Websites & Client Proofing

I received this email from reader Tara the other day and thought it was something that others might be wondering too:

Message: I’ve been following your blog for over a year now and have
learned so much from your tutorials. Thank you for all the time and
work you put into create such an awesome site. I would love to create
a website with a client proofing area for my own growing photography
business. I’ve researched several websites that create a photography
website with a proofing site but want any recommendations from a
professional photographer who has already made this choice. Thank you
so much for your your time. Any suggestions would be greatly
appreciated!

There are soooo many different options out there, I can only tell you what I chose and why I chose it.

First of all, when considering what sort of web presence you want to have for your photography business you need to decide if you want to have a traditional website and also a blog or a blog site.

Personally, I decided on a blogsite because I know that when I browse other photographer’s blogs I skip RIGHT past the flash website and go right to the blog anyway. So for me, it made sense.

Also, with a blog site you don’t have to maintain essentially two different websites. For example, if you have a website and a blog separate, you will have to have TWO contact pages, TWO about pages etc. It’s just redundant and unnecessary IMO.

Plus, I have a big issue with flash based sites.. I think they look pretty, but I mostly just find them annoying.  I guess maybe it’s because I’m a control freak, but I don’t really a) want to see the images YOU chose for me at the speed YOU chose to show them with the song YOU picked out that I probably don’t want playing anyway because I’m at work  (much later I read this post which confirmed that I am not the only one that feels this way!)

The other major drawback to flash is that apple (and therefore iPhones and iPads) don’t support them.  So, that’s the reason why I didn’t decide to go with the uberpopular photographer flash based sites that have built in proofing like  BlueDomain (plus I’ve read that their customer service is severely lacking or nonexistent) or Photobiz (I HATE that you have to pay monthly in addition to a one time product fee).

My favorite of all the “photographer website companies” is portfoliositez because they have the option of doing JUST a blogsite but those also contain the code for creating galleries in your posts and also comes with a proofing section (they also have mirror iPad & iPhone sites.)  I was very tempted by this, but then I read a few threads on Clickinmoms that customers were a bit confused by the shopping carts in the proofing sections of all of these products..

There is another nice Blogsite option called ProPhoto that you might want to check out if you are convinced that a blogsite is the way to go (just trying to cover all the options!)

But, in the end, what I decided to go with was a simple wordpress blog for my website  (I  started with the Tofurious theme and customized it myself) and to use Photocart for my client proofing.

I had read so many positive reviews about Photocart and it’s flexibility, that I didn’t have much doubt I would be pretty happy with it.

To be honest, because I am doing in person proofing most of the time I haven’t really put it to THAT much use, but from what I’ve used, I like it a lot.  My only issue is the same issue with most photography carts is that if your gift prints are all the same price no matter what size and your packages come with “x # of gift prints” it’s a bit of finagling  to get the cart to allow them to pick those sizes. But I don’t think ANY carts handle this very elegantly.

So, there you have it.  Not saying that my wesbite is perfect, or even all that good, in fact there are lots of things that I want to tweak/add and just haven’t had the time.   I’m just telling you my thought process, particularly since one of you asked :)

Have a great weekend!

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Jennifer says:

Hello,

I am a new photographer starting out & your page is so insightful & I am learning so much!! You are so kind to share all of your knowledge with all of us! I was trying to find a site that allowed me to have client proofing as an option. But became frustrated with my lack of knowledge. When you say you now do in-person client proofs, do you edit the pictures and then meet with them to show them? Or what do you do. I am not sure where to start on the proofing yet.

Thanks again, you are wonderful!

-Jenn

David Ben says:

I had read so many positive reviews about Photocart and it’s flexibility, that I didn’t have much doubt I would be pretty happy with it.

Tara Porter says:

Thanks so much for your response and the wealth of information you provided!!

It is always interesting to hear why people do or do not use flash sites. I do think you need an official website. While I agree that I don’t love the songs that automatically start playing, I think flash sites feel weird without them. I like checking blogs to see the photographer’s current work, but that doesn’t give me an idea of how my shoot might go with them if I can only find newborn shots on their blog (and don’t want to spend too much time searching and sifting through posts)and I’m looking for a family images. I can easily maneuverer through a website, looking at specific galleries that I’m interested in. Also, you can display your best images in your portfolio on your site, not just everyone.

I have a BluDomain site and their customer service DOES SUCK. However, I’m married to a computer geek and he host the site ourselves, so I don’t encounter issues with BluDomain. I love the client proofing section with their templates.

Thanks for sharing your opinion.

Emily

ariana says:

Thanks for your thoughts Emily! I agree with you that flash sites feel odd without music, which is another reason I forgo them altogether. As far as finding family vs newborn etc, that’s where the beauty of categories comes in.. every post gets tagged as either newborn, family, toddler etc so that you can easily select to see all posts from just one category. IMO it does act as a portfolio because I’m only posting my favorite images from each section on my blog.

But it’s great to get other perspectives, so thanks for adding yours!

Natasha says:

I just came across you blog and felt the neeed to say THANK YOU 1You go to a lot of effort and no doubt spend a lot of time sharing your wealthof knowledge with us.You rock.
BTW was a cutie you have there:0)

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