3. Minding the store – fulfilling your client’s orders: Photoshelter
Special offer: save $15.- on your subscription. Free 14 day trial.
PhotoShelter has been hosting my images since January 2008. I was looking for a service where I could upload my photos, deliver them to my clients securely, serve up the photos on my website, and have an e-commerce solution to sell photos directly from the site. The $30.- version includes two customizable website themes, 35GB of space to store your photos and you can use your own domain name (they do have a $10.- a version that has 10 GB of space and your URL would be http://yourbusiness.photoshelter.com). Their support team feels like family when you speak with them and are tremendously helpful.
PhotoShelter is where I upload photos into archives that are displayed in galleries on my website, that are downloaded by my retoucher, that are edited by my clients on lightboxes, that are the place where my clients download their final files (I can control if they can only view, download a watermarked low res jpeg or the final high res file). I can also see when which client downloaded the image through their personal password-protected web page. It also has a fantastic build in e-commerce portion, that allows me to be paid via PayPal when a customer orders a print (with a lab doing the fulfillment of the printing) or a download of a digital file.
PhotoShelter has a great little desktop uploader that allows you to upload a whole folder of photos at once into your photo archive. Obviously, you’ll do this after the files are retouched and finished for delivery, tagged with the metadata that needs to be in your files (copyright info, keywords, IPTC data, …). After a while this becomes one of the steps in your workflow (if you’re interested in learning more about your digital workflow a great site is dpbestflow, a guide for a digital workflow that ASMP has put together; if you’re more of a book reading kind of person Peter Krough’s “The DAM book” is the definitive work on digital workflow.)
One of the features I love in PhotoShelter is the ability to control who gets to do what with the photos that I’ve uploaded. Once you’ve created a gallery you can choose, if it is visible or hidden, searchable (great for SEO) or not, password protected or unprotected. My client’s galleries are mostly hidden, password-protected, and by invitation only. Then I can define access privileges to this one gallery. Maybe I want the client to be able to see the images, but not to download them, the web designer needs web-sized files and the art director needs to be able to download a high res TIFF file for the printed pieces. One gallery can do all of this. I can even limit how many images a user can download or the time period that the photos can be downloaded in. Finally, PhotoShelter gives me a log of which user downloaded which file from what IP address.
I can combine multiple galleries into a gallery collection – I just shot a pro bono job for a local theatre that puts on a theatre summer camp, where each final performance of the children got its own gallery, but they are all combined into one gallery collection. Go ahead click on this gallery. Since you are not a user registered for this gallery, you can browse through the images and actually purchase them through the ‘add to cart button. The theatre has a few people that have different levels of access: The executive director can view all the images, but can not download them. The creative person in charge of the website can download web-size images, but not download high res TIFF’s and the art director that works on the print material can download the TIFF. All out of the same gallery, with a few mouse clicks, not bad for $30.- a month.
PhotoShelter also integrates photo slide shows nicely with my blog (which is a WordPress based blog), it does a lot more like giving me the ability to have an art director edit a fashion shoot on a lightbox that can get shared back to me, without sitting on the phone reading a list of files names back and forth.
Write a comment about how you deliver your images to your clients and the benefits of that service – PhotoShelter is perfect for what I need and I love that I can customize it to my needs.