Tuesday, August 27, 2013

PhotoShelter and Me, Pretty Good Company*...

An Anti-Government protester in Bangkok compares the Yingluck Shinawatra government to the Nazis. I uploaded a version of this photo to my archive then used PhotoShelter ftp export options to send it to ZUMA

I really enjoy living and working in Thailand. This is an amazing country in which to be a photographer. It’s easy to make a life here, but there some things I had in the US I really miss here. Reliable internet would have to be at the top of the list. Internet connections, pretty much everywhere I’ve traveled here have been comparatively slow and unreliable. (Compared to Laos and Cambodia, which despite being a generation or more behind Thailand‘s economic development have much faster internet.) 

I’ve lost count of the number of times my ftp client (the excellent and otherwise reliable Transmit) has dropped connections or timed out because of issues with my Bangkok internet connection. 

I’ve been using PhotoShelter to host my archive and website for years. 

When I was in the US, that’s pretty much all I used PhotoShelter for because I always had reliable internet connections - so I would upload my photos to my archive and then upload separate copies of the same photos using my internet connection and Transmit to whatever client needed them. It meant a lot of uploading, but the cable internet service into our house in Phoenix is so fast that it took no time at all. 

From my apartment in Bangkok, it can take me 45 minutes to upload 60 megabytes worth of files to a client. That’s assuming the connection doesn’t time out. It’s like watching a pot boil, paint dry or an endless loop of Jerry Springer shows and it’s a problem I’ve been wrestling with since coming to Bangkok. 

PhotoShelter to the rescue! 

The fine folks at PhotoShelter have built a lot of functionality into the product and services they sell. It’s just taken me a while to find some of them. 

From the Hungry Ghost month in Bangkok. A man carrying coffins to be burnt as offerings to the ghosts. Sent to PhotoShelter then exported to ZUMA. 

I use Adobe’s Photoshop Lightroom for 100% of my deadline processing and archiving needs. Paul Kamphuis is a Dutch photographer and coder who built a brilliant Lightroom plug-in to upload straight out of LR and into PhotoShelter. So now, as soon as I finish a photo I start uploading it to my PhotoShelter archive while I am working on the next photo. All without leaving Lightroom. 

It would be cool if this is all Kamphuis’ plug-in did, but the goodness doesn’t stop there. Kamphuis has updated the plug-in to work with the publish services in Lightroom. So, assuming you have everything setup properly, you “publish” the photo (essentially the same thing as exporting it) from Lightroom to PhotoShelter and the plug-in keeps track of what you published and to where.

You’ve sent a bunch to PhotoShelter only to discover you made an error in your captions. You could go into your PhotoShelter account and edit the IPTC data there AND go back into your Lightroom catalog and edit the photos there (because you really should correct the captions in all of your archives). It’s pretty easy to edit in PhotoShelter, but it’s still time consuming and because you’re working over a network connection there’s bound to be some lag. Kamphuis has made this a whole lot easier. 

If you have set up the plug-in properly and haven’t moved the photos in your PhotoShelter archive, so LR’s record of where the photos are is still accurate, all you need to do is edit the photos in your LR catalog, then go to the FILE menu, pull down “Plug-In Extras“ and select “Update IPTC Data on PhotoShelter” and like magic your captions (and other IPTC data) will be in synch between PhotoShelter and LR.

We have Kamphuis to thank for that great time saver, but the rest of it is all PhotoShelter. 

I can export files from PhotoShelter to a client via ftp - using PhotoShelter’s bandwidth. Different clients have different requirements for captions and file sizes. Now my workflow is to finish the client’s photos (using the “virtual copy” feature in Lightroom) and export those files to my PhotoShelter archive. When the photos are all sent to PhotoShelter I go into my archive and select the photos, and use PhotoShelter’s ftp command and send the photos to the client. 

I send photos to PhotoShelter as I finish them - it’s almost an assembly line process. While one photo is being uploaded, I’m working on the next one in Lightroom, when the first photo is transferred to PhotoShelter I start transferring photos I’ve finished editing, when those are done transmitting I start the next ones and so on. 

If I’m working with a client who wants to see a lot of photos, for example for the Christianity Today assignment, I use PhotoShelter to create password protected galleries that only the client can see and then give that client download permissions to access the photos at their convenience. 

My PhotoShelter account is set up for self fulfillment for prints and downloads, so if people find my photos via search engines, they can purchase the photo without ever leaving my website. PhotoShelter integration of e-commerce is nearly seamless. This hasn’t been a huge part of my income yet, but it is growing year over year. 

On top of all of this technological goodness is the fact that the PhotoShelter people are just plain nice folks. They respond quickly to customer support requests and are knowledgeable about their products. The longer I’m freelancing, the more I rely on PhotoShelter. Like Lightroom, is a piece of technology I can’t imagine being without. 
Men train fighting cocks at a construction site in Bangkok. Sent from PhotoShelter to ZUMA.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am a PhotoShelter “evangelist.” I am not paid to talk about PhotoShelter, but I do get a “finder’s fee” for people I refer to PhotoShelter. It works both ways, though. I get the finder’s fee and you get a discount. It’s a win-win. When you’re ready to sign up for PhotoShelter, contact me for a referral code.

And of course, most of the photos in my archive are available for editorial use or self fulfillment as prints. If you see something you'd like to use or just hang on the wall, click on the "Add to Cart" button and follow the onscreen prompts. 

*Apologies to Elton John, whose song Harmony was on Goodbye Yellow Brick Road


  1. Hi, I noticed your protester photo above and would like permission to use it for a non-profit foundation. It would be used with a photo credit in educational materials for our group. If you have any other similar photos, I'm interested in knowing as well.

    1. Please contact me via the email link on this page.


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