Thank you Smugmug for raising your prices

Many Smugmug customers are pretty irate at the company’s recent decision to raise their professional photo hosting service from $150 US/year to $300/year (or $250 for existing customers). Me, I’m thankful. Why, you may ask?

The reason is that it made me stop and think and consider my whole online presence and realise I could do things better.

I was a Smugmug professional customer for a number of years and they do what they do well; their customer service is very good, your photos are presented well online, their service is easy to use and the quality of prints is exceptional but when I stopped and thought about it, they weren’t quite meeting my needs.

I still wanted a great web archive to display and market my photos from but I also wanted a fresher more professional looking website, better integration of my main website (a WordPress blog) and my photo galleries, better Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), the ability to sell rights-managed images and easier ways to deliver images to clients.

I did a fair bit of research and settled on the combination of Photoshelter to handle the hosting and sales of my photo archives and integrating it with a Graph Paper Press WordPress theme. This solution ticked all the boxes.

I also decided it was time for more professional branding and ran a design competition for a new logo through 99 Designs. I was staggered by the response, during the week or so of the contest 35 designers submitted a total of 178 designs – it was very difficult making the final choice as there were a number of extremely strong contenders that would have worked very well.

Once I’d decided on the solution I then got on to the mammoth task of properly cataloguing, tagging and key wording a photo archive of more than 15,000 images. Lightroom was my tool of choice to do this and that did make it easier but it was still a very big job. While most of my images were tagged to some degree, it wasn’t consistent.

I also renamed all images in my archive and they are now all in one single Lightroom Catalog.

The result is that my image archive is SEO friendly.

Armed with a new logo, I looked at several themes on offer from Graph Paper Press and settled on their F8 theme and started tinkering with it, it took a while and I got great support from the GPP and PhotoShelter technical support teams to assist with some customisation. You’re now looking at close to the finished result. I also spent a little time learning some basic techniques to make sure my website would be reasonably SEO friendly.

In just over a week since my site went live my site is on the front page of every major search engine when searching for my target keywords and I’ve had more web generated enquiries for shoots since the new website went up than I’ve had in the three months prior – I don’t think that’s a coincidence.

The only thing left is a lot of content to put up live in my PhotoShelter archive but it will all be up in coming weeks and as it goes live it gives me the opportunity to highlight some of my work from the past as well as keeping people abreast of my current work.

So, thank you Smugmug for motivating me to re-assess my needs and develop a solution that works  better for me. The new solution isn’t cheaper but it’s definitely better for my needs.

Companies mentioned:

Smugmug – www.smugmug.com

Graph Paper Press – www.graphpaperpress.com

PhotoShelter – www.photoshelter.com

99 Designs – www.99designs.com

If you like what you see…

Please check out my web galleries and if you really like buy yourself or someone special a print. Also, please spread the word by using the social media buttons.

Thanks, Richard

How microstock is ruining the business of photography

Browsing through flickr groups today I came across a photographer who was thrilled that his photo ended up on the cover of Time Magazine. At first I thought well done but further reading revealed that Time bought the image from istockphoto.com; an image anyone can download for a 12 credits (total cost $25.25 AUD).

The photographer would have received a fraction of this purchase price.

The photographer didn’t even receive a photo credit (not that photo credits are worth much more than bragging rights).

This case highlights the dangers of micro stock and how it is driving the price of photography down in all sectors of the photographic industry and how it has permeated through to some of the biggest editorial publications in the world. A photographer would normally expect to receive in excess of $2,000 US for a cover shot on an iconic magazine like Time.

Neither Time or istockphoto.com can be blamed for this situation; photographers who go down the micro stock path do so with no regard for the value of photography and are responsible for driving prices down.

The Time Magazine cover shot can be seen here.

The New Frugality indeed! The Time eds were certainly being frugal when they stumped up for the cover shot!

Why Michael Jackson will be remembered as greater than Dylan

Canadian photographer, Kevin Statham sent an email to a group I subscribe to and it is the best piece I have seen written on just how influential Michael Jackson was and offers a great comparison to Bob Dylan. Thank you to Kevin for giving me permission to reproduce this email. It’s worth visiting his website www.shotbykevin.com and checking out his portfolio – he does some great work.

I think that Dylan, although hugely revered, is somewhat overrated. I agree that he is an excellent songwriter and has written some classic songs that will live forever. I think the biggest thing that Dylan accomplished was to develop a huge cult of personality. People trip over themselves to praise the ground that he walks on. Dylan’s best years were over by….maybe 1967 or so. Except for the odd highlight since then, Dylan will forever be connected to the 60’s and hippies.

I don’t think that using an electric guitar at a folk festival had the same cultural significance as Billie Jean being the first video by a black artist played on MTV. That one video caused a huge racial shift in the US. Without that event, we might not have had an artist like Prince. People like James Brown may not have had a resurgence in the late 80’s. Would Run DMC have “walked that way” if Michael Jackson hadn’t used Eddie Van Halen on Beat It? Michael Jackson was miles ahead of everyone else on so many levels it is mind boggling.

I also think that Michael Jackson had a rare talent that is seldom seen. His singing was incredibly good. His dancing was amazing. With the help of Quincy Jones, his attention to detail in the recording studio led to some of the best recordings of all time. Thriller was a total monster of an album.

I think Michael Jackson had a vision of what he could do with his talent that was beyond compare. Even as a little boy his talent was apparent. I don’t think Dylan could compete with that type of musical talent. Dylan could pen a tune, but really, unless you were stoned, could you really listen to him for very long (oi, that nasally voice…).

However, as reality goes, the bigger the rise, the bigger the fall. It is unfortunate that Michael Jackson became a child molesting, surgical disaster, monkey loving, demerol addicted mess. It seems to have been inevitable that this would happen. Much like the later years of Elvis, Michael Jackson¹s last years will haunt his legacy.

I do think that at the end of the day History will be kind to Michael Jackson and that all of the weirdness will just be a footnote to a stellar life lived totally in the public eye, for better or for worse.

So yes, I don’t think it is right that Michael Jackson died without having one last chance at reviving his career while Bob Dylan get to plod on preaching to faithful bowing at his feet yet again.

Another reason that Michael Jackson will be remembered well is because I can write this email acknowledging his talent and I am a middle aged redneckish white guy from Canada. That is how wide reaching his music and talent became.

Kevin Statham