"Online Photo Services" - Digital Photography Podcast 72

| 14 Comments

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Online services can relieve much of the administrative burden of providing prints to customers. I've been using Shutterfly Pro for a while now, and as a result, I'm spending more time taking pictures while using less effort to get them in people's hands.

In this podcast, I talk about these services so you may consider trying one yourself. I also think they're a great way to help you get established in the community. You can cover local events, post them on a pro service, and let people browse the galleries and hopefully buy some images too.

Monthly Photo Assignment

I also discuss this month's photo assignment, Self Portrait. I think it's time we get out from behind our camera and get in front of it. As with all of our assignments, I hope you add a creative twist to your approach. You can read more about how to submit on our Submissions page.

Listen to the Podcast

Now that I've piqued your curiosity, it's time to listen to today's audio show titled, "Online Photo Servvices." You can download the podcast here (29 minutes).

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14 Comments

Hi Derrick,

When I checked out the various services, I was close to going with Shutterfly Pro. But, they had one problem that I could not forgive them for. I know the problem affected Shutterfly's basic service, but I can't recall if it affected their pro service.

The problem is that their uploader does not maintain the order you have your photos in. It orders them based on upload order only. The uploader uploads four photos at one time. So, if the fourth image in my set is the smallest, it will upload first and now be the first photo in my album. You can see where this would be more than a nuisance with larger albums.

When I contacted customer service about the problem, they said that was just the way it worked. Have they fixed this bug/feature?

I highly recommend DigiLabs. I've been using them for about two years now and they continue to improve the service, the customer service is excellent and most important - my customers have raved about the print quality. www.digilabs.biz.

The standablone uploader app for Shutterfly still works that way. Did you try other means for uploading?

Great show (no surprise there, though)

I was wondering if you knew of any decent services like those that are free, and offer reasonable storage space. I don't care if they take royalties.

As a student (8th grader) paying for an online service isn't easy. Right now my money is being put towards a portable external drive, after loosing 430 photos (I have many many more, thought not of that exact soccer game)

Great show (no surprise there, though)

I was wondering if you knew of any decent services like those that are free, and offer reasonable storage space. I don't care if they take royalties.

As a student (8th grader) paying for an online service isn't easy. Right now my money is being put towards a portable external drive, after loosing 430 photos (I have many many more, thought not of that exact soccer game)

Hi Michael, You can use the regular Shutterfly service at no cost. You just upload your photos and use the sharing feature. Visitors can order prints directly from Shutterfly.

Also, you might want to look at flickr (www.flickr.com) that has free sharing with the ability to order prints.

Hope that helps.

Derrick, I don't recall if I tried any of the other methods. The fact that their uploader does this was just a huge turn off for me. It told me that they don't understand photographers. Now, I could have overreacted, but that was my feeling at the time.

While checking out Shurtterfly Pro, a friend told me she had recently started using SmugMug and loved it. The online community (forums) where great. Customer service was excellent. They seemed to understand the needs of a photographer. I signed up and that is exactly what I've found. They really understand that the better they help you with your business, the more they help their own.

A little side note. I'm not sure if Shutterfly Pro has this feature, but SmugMug has a feature called proof delay. It allows you to put a 1-7 day delay on any orders so you can review your client's order and make any adjustments (from cropping, to processing the photo on your computer and replacing the photo online). When you ready to ship it, you simply press the ship it button. It's handy for quickly getting your photos online, then giving yourself a little buffer to touch up any photos you think need it.

Enjoy PMA! I wish I were there too.

Good stuff, Derrick -

I've been using Smugmug for over a year now and have been doing much of what you describe; selling prints, setting my own prices, etc. One of the things I like about Smugmug is the ability to create your own. personal, look and feel website on top of their service. It's still Smugmug behind the scenes, but the page looks pretty much like your own standalone website - which can also be linked to your own URL vs. the default... www."yourname".smugmug .com thing.

You mentioned choosing the most appropriate crop ratio for the uploaded images. That's one area I've been thinking about recently. Smugmug lets the purchaser do their own cropping if they've chosen a print size with a different ratio than your original image. So far I think the 4x6 ratio appears to provide the best starting point for my purchasers. If they want a 4x6, obviously they have nothing more to do. If they want a 5x7 or 8x10 they will see an overlay of how that crop will affect the final print. They can then choose to shift the crop left or right to adjust, for example, where the narrowed width is cutting off a soccer ball or whatever.

Last thing in my random thoughts here. Another advantage of these online galleries (Smugmug at least, but I imagine they all do this) is that the service automatically creates multiple resized images from your uploaded original. So someone with a 800x600 screen resolution can choose to view galleries in the 'small' image size and someone with 1600x 1200 can see the large versions. In order to do this on your own website you'd need to create all of those resized versions yourself as well as the elaborate webpages to serve them up seamlessly. I've got better things to do with my time;) Have a blast at PMA!

I have great news for Shutterfly fans using a Mac. I was at the Digital Focus event last night, and Shutterfly announced a new suite of tools for Mac users, including new apps for uploading images. I'm going to post about them as soon as I test, but it looks promising based on what I saw last night.

There are new goodies for Windows users too... :)

Is it possible to look at some of the photos you have for sale on Shutterfly. I got a lot out of this podcast! Thanks, John

Hi Derrick,

I'm a new listener to your podcast, so I'm catching up on some older shows. When you first mentioned Shutterfly Pro, my first thought was about their print quality. I have experimented with many online printers, and have found the quality to very greatly. Shutterfly has been on the bottom of my list for prints that I want to frame and display. They have been at the top of my list for 4x6 snapshots that will end up in an album, and for things like Christmas cards.

My question is, how does their pro service printing compare to their regular service? I found thier paper and packaging to be less than professional quality. Some companies also print their name on the back of the photo, but I don't remember if Shutterfly does this. If they do, that is not something I would want my customers to see.

I have never used them, but I have heard good things about www.printroom.com. From what I understand, they offer the same type of service as Shutterfly Pro, and they are customizable, so they look like they are part of your own website. Much like what the others have talked about with Smug Mug.

Thanks for the show. It has given me something to think about and to look into.

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