While the word freelance is well known and respected within the photo industry, the industry is changing in terms of outside contacts. Old-school editors/buyers who know the business are being replaced with untrained people, interns who make cold calls asking for bids, bean counters, etc. which is part of why staff positions are being replaced by freelancers because the new management has the idea that hiring a freelancer is cheaper. So why play into that mentality by using the term as your descriptive?

Now, am I saying those who label themselves as freelance are less talented? Absolutely not. I'm just commenting that all of us need to be more aware of how we market ourselves -- as high-priced visual chefs versus minimum wage line cooks -- and use our branding to educate client reps who don't know any better.

I recently had a long phone chat with a fellow SS member about contracts and marketing. He told me of this analogy he used with a prospective client: He asked the president if they use a highly qualified and experienced CPA to do their taxes or rely on TurboTax. While both will calculate the forms correctly, it is the CPA who knows "how" to fill them out. When the president said they pay for expertise, the photographer asked why do they then want to place their valuable corporate brand in the hands of a TurboTax type person just to save money? By conversing on the same business level and portraying himself as an equal professional partner he got the contract earning more than what the client was initially looking at to spend because the return was worth the value and then some.

Yes, wordage is a matter of semantics. But the wrong word can cost us in the pocketbook. And what may have been the norm in the past can have a different meaning today and in the future. So just as we must evolve our shooting styles, social media presence, etc., we also need to stay aware of how we label ourselves.

Just a thought.
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Kevin Krows, Photographer
Forsyth | IL | USA | Posted: 7:51 AM on 03.17.16
->> Agree with Randy.... Bryan's site is very nice. I'll qualify that by saying the his site is simple, easy to navigate, and images are outstanding and do a great job of communicating the type of photographer Bryan is. More important, you can size this up in about 30 seconds and then you start looking for his contact info. Great example of how to do a portfolio site that drives the viewer to action.
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Thread Title: Personal Website Advice
Thread Started By: Justin Berl
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