Just paid to renew my Zenfolio account and am still unclear as to whether it ranks as "useful" or "vanity publishing".
On the one hand I have a place to send someone who wants a sample of what i do. And that has proved worth the cost. I just don't see any point in putting photos up on Facebook or Instagram, which I regard as genuine vanity sites and not very secure places to put images I may, someday, get ambitions enough to sell. But I'm not using Zenfolio anywhere near it's potential, and the question is whether I would do just as well with a Google+ or Flicker pro account.
Part of the problem is that I'm unwilling to edit my galleries down to the lean/mean minimalist portfolio that the pros all say is an essential quality of a good web presence. Some of that is from the fact that I'm not selling myself and just want a place to put up a the stuff I consider good enough to print so I can see how it looks on a verity of screens. I currently view it as a warehouse of my best shots, not a promotional portfolio which is what the pros are offering rules for.
Sidebar: one truth about "Pro" opinions is that increasingly making it as a photographer has less to do with selling images, and more to do with selling yourself as a guru slash marketable personality. Would love to see a breakout of the non-wedding photographer's income sources other than images. How much is books, sponsors for websites, magazine articles and teaching vs. images? Does a Trey Radcliff makes more off selling his brand than he makes off his images? What about a Peter Lik? Either way, I don't have the energy or the need to sell myself, but admit, it would be nice to make enough to pay for the cost of my passion. The truth is that there are too damn many photographers these days plugging away at the camera equivalent of an infinite set of typewriters turning out the photo equivalent to Shakespearean lines buried in a sea of noise. With the number of legit markets for pro-photography dwindling as print media contracts the ability to do a side business is becoming a commitment to self promotion.
But, I really, really do want my images to be seen, and, even more so, to have people request quality prints they want to put up and look at frequently. Delusions of being an artist I suppose. The issue of how to have a web presence that doesn't become a visual version of the final warehouse scene in Indiana Jones means I need to figure out a way to have people drop in, and want to come back and spend some time.
What I think I need to try is using Zenfolio to create the online version of the coffee table photo books of the 70's. Something along the lines of the Peter Lik book apps, without the need to have an entire design and coding shop on salary that Lik employs.. Something that would allow me to post to friends and family saying "The second quarter 2012 North Oregon Coast book is up." Or "Just posted the Barcelona Book this morning have a look." But to pull that off I would need more text and caption flexibility.
A sample would be the little gallery of shots I took using just the G11 while in Luddington, Michigan last year. It's totally not like my other work, but stands well on tis own, but needs narrative and context to make it fit better. Can imagine doing that for all sorts of projects outside of the home grown Oregon Coast stuff. It's like the pano shot of a closed printing equipment factory with the fading flag in the window. It looks like someone else's work, but with some context it would allow me to expand and get a bit more playful.
Got to work on that.
Location: 43°56'53.94"N, 86°26'35.24"W
Link to Ludington gallery is here.