Give Your Photos a Home: Starting Your Photography Website on a Platform That Best Suits You

Give Your Photos a Home: Starting Your Photography Website on a Platform That Best Suits You

As an aspiring photographer, you may be regularly posting photos on places like Facebook, Instagram or Flickr, but those places aren’t really called “your website”, and you shouldn’t be building your photography home on “rented land”, i.e. platforms that you have no control over. Hence, if you still don’t have your website, getting it setup is your best next move. But, who should you host your website with? Well, it depends what you want.

For Photo Blogging

If your main purpose is photo blogging, with no plan of scaling up (e.g. selling prints, starting workshops, etc.), you can sign up with a platform like Tumblr or WordPress.com for free. They have quite a number of photography themes (i.e. templates) to choose from, so you should be able to find the one you love.

For Selling Photography Prints

If you want to sell photography prints on your own website, signing up with services like SmugMug or Zenfolio is your best option. It’s not free, but they let you host a website with a built-in print on demand store that handles printing and shipping for you. These platforms are made solely for photographers and let you focus on what matters most to photographers, i.e. taking photography, and you can leave all the rest for them to handle. I’d probably have signed up with one of these services if I had not started my website with self-hosted WordPress which I’ll talk about next.

Going Beyond Photo Blogging and Selling Photography Prints

If you’re aiming to scale up and do much more than photo blogging and/or selling prints (e.g. starting a photography business, running workshops and letting participants book and pay online, running online courses and creating members-only protected pages with login feature, etc.), self-hosted WordPress (WordPress.org ) is your go-to platform.

Don’t get mixed up with the aforementioned WordPress.com which is a free blogging platform (I know this always confuses people!). Self-hosted WordPress is a content management system that you need to install on a web server by purchasing a web hosting plan (USD100 or less a year) with a hosting company like Bluehost and manage your theme and plugins updates by yourself.

No need to be techy to manage self-hosted WordPress website, though, as many web hosting companies offer one-click installation and there’s no coding skill required to run a self-hosted WordPress website. That said, being techy helps if you’re like me who wants to customize the look and feel and function of your website to the finest details by editing HTML, CSS, PHP and JavaScript, as self-hosted WordPress is the only platform mentioned here that lets you have full control from beginning to end.

So, what do you choose? Once again, it depends what you want, but I’d like to encourage you to start a photography website if you still don’t have one yet. I’m sure your fun will be doubled (photography + your own website)! As always, feel free to Contact Me for any questions. ;)

Selling Photography Print with Fotomoto (with Brief Fotomoto Review)

Selling Photography Print with Fotomoto (with Brief Fotomoto Review)

I’ve now started selling print and digital download on demand directly on this little space online, using a print fulfillment service called Fotomoto . I’m not sure whether there is any demand at all, but it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, so I’m quite happy that I’ve finally got it started! Today, I’ll review a few options to sell prints online (with brief Fotomoto review at the end).

Free and Easy but No Control: Redbubble and Society6

I see some people using a service like Redbubble and Society6 to sell prints and other printed items. This is probably the easiest (and also cheapest, i.e. free) way, but not quite ideal for me cos I wanted to sell on my own website and have the full control over how the page looks, etc. I know this is typically me, the perfectionist. ;)

Built-in One Stop Solution: Smugmug and Zenfolio

If you still don’t have your own website, starting one with Smugmug or Zenfolio is a good idea. It’s not free, but they let you host a website with a built-in print on demand store that handles printing and shipping for you. You can also opt to use a custom domain, and SmugMug even allows full customisation of HTML and CSS (no JavaScript, though) while Zenfolio’s customisation is somewhat limited.

The reason I didn’t go with these built-in one stop solution is that I already have my self-hosted website (proudly powered by WordPress). Setting up another website with e.g. SmugMug simply defeats the purpose of having this website, and I also was reluctant to switch my alliance to SmugMug because coding with WordPress is my another passion!

Fotomoto Review: Turning Photography Website into Print on Demand Store

So I went to find a solution within WordPress and came across Fotomoto plugin that lets me sell print and digital download right on my own WordPress powered website for free of charge (there are also two tiers of paid plans called Pro and Pro Plus ). Just like SmugMug and Zenfolio, it handles printing and shipping for you, too. With Fotomoto, you can easily turn your photography website into a print on demand store, whether it’s run on self-hosted WordPress like mine, or Google Blogger, Tumblr, Squarespace and many more (see the full list of supported platforms ).

Brief Fotomoto Review

1. Canvas print and card arrived perfectly packed. Upon ordering, it took only 6 days (from U.S. to Singapore) to receive this canvas print (shipped by FedEx).
2. Upon unboxing the package, canvas print was securely sealed by plastic. Excellent protection.
3. I’m 100% satisfied with its print quality (orders made on Fotomoto are always printed by California based Bay Photo). The colours between screen and print are closely matched, which is a good reassurance for me and anyone interested to buy prints.

If you’re interested, feel free to check how Fotomoto works live on my newly-created print pages (N.B. I’ve disabled Fotomoto on mobile devices as it’s unlikely for anyone to buy prints on phone, so please access the page on your computer or tablet)! Or, Contact Me for any feedback or questions, as always. ;)

Quarterly Best Pics (January-March 2017)

Marina Bay, Singapore
Singapore Skyline with Merlion
Singapore Skyline from Esplanade
Nishihama Beach, Kerama Islands, Okinawa, Japan

From top to bottom: Marina Bay (Singapore), Singapore Skyline with Merlion, Singapore Skyline from Esplanade, Nishihama Beach (Okinawa, Japan).

This is something I’ve never mentioned before, but my initial interest in photography was sunny beachscape like this Nishihama Beach photo above. It didn’t take me too long before realizing the beauty at twilight and dusk while shooting on beaches, though, and I started to shoot more at dusk than daytime. Then, my interest gradually shifted from beachscape/seascape to cityscape, and here I am today, someone totally hooked on cityscape photography at twilight and dusk. ;)

My wife once told me that all my seascape photos at dusk look almost same, whether photographed locally or at popular beaches like Phuket or Cebu. This is probably true cos people can’t really tell the locations by looking at seascapes. On the other hand, some cityscapes like NYC, London, Hong Kong are pretty characteristic and even capable of connecting emotionally with those who know the places.

Hope my cityscape photos can be more than just scenery and evoke such emotion, too!

To Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere

To Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere

“If you build it, they will come.” is a famous quote from 1989 film “Field of Dreams”, but this is certainly not the case when it comes to running a website. I started this website in September 2014, but even after 2.5 years, the traffic still remains pretty low.

Not Humanly Possible to “Be Everywhere and Equally Active”

This is partly because of me not making much effort to get my website noticed as Tumblr remains the only active social networking account to promote this website. Sometimes I’m tempted to adopt “be everywhere” strategy by setting up more social networking accounts, as being at more places increases my chance to be found by more people. But, it’s not humanly possible to “be everywhere and equally active”. For me as a perfectionist, I hate to spread myself too thin.

Furthermore, trying to be everywhere surely takes much more time and energy out of me. Uploading the same photos to many different places is burdensome and time-consuming. I know that there is a way to automate the process, e.g. posting a photo on Flickr automatically gets it posted on Tumblr, then gets shared on Facebook and Twitter, etc.

More Fitting to Say “to Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere”

But, is this really called “be everywhere” without me being on those platforms and interacting with real people? For me, it’s more fitting to say “to be everywhere is to be nowhere”. At the end of the day, my website isn’t a business, it’s a hobby, for fun. While I’d love to reach more people, there is no imminent need to desperately seek traffic by setting up more social networking accounts than I can manage.

Last but not least, “be everywhere” goes against my minimalistic approach to life in general. As we all know, Everything You Own Keeps You Busy, and this is certainly the case with social networking accounts, too.

Focusing on Writing Good Contents on My Own Website

So, going forward, I’ll continue being focused on writing good contents on my own website rather than spending my efforts elsewhere, and try to add value to those who are interested in twilight and dusk photography cos people are intrinsically wired to share value with others. And this way, I’m hoping more people will “discover” my website in the years to come.

The one thing I’m sure is that I’ll keep posting photos and tips on this website as long as I’m alive. So, time is on my side. And, before I’m gone, I’ll ask my son to take care of this website and make sure that he’ll renew web hosting every year so that my website will never die even if I’m gone. LoL!

Flickr or 500px or Both?

Flickr or 500px or Both?

I’m not someone very active with social networks (Tumblr is the one and only place I stay active). That said, as a photography enthusiast, I do have an account with both Flickr and 500px , but haven’t been as active as I’d want to be, having uploaded only 10+ photos each.

This is because I’ve had my photos posted on this website and Tumblr, and get what I want from these two places, Gallery Page on this website and a community with like-minded photographers on Tumblr. Therefore I’m reluctant to upload the same photos to Flickr and 500px. It’s repetitive and time-consuming to say the least. But now I’m considering to be more active on Flickr or 500px or even both, hoping to get my photos exposed to more eyeballs than it is possible with this little space online (i.e. my website).

My Experience with Flickr and 500px

With my little experience with Flickr and 500px, I’ve realized that nobody gets to see your photos on Flickr (let alone “faves” and comments) if you just upload photos and don’t do anything else. After adding the same photo to 30 different groups (sounds spammy, doesn’t it?), I finally get 100+ views and a few faves or comments. It seems very hard to “get noticed” on Flickr.

On the other hand, photos uploaded to 500px immediately get quite a number of “Likes”, and what’s even more amazing is that the uploaded photos remain evergreen. I still get Likes for photos I uploaded a few years ago! This happens without me doing any kind of self-promotion at all. In addition, Flickr has no option to sell your photos while 500px lets you license photos through its marketplace that works much like stock photography websites.

500px is Missing One Vital Feature

Reading up to here, it sounds no brainer to go with 500px, doesn’t it? That said, 500px is missing one vital feature (to me) which is the ability to replace photos. My overly perfectionist nature obliges me to replace photos when I further edit them (e.g. changing the crop), but 500px won’t let me do this (while it’s possible with my own website, Tumblr and Flickr). Thus, I’m left with no choice but to delete and re-upload as new photos. Doing this loses all the Likes and comments received, but in my typically starving artist-ish manner, I’ve always chosen perfection and self-satisfaction over recognition…

Due to this shortcoming of 500px, I’m leaning towards Flickr, at least until 500px implements the ability to replace photos. I’d love to know which platform (Flickr or 500px) you prefer and why. Feel free to Contact Me to share your view and strategy. ;)

Follow

Get the latest posts and photos delivered to your Inbox.

© 2014–2017 LASTLIGHTS.NETABOUTCONTACT