Website Creations; Zenfolio For Business And Pleasure; A Do-It-Yourself Website

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It’s pretty easy these days to do what seemed a monumental task in the past—create a website that makes navigation easy, displaying and selling images simple, and that does not require eight-weeks attendance in an HTML class in some bleak basement classroom of an adult ed evening program to get to stage one. True, there are plenty of browser and editing programs that can create a web page of images for you, and for many photographers that does the trick. But none of them offer the myriad tools and devices required by those who want to both display and market their images in a more professional manner. Once the domain of web designers, these sites are increasingly becoming a do-it-yourself project that offers degrees of customization unthinkable in the past. In this article we’ll explore one such infrastructure, Zenfolio (www.zenfolio.com).

The Zenfolio site is filled with wizards and guides that spell out the options as you both build your galleries and options. It’s an easy walk-through but be aware that there are numerous side streets, so give yourself time to learn it all before publishing your site.

The premise of Zenfolio is that you want to both present your work and sell your prints or various other image options. It can be utilized either by fine art or event photographers or those who desire to do both on the same site. It can serve as a storefront window and a counter sales space in one. And it does all this for what I consider a modest fee of from $25 to $100 per year, depending on the type of features you require. (You can upgrade at any time.) Three levels are offered, and the main difference is the amount of storage (2GB for Basic to unlimited storage in the other levels) and the max size of the file you can upload and store (12MB for Unlimited and 24MB for Premium).

Why opt for the largest file size per image? If you are offering images for stock or directly to print buyers they will probably need the larger size, although to be frank the agency I work with wants 36MB minimum, so perhaps this is just a good idea for offering larger prints or for those buyers not requiring that high a resolution.

Uploading images is easy—just drag and drop into the Uploader and click. Note that the formats accepted include JPEG and TIFF and that file size is limited to, with the Premium option, 24MB max

There are numerous features in these “membership” levels, most of which I’ll allow you to check out at: www.zenfolio.com/zf/pricing.aspx. The company also adds features over time, the most recent being the ability to create customized “themes,” an enhanced Search Engine Optimization (SEO), your logo branding throughout, and the ability to personalize pricing (and use PayPal!).

I will not attempt to cover all the features and go through all the steps other than call out some of the benefits of working within Zenfolio, and some of the caveats. One quick note up front is that Support is great and an e-mail query elicited a very quick response.

The first stage is gathering images in a folder and strategizing how you want to present them. For this project I chose to create two galleries within a Premium site, a set of images from my new book, Focus on Digital Landscape Photography (Lark Books, 2010), which is an “open” site, and a set of images for my digital black-and-white printing workshops, which is locked and which I will use as a resource when I teach. (I also downloaded their download manager, which allows me to use the site as a storage area for such images, so I can now use the site as a kind of extra backup.)

Working with the tools provided, I was able to get a site going in about an hour, not including all the other options offered.
All Photos © 2010, George Schaub, All Rights Reserved

When I prepared the images I could have made them all max size (up to 24MB) but for this test run I collected and processed all the images in a folder with Bridge>Photoshop Tools>Image Processing to 1500x1500 pixels, or about 1MB size. Do note that uploads are limited to JPEG, TIFF, GIF, and PNG formats.

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