Introducing Beam: A New Platform for Cutting Edge Portfolio Websites

Introducing Beam: A New Platform for Cutting Edge Portfolio Websites

Today, PhotoShelter is introducing something new to the photography community, and it’s called Beam. Beam is our brand-new platform for building a striking, cutting-edge photography portfolio website, fully integrated with PhotoShelter’s suite of powerful business tools.

This new platform is the culmination of over a year’s worth of work by our team and rounds of feedback from countless PhotoShelter members. And, its release into public beta today is really just the beginning.

When we initially started planning for Beam, we knew that our own websites needed an update and that we wanted to build a flexible platform for creating features other than the websites themselves. But we also took a look at the marketplace. The truth is, there really are a lot of portfolio website offerings out there. Still, none really offer the combination of back-end workflow tools and forward-thinking portfolio websites in one package.

We decided that the photo community deserved something better, and we set out with a lofty mission: to deliver the most engaging and compelling way for photographers to present their work online. As with any good mission, it keeps us on our toes and continuously striving to do better. Yet it starts with great design and great technology, and a commitment to helping photographers succeed as business owners – something we hope we’ve achieved with Beam.

Today’s launch unveils four distinct portfolio website designs atop the Beam platform. Each template offers unique ways to present your work, including full-bleed image presentation, a responsive photo wall, gallery thumbnails and filmstrip options, and a minimalist and simple photo display. Of course, we’ll continue to reveal additional templates throughout the upcoming months.

The “Marquee” Theme/Credit: rowansims.photoshelter.com

The “Shuffle” Template/Credit: www.inger.net

The “Promenade” Theme/Credit: cannon.photoshelter.com

The “Element” Theme/Credit: www.peterhewitt.com

Further, Beam is an API-based platform that positions us to keep pace with trends in portfolio websites and emerging web paradigms. The API provides “hooks” into your PhotoShelter hosted images and affords us the flexibility and agility to respond to the needs of our members by developing new features, template designs, 3rd party integrations and workflow tools more rapidly than ever.

Matching our portfolio websites to the industry-leading business and workflow tools that PhotoShelter provides was a big part of our goal in launching Beam. In fact, while these these new sites are visually attractive in a special way, we still feel that it’s the built-in tools behind the website – for archiving images, selling online, and delivering photos to clients — that will always make PhotoShelter distinct and provide our members with unique advantages vs. typical portfolio websites. Combining a stunning portfolio plus powerful tools built specifically for professional photographers is what gives us the ability to say that PhotoShelter is a true platform for helping you get business, do business, and keep business.

Some of the key traits you’ll find in Beam portfolio websites:

Responsive: The new sites are created using HTML5 and CSS3, which allow images to scale according to screen size (test it out by changing the size of your browser window). Plus, they look great on desktops, laptops, and tablets alike. Advanced techniques such as dynamic load optimization, pre-fetching, priority queuing and client device detection also optimize the responsive experience.

Credit: alexandratremaine.photoshelter.com

Connected: Beam provides seamless website integration with third-party tools used daily by photographers, including Instagram, Vimeo, and WordPress and Tumblr blogs. You can showcase these feeds directly on your website without linking out to external sites or putting in any day-to-day work on your end.

WordPress blog integration/Credit: keithbedford.photoshelter.com

Vimeo video integration/Credit: eduardoangel.photoshelter.com

Customizable: The new Site Builder lets you make quick changes to your site’s look and feel in real time – meaning you can make changes directly on your website and see the results immediately. Make edits to fonts, colors, logos, navigation items, featured galleries, and build an unlimited amount of custom pages. The websites are intuitive to build and require no extra design or coding experience.

Edit your site in real time/Credit: owyoung.photoshelter.com

Oh, and the photos look damn good: We’ve refined our image processing to yield the most accurate representation of your images possible, and have set the benchmark on the web for color fidelity, resolution, details, and freedom from artifacts. Our members are professionals of the highest caliber, so it’s critical that we’ve meet these quality requirements on the new Beam platform by delivering high res images for the latest HD and Retina devices.

Credit: gavingough.photoshelter.com

Starting today, Beam will be available to PhotoShelter members with Standard or Pro accounts (If you don’t have a PhotoShelter account, you can sign up for a 14-day free trial here). We’ll be offering weekly webinars to help introduce Beam’s new portfolio sites and answer your questions. Or, you can watch a video overview of the new sites, and learn how to build one for yourself.

Beam is a forward-looking step for PhotoShelter. It’s taken a lot of time and focus for our team, and I can promise that there is much more to come. We’ll continue making new templates and features available to our members in the coming months. As always, your feedback is a critical part of our product development process, so please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions.

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There are 28 comments for this article
  1. Eduardo Angel at 2:53 pm

    What we like the most about the “Marquee” template is the ability to integrate our existing WordPress blog and Vimeo channel. It also works/looks great on our Android and iOS smartphones and tablets.

    • Lauren Margolis at 4:22 pm

      @Alan – The new websites offered by Beam carefully observe best SEO practices. We’ve been carefully monitoring search engine traffic to early Beam Beta users’ websites and the results have been positive.

  2. Johnny at 6:35 pm

    @Lauren – can you please respond to this comment I posted on the Facebook page?

    Beam looks great, but unfortunately, gallery URL’s still look like alphanumeric soup. For example, on Peter Hewitt’s Beam photo example site, the flowers gallery link is “http://www.peterhewitt.com/#!/portfolio/G0000AkZfQ3pHBPw” – why can’t it be “peterhewitt.com/portfolio/flowers/”? Why do you need the exclamation point and the random generated nonsense? This is an SEO disadvantage and it also makes the site URL’s look ugly. Can you fix this? Or have the users missed a setting? I would love to use Beam and I need to update my site, but what I’ve learned about SEO indicates that shortlinks should include SEO phrases.

  3. Shannon Faulk at 7:19 pm

    Marquee, Galleries and/or collections displayed on the sight is only 3? I have at least six that I want to display on the right side. The Specific Galleries and Collections will allow for up to six that I entered but doesn’t show up on the front page? Please let me know if this going to change. I also created a 400×60 jpg. of my Logo the site won’t accept it?

  4. Shannon Faulk at 7:27 pm

    Ok so I figured out Galleries and Collections. You need images in the gallery for the link to show up on the front page.
    Now let’s see what I’m doing wrong with the Logo.

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    • Andrew Fingerman Author at 4:00 am

      Hi Per,
      This first release atop the new platform is very much focused on introducing new portfolio templates. Of course, manual customization capabilities and tight WordPress design integration is important to us, so when the dust settles on this release we’ll keep you apprised of our plans to enable more manual tweaking. All of our current customization and WordPress tools will still be supported too.
      Best,
      Andrew

  6. Quintin Lake at 7:05 am

    This is really good. Do or will we have control of initial image display display format. For example I really like the look of “Element” but for my taste I’d like the thumbnail display as an option rather than default (i.e. go straight into full size images)?
    Finally the load time seems slower that some of the HTML5 competition where its pretty much instant?
    The reasons to use a separate folio site are becoming increasingly slim!

    • Lauren Margolis at 10:04 am

      @Quintin – Glad you’re liking the new templates! We’ll be sure to share your feedback with our developers, too, on the homepage image display. It might be that a future template is more right for you.

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    • Lauren Margolis at 1:57 pm

      @John – the new templates offered by Beam all come standard with a page where you can pull in a feed from your Vimeo account.

  9. Cole at 2:06 pm

    I tried beam yesterday. Liked the graphic aspects of the new templates but was not real thrilled that all my info (bio, links, etc.) don’t automatically carry over from my existing site. Ended up switching back until I have the time to put it all in manually.

  10. John Clark at 6:26 pm

    Beam displays very nicely on my PC but is a mess on Android 4.1.1 on my HTC one. No swiping gestures work. Can’t scroll down in gallery thumbnails. The back or forward navigation arrow in portfolio doesn’t display, usually just one of them. Full screen button doesn’t work. Sometimes the navigation options above photo is all mashed together. Photo’s skip in increments of two at a time when selecting forward button. Instagram feed has photos hanging off the side of the white background.
    Have yet to have a look on an iphone or tablet.
    Tried various browsers with similar issues occuring.
    Anyone else experiencing this?
    Teething problems perhaps?
    I really like the Beam templates and hopefully they will work nicely on all platforms soon!

    • Lauren Margolis at 9:21 am

      Hi John – Thanks for your feedback. I’m passing along your notes to our developers so they can also test this. Thanks for making us aware!

  11. Jason McEachern at 7:21 pm

    Hello,

    Switched over today and it looks great on a PC Firefox browser.

    I have a few questions – observations:

    A friend tried my Beam site on a Motoral Atrix BB and it did not work at all.
    It was sketchy on my Android device, I experienced the same issues as John above.
    My wife tried it on her IOS and she said it looked good.

    I am using Marquee atm.

    Is there any way to add background images to manually created menu items?
    You can for the stock menu items such as Contact and About.. however if you have a
    FAQ or PRICING page there is no option given.

    Will there be new templates once it goes beyond beta?
    Will there be any options to have a slideshow playing on your Portfolio page?
    I’m using Marquee atm and that would be a real nice feature.

    Thanks! Keep up the good work!

  12. John Clark at 8:28 am

    One really annoying thing about the beam templates is that if you link a photo in a forum from the featured galleries page it will link fine to the image. But if you add photos to that gallery it alters the link which is totally useless because it then links to a different image.
    Example – if i link this http://www.johnclarkphoto.com.au/#!/portfolio/C00005dcPHjkChyo/G0000leRIxaFLqNc/2
    then add another photo into that gallery later the number 2 at the end of the link will change so you will be taken to a different image in the featured gallery :(
    Please fix this.
    If you use the address which is in the archive it works fine. The point is i want to link to my images so they can be seen full screen which i thought was the whole point of the beam templates.
    The beam templates still don’t work very well on android either. The images are almost unviewable due to pixellation when you turn the phone to landscape orientation.
    Thanks.

    • Lauren Margolis at 9:45 am

      Hi John – Thanks for your feedback! I’m going to pass this along to our product team so they can take a closer look.

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  15. Jonathan Cross-Jones at 10:18 am

    I am currently building the Beam website and in Element, I’m having trouble getting the home screen random image display from showing on android platform, also the scroll menu doesn’t scroll correctly most of the time, and is only selectable (while on a page) if you scroll to the top of the page.

    Any help greatly appreciated.

  16. de la chapelle at 1:38 pm

    Hello!
    Is it true that if i want to change my BEAM template (or switch to regular Portfolio) I have to build my website over again? (because my clients can’t write commentaries on my photos, and it is only possible in classical Photoshelter)
    Thanks.

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