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Author Topic: Best Web Portfolio Template?  (Read 16110 times)
fauxtoguy
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« on: June 04, 2012, 05:01:03 PM »
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I'm overwhelmed every time I try to choose a website template. Most services offer fairly elegant flash based sites with automatic html and mobile versions. I almost signed up with Foliolink, but their servers have gone down for multiple days on more than one occasion that I witnessed. I was not overly impressed with the offerings reviewed by PDN. Other options sound promising as pitched on the web. But I'm not seeing any user reviews by pro photographers. I'm a pro retoucher & photo illustrator. Seeking a fairly basic portfolio template with intuitive navigation & elegant design options that I (with no coding knowledge) can set up, and maintain inexpensively. It will need to include email hosting, and the usual flash/html/mobile/ipad versions. I do have my own domain.

Thanks for your input.
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Rob C
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« Reply #1 on: June 05, 2012, 04:45:34 AM »
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I'm overwhelmed every time I try to choose a website template. Most services offer fairly elegant flash based sites with automatic html and mobile versions. I almost signed up with Foliolink, but their servers have gone down for multiple days on more than one occasion that I witnessed. I was not overly impressed with the offerings reviewed by PDN. Other options sound promising as pitched on the web. But I'm not seeing any user reviews by pro photographers. I'm a pro retoucher & photo illustrator. Seeking a fairly basic portfolio template with intuitive navigation & elegant design options that I (with no coding knowledge) can set up, and maintain inexpensively. It will need to include email hosting, and the usual flash/html/mobile/ipad versions. I do have my own domain.

Thanks for your input.


It took me years to get a site going - far too complicated for my sort of mind. Then, I was told about Weebly and I discovered that even I was capable of using it.

They have all manner of designs available and options from Free to fully Pro. with bells, whistles and probably dancing girls too, if you want them. Yes, you can use your existing domain name. Check them out at:

http://www.weebly.com

Best of luck

Rob C
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Chris_Brown
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« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2012, 12:35:24 PM »
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If your server uses Apache software you can install the WordPress engine and choose from hundreds of free themes or purchase "commercial" themes.
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Ellis Vener
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« Reply #3 on: June 08, 2012, 08:26:41 PM »
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I use Livebooks (http://www.livebooks.com), and they not only host but designed  my site with me.  It has many times more than paid me back in the three or four years I've been using their services. In fact the first job I landed in the first month after setting up my Livebooks site the shoot fees were 5x over the cost of the site set up and design. I wrote aboutthe process  for Professional Photographer: http://www.ppmag.com/web-exclusives/2009/02/the-livebooks-process-a-total.html

My theory is that if you are a photographer, unless you are also a crackerjack graphic designer, let a professional graphic designer design your marketing materials  for you - but be really clear about what you want and how you want the site to basically look like and work basically work for visitors. Same with business cards and letterhead.  You also want to be able to swap new images or swap out old ones with a bare minimum of fuss.
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Ellis Vener
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Creating photographs for advertising, corporate and industrial clients since 1984.
Brad Barr
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« Reply #4 on: June 27, 2012, 07:55:03 PM »
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Live books is kinda costly,

I have  used http://www.bigfolio.com for years.  I also know of literally hundreds of other photogs that use them. (most of the top wedding shooters actually).  There service is fantastic, their up rate impeccable, and best of all, their admin back end is super easy.  Give em a whirl...you wont be sorry.  Both my wedding and sports site are their templates. 
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Brad
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D3s, D3, D300, Nikon: 14-24 2.8, 24-120 f4VR 70-200VRII, 300 2.8, 400 2.8VR; 1.7-TC2, Siggy 50 & 85 1.4's + Spiderholster, D300 IR just for grins.
Gregory Storm
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« Reply #5 on: August 12, 2012, 07:59:16 PM »
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If your server uses Apache software you can install the WordPress engine and choose from hundreds of free themes or purchase "commercial" themes.

Hi fauxtoguy,

I completely agree with Chris.  Go with WordPress.  There are thousands of amazing themes out there.  I'm using WordPress for www.GregoryStorm.com and www.LAHomePhotography.com.

In terms of where to find great portfolio themes that play nicely with computers, HTML5, iPads, and mobile, check out...

Graph Paper Press
Elegant Themes
Theme Forrest

Good luck!

Gregory
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MrSmith
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« Reply #6 on: August 13, 2012, 06:18:40 AM »
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livebooks.
been really pleased with the service, i went for a template and made some changes that they did not charge extra for.
they had some server issues earlier this year but bent over backwards keeping people informed and going into detail as to why the problem happened and steps they put in place to prevent it happening again, and offered  free feature upgrades as compensation. i got the impression they wanted to look after their customers instead of "we have your money now, tough that it's gone down you should read the T & C's"
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bretedge
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« Reply #7 on: August 15, 2012, 01:40:23 AM »
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I also have a liveBooks site but unlike the other folks in this thread, I'm not all that impressed.  Mine is a custom design and while it looks nice, it's too slow to load and despite what liveBooks would have you believe, it isn't all that SEO optimized.  I've heard from many customers that the integrated shopping cart solution is confusing, too.  The last thing I want is for a potential customer to have a difficult time placing orders on my website.  Also, I sell a lot of stock photography and several of the magazine editors I work with won't even look at a Flash website.

I just hired a designer to build a new site that integrates the portfolio and gallery features of Photoshelter with the content rich capabilities of Wordpress using a customized Graph Paper Press theme.  I have several friends who have gone this route and every one of them recommended it to me.

I think liveBooks or some of the other Flash providers are fine for portfolio presentation.  My business model consists of photographic print sales, stock image licensing, workshops and tours, e-books/iPhone apps, and assignments.  The liveBooks site just isn't built for this kind of business whereas the Photoshelter/Wordpress sites can easily handle all these different aspects.


I will say that liveBooks customer service is excellent.  Every time I've had a problem, which really hasn't been that often, they've jumped on it and quickly resolved the issue.
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rcdurston
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« Reply #8 on: August 17, 2012, 03:25:32 PM »
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aphotofolio.com
My site is durstonphoto.com and is optimized for Europe as far as speed goes and I'm very satisfied with everything so far.
R
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Brett_D
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« Reply #9 on: August 29, 2012, 06:29:45 PM »
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Word Press is definitely the best if you're going to spend time with it and customize.  I use http://bigblackbag.com/ as well, and think it's pretty good and easy to use (though I'm phasing it out for all WordPress sites). 
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BobDavid
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« Reply #10 on: September 11, 2012, 03:58:37 PM »
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I hired a web development company two years ago. They used the look and feel that a designer used on a websitethat he designed for me four years ago. My current web developers are brilliant in terms of back-end functionality, modularity, merchant services, and SEO. They are not designers, but they do understand how to make every inch of real estate add value regarding organic rankings. My current site isn't quite as pretty, but the traffic has increased 20X and most of my new clients find me on the web. You get what you pay for.
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mcfoto
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« Reply #11 on: September 21, 2012, 09:16:34 AM »
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Last year we left Livebooks for Aphotofolio.
Best Denis
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Denis Montalbetti
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Ellis Vener
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« Reply #12 on: September 21, 2012, 09:19:01 AM »
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Last year we left Livebooks for Aphotofolio.
Best Denis

I have considered doing that as well, but it isn't cheap.  What factors prompted your switch?

p.s. Denis that is some pretty bad ass work you've got in your portfolio!
« Last Edit: September 21, 2012, 09:25:14 AM by Ellis Vener » Logged

Ellis Vener
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Creating photographs for advertising, corporate and industrial clients since 1984.
mcfoto
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« Reply #13 on: September 21, 2012, 06:53:24 PM »
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Hi
Thank you! We had been having questions with Livebooks for about a year due to the size of the image ( 2010 to May 2011 ). Early last May 2011 I had a call from livebooks about our question of larger images and his response was only 5% of users use large monitors and most of them are photographers so why do you need larger images. I took this info as well it will not happen... We felt we needed larger images so we contacted aphotofolio as I new photographers here in NY were using them. With my first contact with them the guy said " trust me they (Livebooks) will not go larger with the image size." That was on friday two days after my phone call with LB. So the following week on tuesday the guy from APF calls me about signing me on and we agreed with a verbal agreement. Now wednesday rolls around and late in the day a friend of mine calls me and said have you heard of scaler the new LB platform ( larger images ). What makes this so funny as we had been on LB longer than our friend and even told her to sign up with LB. Next day thursday I call up APF and tell him the news and make my first payment... What gets me is a week earlier 7 days I was on the phone with a LB rep and he did not say anything... we at that time had been with LB since Jan 2007... In the end it cost us $1000.00 for APF and it would have cost $600.00 to upgrade our existing LB site to scaler which I found out about 2 months later. Anyhow it was time for a redesign and we are very happy with APF. I look back and it is still a funny story..

Best Denis
« Last Edit: September 21, 2012, 08:25:38 PM by mcfoto » Logged

Denis Montalbetti
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AnnieMac
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« Reply #14 on: October 09, 2012, 08:36:38 AM »
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First of all, thanks to all of you who offered feedback on your website vendors.

In maintaining my own site, the most laborious part is properly preparing and then uploading images for posting on the site.  Which vendors, in your opinion, make these chore easier? 

While my site does not have the slickness of a pro vendor site (I write all my own HTML), it allows me freedom of access and fast changes.  Which vendors, in your opinion, make it the easiest to get a change done?

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John MacLean
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« Reply #15 on: October 12, 2012, 01:18:55 AM »
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I just had my liveBooks Scaler site go live the other day. So far I've been happy with the process and their customer service. Although at times I had to keep on them about my various (and probably too many) email requests. I made a couple of mods from their template site, and it cost me just an additional $50. The editSuite is their back-end for uploading and managing the site. I find it much easier than my previous site that used SlideShowPro Director.

I was told by a fellow photog that my site loads slow, but I think 1800x1200 images aren't going to load the quickest, unless you save them with high compression. Mine are all exported out of LR4 at Quality 70. I have no problem here, but I also have 25Mbps download speed.

If I didn't choose LB, I most likely would have gone with APF.

www.johnmaclean.com
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rcdurston
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« Reply #16 on: October 15, 2012, 03:26:04 PM »
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I was told by a fellow photog that my site loads slow, but I think 1800x1200 images aren't going to load the quickest, unless you save them with high compression. Mine are all exported out of LR4 at Quality 70. I have no problem here, but I also have 25Mbps download speed.

If I didn't choose LB, I most likely would have gone with APF.


It does load slow from this side of the pond.
What did you end up spending and do you have a monthly?
If you want to change templates how much does it cost?
WP sites never look good IMHO, looks like they were made in someone's shed out back.

R
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Chris_Brown
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« Reply #17 on: October 16, 2012, 04:43:34 PM »
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WP sites never look good IMHO, looks like they were made in someone's shed out back.

wow. 56 million people have been hittin' that shed pretty hard.   Cheesy

I use hacked WP templates and it has provided me with the most functional, enduring site I've had. It's easy to maintain and easy to change out images. No Flash, either. I had a Flash site and, while it looked good, it only functioned on Flash-saavy clients, and I had to keep its Flash kernel current, which was a bit beyond my pay grade. I much prefer PHP & Java to serve up my site. That way the client/browser needs no plug-ins.
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pomgonewalkabout
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« Reply #18 on: October 30, 2012, 06:29:37 PM »
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For my website portfolio pages I use one of the Lightroom plugins developed by Matthew Campagna of The Turning Gate. I tried without success to write my own in Dreamweaver for my site but gave up.

Basically you edit and keyword the pictures that you want to use in Lightroom, then just click on web and the portfolios are automatically developed. You just upload them to your website.

I also upload the index page to my site and any new portfolios that I want to add automatically appear on my site.

Examples here

http://www.shoalhavenlife.com/Gallery/index.php

http://shoalhavenlife.com/pomgonewalkabout/pictures_at_an_exhibition/index.html


I'm not affilated in anyway with the company just a grateful user that are cheap and easy to use.
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I do not need that new camera
dwdallam
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« Reply #19 on: November 01, 2012, 09:31:22 PM »
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There is one fundamental when choosing how to market your images online:

(1) Do you want and need a custom website that you have full control over?

If so, then you have your work cut out for you. Perhaps the best option is WordPress because it has such wide saturation and support. Finding a shopping solution is harder with stand alone, custom websites.

I've never liked the one stop shop Walmart approach to selling photos, since they all look similar and you have little control over your site. But that might be just what you need. So, there are many, many ways to sell like that.

Here are a few: http://vandelaydesign.com/blog/make-money/sell-photos-online/

And yeah, you'll need to dig through them to see if they have what you like, but take it from me, their descriptions are so generic, it's oftentimes an effort in futility.

One option is to pick a site that you like, as far as aesthetics goes, and hire someone to set it up for you--most of the turn key sites offer this option for a smallish fee.

With WordPress, you're going to need to know quite a bit about how to implement custom css (compared to someone who doesn't know what css is) if you really want to customize your template. But once you get it down, most all plugins operate the same or similarly for customization. Yep, you can customize any plugin out there given your ability to write css or web languages like html, php, and java. WordPress and its plugins are created for customization.

For the most part, you'll only need css changes, since all of the visual affects, or most of them, are built to change with css. the developers make it a point to offer as many customization options through css as possible. Take it from me, stay with the official templates, or those that have proven to be compatible with the largest 3rd party options. If you stay with the official WordPress.org templates, you are ok, and if you go with 3rd party templates for a fee--mostly 60.00 or less--then you are also ok, since they continue to develop them and update them. If worse comes to worse, you could pay someone to update your template too. The good news is that once a template is finished, it's compatible with the web for a long, long time.

I've spent a large amount of time getting my new site up. I think I started in early summer. I still haven't gone live yet, but I'm withing a week or so. And I have the pleasure of knowing that I can add anything I need to it. for instance, Facebook just came out with their official Facebook plugin for Wordpress that offers open graph and other seamless integration to Facebook--like I never have to log into my Facebook fan page to post new images, etc., or announce updates, etc. (And I hate Facebook, so that's a good deal.)

Last, there is a plug-in for WP for your gallery needs, and you will need a gallery plugin since WP is mainly a blog and not a photo gallery (Which means the stock gallery option built into WP is very, very weak. Luckily for us, we have the now professionally support and free (and pay) NEXTgen gallery plugin from Photocrati, which also offers really custom and nicely designed templates for low prices. In fact, their main business is WordPress templates.

In summary, WordPress is the most mature and well supported template CMS system alive. You can also host your site at WordPress.com (notice that the open source official WordPress domain is ORG and NOT COM). The benefit of WordPress COM is that you have nearly turn key options, and an easy way to hire them to put your site together for a nominal fee.  Photocrati offers a great option also, and theya re teh developers of NEXTgen gallery too.

Photocrati
WordPress
NEXTgen Gallery

Here is my site using the official 2011 WordPress theme, highly customized by using css, and the Photocrati free NEXTgen gallery.

http://dwdallam.com/

« Last Edit: November 01, 2012, 09:38:17 PM by dwdallam » Logged

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