Overview: Setting Up Your CNAME

Every PhotoShelter member receives a personalized PhotoShelter website address as part of his or her account. That address takes the form of http://yourname.photoshelter.com.

Some photographers may prefer to use their own domain instead of the default PhotoShelter one. After purchasing a domain name from a registrar (GoDaddy, Dotster, etc.), you can connect it to your site with a CNAME. A CNAME is a DNS record that you set up through your registrar. In this scenario, PhotoShelter would still be your website host, but your domain name would be registered elsewhere.

Read through the different goals listed below to see which one best fits you. If your situation is not covered, or if you can’t find an answer to your question in our FAQ, please contact us directly for assistance.


Goal #1: I want my domain to be used primarily for reaching my PhotoShelter site

Your PhotoShelter site can be reached at both “yourdomain.com” and “www.yourdomain.com”

Complete the following three steps in order: 

1. Create the CNAME record with your registrar

  • Alias: "www"
  • Points to: “custom.photoshelter.com” (exactly as written, not your PhotoShelter address)

2. Save the CNAME in PhotoShelter 

  • Website > General Settings > Custom Domain (CNAME)
  • Enter “www.yourdomain.com”


3. Forward your root domain to your CNAME

Refer to our registrar-specific information for additional tips.


Goal #2: I want my PhotoShelter site to be a subdomain

You have another site acting as the main landing page for your domain, but wish PhotoShelter to appear as a subdomain, such as “archive.yourdomain.com” or “sales.yourdomain.com”

Complete the following two steps in order: 

1. Create the CNAME record with your registrar

  • Alias: whatever you choose (e.g. “archive”, “images”)
  • Points to: “custom.photoshelter.com” (exactly as written, not your PhotoShelter address)

2. Save the CNAME in PhotoShelter

  • Website > General Settings > Custom Domain (CNAME)
  • Enter “archive.yourdomain.com” (substitute your choice of alias for “archive”, if necessary)


Refer to our registrar-specific information for additional tips.



What if I have questions that aren’t answered here?

Our client services team would be happy to answer any questions or set this up on your behalf. Let us know your domain name and what you’d like to achieve.


I set up my CNAME properly, but I’m not able to save it in PhotoShelter.

Changes to your website's domain can take several hours to fully update. Try again later. If it still won’t save after 48 hours, contact support to troubleshoot.


What are name servers, and do I have to worry about them?

Name servers are what contain your DNS records- the records that tell a computer where to find your website. All major domain registrars provide their own name servers and tools to manage your DNS.

Some hosts, though, will ask you to use their name servers, instead of the ones your registrar provides. If you’re currently using this type of setup you would need to switch to your registrar’s name servers before setting up your CNAME.


I receive email at my domain. Will this affect it?

If you’re currently using your registrar’s name servers, there should be no change.

If you’re using an outside host’s name servers, they’re most likely handling your email hosting as well. You would want to arrange for email hosting elsewhere; most registrars offer email hosting and would be willing to configure it for you. PhotoShelter does not provide email hosting.

Please refer to our registrar-specific information.


What about SEO?

CNAMEs do not negatively impact search engine optimization (SEO). CNAMEs properly resolve to the canonical address, which is a fancy way of saying they do not confuse Google. 

To increase your SEO rankings, the main thing you will want to focus on is backlinks (public links back to your website) and the "anchor text" (the linked text). If you're a member of any trade organizations, have been featured on any websites or blogs, or have a blog yourself - make sure there are backlinks to your website in these places as well as any other presence you have on the internet. Even a handful of backlinks can have a major effect on your SEO and improve your rankings in the search engines. 

What’s the difference between a CNAME and Forwarding?

A CNAME is a DNS record that matches a domain name alias to your PhotoShelter site. When this method is used, most of your site’s pages will reflect your domain name in an SEO-friendly way.

Forwarding, also known as a “redirect”, is a technique for making a web page available under more than one URL address. It can simplified as “instead of going here, go there instead”. It is sometimes used in combination with a CNAME (recommended), or as a standalone basic solution.


What if my registrar asks for an IP address? Can I use an “A” name/record?

You cannot use an A NAME, because an A NAME relies on IP addresses. Our IP addresses are subject to change at any time without notification. For this reason, we strongly recommend using a CNAME instead.


I’ve set up my CNAME, but some of my pages still have PhotoShelter in the address bar. Why is that?

Any secure pages, such as pages in the cart or even the single image pages in your archive, must revert back to the PhotoShelter-provided URL so that they may be protected by our security certificate (SSL). This does not tend to affect client behavior, and your custom domain can still be used as an entryway to your site.


Still have questions? Contact us.


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