Getting to the 21st Century

I remember the World Wide Web in 1995.

I downloaded a beta version of Netscape, and was amazed at the concept of hyperlinking, image maps, and the beginnings of e-commerce.

A few years later, I purchased my first digital camera (an Olympus point and shoot with a maximum resolution of 640×480) and posted some pictures on the web. At the same time, I remember seeing some of the first photographer websites filled with portfolios of amazing pictures.

In the past decade, sites like Yahoo!, eBay, and Amazon redefined the way we live. They took interactivity to a new level, providing a practical and functional means to disseminate information and allow for “frictionless” transactions.

Almost anyone can set up a storefront with sites like Yahoo! Small Business or Cafe Press. We get directions on our cellphones, book plane tickets online, and buy auto insurance..

So with all the technological change, why are photographer websites lost in time? The vast majority of sites still only allow a user to view a few images – a static translation of a printed book moved to the web. I would venture to say that the vast majority of photographer websites still have the same sections now as they did ten years ago, namely, a few galleries of their best stuff, a bio, and a contact page.

I can buy homemade soap and doggy sweaters from some grandma’s website in Mackinaw, but I can’t purchase an image from most photographers. I can get a satellite image of my home, but I can’t save my favorite images to a lightbox.

Complaining about the rate of change is so 90s. It’s time for photographers to stop lamenting the “good ole days” and start thinking about how they can invest in their business rather than buying a new lens that won’t generate more revenue.

Your website isn’t part of your marketing. It is your marketing. Bring it into the 21st century, please.

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Allen Murabayashi is the Chairman and co-founder of PhotoShelter.

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