Magazine Article


Working the Web
Boost your online presence (and your bottom line) with blogs, videos, slideshows, and more.
[PhotoShelter's] offering goes well beyond the 'display' function--we like to say: 'Don't just show. Show and sell.' From our perspective, a complete solution for pros must provide sales capabilities and opportunities and a workflow infrastructure designed around pro needs. 

Websites optimized to buyer preferences help photographers provide a display-and-purchase experience that's ideal for their customers. This leads to more sales and assignments. Better presentation tools, viral marketing capabilities, and SEO get your work seen by more potential buyers/clients.

[You also want] the ability to close a sale unattended via one's website, with automated fulfillment. Having a fully searchable archive with images priced for sale means that you can focus on shooting while your clients (or any visitor) is being served via your website.

[Plus you want] to delight your clients with online access to easily find and obtain high-res versions of your work. This is more than just 'find and buy'--rather, [it's] the ability to enable clients to download the images they need, in the right format. No disk delivery or need for complex FTP services.    

{Photographers can benefit from] time savings. Our system was built by pro photographers with a flexibility to suit any pro photographer's most critical workflow need, getting images to clients fast. We also plug directly into some of the most common editing applications, like Lightroom, Aperture, and PhotoMechanic.    

[You want] protection against image theft. Security is paramount. Yet for some web designers, security is an afterthought. Can your image be right-clicked and copied/downloaded [a.k.a., stolen]? Not with PhotoShelter. We provide intensive gallery and image-level security, from various permissioning scenarios (galleries can be public, password protected, invite only, or completely private) to safeguards like flexible watermarking and download restrictions. Likewise, does your provider back up your images to ensure you never have to worry about a hard-drive failure?

We've taken exhaustive steps to ensure that our photographers and their individually keyworded and captioned images will pop in Google searches. And we're educating the PhotoShelter photographers about the additional steps they can take to boost their chances of getting found at the top of searches.

International wedding photographer Eric Hegwer uses our templates as his standalone website ( Kevin German uses our website templates to host his archive online and offer prints and downloads for sale ( Jimmy Williams uses our templates to showcase and sell his fine-art photography gallery prints ( Brian Smale uses PhotoShelter templates to license downloads of his corporate portraiture Tommy Zablan uses PhotoShelter templates for his fashion photography ( Wedding photographer Missy McLamb has a custom website and uses PhotoShelter to power her sales and client login ( [And] PhotoShelter powers wedding photographer Carl Bower's online archive, sales, and client login capabilities (, and it's integrated with his liveBooks website ( 

"Photographers can also integrate WordPress blogs into the PhotoShelter websites as well (two examples include and Fingerman, vice president of marketing

We provide photographers with an all-in-one online solution for managing their businesses. Specifically, clients benefit from a password-protected studio website for their business, which includes full-service online proofing (unlimited number of images), a complete e-commerce engine, access to our full product and services suite (albums, prints, proof books, canvas gallery wraps, greeting cards, etc.), product ordering and fulfillment, and online account statements and financial business reports. Our website also features a Community section, which provides clients access to our exclusive online forums (one of the industry's largest, with more than 8,000 members), the Pictage Blog, our Podcast, exclusive member discounts, Pictage TV, Pictage user-groups info, and other community-related resources.      

One of the greatest bottom-line values of Pictage membership is the marketing services Pictage provides, including promotional email campaigns, two-for-one print offers, and a comprehensive photographer directory reaching thousands of prospective clients on behalf of the photographer. The ability to run various financial reports and create multiple pricing catalogs also helps professional photographers maximize their profits.
"I think one of the most important functions of websites for photographers is the ability to track and manage client leads. Maximizing and measuring the value of one's marketing efforts is critical, and a photographer's website can play a critical role.--Scott Anderson, senior marketing manager

PhotoFront is an online marketing tool for photographers. It helps photographers sell prints of their photos by being easy to use, presenting the photos attractively, and giving photographers the right tools to increase their bottom line. The marketing tools available will help the photographer dramatically increase the amount of prints ordered through their online storefront.

Presenting a product as attractively as possible is, of course, a key element to selling anything. The site also needs to be fast and easy to use. We believe that attractive 3-D Flash websites--to promote yourself and your products--will be a hot topic for 2009.  PhotoFront looks good, and it adds to that timeless effective marketing tools such as expiration dates, gift certificates, selling packages to customers, and much more.--Jeff Hansen

Our Flash website templates can manage themselves using a web browser. [Photographers] can get an internet connection, they can manage their website--they don't need to know HTML code or Flash or anything else. They just need to know how to click with a mouse, type in a few boxes, and upload a few images, and it's done.

"We're gaining steam, and the thing people love about what we're doing is that I publish an 800 number; if you have a question or there's something you don't understand, you can pick up the phone and talk to a real person. My very first client was in Boulder, and she didn't have my tutorial to pull from. She had her site ready to go in two hours--it's that intuitive.

Blogging is definitely hot; more and more people are getting blogs. We have a blog system we just changed; we had our own blog system, but we canceled that and went to the WordPress blog system (we integrated it into our server). All our galleries function as slideshows.

Another trend I see gaining more momentum is video. Photographers are going to use the power of video to sell themselves. I'm going to do a video bio; I did a wedding last June, and I'm trying to come up with the right clips. I actually am having the guy who did the video string together a three- or four-minute video of me in action so people can get a feel of what I'm like to work with.

Another trend you're going to see a lot more of, and the industry is kind of forcing us to do, is where photographers are doing short videos as part of their coverage. Vincent LaForet and Bob Davis are good examples of this ( ( These are off-the-charts incredible--look at them on a big monitor. More and more photographers are going to start using the D90 and 5D Mark II to create short videos at weddings, or day-in-the-life projects--or maybe even interspersing them with still shots. The competition is going to do it and we're going to be forced into that role. I'm going to try to get it to the point where I can do little 10-second clips here and there, string together 15 or 20 minutes worth of total capture, and then have a good editor do a three- or four-minute video. I'll do that for my high-end package on my photography site.

"Number one, when a client goes to a website, you have about 10 seconds to impress them or they're going to bail out of that one and go to the next one on their list. You don't get to go to round two--getting a phone call or email. So you've got to impress them.

Number two: The fact that the photographer can log in any time he wants to manage his system, that's real key. I've had numerous clients tell me it's so frustrating for them to contact their webmaster or web developer and wait several weeks to make a few minor changes for $75 or $100. They like the idea that they can change it any time they want to, and it's easy and fast. They keep content fresh.

The difference from last year is more integration of video. Also Facebook is becoming more and more key. I just jumped on it a few months ago, and it's just growing exponentially. It's one of those things that started making little inroads in the photo industry maybe six months ago, and it's just grown.--Grant Oakes, president

Professional photographers can use the Zenfolio Premium service to present work to clients and offer products for sale using the best available online web tools. Orders are fulfilled by Mpix, a division of Miller's Professional Imaging. Customers receive orders in unmarked boxes that look like they come directly from the photographer.

Zenfolio Premium service is an annual subscription plan costing only $100 a year. There is also a 12 percent service fee charged on the profit only. This fee covers credit card transaction costs and customer service. These fees are some of the lowest in the industry, allowing photographers to maximize their profits.

Websites are become more complex and advanced, and visitors require both the speed and convenience of features to be available to them from an attractive interface. Developing such sites in-house is proving to be an expensive task, and subscribing to established turnkey and value-adding services will continue to be a popular trend in 2009.

With everyone focusing on the bottom line, outsourcing order fulfillment and website hosting will continue to be popular in 2009. As the photo-hosting industry matures, more photographers are switching from high-cost solutions to the new breed of high-tech sites, offering a wealth of features at a fraction of the cost. Consumers demand the convenience of ordering items from large e-commerce sites, and photographers will need to pay particular attention to that. Flexible shopping carts offering a variety of photo products will continue to be in demand in 2009.

While blogs were the hot items of 2007 and 2008, recent studies [have indicated] that few people trust the blogs and read them only as a supplement to further research. Personal blogs will continue to be popular but need to be supported by other forms of marketing. Slideshows continue to be the most awe-inspiring form of presenting photography, but copyright issues surrounding soundtracks will remain to be a challenge.

"Lastly, interactive communications between photographers and clients are the emerging trend in website building. Commenting and messaging online and offline will be the hot trends in 2009 that allow photographers to develop existing and new client relationships.--Alex Peyzner, president/CEO