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Paul Kamphuis is a Netherlands-based photographer, a PhotoShelter user, a computer programmer, and the creator of the popular PhotoShelter Lightroom Plugin. Originally released in 2008, his plugin made it possible for people to upload images to a PhotoShelter archive directly from Adobe’s Lightroom. Today, it does much more than that.
Kamphuis, who runs a company named Pact Software and works on the plugin in his spare time, has just updated the plugin — adding advanced functionality found in no other PhotoShelter uploading method to date.
I interviewed him about the updated plugin via email the other day.
1) The new Lightroom plugin has something that no other uploader has – the ability to synchronize IPTC data. So, for example, if you’ve made changes to the captions in PhotoShelter, you can copy those changes to your Lightroom archive. How does this work?
Yes it is an unique feature of the plugin, albeit limited it options. In the past years PhotoShelter made great advances in SEO. This resulted in my photographers modifying image descriptions and keywords from within their PhotoShelter website. Something you would ideally do in Lightroom. It would be sad for these photographers to lose all this information.
At this stage I opted for the save method in the plugin. It means that only empty IPTC fields are updated. First all IPTC data for an image is retrieved from PhotoShelter. Any empty field in Lightroom is filled with possible data from PhotoShelter. After that any empty field on PhotoShelter is filled with available data from Lightroom.
One exception in all this, the keywords. Lightroom doesn’t allow to add keywords to an image from a plugin. Also Lightroom only makes the really assigned keywords available. So it will not inlcude synonyms and keyword hierarchy. Despite common believe, most plugin limitations are caused by Lightroom not by PhotoShelter.
I deliberately chose for this safe method. I wanted to make sure no user would lose data. I am still considering adding a full overwrite option to either side, but it depends on how many users really need this option.
The image update/replace method in the normal export procedure will overwrite all PhotoShelter IPTC data with the Lightroom IPTC data.
2) You released the first version of the plugin in 2008. How many times has the plugin been downloaded?
Yes the first version was released in August 2008, back then for both the PhotoShelter Archive and the PhotoShelter Collection. The download count is at around 10,000 since the beginning.
The plugin was never updated on a regular basis. Mainly because I switched jobs in November 2008 and started working at Nedap Energy Systems on the Powerrouter as an embedded software architect.
So both photography and the plugin suffered. Early 2010 we sold our house to move closer to my work, but it wasn’t until November 2010 before the move was completed. So now there was finally time to work on the long awaited update of the plugin.
My spare time won’t last long. Before the end of march we hope to welcome our baby. I am going to be a father.
3) The export plugin is available for free, but you ask people to consider donating money if they’ve benefited from its use. Do many people donate? How does the work you’re doing on the plugin end up paying for itself in the end?
Yes the export plugin is available for free and will continue to be so. When I started back in 2008, we had the PhotoShelter Collection, which provide many aspiring photographers, like me, a change. It didn’t make sense to charge money from them, especially when you’re doing photography as a hobby. Besides, the functionality was limited and maintaining your archive was impossible via the plugin. By asking for a donation I hoped professional photographers who used it on a regular business would consider a donation.
Several did. Thank you for that! There is even a few who found it so valuable they donated twice! Even more thank you! I always considered the donations a help in upgrading my gear. I still have, a now ancient, D70s and have my eye set on a shinny new D7000. I am nearly there.
So I won’t get rich doing it like this. But I learned a lot. Especially on the importance of seo and a professional website. My website doesn’t make any sense at the moment. I am sure it is one of the reasons for the limited amount of donations. It is also the reason why I think PhotoShelter is so important for photographers. It provides you with a professional looking website and sales platform. An absolute must-have in today’s business.
To reflect this, I am rethinking the purpose of www.pactsoftware.nl, and I am also considering making the upcoming publish service a paid product. The publish service will offer the possibility to maintain your PhotoShelter archive from within Lightroom. Now that is a real benefit.
4) In a previous interview on the blog, you described your image workflow using Lightroom and PhotoShelter. A lot has changed to both products in the past few years – has your workflow changed as a result? If so, how?
Yes both Lightroom and PhotoShelter have changed a lot these past years. But like I said, photography didn’t receive the time from me it deserved in the past years. (I still have to process the photos I took in Patagonia in October 2008.)
My workflow remained more or less the same. There are just a few things I seem to be doing more these days, dust removal and noise reduction. I am really happy with noise reduction improvements in Lightroom.
I also started experimenting with some more creative effects, in an attempt to move towards fine-art prints. So I hope to utilize the PhotoShelter Print Vendor Network option soon.
The SEO changes on PhotoShelter also made me aware of the need to complete as much IPTC data as possible.