How and Why We Are Renewing Our Commitment to PhotoShelter

How and Why We Are Renewing Our Commitment to PhotoShelter

Transparency builds trust, and for any forward-thinking business, it’s a necessary component for long-term success. To this end, I believe it’s important for leaders to acknowledge where their businesses can be doing a better job of delivering on commitments to customers, and of course, they need to do something about it.

At PhotoShelter, I recently had an opportunity to step back and assess our recent growth and look toward the future. There’s a lot to be proud of, but I want to acknowledge that recently, we have been so focused on driving innovation into Libris (PhotoShelter’s platform for large brands and organizations), that we haven’t lived up to our promise of frequent innovation for our community of independent photographers.  

That stops now.

Thanks to the recent new growth funding we’ve secured, I am happy to report that we have allocated a healthy portion to PhotoShelter. In fact, we are actively assembling a team of developers who will be dedicated solely to improving, expanding and evolving the product in new, exciting ways.

To ensure that this investment gets the attention it deserves, I have appointed one of our co-founders, Grover Sanschagrin (pictured on the left, above), as General Manager of the PhotoShelter product. The very idea of PhotoShelter came out of his head, so Grover’s the perfect person to lead this effort going forward.

In this position, Grover serves as the top executive for the PhotoShelter product and is responsible for product and business strategy. I’ve never met someone with stronger vision for using technology to solve the business problems that creators face. Grover will guide the team and set the priority of product development.

The photography business continues to change in dramatic ways, as do the many ways to interact with clients and promote your photography business in a more connected world. We’re up for the challenge of creating new tools to enable your growth in this space.

As some of you already know, Grover lives in Guadalajara, Mexico. The city is also known as “the Silicon Valley of Latin America,” and because it is a tech hub, we have an exciting opportunity to expand. Several months ago we opened a PhotoShelter office in Guadalajara.

We have already started hiring designers and developers and we are currently in the process of bringing our new hires up to speed (including time spent training in our NYC office). In addition, we are about to release our first set of improvements to the product, to complement our recent release of the FileFlow app for fast, mobile client downloads.

While Grover has been recruiting for our new team, he’s also been listening to members of our community. He plans to publish our feature roadmap in the coming weeks, and you should expect to see more frequent results, starting with improvements to search engine optimization, and making it faster and easier for your clients to download images.

We have an incredibly special relationship with you — you have come to rely on our tools and our education, and your trust is vital to our success in this creative community. Along with the entire team at PhotoShelter, I appreciate your patience and loyalty to our product. I’ve tasked Grover with being fully transparent with you, and you should be hearing from him in the next 30 days. He’s got even more exciting news to share.

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This article was written by

PhotoShelter CEO. Follow on Twitter: @awfingerman and Instagram: @awfinger

There are 52 comments for this article
  1. Pamela Kelso at 1:31 pm

    About 6 months ago I opened an account at PhotoDeck. I was amazingly easy to build and the customization features are incredible. All the aspects of it were geared for professional photography, including sales.

    I have been with PhotoShelter since around 2009 and briefly used SmugMug and Zenfolio also. I love PhotoShelter but the feeling that the independent photographers were just money to grow the portion of the business you really wanted (Lattice) was hard to escape. I remember Digital Railroad and all the other hosting platforms.

    The only reason I canceled my PhotoDeck account and resumed all of my photography here was they billed a “few days early” from their due date every month. I get paid on specific days not dates (first Tuesday or third Friday as opposed to the 1st, 15th etc.) so some months that was ok, others it was not. So I canceled it and moved everything back here.

    Customization that doesn’t require a Stanford degree in programing is important to a lot of us.

    This sounds really great. I have sold to date one image on Corbis. Actually it was one of the smaller photostock agencies that Corbis gobbled up before Getty gobbled up Corbis. I was always curious, since Gates owned Corbis did get his private collection housed in the underground mine it was stored in?

    One Image and I still get up and do it because I love it. I have learned to totally ignore all the drama swirling around the business but this sounds really good for a lot of people.

  2. Chris Violette at 3:14 pm

    I have used Photoshelter for my website and delivery of substantial quantities of files for the last four years. There’s a lot I like about Photoshelter but there’s much I don’t which is why I keep a second website. I use Photoshelter for my headshot business and another for editorial and commercial work.

    What the second website lacks in delivering files and proofing galleries it substantially makes up for with customization of design, image compression, and SEO optimization specifically in connection with Google Ads.

    I’d love to see the proofing galleries and downloading options be more intuitive for my clients who may not be tech savvy. I also frequently have issues with clients unable to open up the zip files after downloading (it’s not an end-user problem – please don’t direct me to tech support).

    I hope your new plans address these problems. Best of luck.

  3. john cowpland at 6:03 pm

    I was a beta tester for the “new” photoshelter templates … does this mean we might see some of the things that were promised back then?

    IT’s been really disappointing watching PS stagnate over the last few years. Even basic simple requests are talked about – in many cases agreed with – and then ignored. The changelog is full of minor tweaks – new fonts etc and little to nothing of any real substance.

    Sure I get that Libris ( I started out on the enterprise version of PS) has gotten most of the attention – but it’s been at the detriment of the rest of the product. PS is now a long way behind other similar products … and even with the new app is woefully behind when it comes to mobile use, video and simplicity for clients. It still looks like a platform built by computer techs rather than photogs or clients.

    Having sunk a lot of time in PS I’m in no hurry to move and hope that FINALLY PS will become the product it was touted to be when the big shift happened all those years ago …

  4. Sam Kittner at 6:23 pm

    Sounds great! Please look at further page customization options on the portfolio sites…ways to mix different portfolio styles for each gallery on a site might be helpful…so that you can have some big picture galleries and some pictures with story text layouts too in the same site with a common home page…also ways to opt out of having “download” buttons on all or no non-portfolio galleries…and improve the very important client proofing tool with notes option to/from client for each image (for discussing images and/or making retouching requests in one place)…and please have option to allow multiple people (marketing teams) be able to see each others selections (and comments) on the client proofing tool would all be welcome and needed improvements…rest assured overall I LOVE PhotoShelter and my business totally depends on it for client proofing, image delivery, my archive, and my portfolio site!

  5. Sean S Phillips at 6:55 pm

    I want to be encouraged by this but the main PhotoShelter product has been stagnant for so long that it’s going to take a lot of work to bring it up to date. And the Client Proofing tool in particular needs a lot of love.

  6. craig at 7:00 pm

    Great to hear, I’ve been waiting a long time for some more functionality to the Client proofing section, as I deal with corporate teams that require a different set of features that I believe Photoshelter can do – one it becomes a priority to do so.

    I was also considering switching away from PS, as I would like a built-in blog feature without having to build / buy separately, so hopefully that can be on the short term roadmap as well.

    Thanks and looking fwd to coming innovations!

  7. Martin at 7:08 pm

    I agree that much is needed in Photoshelter. Photoshelter websites looked amazing when they were first launched, but that was years ago & they have barely moved since then.

    I recently mentioned the lack of optimisation and security and was told that the issues were just that PhotoShelter care too much about resolution to fix any other problems and our headers are as good as googles…

    Chris Violette presumably has no choice but to use a separate website for his other business, as no matter how much you pay for your Photoshelter, it can drive only one website. This means that unless you really only do one thing as a photographer, your marketing will always be substandard when using Photoshelter.

    Go Grover – we’re looking forward to PhotoShelter’s websites catching up soon.

  8. Marian Kraus at 8:03 pm

    Good to hear. I have been relying on PS for about a decade now and run a customized hybrid version in conjunction with my WordPress platform. Needless to say I will be looking much forward to seeing the progress and improvements you indicate as they will make your product even more desirable. Can’t wait to see the improvements.

  9. Mike Grandmaison at 7:48 am

    I have been with PS for at least 5-6 years and I keep experimenting with other platforms to find the ideal platform to display my images and conduct serious business from. I would love to see new Portfolio designs that would accommodate very large numbers of images. As I am using PS to display my images as a ‘stock agency’, it would be great to have a choice of designs and also have the images display larger than what they currently do – now woefully small! Also, a number of my clients find it difficult to download my images so a smoother access to images for clients is definitely something that needs much improvement. As large stock agencies return less and less money to photographers, it is important for us individual photographers to have a platform that can easily and beautifully display our images and make the downloads and sales efficient.

  10. Marcus Getta at 3:15 pm

    I’m an extremely disappointed customer of PhotoShelter, and I believe no word of this blog post. It is simply not acceptable in 2019 to offer an (expensive) product that is not fully responsive on smartphones. Every (!) time I show my galleries to friends on a smartphone there is utter disbelief that photos cannot be displayed in a full-screen mode (though this functionality is existent on PCs and tablets). And this is just the most obvious shortcoming of the product.

    It is furthermore completely unacceptable to stop any kind of development for the last couple of years (see the embarassing change log as an evidence). And to milk your customers in such an impertinent way is not some unfortunate oversight but a conscious management decision. It is one and half years ago, in April 2018 (!), that I received the following statement by PhotoShelters’s customer service: “Over the last 2 years, we’ve invested in the launch and growth of a second product called Libris, which serves large organizations. This has been the area where our developers were primarily focused for a while, hence creating an imbalance in our design effort around the PhotoShelter mobile experience.” Doesn’t this sound very familiar, when you look at the second paragraph of this blog post?

    PhotoShelter is a completely outdated product that everyone in charge at PhotoShelter should be ashamed of. I started to warn my followers in social media to subscribe to PhotoShelter and will continue to do so. And I will for sure end my subscription as soon as I find the (enormous amount of) time to handle the migration to another provider. A provider that respects its customers and constantly strives to deliver the best possible product to the market.

    • Grover Sanschagrin at 12:21 pm

      Yes, we have a lot of work to do. Even though you don’t believe a word of this post, we’ve already started working on the issues mentioned in these comments, and beyond. I’ll be posting our roadmap shortly. We do indeed have a dedicated developer team in Guadalajara, and we are continuing to hire.

      • Paul Green at 12:46 pm

        I hope it’s not a situation of too little, too late. The reality for us photographers is that we need to sell images and be ahead of the image making curve..and you are providing a clunky out of date product at a premium price. The SEO doesn’t work, you can’t display your own URL on social media posts, half the time clients can’t download images and they have to be resent via a different method. I’m paying with a weak currency so the cost is more than photoshelter can make me each month. Of course you are aware of the amount of work involved to migrate to a different platform and have capitalised on this for years without doing any innovation. So my advice is just to look at what the leaders in the field are doing and do it better. Don’t use your own initiative because you don’t have any

        • Marcus Getta at 2:17 pm

          Very well written, Paul! This capitalising-on-high-migration-costs thing is what really makes me furious. This is just an unethical business behaviour. The big question is, whether this behaviour is in the DNA of PhotoShelter or not. If the former is valid, then no Grover nor anything else will make a substantial difference. Then it will remain like in the last years: “Do we REALLY have to invest in this? Will anyone REALLY leave?” A completely new business spirit is badly needed.

          • paul green at 2:38 pm

            I’m furious that nothing has been done to improve the product for so long. Paying in a weak currency with diminishing opportunities to get freelance work, SEO that goes nowhere, bland templates with no functionality, constant problems with clients not being able to navigate the downloads don’t give PS’s photographers the edge that a premium product should give. Why has it taken so long? Probably people are leaving in droves to better, more competitive platforms. It’s critical to stand out and to have unlimited flexibility. I did my homework before joining PhotoShelter thinking it was a premium product. It was clunky in 2012 and it hasn’t changed since then but it looks more of a dinosaur in today’s market

          • Grover Sanschagrin at 1:20 pm

            Taking advantage of people and making money based on migration costs are certainly not in the DNA of PhotoShelter, or mine. I also dispute the notion that I/we don’t have any initiative. You’ll soon see how wrong these judgements are.

  11. Thomas Winter at 3:35 pm

    This is great news, been with Photoshelter for years and use it for image review and delivery. Love to see a better thumbnail view that would allow my clients to comb through shoots with minimal negative/dead space, and also SEO. Good SEO results with my site have really dropped over the last year, and with Google being my #1 referral source, it’s SEO is very important.

  12. Joseph Luis at 4:16 pm

    I’m still upset that Photo Shelter management deleted all my images from downgrading from the Paid Photo Shelter service to the Free Photo Shelter. So there’s no FREE or NO-Cost Photo Shelter, you downgrade – Boom, your images are deleted. Simple as that.

  13. Thomas Fitzgerald at 4:52 am

    Really pleased that Photoshelter is getting the investment it needs, but it would be really great if the company properly supported the proper VAT laws in Europe (VATMOSS) to allow those of us in Europe to use the eCommerce features of the platform. I was a photo shelter customer for many years, but I had to quit the platform because of this. There is a large potential market here if this was properly supported, and its a shame that despite promises in the past from company representatives (to me and others personally via email) that this was never addressed. Please consider this a priority.

  14. Paul Green at 1:11 pm

    I’ve been hoping for this but I won’t hold my breath and also wonder how you let this happen that you fell so far behind the competition. Get some real flexibility and functionality into this expensive dinosaur because your customers need a lot more from this platform

  15. Ed S at 4:33 pm

    Good luck Grove. This is welcome news, but I, too, fear that the stagnation has been too long. It desperately needs much greater flexibility in layout and mixed text and pictures and general customization.

  16. Bill MOREE at 12:51 pm

    Another thing that would be great:
    Squarespace had an app (iPhone, maybe it was Android too?) that very simple, a portfolio to show clients in person. It used images drawn non-public facing folders on Squarespace. The simplicity and elegance of the execution was perfect.

    The app on a 12″ iPad Pro was the perfect in-person portfolio.

    And then they killed it, without explanation. There has been a lot of complaining on their forums, and there has been no response that makes sense. Some of us have figured out a kludgy work-around, so it still works. They have just decided to disable it.
    The Portfolio app was the benefit that ultimately convinced me to go with Squarespace for my on-line portfolio.

    (I like the additional capabilities of PhotoShelter, and had my site there for a while. The reason that I moved it away was that I didn’t love the design of the layouts.)

    It seems like it would be easy to create, and fills a critical niche for photographers, designers, etc.

    If you want to see it and how it worked, I am in NYC and would be happy to meet to demonstrate it for you. It would just take a couple of minutes.

  17. Chris Violette at 1:56 pm

    Hi Grover. Lots of tough criticism here but also many great ideas and shared needs/frustrations. I appreciate the opportunity to chime in.

    One other thing that occurred to me (in addition to customization, downloading, SEO, proofing galleries) as I pitched a client last night. I would love to have a Mood Board tool.

    Many of us use mood boards of some kind to pitch a client, reference in production, etc.. It would be great to have a mood board within the same ecosystem as our portfolios.

    Cheers, Grover.

  18. DB at 10:35 pm

    I’m new to PhotoShelter – hopefully my decision wasn’t a mistake. My needs are strictly to show my work, at least for now. I was a bit dismayed not only at the small number of templates but also at the lack of customization of the templates that are available. Right now the template and design options are a bit… bizarre.

  19. Wilf at 4:41 am

    I had been looking around other providers these days, could not stand this stagnation any longer. Well okay then i might give PS one more chance. After getting empty promises for very many overdue fixes and improvements, and almost Zero results in 5 years. Been thinking PS is sleeping or dead, Probably one developer working one day per month or so. So I really really hope improvements are truly near or i’m gone very soon. Might send you a list of suggested umm necessary improvements…
    Looking forward to things changing…

      • Paul Green at 9:24 pm

        don’t you know? You are the captain of the ship which is sinking fast but still expecting people to pay the top, top, top price. Are you not the one with all the answers? As I watch this thread I just become more and more infuriated with PS. I’m 100% sure nothing as usual is happening there in the development side. Have you found the staff you are looking for in Mexico or still looking? Will it take 5 years to find that right person? But see how quickly your team responds to a missed or late payment. Follow their lead, they are fast and efficient.

        • Bill Moree at 7:54 am

          I think that what Grover is doing here is admirable. Admitting that there is a problem and addressing it in a straightforward way.
          At most companies, the openness and honesty of communication is non-existent (Squarespace).
          Paul Green, I’d suggest that we lighten up and give the man a chance. He wouldn’t be here talking with us if they weren’t doing something new.
          The proof will be in the pudding soon enough.

          • Paul Green at 11:46 am

            Hi Bill,
            I appreciate your sentiment and I would be more understanding if I could see something other than the empty words I’ve been hearing for the last few years whenever I’ve raised issues with customer service. This upgrade is becoming a matter or urgency for me so I want to see some action.

            Everyone wants a subscription business like this where you just sit back and collect the money and do bugger all. I feel a bit cheated because firstly I pay my subscriptions in Australian dollars (so paying 40% higher price than a US photographer) and secondly I live in a developing country (Vietnam) where freelance work isn’t at NY prices so its a very expensive monthly cost which gives zero financial return. It works as an expensive storage and delivery service and half the time clients can’t even work out how to download from the platform..

            I don’t promote it because the design looks out of date and it doesn’t integrate properly with social media. A social media post will always have photoshelter’s URL and not mine.
            I expect the SEO to be top shelf (which it is not) and I expect the templates to be in keeping with the top shelf platforms which they are clearly not. Most of the templates don’t have full functionality ie you can’t see the links to all the galleries on the homepage. Only the first few show up. WTF? I would be happy if I received as many sales through Photo Shelter as I do through Adobe Stock and Shutterstock.

            This platform needed an update about 5 or 6 years ago and what they have been doing since then is sitting on their hands and that’s not good enough when we have seen so much disruption to photography. I’m really happy they are making enough money to rent new offices but I’m not celebrating my personal success just yet in the current photography market.

            I’ve got other platforms contacting me weekly for my business offering more at a cheaper price . The only thing stopping me is the investment in time it would take to migrate 8 years of work and client galleries to a different platform.

            I saw this vague wishy washy question from Grover asking for a list of suggestions and I think really he should be all over that by now and not asking us.

            My list would be:
            1) allow video to be uploaded the same as photography

            2) Get the SEO working and generating mega sales.

            3) Create great looking and fully functional templates that integrate perfectly with social media properly advertising the photographer’s URL (not http://www.photoshelter/………..)WTF? These templates should stand out and be totally contemporary and the site should be easy to configure not like the current platform which would win a gold medal for being the most counter intuitive back end on the www.

            4) Forget about yourselves and concentrate on the best interests of the photographers. Keep ahead of the competition and make the photographers proud of promoting your platform
            and never go to sleep for 5 years again.

            What has happened here has been a betrayal of the customer and something big needs to be done to put it right. These are my sentiments Bill and I want some serious action.

    • Antonio at 1:28 pm

      I recently cancelled my PhotoShelter account mainly because they were falling behind in all sorts of things: terrible social media sharing tools, stagnant website options, poor WordPress integration, awful mobile experience. I stayed with PS for as long as I could but my annual $350+ was getting me what I expected in a modern website experience, I needed to pull the plug.

      PhotoShelter is the kind of company I really respect as their advocacy in our business was second to none. It was such a tough decision to pull the plug and I never held any ill will or anger towards PS, just disappointment.

      I’m very willing to keep my eye towards what PA has in mind for the future and will certain consider their product when things get revamped.

      My best wishes for this new endeavor.

      Antonio

  20. theo liasi at 5:17 am

    I’m sure this must have been mentioned before, but as an independent photographer, who does not have a client base; ie, corporate or weddings etc but rather, editorial style single uses, the one biggest issue I find with PS, is its invisibility in image searches. If a buyer knows the photographer that’s one thing, but if they are searching blindly for a specific style of image then PS rarely if ever shows up in searches. This single lack of visibility in ‘my opinion’ hampers any real investment into PS as a photographer.

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