I’ve recently signed up for the PhotoShelter Personal Archive. I’ve been thinking about doing so for a while – I first met PhotoShelter at ‘shoot the day’ – an event in New York run by them. And I also had a (very) few number of photos in their stock collection, which has since been shut down in favour of concentrating on the Personal Archive….
To be honest – I’m glad I went ahead and took the leap. For those who don’t know, it’s a service like smugmug or one of the other photo storage type of sites, which allows you to (a) store your photos securely off-site, and (b) allows you to do a whole load of stuff with them once they’re up there – like display them and sell them.
Things I love about PhotoShelter:
1. Having just gone through the sign-up and set-up process, I can honestly say it’s pretty easy. Easy Peasy to be precise. Following along their almost ‘setup-wizard’ type of process was really simple, and I was quickly up and running. Everything from uploading the photos (and I think there’s now a Lightroom plugin which allows you to upload directly – I haven’t tried it yet – but i think this is the link), to organising them, to linking to my own paypal account for sales etc was all quick and easy.
2. As well as being easy to set up, it’s easy to tinker with too – customising to get a particular theme, or changing galleries around, or changing pricing structures on groups of photos or individual photos.
3. You can get as technical as you want to. Within the manual customisation feature, you can actually get down and dirty with page templates etc, and design your own theme, insert your own google analytics codes etc and probably much much more.
4. Customer service rocks. From seeing staff in PhotoShelter answering queries on random forums around the internet, to my own experience where I had a problem upgrading my account because of a particular coupon I’d used – everything seems to be dealt with quickly and efficiently.
5. It’s local. That counts doesn’t it! I guess it’s like the fact that tomatoes from the local farmers’ market always taste great!
Things that I think could be improved:
1. It’s not free. ok. Joking. I decided to shell out the money to get the full customisable version of the Personal Archive. Personally, I think it’s competitive with the prices of other similar services. But yeah, wouldn’t it be nice if everything that we wanted was free.
2. I’d like to be able to choose from more ‘back end’ suppliers – for the prints, if you want these to be automatically fulfilled, then you have to use ‘ezprint’. I’d love to be able to select e.g. the ‘mpix‘ profile, and allow people the options offered by mpix – like regular prints, as well as gallery wraps, standouts, canvases… etc. I know you can choose to ‘self-fulfil’ the order – i.e. the order comes through and the seller prints it themself, but still.
3. Choosing a print size. I’ve noticed this issue on a lot of sites, so it’s not limited to PS, but it’d be great if, when a user is selecting their picture size to buy, it highlights the sizes which make more sense. e.g. for one picture, a 16×20 might leave white space, but a 16×24 might be a perfect fit. It’d be great if it worked out that the best proportion out of those two would be the 16×24, and highlighted it for the buyer. Just something a little more user-friendly for the customer…
Not really a lot of niggles, considering I managed to set up the entire thing, link it to my paypal account, set up customisation, set up pricing profiles, upload images and set up galleries all within a day.
Down the road I’m going to be looking to customise the Personal Archive site even more (probably to coincide with my main site re-design), and probably add a bunch more galleries and photos!
Also, considering how many new features the PS people seem to come out with on a regular basis, I’m probably going to be constantly incorporating the new ideas as they come out – like the ‘one click’ create-a-slideshow-from-the-gallery… or the ‘one click’ create-a-search-box-for-your-homepage-that-searches-all-your-images features… like this one below. Try doing a search for ‘new york’ and see what’s returned from my archive site.