Image Hosting: smugmug, zenfolio, photoshelter

Started Jul 13, 2014 | Discussions thread
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Tan68 Veteran Member • Posts: 5,539
Image Hosting: smugmug, zenfolio, photoshelter

I remembered this old thread requesting image host info. I have some things to add but decided to make a new thread and reference the old.

Customization - For payed hosting and customization, I would go with Smugmug. Working with their system is quite easy. I have been trialing Photoshelter, Zemfolio, & Smugmug. When I go back to Smugmug to work, I feel like I have escaped a tangle of briars. Now, either Photoshelter or Zenfolio make fine galleries and have some good built in pages. But, for laying out your own stuff, Smugmug wins. No reservation. There is also more forum support for customizing web pages with Smugmug. It is easy to install HTML and CSS and the forum has some neat code. [Smugmug forum is at another domain,]

Selling - Photoshelter costs the most per subscription. Smugmug and Zenfolio are about the same. However, ZF & PS offer lower fees for selling things. They offer fees between 8-10% but then other fees like PayPal or credit card are added for a total of about 11-13%. Smugmug is 15% of sales and that includes transaction fees. I believe all three charge fees only on user profit; I know Smugmug and ZF charge only profit. The cost of Smugmug isn't in the subscription but in the fee per profit.

Smugmug has an additional fee for digital downloads sold for a total less than $10. The additional fee is only 50 cents but that can add up on low cost sales...

Smugmug allows sales tax to be specified and collected by the state the buyer lives in. Zenfolio allows one sales tax rate to be set, usually the seller's state.

Other Stuff -

Both ZF and PS have a blogger feature. Smugmug does not. I don't know about PS, but I looked at the ZF utility. Quickly. Looks like it will do the 'archive' thing and group articles for you. Fine.

Zenfolio has a really neat customer redirect page built in. A customer goes there and put in there name (or whatever you used to set it up) and is redirected to their gallery. No web link needed. A password can be set on the gallery or not. Smugmug does not have this but there are directions on the forum how to set it up as long as the user can host a web page at a site other than Smugmug. I never was able to find out if Photoshelter offered this...

Zenfolio can be set up so people visiting (or, at least buying) have to create a customer account with you. It is an option. Photoshelter info read like people had to create a PS account to buy. support told me accounts weren't required... As far as I know, Smugmug doesn't have any customer account feature. It can be useful to track what your customers view on your site or I don't know what all. Save favorites for them to view later. etc. It can annoy customers in having to create another flipping account on the web.

I think Smugmug is an Amazon company. 92% sure... I have stepped through buying with them and I think paying with Amazon account was possible... Really, don't remember. If this is appealing, check it out. ZF and Smugmug allow payment with PayPal. Smugmug has good integration but I haven't tested a purchase with ZF. Photoshelter doesn't allow PayPal, I think.. They only allow Stripe or whatever the PayPal competitor is. Again, check this out if it is important to you.

Smugmug allows customers/people to upload to a gallery. You can set up the gallery with an obscure address (several random characters) or what they call 'private for only those with the link'. It has a password built-in, really. Upload itself is not password protected but viewing the gallery and what has been uploaded can be protected with password, of course.  [well, people can upload to a public gallery with Smugmug, if you care to allow this].

Neither ZF nor PS allow customer uploads. You can embed a custom form set to upload images to Dropbox or Google Drive. ZF and PS support Email Me, JotForm, and Wufoo. Smugmug supports only Wufoo. This is because Smugmug prohibits use of javascript and has only allowed Wufoo to be used... Wufoo is the most expensive forms option. JotForm is much more customizable with respect to creating sub-directories on dropbox for images uploaded. Email Me may have similar capability with directory creation but I don't know.  [forms are a whole other thing to dig into if you want increased interaction with visitors... interaction beyond the image comments all services allow]

Oddly, Photoshelter will assign the user copyright for images even if the user doesn't own them but does have permission to post an image... I put up an image with no copyright in EXIF. Beside the image, was 'copyright Tan68'. Fine, I took the picture, but what if I hadn't? This notice will be placed if there is nothing in the EXIF field. Only way to fix it is to edit EXIF. All this may not matter one bit unless you occasionally host images informally and don't care to check EXIF first... Extra oddly, it didn't show copyright in all browsers. I was checking things in an old browser and saw it. Dumb luck to come across it. I don't like this feature.  [this feature would be fine as an option, I think]

+ all services allow 'liking' and 'sharing' and downloading to be disabled.  all services have your pictures out there floating in the breeze, by default.  first thing to check is security and privacy when you create an account.

Other stuff as well, I guess. These are some I can think of that might be stuff to check with respect to useability, depending on what you want to do.

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