Thursday, December 04, 2008

To branch away from Flickr?

It's not a topic I'm happy to raise! I love Flickr, in Flickr I have found a supportive community which supports my views on open content and has provided me with the opportunity to get feedback on my photography which over the past two years has become my art, and a huge part of my self expression, even at times my therapy. Without Flickr I doubt I would ever have returned to art, a subject I gave up long ago because 'it would never get me anywhere in life'. I used to 'do art' with a 3B pencil and a brush, and now I paint with a lens. So let me be clear, I have no intention of leaving Flickr, however the more lean towards trying to make a bit of a profession out of what was initially was a bit of a hobby, the less Flickr can cater towards my needs.

First off, I like the idea of password protected galleries. If I branch into doing some paid for photographic commissions, it is kind of a service I need. Secondly, I've had a few requests for large prints of my work. I don't offer high res photos on Flicker at present, i.e big enough to print more than 6x4. I'm happy for them to be used under the creative commons licence that I presently stick on them (no derivatives and attribution) and splattered across the interweb. But to be hung as an actual piece of 'art' on someone's wall, or printed in a publication, well for that I want some wonga!! So my thoughts lately have been that I would like to find an online service that will let me create showcase galleries and also sell my prints for me at a price I stipulate, and print them, and post them - the moon on a stick basically!

You'd think this would be out there.....think again.

I've ransacked the web and it seems that there are really no UK based websites that offer the moon on a stick. There is Photobox, where I order prints from (and I have generally been pleased with the results), who offer pro galleries that do the above. However, the site is not taking any new pro users until 'the future', and the old interface left a lot to be desired for - to showcase fine art photography the website should really mirror that. But then I came across SmugMug, a US centric photosharing site that offers everything I dream of - it looks amazing, unlimited storage, is totally customisable down to the domain name, offers a sale service and multiple privacy and viewing options, in $. But really does this matter? In the virtual world where space is not an issue? It's not cheap, at $149.55 pa, BUT I think that's not too bad for a high quality virtual hard drive with e-commerce capabilities.

There are many alternatives to Flickr - deviantART, ZOOMR, Fotki, Photobucket, to name just a few, they all cater for different types of user. I'm toying with the idea of setting up accounts on a few to see what happens and having a test run of e-commerce on SmugMug until PhotoBox gets it's finger out...that's if anyone wants to buy anything that is!

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