I am a lucky guy. I have access to just about every single online photographic service known to man. I test most of them. I review a few of them. I actually USE (regularly) only a fewer still. Since I have my pick, and am exposed to most everything, I thought it might be of interest to some to see what I actually use.
In a few cases, I am sponsored by some of these services, primarily over at GoingPro2010.com and in one case here at Photofocus. Some don’t sponsor me at all. I just like what they do. In either case, I wouldn’t use any service in my actual photo business that I didn’t find helpful, even in return for sponsorship. But I wanted to make sure to disclose this in case it would impact what readers think about my choices.
1. Animoto.com – for slide shows. While I don’t use this as often as I should, when I do use it to make a slide show, I get spectacular results and tremendous reaction. It’s cheap (even free in some cases), easy, fast and oh yeah – the slide shows are amazing. If you make slide shows from your photos give them a try.
2. BorrowLenses.com – for gear rental. Yes, I own just about every piece of Nikon AND Canon gear you can imagine. But sometimes, I need a backup lens or body to take on a shoot for staff. Or sometimes I just don’t want to send the team on an airplane and try to manage carrying all the cameras and lenses on board. So that’s where BorrowLenses.com comes in. They stock most cameras and lenses from the major manufacturers and they provide awesome service. If you just need a lens or body as backup, or for testing purposes, or to avoid airline hassles, they will be there to help. Best of all, each employee is a passionate photographer. It makes a difference.
3. ImageRights.com – to protect against Copyright infringement. I love this idea. I’ve been too busy to get all my key images uploaded to ImageRights but my staff is supposed to be working on that right now. It’s a system that scans the web for unauthorized use of your photography. But my favorite part about ImageRights is the recovery engine. They don’t just notify you of your image being used without permission, they help you go after the infringer and even can help you get financially compensated for your loss. NOTE: Disclaimer – I am on the board of advisors for ImageRights.
4. SmugMug – for video hosting. You may not necessarily think of SmugMug as a video hosting service, but hands down – they are the best around. They have the most photographer-friendly TOS I have ever seen. They don’t step on (shrink) the video, and they deliver fast, robust consumer experiences for everyone who views video on their site. YouTube may have the brand name, but SmugMug video is better quality. Vimeo may be popular with some, but in my opinion, their TOS policy is horrid. Try SmugMug for video. You’ll be amazed.
5. Flickr – for minimal photo sharing. I am of two minds about Flickr. Sometimes I think it’s the most amazing thing ever and sometimes I wonder. Flickr is a convenient way to share photos. I don’t post much there, but I do need an outlet outside Photofocus where I can just throw up some images for folks to see quickly. I wish Flickr was more transparent and more responsive to their users. Their rules appear to be somewhat onerous and unevenly enforced. But currently, there is no service that competes with them that has the traction and features they do. But I confess to thinking someone could do it better. Until then, I will continue to post at Flickr.
6. WordPress.com – for blog/site hosting. You can’t beat free. And WordPress.com is free. It’s also the most robust, stable and powerful blogging platform I have ever used. Did I mention stable? I own my own server. I own my own bandwidth. And I have never been able to achieve the “up time” using my own system, (with top-of-the line staff to boot), that WordPress.com achieves. If you are a photographer who wants to blog, try it.
7. Alltop.com – for photo-related blog news. Alltop is free and it’s a great way to stay tuned to what’s happening in the photo industry. I check it daily and if I somehow miss something that should be on Photofocus, I can always count on finding it at Alltop. Of course Photofocus.com is proud to be featured on Alltop and has been since they started their photography channel.
8. GoogleCheckout.com – for payment processing. I’m not a fan of PayPal. But I do like GoogleCheckout and I use it for sending online invoices to clients. While this isn’t specifically photo-related, I make it photo-related by billing clients via this system. It’s fast, efficient and the TOS isn’t nearly as onerous as the one PayPal uses.
While it’s not a complete list, it’s a good view of the online services I currently use. If somebody comes along with a better service, then I’ll change. I try to use the best services available and am always looking for the next best thing. If you have that – email me :)
This post sponsored by the Digital SLR Store