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July 5, 2014

36 of the Best Online Tools to Boost Your Photography Business



Photography Website Builders

1. MotoCMS

Since I was looking for a self-hosted solution with no additional costs for the tools I don’t need just yet, this one worked perfectly for me. For $139, I got a modern website template based on the quite powerful MotoCMS. Among the key features are advanced drag-and-drop website editor, SEO & social media tools, e-commerce widget, etc.

2. Squarespace

Squarespace offers 25 modern-looking templates with e-commerce integration, custom domains (no self-hosting, though), mobile-ready websites and support. There’s no free plan, but prices start from $8 per month, and you have 14 days to give it a try for free.

5. Portfoliobox

There’s a free account option allowing you to select a clean template and fill it with up to 40 images. A $6.90/month Pro plan (paid yearly) with Portolfiobox includes more design and marketing options, as well as a custom domain name and email.

6. Wix

The free plan includes a wide gallery of templates, unlimited pages and hosting. Premium plans start from $4.08/month, but your website will carry Wix brand ads both on desktop and mobile.

7. Pixpa

Pixpa offers hosted portfolios with private galleries, ec-ommerce with Fotomoto, custom domains, social media sharing and other features. All-inclusive plans start from $4.00/month (billed annually) with a 50% discount available for students.

8. Portfolio Lounge

A custom domain is included in Portfolio Lounge’s free plan, which is nice! Upgrading to the Pro ($7.99/month) and Max ($16.99/month) will get you extra storage space. This is quite a simple service with no pricing gimmicks and overwhelming feature sets.

9. Folio Websites

Folio Websites templates are based on WordPress, which is quite a benefit these days. There’s just one plan available – $175/year, and your decision to sign up may only be based on examples and promises since there’s no trial period offered.

10. Carbonmade

Carbonmade is a kinda hipster among portfolio builders – its design is funky, the words are fun, and the service is on trend. Opting in for the free “Meh” plan, you get a 35-image portfolio on the carbonmade.com domain. Upgrade to the $12/month “Whoo!” plan, and you get 500 images and 10 video slots, domain binding, ad-free site, private projects and tech support.

10b. Zenfolio (added by the Editor)

Editor’s note: I personally use Zenfolio for my portfolio, and have for several years. The benefits of choosing something like Zenfolio over just a portfolio site is that they also offer a way to sell your images, preview them for clients, have locked or private galleries and even a blog element. Their Basic Plan is only $30/year but if you want unlimited uploads, and the ability to price your own work go for the Premium at $140/year. This can also act as you backup as well with unlimited storage of images. They do offer a free trial.


Cloud Storage and Media Library

11. Flickr

With a colossal 1TB of free storage on the table, Flickr remains a first-class service for photographers of all levels. I’m using it to store my photos, too. However, I really hope their sluggish interface will be updated very soon.

12. Streamnation

Streamnation supports a pile of photo file formats, including RAW and C2R – a feature any photographer would appreciate. 20GB of storage is free. The price varies from $4/month for 100GB to $19/month for unlimited space biled annually.

13. Dropbox

While Dropbox’s experience for photographers still feels half-baked, it’s definitely a solution to consider since, unlike your average cloud hosting startup, the established service provides welcome peace of mind.

14. Google+

You can store up to 15GB in Google+ Photos, Gmail, and Google Drive for free and then pay for additional storage (up to 16TB) as your account grows. A neat thing aboutGoogle’s offer is that, unless your photos exceed 2,048 pixels by width, Google won’t count them against your total amount of available space.

15. Crashplan

A neat feature about Crashplan is that you can recover a deleted file no matter how much time has passed. Prices for unlimited online backup to the Crashplan cloud start at $5/month with annual billing.

16. Zoolz

Unlike most cloud hosting services, Zoolz is a long-term storage unit designed for storing your data on the cloud for a lifetime. With a 5-year subscription you can have your photos reside on reliable Amazon AWS servers for as low as $2/month.

16b. Zenfolio

Editor’s note: see above for Zenfolio info under the website section, also works for image backup.


Image Proofing and Selling Prints

17. Pixieset

Pixieset is my number one tool to create beautiful client galleries. It has all the key features to help you deliver, proof, and sell your work (unlimited galleries, proofing system, instant download, password protection, audio, just to name a few). The best part is that all this is available in their free plan. If you’d like more space and a custom domain, you can upgrade your plan (prices range from $8/month for 10GB to $40/month for 1TB).

18. Nextproof

Nextproof a pay-as-you-go service with a $0 plan (1GB of space and a 15% transaction fee) on the table and a free 30-day trial available for every paid plan (ranging from $9-99/month).

19. OnlinePictureProof

There’s a single, $29/month plan you can buy. Among the key features are slideshows, mobile app and a shopping cart. Online Picture Proof is a simple yet professional picture proofing and sales solution.

20. ProofBuddy

If your website runs on the WordPress platform, you can make use of this free WP plugin, ProofBuddy, to activate a fully-functional proofing system built to show your proofs and accept orders from clients.

21. ShootProof

With ShootProof, you can create public or private galleries that work equally well on desktop and mobile devices. The great feature is that each visitor’s activity is displayed in detail to you. ShootProof has a flexible payment plan (commission-free $10-50/month) as well as a free plan allowing up to 100 uploads.

20b. Zenfolio

Editor’s note: see above for Zenfolio info under the website section, also works for image proofing and sales.


Scheduling

22. Setmore

Getting started with Setmore is very easy thanks to a clean, intuitive interface and wizard-like design. Standard features are free to use and include unlimited appointments, services and customers, as well as the ability to add up to 20 staff members to your account. Upgrading to $25/month brings you to the premium level with Google Calendar sync, unlimited SMS (text) reminders and recurring appointments.

23. Ubooq

Ubooq makes it easy for clients to schedule an appointment with an easy-to-use, online reception page. Appointment ticket and reminders help avoid no-shows. You can schedule up to 30 appointments in Ubooq for free, and then, if you like it, pick a plan that suits your needs. There is a 5-grade plan system, with prices starting at $19 for the monthly service.

24. BookedIn

A pretty cool feature in BookedIn, that I didn’t see on similar services, is that you can add a booking app to your Facebook timeline. Payment plans include a pay-as-you-go model (you purchase a block of booking for 50 cents each) and a monthly plan costing $20/month. You can try out the complete set of features for free during 30 days.
Note: other free options: Calendly and TimeTrade (also have a paid version for more appointments)


CRM (Customer Relationship Management) System

25. Simply Studio

For $29/month (billed annually) with Simply Studio you get a full-fledged, web-based CRM system with client-money task management, accounting, invoicing and bookkeeping, online proofing, polls and email marketing. All features are included in a free trial version available for 15 days. My workflow of a newbie obviously does not require such software yet, but I surely love the features-price ratio of Simply Studio, as well as the simplicity of its interface. So Simply Studio is already in my bookmarks waiting for my photography business to grow and call for it.

26. StudioCloud

StudioCloud is free desktop software for photography studios. Standard features include cloud syncing, a client database, scheduling, billing, order management and other business-management tools. While the basic functionality (which is quite rich, though), is free to download, some extra tools, such as multiple users, online proofing and automatic client reminders, will cost you between $10-60 per month.

27. ShootQ

ShootQ offers the most comprehensive list of management tools, which naturally reflects in pricing. There are three all-inclusive and monthly plans to choose from, and prices range from $39.95 to $79.95 depending on the desired number of users, pages and amount of storage.

Organization and Automation

28. IFTTT

This brilliant service saves me lots of time for shooting. Using IFTTT’s straight-forward formula, you can automate a variety of tasks, such as tweeting your new blog posts or notifying you of the latest dPS posts.

29. Buffer

A dead simple, yet useful tool, to schedule your social media posts. If you’re a heavy social network user, Hootsuite might work for you better, but if you just don’t want your Twitter and Facebook get dusty while you’re on vacation, Buffer has you covered.

30. Nutcache

Nutcache enables you to easily create unlimited number of invoices, do estimates, and track time. Great tool to operate your photo business in the cloud. It’s also multilingual.



You won’t believe how many tasks you can manage with some organization and system put in the process.

Mobile Client Galleries

31. Myphotoapp

Myphotoapp boasts the widest library of tools among mobile photo gallery builders. Client email collection, integration with MailChimp and advanced app analytics are some really neat features that make this service my number one choice. I hope, though, the usability of the administrative panel will be soon revised towards a simpler and more intuitive interface.

32. StickyAlbums

Create mobile photo apps that your clients can save on their iPhones, iPads and most Android devices using Sticky Albums. Features include custom branding, built-in Facebook sharing, password protected albums, photo album hosting and sharing via SMS. Prices start at $19/month with a free, 14-day trial available.

33. ProImageShare

If you’re a Lightroom diehard, it’s an easy winner here. ProImageShare lets you publish and host your own web app that can be downloaded on iOS devices with the appearance of a custom app. With a one-time payment of $69, you can publish as many apps as you want to your own unlimited, shared-web host.
Brides will definitely appreciate a custom app with their wedding pictures. Expect referrals to come your way!

Multi-platforms and Services

34. Photoshelter

I bet you’ve heard about Photoshelter, as it’s one of the industry’s “big dawgs”. Portfolio websites, integrated e-commerce, cloud storage and client-proofing system are the tools you can find under this shelter. Prices vary from $9.99/month for the basic feature set, to $49.99/month for the premium toolbox.

35. Zenfolio

Zenfolio is another giant in the field of digital marketing for photographers. The number of features here is impressive, too. One of the recently added ones is Photo Books (order and sell). Prices start from $30/year with a free, 14-day trial on hand.

36. Queensberry Workspace

Built around Quensberry’s range of print products, Workspace enables you to create, organize, and market your online presence, as well as order and sell photo books, albums, frames, etc. Its basic version is available for free and you can upgrade from $4 monthly.
(Via DpS)

July 4, 2014

The Best Free Online Photography Courses and Tutorials

 

Given my interest in lifelong learning and skill-development, I often ask people which new skills they’re looking to learn. The most common response? “I want to be a better photographer”.
And for good reason! Few things evoke the instant emotional response a great photo does. It’s what made Instagram worth a billion dollars to Facebook.
For those of you who, like me, are looking to kick their photography skills up a notch, I’m curating a list of the best free online courses and resources I’ve found. So whether you’re a budding photojournalist looking toward a career behind the lens, or just a hobbyist looking to take better shots on your next trip, I’m hoping you’ll find something useful here!
I realize that this is by no means an exhaustive list, rather it’s a work in progress. If you know of other awesome free resources, share them in the comments and I’ll add the best ones to the list.

Photography for Beginners

 

1. Introduction to Photography and Related Media: Video lectures from a semester-long undergraduate-level course at MIT. Covers the fundamentals of analog and digital SLR, film exposure and development, darkroom techniques, digital imaging, and studio lighting.
Level: Beginner | Duration: Self-paced | Always Available
2. Basics of Photography: The Complete Guide: A comprehensive resource for beginning photographers, compiled by the friendly folks at Lifehacker. Starts by explaining how a digital camera works and goes on to explain image composition, technique, and editing. Mostly in text format, interspersed with a few explanatory videos.
Level: Beginner | Duration: Self-paced | Always Available
3. Free Beginner Nikon Digital SLR Photography: This highly-rated course teaches you how to use all the buttons and dials on your camera (e.g. exposure, aperture, shutter speed and the mode dial) by doing rather than memorizing.
Level: Beginner | Duration: 2.5 hours | Always Available
4. Photography: Ditch Auto – Start Shooting in Manual: As the name suggests, a course for amateur photographers who have been using their DSLR or fancy Point-and-shoot camera in “auto” mode, but want to learn to unlock to it’s full potential.
Level: Beginner | Duration: 4.5 hours | Always Available
5. Karl Taylor’s FREE Photography Course: Among the most popular courses on Udemy (almost 50,000 students enrolled, hundreds of rave reviews). Instructor Karl teaches using a mix of videos and PDF fact sheets. In his words, all you need is “a camera and some enthusiasm”.
Level: Beginner | Duration: 2.5 hours | Always Available
6. A Complete Introduction to Photography (aka Reddit Photoclass): Reddit never ceases to amaze me! Alexandre Buisse taught this 30-part class to 7,000 Redditors a few years ago. Now archived on his website, this gem covers everything from gear to post processing. Great for those who prefer reading to watching videos.
Level: Beginner to Intermediate | Duration: Self-paced | Always Available
7. Strobist: Perhaps the most popular resource for beginners to learn how to use light and their flashes, especially their Lighting 101 course that many photographers swear by.
Level: Beginner to Intermediate | Duration: Self-paced | Always Available
8. Cambridge in Colour: A great site for beginners to browse tutorials and have their questions answered by a community of learners. And no, that extra “u” in “Colour” is not a typo — this is Cambridge, UK we’re talking about!
Level: Beginner | Duration: Self-paced | Always Available


Post-production and Specific Techniques

 

9. Using a Photographic Light Meter: A course for photographers who have just started using a hand-held light meter to determine exposure.
Level: Beginner | Duration: 2 hours | Always Available
10. Pixels After Dark: Shooting the Night: An outstanding talk by three-time Olympic photographer Jeff Cable on shooting images at night.
Level: Intermediate | Duration: 1.5 hours | Always Available
11. Getting Started with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5: A detailed series of video-lectures from Adobe on how to effectively use their Lightroom software to do everything from importing images to adding special effects and printing. The Adobe TV website has plenty of more great “how-to” resources for photographers.
Level: Beginner | Duration: 3.5 hours | Always Available
12. Photoshop & Lightroom for Photographers: You’ve learned to use your camera and compose great pictures. Now make them look better! This highly-rated course teaches the two most popular software tools used by photographers to process and touch up images.
Level: Intermediate | Duration: 6.5 hours | Always Available
13. Create a Gorgeous Photography Site with SmugMug in 90 mins: Now that you have some great-looking pictures, use this course to set up a website to showcase them!
Level: Beginner | Duration: 1.5 hours | Always Available
14. Computational Photography: This Georgia Tech course talks about how computation affects various aspects of photography — from photo-editing to sharing. Knowledge of college-level mathematics, general physics and basic computer programming are recommended for this course.
Level: Intermediate | Duration: 4 weeks | Next Start Date: To Be Announced
15. Phlearn: All about Photoshop. This site has short explanatory videos on how to do specific things in Photoshop (e.g. watermark your images, remove tan lines). They have 450 free videos, and release 5 new episodes each week.
Level: Intermediate | Duration: Self-paced | Always Available
16. Anthony Morganti’s Video Series on Lightroom 5: This 40-part video series covers everything you need to know about Lightroom 5 — starting with the very basics, and going on to cover advanced topics.
Level: Beginner to Intermediate | Duration: 12 hours | Always Available
17. An Introduction To Tilt + Shift Photography: A detailed (and very popular) guide by Peter Hill on what the “Tilt + Shift” effect actually is, and how to achieve it.
Level: Advanced | Duration: Self-paced | Always Available

Photography in Society and as Art

 

18. The Art of Photography: This course from Australia’s RMIT University covers both the academic and practical aspects of photography. Instructor Dr. Shane Hulbert, an artist-academic whose work has been shown in Victoria’s National Gallery, covers photography as a visual art practice, explores the work of contemporary photographers, and introduces the idea of a “digital darkroom”.
Level: Beginner | Duration: 4 weeks | 
19. Documentary Photography and Photojournalism: Still Images of a World in Motion: Want to be the next Steve McCurry? This MIT course for budding photojournalists course requires some prior background in photography, e.g. knowing the difference between f stops and T stops, and being able to find one’s way around a camera.
Level: Intermediate | Duration: 4 weeks | Always Available
20. Photography and Truth: This course from MIT’s Anthropology department studies photography as a medium of expression and its interactions with politics, economics, and social life.
Level: Intermediate | Duration: Self-paced | Always Available
21. History of Photography Podcasts: An archive of 15 weekly podcasts by Jeff Curto from his course at the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. The podcast is accompanied with a video slide show of the photos in discussion.
Level: Beginner | Duration: 4 weeks | Always Available


Reference Resources and Advanced Materials

 

22. Digital Photography School: Very popular (360k Facebook likes!) free resource with lots of useful information, articles and tips. Especially bookmark-worthy is their page – Tips and Tutorials for Beginners.
23. Creative Live Photography: They live-broadcast a handful of free online courses each month. They also have a large library of pre-recorded courses, but these are usually expensive.
24. Tuts Plus Photography Tutorials: Hundreds of helpful articles and tutorials on pretty much any photography topic you want to learn about.
25. Lynda.com Photography Courses: Since it’s a paid resource ($25 monthly subscription), I wasn’t sure whether I should include Lynda.com in this list, but my professional photographer friends swear by their advanced tutorials. In any case, you could try them out via this free 7-day trial.
Since you’ve made it this far, you deserve an inspiring video! Check out this fascinating TED Talk by Swedish photographer & retouch artist Erik Johansson who creates “realistic photos of impossible scenes” by combining dissimilar photographs!


(Via Petapixel)