Update Back End and Uploader? anyone? anyone? Bueller?

Comments

34 comments

  • Steve Kingsman

    I emailed Grover two weeks ago only to get this reply from him;
    "I no longer have any input on product or strategy at PhotoShelter. Your best bet is to contact Andrew Fingerman with this question."

    So I reached out to Andrew (CEO) and got this reply from him last week;
    "I’m just now confirming a few planned items with our head of product and expect to have a concrete and transparent update for you by end of this week."

    Alas the week past by with zero updates yet again. More broken promises and this time from the CEO of PS himself.

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  • Sara Essex Bradley

    I'm glad to know I am not alone if feeling unmoored by photoshelter. I also think it's ironic that we're using this platform to discuss migrating away to another provider. I too don't have the time to do it now, and I wasted too much time in early lockdown investigating dead-end smugmug. It's obvious no one on their team is monitoring these boards. If I figure out some efficient way to download or migrate my archive, I'll share it here. Likewise, if I find a good platform to move to.

     

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  • Sara Essex Bradley

    Thank you for these replies. And it's disheartening to see the promises made and not addressed, much less kept. What's up with the development team in Guadalajara?

    And to get this email today:

    From everyone at PhotoShelter, Happy New Year. We can’t wait to see what you do in 2022!

    Caitlyn Edwards
    PhotoShelter Community Marketing Manager

    Actually PhotoShelter, we can wait to see what YOU do in 2022!

     

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  • alphapix photography

    They seem to be putting all their efforts into the "for brands" side of things. They have even added video to that side which has been promised for YEARS. 

    I was a beta tester for the "new" generation of templates - and we were told there would be new updates / options / templates every few months. That the whole reason for the re build was to allow more regular updates ... not sure theres ever been a new template released? Let alone the whole backend rebuild. 

    From memory - the back end is still the same as the "classic" - just re skinned with the new templates - thats why some parts like the light box still look old and clunky.

    PS has been great - but the more others progress the more dated it all feels ... and with no updates or feed back it doesn't look good. Emailing support gets the standard "we're doing things in the background" type reply but nothing changes.

     

     

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  • Alex Orrow

    I agree and have felt as you do for some time. Especially as a lot has been promised for over 10 years like video support.

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  • Jonathan Buckley

    Hi Sara,

    Sadly there's plenty of threads on this. There's been a lot of promises over the last couple of years and things looked hopeful for a while but it all fizzled out and all communication from Photoshelter dried up in the summer. They appear not to read the forum or blog comments or if they do they no longer bother to respond. Direct emails to customer services get a friendly but apologetic response to the effect it is all under review and an announcement will be made soon. I agree it is still a great product but the lack of development is worrying and the fact they've stopped bothering to communicate is not a good sign. As for the backend, I have an email from Andrew Fingerman dated May 2016 promising an imminent overhaul of the Lightbox...

    Here's a selection of depressing reading (take note of the dates):

    https://blog.photoshelter.com/2020/10/photoshelter-websites-updated-plan/ 

    https://support.photoshelter.com/hc/en-us/articles/360059401754 

    https://blog.photoshelter.com/2019/10/were-listening-to-you-heres-our-roadmap/ 

    https://support.photoshelter.com/hc/en-us/community/posts/4412141878551-new-templates-and-video-support- 

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  • Alex Orrow

    Are there any viable alternatives? Despite the lack of innovation and promises not delivered PS does still provide a very good feature set. The last time I checked I couldn't find an equivalent at the same price point. 

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  • Sara Essex Bradley

    I spent an inordinate amount of time about a year ago trying to find an alternative. I thought I had settled on smugmug (despite the stupid name) and did hours of tutorials, only to find they don't support tiff files. They are not truly a site for professional photographers unfortunately. I'm hoping PS will evolve or get bought out by an entity that will keep it viable. I feel stuck at this point. I don't even really care as much about the web templates as I do the back end file management and delivery platforms. I don't need one more thing reminding my clients that I'm old...🙀

     

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  • Jonathan Buckley

    I agree with Sara, there is very little competition for the back end client delivery, photolibrary and file management aspect which is also what I use it for. Unfortunately PS know that and realise we will continue to pay our subs because there is no alternative worth the effort and trauma of switching and re-uploading huge quantities of images. As for your wish for them to be bought out, if you look at the link I posted earlier, they themselves have actually just bought Third Light - as announced on their Brands platform which is what they are currently focussed on. Who knows, perhaps that will eventually bring benefits to the Photoshelter for Photographers product but I'm not holding my breath.

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  • Sara Essex Bradley

    Steve, I'll be interested to see if you ever do get a response from Fingerman. I'm going to email him directly tomorrow as well and let's see if I get the exact same response...

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  • Sigurdur Olafur Sigurdsson

    Has anyone heard anything yet? I wish that we could just have an honest answer about what is holding them back. The silence makes us think they simply don't care about their customers and maybe that is simply the case. Maybe there is just more money in the "for brands" side of things and eventually they will fade us out. That seems to be the only logical conclusion I can come up with. At least I'm pretty sure I'd loose most of my clients if I treated them like that.

    Feels ironic that me wanting my clients to feel appreciated by not disturbing their access to their images by moving things somewhere else, is the one thing that keeps me in this messed up relationship with PhotoShelter. 

    Sorry if I sound impolite, but I am a few years past the point of co-acting.

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  • Jonathan Buckley

    I agree, sadly posting on this forum achieves nothing apart getting a bit of sympathy from others that feel the same. But neither does contacting support and getting the same old friendly but hollow response about an announcement coming soon or whatever. Maybe something good will come of Photoshelter buying Third Light but I fear it will benefit the Brands product rather than us. I was also interested to see Format (mentioned on the other thread) have just been bought by Zenfolio. I got quite excited for a while until I found a load of reviews from photographers complaining about how unresponsive Zenfolio were. Like you guys I'm too busy looking after clients to spend the time required to explore and properly test the alternatives but am very nervous about the way things are heading and the impact it would have on me if they pull the plug on PS or just kill it with neglect. It's a shame but unsurprising that all these companies are better at marketing and getting new customers signed up rather than looking after existing ones.

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  • Steve Kingsman

    I received this email from Andrew last week - I was holding fire on sharing to give him time to post/share the update first. Frankly it doesn't reveal much in terms of future updates and timelines and sadly I honestly think it's time photographers jumped ship and moved to another host - I know I am. It's not like we pay pocket change for using PS - A service that is way out of date and where the SEO functionality is absolute garbage (IMO)

    Curious to hear other member thoughts on the message below...

    "Thank you for your patience of late...I can see I've tested it with too slow of a reply. With full transparency, I’m sharing a long-awaited update on the site builder overhaul, where things stand now, and a glimpse into our future plans. I'll be sharing a version of this message more publicly in the coming days.

    When we announced our development plans for the PhotoShelter Photographers’ platform two years ago, our objective was simple: Build new website templates. Mistakenly, our drive and passion to build a modern platform that did everything our community has been dreaming about for years was far too ambitious. After many iterations, multiple rounds of user testing and nearly $1.5 million invested, we found ourselves in late 2021 with mere fragments of a new site builder that did not meet our standards. Releasing what the team had achieved to-date, meaningfully less than the full product we promised members, would have been a disappointment to you and an embarrassment to us.

    After assessing the state of the project, our leadership team made the call to pause development work on the site builder project. Despite that pause, our teams continue to work diligently to re-scope our objectives, re-focus the proposed roadmap, and research workable alternatives. 

    Moving forward, here’s our plan: 

    • First, we’re fixing long-standing bugs and user experience issues in the current site builder. 

    • Second, we’re building integrations that enable you to keep your archive with PhotoShelter - the part we do really well - while tapping a number of third party website design options. 

    • Finally – we’re actively scoping out plans to deliver many of the features on the PhotoShelter for Brands platform to make the next generation of the PhotoShelter Photographer platform more dynamic and robust based on what we’ve learned and built for brands. 

    Stepping back, it's important that I take responsibility for the imbalance that has occurred between our two platforms and which has been noted by members already. Admittedly, we have over-invested in the Brands product while thousands of photographers waited patiently and loyally for us to deliver improvements to the tool they rely on. 

    The photographer community remains critically important to PhotoShelter and our future plans. We realize it's time to prove it to you in earnest that we truly help creatives thrive.

    I'm happy to answer any questions you may have."

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  • Jonathan Buckley

    Thanks Steve. They like to use the phrase "with full transparency” don’t they - sounds just like Grover’s roadmap blog post a year or two ago. The only positive I can get from it is that I wouldn’t have wanted them to release a disastrous bug ridden update which would only have made things much worse.The current product, for all its flaws and inadequacies is at least mostly stable - at least for the time being. Clearly nothing is going to happen soon so I guess it depends whether you believe the apology and promise to do better is genuine or just yet another way to keep photographers hanging on and paying subscriptions for even longer. Either way their (non) communication with members has been appalling and it's shocking that this info still hasn't been released publicly.

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  • Sigurdur Olafur Sigurdsson

    Thank you Steve for posting this. And yes Jonathan, those were my exact thoughts when I read "full transparency"!! English is not my first language but I am still pretty sure I have a better understanding of the meaning of the phrase Full transparency than the folks at Photoshelter. 

    What I am reading in that email, is that basically, they are starting over from square one since Grovers "renewed commitment". We waited once again while they were building something that has now ended up in the bin! What!

    And the rest of it sounds like we are indeed going to abandon the website part and focus on the archiving part, so basically, what they have built for the brands part. Maybe that's not all bad. Then we could use what they actually do well and then build our actual websites and portfolios somewhere else. Unfortunately, by now, it doesn't really matter what they say or promise. It's not just about the functionality of the platform anymore. It's about the continual disrespect for us the users. Promises and apologies do not solve the problem and unfortunately I am not even sure if actual actions will either. That's how fed up I am. If they came out with a truly transparent and honest plan with dates and milestones and some compensation for us the mistreated users, in the form of refunds or added value they might get my trust back. I'd love to say that otherwise I am leaving, but unfortunately they will keep getting my money for a while as it's just too much work moving out at the moment. And that's really not a healthy relationship :-(

    Anyway, just want to say I looked up the websites of all of you in this thread. Some great work in there and great talent. So good to have this conversation with you all. I relives a bit of my frustration. But now I definitely should get back to some image editing ;-) Keep shooting guys, that's what this is all about. 

    And by the way, if you find that perfect Photoshelter alternative, let us know ;-) In the meantime, let's keep the conversation going and the pressure on. 

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  • Jonathan Fussell

    My plan now is I am going to use Adobe Portfolio for my website and photoshelter as my back-of-house duties for archive/sending/client. I have used Adobe Portfolio before & already get it as part of my creative cloud subscription.

    I get the best of both worlds that way & don't lose out on the unique features in photoshelter without additional cost.

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  • Deirdre Ryan

    This is the response I got Andrew 3 years ago to a thread I started 4 years ago.

    https://support.photoshelter.com/hc/en-us/community/posts/360017111213-Any-Updates-Coming-To-Photoshelter-

    Hi Friends,

    I appreciate the comments above and wanted to jump into the dialogue.

    First, I want to assure each of you that we’re *always* listening. Every forum post is read, and every email to our client services team is considered and gets a response. In the forum specifically, we don’t monitor issues in real time, and don’t comment very much, because we prefer to encourage the 1:1 direct contact with our support team - that’s where every feature request or issue is carefully logged and prioritized. But, we’re very much actively listening, and the team here at PhotoShelter would love to knock off every single request on your individual lists. There’s nothing more fun than announcing new features -- especially seeing the positive response from our very loyal members.

    As some of you may know, we launched a complimentary business off of our original PhotoShelter product called Libris a few years back that provides visual asset management tools for brands. While we’ve continued to invest heavily in the very important foundation of PhotoShelter -- to ensure that we are rock solid reliable for you and your clients every day -- our small team inevitably made a handful of time and attention tradeoffs that were necessary to get Libris off the ground. Libris has grown very fast in just 3 years’ time and, with the wind at our backs, we now feel well positioned to support, enhance and better satisfy both customer bases.

    PhotoShelter is much more than just our established legacy -- we show up to work every day to support the storytellers like you. With “restoring the balance” as a key goal to ensure progress on both products, you can expect to be hearing a lot more from us, with visible output through 2019. While we have a strong sense of the key product needs that are the highest priority, we’ll also be fielding a survey shortly to ensure our full member base can share their most current feedback and opinions. In addition, soon we’ll be releasing a new mobile access experience for you and your clients, as an initial new feature enhancement that’s designed to streamline your client experience significantly. Naturally, there’s lots more to do, that’s just a first item.

    I didn’t want this conversation to stretch on without sharing my voice. I’m deeply appreciative of each of you and the opinions you’ve shared, and the patience you’ve exhibited as well.

    Thanks for listening,

    Andrew  

    CEO, PhotoShelter

    C'mon Photoshelter!

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  • Jonathan Buckley

    Plenty of options if you just want a nice looking portfolio site but I only know of Smugmug and Zenfolio which offer equivalent client delivery/photo library management facilities and they look similar. When I last looked they both had some issues too and I didn't feel I'd gain much by jumping with all the upheaval that would involve to re-upload 10's of thousands of high res images. They do seem to be active and responsive developers though unlike PS who appear to be just maintaining silence and milking it until their customers finally give up. It's not through lack of investment, they've just bought Third Light and, as alphapix photography says above,  are clearly now putting their energy solely into their Brands product:

    https://stories.photoshelter.com/photoshelter-acquires-uk-based-third-light-to-accelerate-growth-and-global-leadership-in-digital-asset-management/ 

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  • Jonathan Fussell

    Thanks, Steve for the info. 
    I have not been on the platform that long so not in the position as others with the years of work built up but I do feel disappointed due to the way the anticipation was built upon a revamp of the backend and it just went silent. Also, I agree it is hard to find something comparable as photoshleter does have some very unique features. SmugMug (which I used before this) does provide that home for an archive with searching, tag clouds & mapping for users to find your images when it comes to licensing it is more limited. They do have RAW support now as an extra which is good.
    I won't be leaving in a hurry but I still, hope things pick up again soon. I will be keeping a keen eye on the competion when I wasn't before.

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  • Steve Kingsman

    Sara: I did email him earlier this afternoon - No response to date. Will post if I hear anything...

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  • Sigurdur Olafur Sigurdsson

    One more thing...

    Checking out your websites I notice that Alex Orrow has some custom stuff going on on his front page. This is similar to what I have been hoping for. May I ask Alex how you have achieved that? That's not just a Photoshelter templet is it?

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  • Jonathan Buckley

    Hopefully Alex will reply to you but it looks like most of his website is maybe done with Wordpress? Lots of videos on there too. Looks great! It's only when you click on Client Area that you seem to be taken to a Photoshelter version  - the URL changes to include Photoshelter and you can see the old archive section interface we're all so familiar with!

    Since they updated to the current templates the relationship between the portfolio and archive sections has been a weird and clunky one. In his email Andrew mentions they are exploring some kind of third party integration for the design options. Not quite sure what he means but I guess it might be a way forward if they can make it seamless.

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  • Sigurdur Olafur Sigurdsson

    You are right Jonathan. Looks like its mostly Wordpress. And it looks great. This is what I am after. Need my website to represent me as a business and include other aspects such as videowork, online store, workshops etc. And yes, maybe proper integration with existing third party solutions might be the answer. But we need to know more...

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  • Alex Orrow
    Yes that's right! I use a wordpress template from a company called ThemeIsle. And as you can see, just link to Photoshelter for the Client Area. I almost got a Square Space site which would have been the same yearly cost. But I found myself with plenty of spare time two years ago to really look into Wordpress and themes and I have always had my own website before Photoshelter came along and I quite liked it. It has changed over the years into very different looking sites so its fun to have a complete change once in a while and know its unique.
     
    With wordpress you can integrate either Vimeo or Youtube via hotlinks or self host. You can add a shopping cart and create as many pages as you like. I use Wordpress  partly because I wanted a bespoke look but could not afford £6000 to pay a web designer to make the thing and keep it updated. The PS themes were for the most part not what I wanted (mainly because I have difficult typographical logos to place and PS just didn’t display them nice. Also I needed the SEO which Wordpress does better and part of this was using a UK based host, the ability to customise and have the blog posts built right in for the best SEO. I am not so interested in the website front end. The back end and client ease of use is the most important for me. An imperfect solution it works well enough to be almost seamless. I get a lot of good feedback on the PS image delivery. I seem to attract new clients through the Wordpress site and occasionally through the PS site. In fact it may make sense to have two sites with differing content?? I imagined building an image library and trying to sell images through PS but I found that tricky because I would have liked a different pricing structure for royal free versus restricted.
     
    However my belief is that most but the smallest of clients will adopt bespoke large scale online asset management systems.  So my images are likely to be downloaded and then re uploaded to that, or probably the client will want me to upload directly. This sometimes happens with dropbox, google etc. But I suspect that clients will have more bespoke systems that open more files directly online and provide better ways of collaborating etc.
     
    At this point Photoshelter and other image archive systems may become redundant for me. Unless clients can plug their online solution straight into photoshelter?? I love the unlimited storage, access anywhere, speed, mobile app, ease of use etc. No downtime or glitches (at least so far..) Would like to have video support and a better proofing collaboration toolset. But not sure its going to be needed in the long term as clients go more online with software and file sharing. This won’t be helpful for stock image specialists or social photographers, but I can see why the Brands side of PS has become a priority. Perhaps PS is expecting to lose a lot of photographers in the long term to the changing online environment? I hope that's not the case and they continue to innovate and provide robust professional tools. 
     
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  • Sigurdur Olafur Sigurdsson

    Thank's for your detailed reply Alex. 

    I used Wordpress integration before the current PhotoShelter sitebuilder came along and 'm thinking that might be the solution going forward. Maybe that's what PhotoShelter is ultimately going for. 

    When it comes to my client needs my experience with most of my clients is somewhat different from yours when it comes to their use of their collections in my PhotoShelter image archive. Most of my clients keep coming back to their collections in my archive even years later and some of them use it on a very regular basis. I guess that is a testimony of the reliability and usability of the Photoshelter client backend, despite the stagnation we have all have been talking about. Only one of my clients want me uploading to their own archive (Photoweb/Photostation). And even some of their staff occasionally contact me to bypass that system  and go straight to me for the images because their archive is not being managed properly. After all, image management is less about the system and more about how and if the system is properly managed and companies are more willing to buy systems that are supposed to solve issues than they are to allocate qualified staff to run them.

    So for me, my frustration aside, the solution that might make me swallow my pride and principals and keep me on the platform might be something like this:

    • Proper and seamless integration to the top existing website tools such as Wordpress, Squarespace, Wix, etc. 
    • Improved archive with Video archiving support etc.
    • A realistic and competitive pricing of cloud space.
    • And finally, and I think this is where the opportunities are, a way to connect parts of my archive and a clients archive on the Brands side. In other words, if a client was using Photoshelter for brands, I could deliver him my images in my archives and check a box for it to also show up in the clients archive. That way, all of us working photographers using Photoshelter, would automatically become sales reps for Photoshelter for Brands, because it is convenient. And maybe, if we get 10% off for every brand we bring in, that might be the new business model for PS. That has to be a point Photoshelter is already thinking about with it's emphasis on the Brands part. Surely, I am not the first to think of this. If I am however, PS will not know because they are not reading this ;-)... Or are they?

    Until now I have not recommended the Photoshelter Brands solution to anyone, simply because of my own frustration with PS, but admittedly, function, convenience and affordability would probably tromp those "principles" in the end. After all, this is what our relationship with tech companies has become, we feel abused but if the perceived convenience we get from it trumps our feeling of being used, we bend over and and think about our happy place while we get over it.

    All the best
    Siggi

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  • Alex Orrow

    One of my clients is purchasing Bynder for DAM and Bynder is probably a close competitor to 'PS Brands' But it seems Bynder have a lot more integration possibilities compared to PS. 

    It's the integrations side which is very interesting. Bynder seems to offer users the ability to pull assets from many providers including stock libraries and have single sign on. From a creative marketing and sales perspective it makes a lot of sense. But as you say whether they know how to use it correctly is another matter! But if they do become proficient at using these tools then I cannot see where PS fits in unless they can integrate PS with companies like Bynder. I cannot see that happening as I presume its built around code that won’t do this otherwise presumably it would integrate with Brands. Perhaps we should just be asking to have our archives moved over to Brands at no extra cost but perhaps with a reduced feature set? Would this not future proof our archive and allegiance to PS. It may well get them more customers both photographer, creatives and end user clients alike. 

    Adobe might be the way forward for many, they provide file archiving and it integrates with the creative suite. They just don’t have a great system for granting permission or restricting use etc. Jonathan may be onto something.  When it comes to integrating a good looking website with lots of template options with robust DAM and image delivery, adobe may well lead the way as they are integrated by Brands and Bynder and I expect many others in the DAM field. Maybe we will all get forced into adopting Adobe for this purpose? I expect that’s in their grand plan! 

    This is an interesting conversation, I hope PS is listening and will provide us with some honest answers about the future of both PS and the DAM arena in general. 

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  • Sigurdur Olafur Sigurdsson

    I agree, a very interesting conversation. One that I wished PS was taking a part in or at least that they would indicate that they are listening. 

    And yes, Adobe might at some point bring the solution going forward. When they lunched the cloud solution it seamed like the obvious path forward that they would create more ways for us to deliver to clients there and for us already using their solutions it would be super convenient. I am sure that will come.

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  • Paul Thompson

    I never wanted a whole new template system, just better more up to date templates with a little more functionality. 

    I am quite happy with my Squarespace front end and PS backend. The least PS can do at this point is to get some more template choices to us.


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  • Sara Essex Bradley

    And they keep rubbing salt in our wounds with inane email blasts about "The value of finding community on social media"

    Ugh.

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  • Jonathan Fussell

    I hope there is some awesome just waiting to be released which will impress us all. Has anyone emailed Grover recently to ask how they are getting on? 

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