My relationship with Photoshelter is a forced love that dates all the way back to 2005 and my decisions in life at that point to hit the road with benzi. On the side line of my advertising photography business was my own image bank. Mostly hand coded site of small image and the buying workflow was cumbersome for users even though it generated revenue. I had to make up my mind on weather I wanted to keep on doing this or hand the sales over to some other stock company which I was not overly interested for after one crashing on me. That was all fine and dandy except I would not have time for it in the nearest future to serve them with images because I was heading on the road.
Then I got my eyes on Digital railroad. Digital railroad was some thing new and just about what I was looking for. It was not cheap, but as I was heading for the road it would serve me perfectly as a backup even though it would not serve as sales apparatus and what was the biggest selling point was the fact I could serve my clients with images while still being on the road.
To keep a long story short I staid on the road (and have been there more or less since) whil the digital railroad flew of its tracks and crash landed in the woods where it got lost. Unfortunately lot of images and work from photographers got lost with it.
Ideas usually don't come in a group of one. I believe ideas float around and its just a question of who has his antenna out there to grab the ideas and then of course how that person works that idea into project that matters. This is why Photoshelter came about at similar time as Digital railroad and as they came about a bit later they where smaller, but cheaper and I decided to hook me up there just to follow what was happening as it did not cost me much (maybe not at all at first)
While many may have experienced full panic when Digital Railroad crashed, I had no time for it to happen as I was in Guatemala studying spanish. I had nothing there that I did not also have on external hard drives with me or had not sent home also. The fact was that the world was not ready for my ideas of working on the road. The speed of connections and time it took to upload was to much. So I had mainly abandoned the idea of being able to sell while on the road but I could serve.
The big crash
When Digital railroad crashed, Photoshelter acted quickly and did their best to ease the pain of photographers and helped them move as much of images over to them while the line staid open. After the closing of Digital railroad Photoshelter faced a big question of expanding their business to cater for all the things that digital railroad had offered and they had now started to offer. The biggest thing, sales program with locals and offices around the world. But Photoshelter instead took a bold move and they backed up. Scaled down and decided to serve photographers by helping them helping them selfs rather than taking the work over. This was I think their best move. It takes guts to scale down, stop and say no lets do a good job rather then become big.
Since that time I have staid at photoshelter and even though it does cost it does not cost that much that its killing me. Actually if I was complaining about the cost I should just close shop and go do some thing else. What I gain from that cost is top notch service. Prompt answer to all questions. Understanding of the life of photographers in all its diversity. Lot of reading material about the business of photography that have helped an old horse like me and most of all hassle free website appearance.
I have it still as a hobby to do my own website. I do it in drupal and have been waiting for a long time for some good solution for media, especially photography. Even though drupal has come a long way and I did spend lot of time last winter building some thing new I was not there and did see in the future lot of time spent on web work that I would rather spend on my photography or marketing. Plus the cost of running things by your self are ridiculous and that I can complain about. Specially if your site resides in Iceland and you don't.
Blowing in the wind
When the hurricane Sandy hit the coast of New York. I feared a takeout of Photoshelter and maybe a devastating blow to its business. I had seen what the Hurricane Katrina did down in Louisiana where it wiped out whole communities, but the preparation and reaction to the storm showed me that here was a company that stopped at nothing to keep running with as little inconvenience as possible for its customers. I dont think there are many that fully understand what went on to save the company and keep it up and online. This dedication, for me was worth my support and I did not have to worry about such support affect my business decision on the contrary.
Since I decided to make Photoshelter as my new home and put an emphasis on that site in my marketing I have seen increase in traffic to both Photoshelter part of my site and the aurora.is part. With customers ranging from former presidents to playboy finding me and my images I can not be but more than happy
Photoshelter is not as site where you post your images and then put your feet up on the table playing guitar until pockets are full of money. You still have to do a lot of work and lift the heavy load of your marketing. But The 5 most important tools in your marketing are there for you to harness and use. How you use them and harvest from the field you paid for at Photoshelter is up to you
customer relations and sales tools
1 Portfolio of images
2 Lightboxes for future and current customers
3 Delivery method for current clients
4 Sales tools
6 blog integrated or coming up in the new beta
Multiple methods of uploading made easy
Social media integration made easy
Lot of marketing material and seminars
This love letter has been long and one could think that I owned shares in the company or gained some incredible revenue from writing this. Fact is I don't. I like it when I get good service at reasonable price and in todays world I think you should tell about such a company. There are lot of businesses out there that try to get your money. The increase in those companies trying to get photographers to spend ridiculous amount of money at their site is unbelievable.
Photoshelter on the other hand feels like a company where both gains. Their business is built around serving photographers. They need photographers and photographers need them.
Flickr for one does not need photographers. It needs their photographs to create more hits so they can make revenue from selling and serving advertising while giving a way free images from photographers that should be selling them through Photoshelter or some other similar sites.
So what have I really gotten out of Photoshelter beside a Think Tank bag, some exposure to clients, featured photographs, sold images, served clients and bunch of brochures about how to do business. Just about any thing I need to stay on the road, take pictures and serve clients. Most of all, they have given me ease of mind that my photography is as save as it can be and that they will take good care of it. I trust they will fight Hurricanes and future wars for my images
On the other hand I do gain two things from this. If Photoshelter stays in business my images and my sales apparatus is in the safe, and if you by any chance would like to try them out and should hit this link to photoshelter or any link to them in this article. I gain a point in the book and at some time if unbelievably many sign up I gain a dollar or two.