Photo Website Fun!

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  • 06-26-2012, 04:56 PM
    Photo Website Fun!
    Last weekend we wrapped up another year shooting the WidowMaker Hillclimb. No one got run over, no cameras got destroyed by flying rocks. It was a big success sales wise at the event and we even had a few huge galleries to load on Sunday night. I was feeling pretty good about the whole thing.

    But it seems like every time we do a huge event there is some sort of glitch in our workflow. It has been not enough computers, internet related, retarded tech support and sales for internet, web site host down, website host search needed special parameters, rekeywording tons of pictures, horrible Lightroom 4 plugins, the usual total mayhem. But this time was different. All of these kinks have been worked through. We got home, hooked up the hard drive to the desktop and let it rip. Less than 1 hr went by and we had a gallery of 700 images. This is just the tip of the iceberg though. We shot about 14,000 images over the course of 3 1/2 days of competition on 5 hills. So we loaded another 1,500 image gallery. I was really impressed with our workflow and internet at this point. I felt like a fricken rockstar. Then my wife says, "try the keyword search before you go live with the galleries." We keyword every photo with the number plate so the customers can easily find their pictures. I tried and it didn't work! In fact it didn't work in any of our galleries of past events either WTF!!!!! This is all news to me. So email tech support. It is late and maybe they were doing maintenance. Tech support emails me back at 10am the next day and says, "sorry that feature is not working correctly now, our engineers are working on it. But there is a half assed work around........

    I was super pissed. I wonder how much money this has cost me. And how long this has been down. There was no notification of the problem. Nothing. :cryin: So instead of freaking out, I did the next logical thing. I built a new website from the ground up in 1 night.......... Goodbye SmugMug. You have screwed me around for the last time!

    So I have to say, Zenfolio, our new host is awesome so far. I had to do some trial and error and it still is not even close to 100% but it works! The keyword search is very fast and best yet, it just WORKS! The thing that I really like about it as a host for me is that it is very BUY oriented. On Smug buying was tucked away, like they were ashamed of selling pictures. To the point that many people did not understand that the images were for sale. Zenfolio has options for buying at every turn. The one I like best is the featured products listed next to every full size image they open. And they offer some really cool features for customers too. One that I didn't even know about is collecting. I already had a customer build a custom collection of their photos and the site was only live about 2hrs. They can group them all so they can easily be viewed and purchased in the future or shared with family and friends who might also purchase them. Pretty bad ass. They can do work for me! Another nice feature for me is the option for self fulfilled products. They can be virtually anything. One of our big sellers is custom CDs. We can now offer this online. Another is printing. I have an Epson 4900 that I love to print on. I hate sending photos to a lab to print. I much rather do them on my own. It is a little bit of work but I make more money this way and I put that monster in my office to work for me. None of this I could do on Smugmug. If someone buys a big print it is $$$ for me. Money I don't have to give away to a lab.

    Yes Smug is very customizable. But it is a PITA to do unless you are some sort of CSS wizard. I hated setting up my old site. In fact it took me a few years to get to where it was. And that wasn't that good. The Zenfolio site is better than the smug site and it only took one night to do. It will just get better from here. I don't care to have the most unique site on earth. I just want it to work. And to me that means photos are very hard to steal and very easy to buy. Zenfolio does both of these.

    I think from here out my event work will be much more profitable. :) This was a blessing hidden in a curse. It forced me to make a big move. I am now forced to make the changes to my website I have wanted to do for a long time. Reloading my whole website of 10,000s of images will sort of suck. But the new LR makes this pretty fast. Sorry for the long rant. But I had to tell someone about this!
  • 06-26-2012, 06:10 PM
    Re: Photo Website Fun!
    Great post. Good to hear you've got your workflow so polished. I know the kind of volume you're working with and I can't comprehend dealing with it. Good to know about Zenfolio, too. SmugMug seems to be the most popular photo fulfillment company out there and I've often thought of using them. I haven't because I do so little print work and I already have a Printroom account that gets the job done for me. But if you give Zenfolio the thumbs up, I think I'm gonna have to take a look.

    How about giving us a link to your new site so we can check it out? And post some Widowmaker photos on the Sports Photography Forum. We could use some variety in there and there's a strong chance it'll get you a Featured Photo :)
  • 06-26-2012, 07:23 PM
    Re: Photo Website Fun!
    Here you go. No bad comments!! This is all new stuff for me. And like I said. Sucky slideshow. Getting images together tonight for a proper one. Photography of Rob Norbutt

    Yes John I will post some stuff when I get caught up. We have almost all of the photos processed in some way and keyworded. I think we will come in around 12,000-13,000 off of this one. I tried something new for this to doubledown on LR work. Next time I think we will triple down. I have an idea!
  • 06-26-2012, 08:04 PM
    Re: Photo Website Fun!
    Used to do a bit of hillclimbing myself but only competing with friends...still like to watch though
    Looking forward to what you post.
  • 06-27-2012, 09:37 AM
    Re: Photo Website Fun!
    Glad you got it resolved. I also have a Zenfolio site and while it's pretty simple (my lack of customization to blame there) I agree it seems like a great service. I just renewed for another year. I got my account last year for a big bike race and they give a free 30 day trial. Within the first week or two I had paid for my next year's account there.
    I like it just for local events or when someone asks where they can get my photos of whatever event I'm shooting. Easy and I like never having to touch the prints (no big printer at my house). The customers order, Zenfolio hands it off to MPix who ship direct and the money just goes into my PayPal account.
    My main criticism is they don't offer the ability to sell custom photo books to my customers. I really hope they add that. It would be great for weddings.
    Second to that is that I can't limit search to a certain folder of photos. So if I tell someone to search for their number, results could include someone else in a different with the same number. This can be fixed with a more precise search that includes a keyword specific to that event but we can't always count on the public being able to do that right.
    Overall I think they are great and will continue to use them for the foreseeable future.
    Here's mine: Matt Burt Photography