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Hello lightstalkers,

I want to build an online archive to sell my pictures directly. My Website is currently located at Neon Sky. I have public galleries and password protected galleries for my clients.

I am not very happy with Neon Sky, because it‘s to limited. So I want to update my site and to modernize it. Here it is (it‘s a German website):


Some features the new archive should have: The new galleries should have a search function by keywords. The images in the public galleries should be found by the search engines. The most important parts of the IPTC-data should be visible.

I think mainly about photoshelter or to install my own ftp-server, because the download from photoshelter seems to be a bit costly, when many pictures are downloaded.

Are there other solutions?

What is the best way to build an online archive?
What are the advantages and disadvantages of photoshelter?
Can you recommend it?



by Franz Hollweck at 2013-10-22 00:59:05 UTC | Bookmark | | Report spam→

I use PhotoShelter and like it a lot. I couldn’t imagine doing what I do without it. My website: http://www.jackkurtzphotography.com/

You might also want to take a look at Light Rocket, a relatively new start up. They’re promoting themselves very aggressively and signing up lots of photographers in Asia. http://www.lightrocket.com


by Jack Kurtz | 23 Oct 2013 14:10 | Phoenix, AZ, United States | | Report spam→
I am still building my photoshelter account——-that is too say it’s fulling functional and going but I have not marketed it up as it is going to work more like an agency——to the point, PhotoShelter is very easy to use and the way you can price photos is fantastic—-you can use your own template or a fotoquote type scenario they supply——it’s just easy to do——the only weakness I would say the lack of customization you can do. They have templates so you can choose one and make it different from others but it would be nice to have other choices downhill from the original design so you could really make it different and with that being said, I can see why the don’t as it would most likely make for a lot of glitches and their selling point is a very clean easy to use site——I think they do offer a way to plug in a purchased site from somewhere else so they do have a more complicated version if you want.

PS also has several manuals you can use to help you think of all the things you may not have formally put on a list on your own—-ways to market and sell and be successful, they have webinars etc as well to help out—-also, I have not been inundated with sales pitch emails from them or anyone else.

I think the key really is having your own site is that you have your own archive system so that if you move somewhere else or your site drops the shots you can move everything somewhere else with out going into old hard drives——I think if you have a good way of archiving all of this easily, you are NOT going to feel like a hostage and you can make better decisions——in my efforts to set up my PS, which I will open up at the end of December, I bought a separate desk top dedicated to just that——I was initially doing it all on a laptop but it was too difficult to keep aligned on its own and away from my regular day to day freelance work.

I am going to check out light rocket just to see what they have to compare, but I am very happy with PS——even still if I was not, I have my archive ready to go somewhere else if I wanted to and that freedom is the key—



by David Bro | 23 Oct 2013 18:10 (ed. Oct 23 2013) | Orange County, United States | | Report spam→
I started with Digital Railroad until they ended broke in the 2008 crisis. Then I moved to Photoshelter by an offer they did to low the price. In this times I had a little agency but when I turned to Photoshelter I parted alone. For me their service is very good. Not much the custom attention when you have some problems, they are slow to reply. But for the main thing I appreciate their service a lot, is very useful and just works fine. Some years ago they have a cut of the service periodically but lately years not. I suppose is cause all the improvements they did, a lot by the way. I am not using any more the standard account cause I still I am a staff photographer in my country, yes, one of the dinosaurs. So, I have not much time to do my own stories to sell. But I trust in them now and I use time to time to upload some of my personal photos I did only for joy. The platform is something difficult at the start but with patience you will go ok. The standard account is more expensive but if you use it to sell you have the possibility to change a lot of things via html and other things. Hope that helps. All the best

by Hernan Zenteno | 24 Oct 2013 00:10 | Buenos Aires, Argentina | | Report spam→
Better late than never!

Thank you for your answers, Jack, David and Hernan. You helped me a lot.
I think, I will try PhotoShelter. I had a look at Light Rocket to compare and I think PhotoShelter is the better, more promising place to sell my pictures.

My contract with NeonSky ends in February next year, so I have enough time to change. As a first step, I will start my archive at PhotoShelter and add a link on my current website.

When I find a good design for my Website, I go with PhotoShelter. Otherwise I will create my own website.

@ Hernan:
Nice to see you, Mr. Lovely-Blue-Water-Dinosaur! ; )

My main problem is, to find enough clients that want to pay a reasonable amount of money for my pictures. Yes, they want my pictures, but very often they want them for free or for an unacceptable price. So I have to make great efforts to aquire new and better paying customers. Many, many hours editing pictures to build up my archive and searching for the best way to sell them – not much time for new stories, too. : (


by Franz Hollweck | 01 Nov 2013 16:11 | | Report spam→
Welcome to the club Franz. But the secret is to not allow for free your photos. Before take them you need to improve your skills about the use of real camera and a software. All that cost you money and time. If you left them for free you are losing all the money you invested in your learning.

by Hernan Zenteno | 01 Nov 2013 18:11 | Buenos Aires, Argentina | | Report spam→
I do nothing for free, Hernan, The problem are the lack of comprehension, that good and serious photography is hard work, that is often involved with high costs and the willingness to invest money for it.

Just one example: I was in contact with an advertising agency. The owner liked my pictures. He said, I would have my own style of photography, my own visual language. Exactly that, what he would have been looking for. He wanted some of my pictures for the header of the website of a tourism association. The payment he offered: A link to my website!!! I rejected his offer.

On the other hand I also have experiences of success: A client answered me, when I sent her my pictures: „Chapeau!“ … „SUPER“. And a few weeks ago I had my debut in a major newspaper with a half-page photo. That are the clients, I have to concentrate on – hoping, an online archive (at PhotoShelter) brings me a step forward.


by Franz Hollweck | 03 Nov 2013 14:11 | | Report spam→
Hi all. What are your thoughts on platforms like Flickr, 500px, etc? What, if anything is missing that prevents you for just using a free platform like one of those?

by teru kuwayama | 03 Nov 2013 17:11 | New York, United States | | Report spam→
Hello Teru. Interesting your question because I had no idea about 500px. But first why I don’t like to put my photos in flickr. I don’t liked the position that was communicated by the heads of Yahoo that manage Flickr about professional photography. Was zero respect.
I understand the point, but I think they simplified more than normal the issue to push the look to their services.
About 500px happened to me that I really don’t understand the platform. There are things that are not clear how works starting with the home page about what system or browser you have. I don’t like someone be confused with this things is they search some photos. I really don’t knew alternatives to Photoshelter. Could be interesting hear some. I trust in them about my archives, the fact that I can ftp photos uploaded in it (without a third part app) helped me some years ago when I was more actively freelancing. The design is clean. Recently I had some bug that not allowed me upload photos, this kind of things are very irritant. But mainly the reason that I am use this system is cause I trust in them, I doubt someone can stole one image from their site.
If anyone know alternatives please share his/her experiences.

by Hernan Zenteno | 03 Nov 2013 22:11 | Buenos Aires, Argentina | | Report spam→
To answer tk’s question——for me there are two aspects to the free sites and what ever else you come up with——-Number One is that on a free site like flicker, the connection for the photo has to be—-“I like your photo, how much is it?” and I have to answer and I have to send it and wait for payment or wait for payment and then send it——I am too busy to be able to do this, plus I have my price for the photo and that’s it --in addition, editors can pay for the photo and they have it——photo editors are averaging their best position against deadline and it’s that much more difficult to wait for you to get home from work to get a price—-with photo shelter, it’s done—

In regard to what Franz was saying to free photos——Everyone wants a deal on whatever it is——I want a deal on my next body or lens—-in this regard it’s the approach—-I can’t blame someone for asking however insane it is, really how it comes out in the end is up to me—-recently shot some crazy traffic accidents and several outlets wanted the original shots I had already sold to a big outlet, they asked for the shots, I gave them a price, they said they would pass and I simply said, See you next time and hung up—-the mistake is when we as photographers work ourselves up over the transaction—-get in and get out—-and its over, and on to the next one—-the more you act like you are a business, the more buyers will treat you like one—-

Honestly, the push me pull you on the photos I would have sold in these “free” push me pull you situations I encounter in the year would account for less than .5 % of my total income for the year, so why worry about it——move on and over it—-


by David Bro | 04 Nov 2013 02:11 | Orange County, United States | | Report spam→
Hi, Teru!

My reasons for not using platforms like flickr:

Flickr, 500px and similar websites are primarily platforms to show and discuss images.It‘s like a contiuous exhibition and competition, not a serious marketplace for photos – though editors and agencies are searching there for pictures.

The subjects, you find there, are slanted towards typical subjects of amateur photographers: Landscape and nature, portrait, some architecture and experimental. The photographic style is, with some exceptions, rather uniform, though here are millions and billons of pictures on these platforms.
If you have other fields of work, for example reportage or news photography, you have to find other ways, to sell your pictures.
Don‘t misunderstand me: There are many excellent professional photographers, that take excellent pictures of landscapes, nature etc.. I don‘t want to degrade theiri work. But there are also many amateur photographers, that do a quite good job in these subjects.

In my opinion, professional photographers should not publish their pictures on platforms like Flickr. Flickr, 500px etc. are like global photo clubs, a forum for amateur photographers.

Amateur photographers have the image, taking photos for free or lowest fees. Unlike a professional photographer, they can afford it, to give their pictures away for a minimal price.

Showing his photos among thousands and millions of mostly amateur photos, the professional opens the border to the amateurs more than necessary. This will lead to an image damage for the professional and at last to declining fees. The professional photographer can and will lose in the long run, amateurs can only win.

Showing the pictures on that mass-market-platforms among such an amount of images, the slngle photo has no value and the photographer gives up his identity. But the personal identity is the most important capital, a photographer has, to present himself as unique and differ from the competitors.

So the better way to sell pictures is in my eyes, to sell them directly on a platform, where you can make your own rules, or to look for a small agency, where you can stay an individual and keep up your identity.

I am convinced, that pictures, that are sold on these mass-market platforms, can also be sold in other ways.

The reasons, why I rejected the push me pull you offer were:

The customers, that visit this website are potential tourists and will most likely never be my clients. So where is the pull?

The advertising agency wanted about 10 or more pictures from me. These photos would have been blocked for the use by the competitive tourism association (yes, there is!), I want to work together.

The client will never pay a reasonable price for subsequent assignments, when I do the first for (almost) free.


by Franz Hollweck | 05 Nov 2013 00:11 | | Report spam→
I’m with PhotoShelter since 7-8 years or so, have a “standard” account (USD 29.99/month) and I’m very happy with them.
Their support people usually will come back to you by e-mail within 24 hours if you have a small problem or a question. More complicated problems can take very long time before you get an answer.
PhotoShelter’s SEO (search engine optimization) is also very good.
Their free guides about different photography subjects are very well written and interesting; you don’t need to be a PhotoShelter user to download them, they are free for everyone.

by Bo Johnsson | 07 Nov 2013 23:11 | Lund, Sweden | | Report spam→
PS is quite simple to use and affordable for freelancers. But Photojournalists should know PS focusses in terms of technical efforts and developments more on stock photography. They love to improve nice layouts and fancy features and their engeneers are quite busy with that. Resulting in the lack of simple and often demanded improvements for PJ´s. The best example: Since years PS isn´t not able (or willing) to give PJ´s the technical opportunity to set a default image search for “most recent” images instead of “most relevant”. A relevant issue for journalistic photography. PJ´s and agencies expressed their protest since they lost sales as customers were not able to find recent images without pre-elected manual (and often missed) changes in search settings.
So Photoshelter is ok in my opinion and has a great potential for new and reasonable improvements… But you should know it´s been a company seemingly interessted to have more a fancy fassade instead of a user-friendly professional backoffice for photojournalistic image management.

by randbild | 08 Nov 2013 08:11 (ed. Nov 8 2013) | Hamburg, Germany | | Report spam→
PS service is great, but they are not at all interested in doing anything to help stock photographers, other than advice and info on SEO which only really is helpful with Google Images. I am also with Lightrocket, which not only has portal to submit images to Getty, but Lightrocket started up as a stock agency (OnAsia) has has considerable contacts with photo buyers who are redirected from OnAsia to Lightrocket. It gets even better: Lighrocket takes no commission from sales to their long list of photo buyers who search and browse. Soon they are going to introduce Photo Buyers Requests, a big plus in my opinion, since no longer will we have to download images from PS and re-upload to Imagebrief (the best player in this field). I vote Lightrocket for sales. Photoshelter for SEO.

by John Lander | 13 Mar 2014 02:03 | Dumaguete, Siquijor, Bacolod, Philippines | | Report spam→

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Franz Hollweck, photographer Franz Hollweck
[undisclosed location].
Jack Kurtz, Photojournalist Jack Kurtz
Bangkok , Thailand
David Bro, freelance editorial David Bro
freelance editorial
Orange County , United States ( LAX )
Hernan Zenteno, Photographer Hernan Zenteno
Buenos Aires , Argentina ( EZE )
teru kuwayama, I/O teru kuwayama
New York , United States
Bo Johnsson, Bo Johnsson
Lund , Sweden
randbild, photographer randbild
Hamburg , Germany
John Lander, Photographer John Lander
(Asia Images)
Hanoi , Vietnam


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