T he Today show just called. Next week, they’re flying me to New York to be interviewed on the program about a personal project I recently completed. They need some of my images. Right away.
In years past, this would have wreaked havoc in my studio—or been impossible—but because we are now using PhotoShelter (www.photoshelter.com), an online archive and marketplace for professional photographers, the request was easily fulfilled in minutes.
The high-resolution photographs from the project were already in our archive on PhotoShelter and had been edited into a gallery. When the Today producer called, my staff just invited her to view and download the images from our archive for the national broadcast.
In 10 years, Missy McLamb Photographers has evolved from a one-woman army in a small office above my garage—and an even smaller black-and-white darkroom in my basement—to an agency representing photojournalists and fine-art photographers who are hired by society clients to photograph weddings and lifestyle assignments across the country.
Today, we operate out of a modern office space within a restored factory mill in the heart of downtown Raleigh, North Carolina. While I am no longer personally printing the images, I am constantly asking my staff to question how we can improve our current systems and processes to enhance the client’s experience.
One such change in our process is PhotoShelter. At first, a way for us to build a dynamic website, the technology has also proven a powerful and nimble tool for our company.
While redesigning missymclamb.com, we needed an easy process for publishing our newest work. Instead of paying a webmaster to update our site, we developed an “editorial and assignments” link on our homepage. The link directs the user to an index of our galleries, which are populated by images in our PhotoShelter archive. The archive seamlessly integrates with our overall website design, allowing us to keep our brand and hundreds of new images circulating throughout the wedding industry.
As well as publishing recent work, the customization feature enables us to publish an online press kit. Through our “MMP Published and Broadcast” gallery, we keep clients and the wedding industry updated on where our images can be found in print and on TV.
We have also found ways to use PhotoShelter as a sales tool. When we need to present a prospective client with the newest work of one of our photographers, or when we need to pitch a photographer not on our site, we simply create a gallery and publish the new work on our website for her to view.
After the wedding, we archive the event and with PhotoShelter’s lightbox tool we make comments and rate the images to provide feedback to our photographers. A hallmark feature of PhotoShelter, particularly for editorial and commercial photographers, is the e-commerce shopping cart. This option allows photographers to license images in their archive to newspapers, magazines, advertising agencies, and other media outlets. For photographers who prefer to shoot pictures, not shop and fulfill them, the licensing feature is indispensable, and a valuable alternative to working exclusively with traditional stock agencies.
In January 2007, photographers who license their images will have another business tool, when fotoQuote—a noted price guide for stock and assignment photography—becomes integrated with PhotoShelter. Once this partnership takes effect, you can automatically price, license, and fulfill stock requests, without having to manage the orders. We have complete control over the printing, sales, and marketing of our images while PhotoShelter handles the billing.
My studio’s benchmark for a new technology is one that ultimately enhances the bottom line. PhotoShelter is such a technology. The fact that it’s easy to learn and a tremendous value is a bonus.