Recently, Zenfolio announced its newest online venture, Photographer Central - an online directory of photographers. Available only in the US at present, this website promises to bring customers in direct contact with local photographers while making the search free and easy to use. For a yearly fee, photographers can maintain a listing for their business with a selection of photos. Potential clients search for photographers by location and specialty, in much the same way you'd look for Thai restaurants in your neighborhood on Yelp.
Does it live up to its claims, and is it worth a not-unsubstantial investment of $400 per year? We took the service for a test spin from a photographer's perspective.
Photographer Central key features
- $400 per year (currently $300 for a limited time)
- Publish one listing
- $500 per year (currently $400 for a limited time)
- Publish up to five listings with the same phone number
The Photographer Central website is attractive and easy to navigate. In fact, it's really easy to navigate. If you are unsure if you would like to use the service, Photographer Central allows you to set up a free account. The free account doesn't allow you to publish any of your information, but it does act as a good example of how simple the paid account is to create.
Photographer Central offers two paid account options: a single listing for $400 annually (currently priced at $300) and multiple listings for $500 (currently $400). Setting up your account is fast. The website guides you through the process by asking for your contact information, a description of your photography business, and images that you would like included in your listing.
The site allows you to add numerous images to your listing, and if you already have a Zenfolio account you can easily transfer your images to the Photographer Central website. Otherwise, you can choose to upload the images yourself. Again, the upload process is simple and quick.
Based on the address you provided, Photographer Central also allows you to define your service area. You have the freedom to include a wide service range if you desire, and can also indicate your availability to travel outside of that area.
Once you are finished adding your information just click send and your listing is published. It's as simple as that. Once published, the site reports the performance statistics of your listing. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to put this feature to the test, as the site only ever told me it was still in the process of gathering performance statistics.
Photographer Central from the Consumer's Point of View
As I stated in the previous section, Photographer Central is an attractive website that is very easy to use, and that holds true for potential clients seeking photographers. The homepage is dominated by a search bar with fields for location and specialty. Once you have entered your parameters, a list of photographers is populated. From this list you can browse through the photographers to find one that suits your needs. Once you find photographers that interest you, you can save them to your favorites for future reference.
Worth the price of admission?
Photographer Central claims to be the most comprehensive online directory of professional photographers. And it just might be… eventually. Although the website is easy to use, there are several things that need to be considered before investing in it as a photographer.
The cost of an account is not unreasonable if there is actually a return on your investment. However, when searching for local photographers on Google and Bing, Photographer Central did not show up in my search. In order for the website to draw prospective clients to your doorstep, they need to be one of the first websites listed in your search results. If not, you are advertising with a company that has little exposure. While the website looks attractive, that alone will not bring additional clients to a photographer.
Another issue I found with the website was the broad range of locations it returns in search results, despite inputing a small search area. When I searched 'Fairfield, Ohio' the site said there were 103 photographers near me. I was surprised by the sheer number of photographers in my city, so I clicked to view the results. The photographers listed in the search results spanned from Illinois to Tennessee - both within a day's drive of Southwest Ohio, but well beyond what you'd reasonably consider to be 'local'.
I checked to make sure I requested the correct area, but the site showed I requested photographers within a 30 mile radius. Results can be refined by narrowing search range down to 10 or zero miles, but this may not be immediately obvious to the user. And even with search area narrowed to zero miles, results may still include those photographers in neighboring states who have (presumably) set a very large travel area.
This is a problem for both the consumer and the photographer. From the client standpoint, it's hard to decide what photographer to choose when the search results are so vast, and some clients may prefer the ability to choose from photographers in their immediate area, regardless of a photographer's willingness to travel from two states away. From the photographer's standpoint, it's frustrating to be grouped in with such a large number of photographers located in such an expansive area.
Overall, I think Zenfolio's new venture has potential, but it will take a greater presence in Google's search results to make photographers feel that they have a good return on their investment. A $400 yearly fee for a single listing isn't chump change for a vast majority of working photographers looking to increase their sales reach. That fee would be well worth it if a listing yielded positive results, but at the moment Photographer Central doesn't appear to offer enough exposure to justify its price.
What we like:
- Connects prospective clients to photographers that meet their desires
- Attractive user interface
- Easy to use for both clients and photographers
What we don't like:
- Difficult to limit search results to those who are truly local
- Photographer Central website is not high enough in search rankings
- Cost of membership is high for current yield in potential clients
Laura Hicks is a portrait photographer from Cincinnati, Ohio. She is the owner of L Imagery and a 2014 Olympus Trailblazer. You can visit her work at www.limagery.com or Laura Hicks, Olympus Trailblazer at Facebook.com.
|Owens Valley Milky Way by ed rader|
from Sign, sign, everywhere a sign..
|Break by Hank3152|
from Motion blur
|Camp by T bird|
from A Big Year - birds
|The Maasai Shepherd by cgravel|
from - African Man - (Portrait in Black and White + A Border)
Stanley Greene captured 'brutally honest' photographs in the war zones of the Middle East, Chechnya and Georgia. He was also one of the few African-American photographers working internationally.
Owners of Leica M cameras that suffer from peeling CCDs will be able to claim a free repair in the future so long as the camera was purchased within five years of the fault becoming apparent, the company has announced. Read more
No mic socket? No problem. In this video, Daniel Peters at Photo Gear News shows you how to make a lapel microphone using just a smartphone and a pair of earbuds.
The Carl Zeiss Jena BIOTAR 75mm F1.5 Red T lens is very rare and priced accordingly. It can be yours today for the low, low price of $15,000.
The MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) has developed a drone that does not require any human control for recording tracking shots. Read more
In this terrifying video, Iraqi journalist Ammar Alwaely narrowly misses a sniper's bullet, which takes out his chest-mounted GoPro. Warning: strong language. Watch the video
A new report expects action camera growth to increase about 15% by 2021, with Ultra HD cameras driving demand. Read more
Profiles for Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom have been released for Irix's ultra-wide 11mm and 15mm primes. Like all profiles, these correct for distortion and vignetting.
An upcoming firmware update from DJI will cripple its drones unless they are 'activated' on the company's website. Live streaming will be turned off and flight radius/altitude will be limited.
Brent from ShareGrid rounds up the 10 most common products filmmakers are renting from one another for productions; chances are good you own one or more of them.
DaVinci Resolve is making strong moves to compete with Premiere and Final Cut Pro, including affordable control panels for colorists. According to Premium Beat, they're really good.
If you are not planning to fly your drone commercially you are not required to register it with the FAA anymore. This decision was handed down by a federal court in Washington, D.C.
Whether you're syncing a flash, wondering why banding is appearing in your image or getting strange images from your camera's silent shutter mode, the way your shutter works has a role to play. Here's what happens when you press the shutter button. Read more
William Vazquez travels all over the world documenting humanitarian work. He spoke to us about the challenges of his work, the importance of research and why a multitool and duct tape are your best friends in the field. Read more
These ten film cameras stand the test of time. They are easy to find, affordable and capable of excellent results. Read more
Photographer Aydın Büyüktaş uses a drone, 3-D rendering and Photoshop to create mind-bending landscapes.
They're offering tips for composing selfies and converting to black and white.
Whether you're seeking ultra-high resolution, first-rate autofocus or 4K video capture, there are some supremely capable 'semi-pro' cameras available. Find out which models we liked best in our updated semi-pro camera roundup. Read more
With composition specified by the director, drones may one day be able to navigate a movie set on their own.
Canon has made the previous version, 1.1.0 available for download again.
Impossible? Not if you have a fast lens and 5 stops of stabilization.
This 'strictly limited edition' is a refurbished original Polaroid 600 redesigned with a custom two-tone paint job.
Nikon today announced a reorganization of its corporate structure which will see several divisions and business units closed or merged. Read more
High school students from New York got he chance to shoot along with award-winning photojournalist Ron Haviv in Morocco.
VentureBeat reports that Monday's Surface Pro announcement will bring evolutionary updates to Microsoft's high-end Windows 10 tablet.
The Japanese Camera Journal Press Club has awarded Olympus three out of its four annual prizes after voting by photographic magazine editors and readers.
The photos are great, but whether drones should have been flying in a couple of these places is debatable.
It's not dead yet! A few years ago several high profile filmmakers convinced Kodak to keep making motion picture film. Now they need more facilities to process it.
We made a vlog about vlogging with the M6 (which we used to make the vlog).