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  1. I can’t think of a single reason why a photo would look better in flash than as a jpeg. Of all the reasons to go with Flash, I’ve never heard or considered this one. Anyone have a technical reason this would be the case? Does flash support some feature that’s irreproducible with a properly-compressed jpeg?

    • @David, one reason I can think of is that Flash is color-managed.

    • The image quality will be the same in both flash and HTML. It is more about the presentation of the images, which flash does very well. One company missed of the list about is Creative Motion Design. All of their flash designs come with iPAD and iPHONE sites incuded in the price. And they have recently started releasing so great looking HTML templates that look and feel like flash site!

      • I am going to purchase an HTML design from Creative Motion Design. Their HTML designs feel like Flash and look stunning.

        One BIG problem I have with ,most of the companies you mentioned above is their pricing. It seems they all took business classes from the late Steve Jobs ((-:) who told them that photographers will keep paying, keep paying, keep paying…

        One time fee is the way to go and for a few (few not $1,000 like some ask) hundred dollars you can get a great presentation portfolio (and a Store front to come with it).


  2. I don’t think you’re right about image quality being better on a flash website, if anything, flash will provide you with inferior images, as they are compressed twice. Once when you export them from photoshop etc., and then again, when the flash movie is exported as a SWF.

    maybe the second compression is avoiding if you’re bring your images in from a database, but i don’t think image quality could be the sole reason for using flash.

  3. A company that I use as template base web site is Neon Sky.

    Very easy to work with great set of guys. They listen to our needs.

    • Thanks for the link however, again this monthly fees nonsense… :-(

  4. I will second the props for Neon Sky. Jayson singe is the owner of Neon Sky and he developed Ami Vitale’s amazing site while she worked in India. I won a bunch of PDN awards. Jayson has a set of templates for photographers and I’ve been with him for three years. I am going back to html next week – but I have to say – Jayson and his crew offer a easy to use product at a fair price with loads fantastic customer service.

    He is a former Photo-J guy and understands this business. Plus he develops all sorts of really sweet museum sites.

  5. HTML+CSS (carefully and well coded) and delicate pepperings of javascript rule!

    My friend Pete wrote the javascript and I coded everything else (it also helps to pay the bills during the slow photography times). I think it’s effective.

    • Nicely done!

  6. I can only agree with David in his doubt about images in Flash being better than HTML. The best Flash-sites present their images as nicely as any HTML-page can do, but should you by ill fate have to scale some Flash-pages down to fit a screen a bit smaller than an Apple 23″ Cinema monitor, Flash does a horrible job of scaling.

    Add to that the sometimes extremely odd (and always different and non-standard) user interfaces in most Flash galleries and the horrible loading times. I completely gave up Frederic Lagrange’s web site plugged here a couple of days ago. I’m on an 8 Mbit connection, and loading it took more patience than I had. I such cases you can count me out!

    Most of the Flash-sites do little that can’t be done in modern HTML. I can understand the preference for Flash when it’s really utilized, but when it’s not, it’s just a bother, if you ask me.

    On the other hand that may not matter much, because I’m not a photo editor…


  7. Rob,

    FYI it’s You got the URL right.

  8. Hey Rob-

    For creative web design I have to give my designer Eric Kass props here–

  9. As a couple others have said, a JPG is a JPG is a JPG, and Flash isn’t able to make an image look better than it would look on an HTML page. Some people might overcompress JPGs, and some Flash portfolios might use hardly any compression with great images as a result.

    Some Flash portfolio interfaces use a small amount of real estate for navigation (and this is equally possible with HTML portfolios), so the image is larger, “feels” higher quality. (Of course, there are many exceptions to this, where the designer uses up lots of precious real estate for the navigation.)

  10. Maybe the comment “photos look better in flash” has more to do with the aesthetics of flash. It is easer to use smooth transitions between photos, animation and non-standard fonts in Flash than in HTML.

    Technically speaking, there is no difference between how a jpeg is displayed in flash and how it is displayed through a page coded with XHTML/CSS unless you allow Flash to re-compress your jpegs. Then your photos would look worse in Flash.

    The huge disadvantages of deep linking, searchability and lack of syndication make flash portfolios a poor choice. Why would you choose to have sexier image transitions over having search engine prowess, syndication abilities and exact linking capabilities?

  11. Usually when there seems to be a difference in quality between the display of a photo in Flash vs. HTML, it’s related to color management. Flash honors embedded color profiles; most browsers don’t. As a result, certain subjects can look really washed out when, say, an sRGB-tagged JPEG is displayed directly in a browser. This can be addressed rather effectively by doing a “convert to profile” in Photoshop from sRGB to a monitor profile, like Color LCD. By converting the image’s color profile to that of your monitor, you bypass the lack of color management and retain the look of your images across all browsers, color managed or not.

    • @Leo Kawczinski, your grasp of colour management seems to lack. Assigning AdobeRGB as a profile to the image can make it look washed out if it is displayed as an sRGB image in a browser. Assigning a monitor specific profile to an image is a really dumb idea.

  12. @ APE: as an editor, how do you feel about the use of music and (MY pet peeve, but who am I?) mondo-expanding pop-up browser window.
    As to the Flash debate, i think is depends on the size of the pic. What’s a good size? I’m having my site rebooted and will upload pics that are 72 dpi by 1200 on the longest side.

    Any thoughts?

  13. When designing my new site the only reason we chose to use flash was for the added flexibility it offers on the back-end.

    That said, however, I’m bias toward simple fast image presentation and perhaps that’s because I’m trying to trap 30 seconds of art director’s time.

    We approached the design by looking at the historic stats – typically 1.5 minutes is all I’ve got so I want to show as much work as possible in that amount of time. I want to spark the viewer’s interest not go on an ego trip.

  14. I hear what you are saying about livebooks, but my single annoyance is that DAMN ugly url that every book has;

    why Livebooks cannot put those variables into a cookie or use some other mechanism, I have no idea.

  15. @ J.M.: Music is always bad when the client has to view your website in a work environment. Wedding photographers use a ton of music so I would steer away from it for that reason alone. I also hate the websites that change your browser window size. Adds another step to the whole process which is bad.

    Maybe my preference for flash has something to do with the fact that the monitors I’ve been given to work on are usually junk. Keep that in mind. The creative director and production have nice monitors to work with… the photo editor, not so much.

    I’ve seen html that is equal to flash but it’s rare.

  16. Other template-based businesses:

    BIG Folio


    The templated solution is nice, but they all leave much to be desired on the front-end. I’d really like to see screen grabs of their back-end as well. If you’re paying for a templated solution, that’s arguably the most important part of the equation: how well your editing interface works. You can always redesign your presentation, but most often you’re stuck with the back-end you paid for.

  17. Here are more companies that provide templates for photographer websites:

    The main thing I just don’t like about Livebooks is the annoying thumbnail presentation. Hover down to scroll down, hover up to scroll up, annoying. Sometimes I just want to look through the thumbnails at my own pace and not enlarge all to view.

    No offense to Rob, we all have different ideas of creativity, but those sites listed favorite creative sites are the most annoying I have viewed in a long time. There’s creativity for printed graphic design which simply doesn’t always work/translate for the web. Those sites need to be on major ADD meds.

  18. I use sitewelder and I have been very happy with them. Livebooks is nice but I feel like they are a little slow to load. I used to have a custom designed site that was attractive but limiting as I always had to go through the designer to make changes. Even if its not perfect in a design sense, being able to quickly makes changes is great. It delivers the goods and doesn’t get in the way of the viewer.

  19. Hey APE,

    Got livebooks last year and I love the look of my site and the cost was better then anything else I looked into. My only concern is that so many people are using livebooks that someone will go to my site and the first thing they’ll say is “how original, another bloody livebooks site”. Whatcha think…..

  20. @ 18. Ciaran: When I see all those black leather bound portfolios with the photographers name stamped on front I don’t say “Look at this generic looking photographer,” so why would it be different with a website. A clean design that delivers high quality images trumps everything the same way that photographers who deliver shoddy portfolios with poorly made prints are dismissed.

    In the higher echelons of commercial photography I think more production value in websites and portfolios can be an advantage.

  21. Graeme Mitchell’s site: Love at first sight for this XHTML/CSS gal. And I’m swooning over his Incredible Horizontal-Scrolling Content Box by Panic, Inc.

  22. @ 19 I concur

    “In the higher echelons of commercial photography I think more production value in websites and portfolios can be an advantage”

    I am having meetings at the moment with more commercially orientated agents and I echo your sentiments based on the feedback I have been getting and some of the samples of other photographers work I have seen during this process particularly the portfolios.

  23. Thanks for the post Rob, very good!

    One example of the power of liveBooks is to google: sports photographer

    You will see Brad Mangin comes up #1 and very high in “sports photography”, which ara very broad search terms. The editSuite allows the photographer to control content and to keep their website fresh, as well as submit their sites to google and other search engines.

    Daniel: happens so that someone can be sent to a specific page within the flash site.

    Anyone can feel free to call me with questions: 800-253-2085 ext 8423

  24. Random observations:

    1. Any music on a site is a horrible feature. Don’t do it.

    2. LiveBooks: Groan. Chevrolet. Toyota Corrolla. Missionary Position. Everybody’s doing it. Beige. I see those rounded corners and I head for the close button. I see those Thumbnails come in off the right and I head for the close button.

    3. Neon Sky: Too PJ.

    4. Group94: Too expensive, and too arty.

    5. Robinizer: Too expensive. Way too expensive.

    6. Nagy: Way too much Photoshop.

    7. Mahon/Fulford: Fun, but cant imagine being a client and taking the time.

    8. L Greenfield: Too much going on. Like I just did a line, and there’s too much going on. Too many things whizzing by. I get overwhelmed. Feels too much like TV.

    9. Cobbing: Amazing. Totally amazing. I hate him with all my might. Great job.

    10. Cowart: way too much. Feels like stock house. No idea what he really does.

    11. Hido: Stunningly elegant. Gorgeous.

    12. And more than anything, let’s remember here that its about the PHOTOGRAPHY. So many sites I see — same old same old — wannabee art school cool.

    13. Don’t miss these two awesome links from Colin Pantall:

    Jacob Holdt:

    Fazal Sheikh:

    It’s about the pictures; not the technique!

  25. I’ve been checking out the site templates that Bluedomain offers ( A couple of theirs are both flash and html. Most of their examples have music on and this annoying feature that causes flash galleries to play a slideshow automatically- luckily that can all be turned off.

    I’ve been thinking a lot about my impending new website since my current one is crap and I’m inclined to agree with APE when it comes to a lot of these issues. The importance of a search engine for me at this point is not high. I could see it being critical for wedding photographers or other forms of retail photography where you depend on the layman to find you but I plan to drive clients to my site via marketing.

    When they get there, I want to look good. Flash templates pull that off. I’m not sure why but all the HTML templates out there show the images too small. Plus the great thing about a service like Livebooks is the thumbnail get out of the way so the images can be nice and big. You don’t see that in html templates.

    Note, that I’m talking about site templates (that is where my budget is). I know that you can do amazing stuff with ajax and css…. if you can hire a person to do it right.

  26. Most all of the criticisms of Livebooks tend to come from other photographers who need all the pomp and circumstance of a glitzy website. It’s a very rare occurrence when both the website and the work can wow people on both sides of the business. I haven’t come across an art buyer or photo editor who really gives a rat’s ass what the mode of delivery is, as long as the images deliver the message.

  27. i’m still obsessing about doing large portrait orientation images.


    is the most common monitor size still 1024×768 (ugh!). or can we safely abandon them along with their 800×600 cousins in this brave new 1920×1200 hidef world?

    to honor 768 monitors, it translates into a max vertical image of about 620 pixels? is anyone using this size (or larger?) to prevent images from looking like postage stamps on 24 & 30″ monitors?

    short of uploading multiple sets of different sized images & serve the proper set depending on monitor, what else can be done?


    flash can dynamically scale, potentially solving the problem – but can become jaggy-city

  28. @ Terence 28:

    I agree, in the end, it’s about the pictures, and everyone wants to just say that, but in addition to that, as Rob has referred to, “there’s just something nice about Flash”. Flash is Paris Hilton. HTML is Barney Rubble. Like it or not.

    It just reminded me who are clients are, for the most part, when I watched this video recently. The Starbucks/Ipod Crowd is running the show. And I’m betting that they’re more Flash crowd than HTML crowd, even though they’d never admit it. Sex just wins, much of the time.

    To me, when you have a Livebooks site, it’s like saying, “I’d show up at a gallery opening wearing beige REI khaki pants, and Rockport walking shoes, and some sweater that my mother bought me for Christmas.

    Like it or not, we’re ALL in the fashion business, but we’re just in it at the subconscious level. And if you don’t believe me, head to SOHO in that outfit above, and see if you don’t go home alone.

    And the real drag is that there’s nothing in between LiveBooks at five grand, and Robinizer at twenty grand. Maybe FolioLink, but their navigation is beyond bad.

    One opinion.

  29. @29 – I decided on 640×640 pixels – if you want to take a look I’d be very happy to hear how it looks/works on all those different monitors out there……

    It’s a very simple site, though very slow to update images, hence my having dragged my feet to repost new work. It was designed by a good friend who says he is going to rework it to make it easier to update, as soon as he gets some time.

    I need some FORWARD/BACKWARD arrows as well, I think.


  30. While my own site is a mixture of HTML and Flash at the moment, I think is one of the cleanest and most user friendly designs I have seen in a long time.

    I found it linked off (or one of his sites anyway) and it inspired me to start working on my REAL portfolio, and abandon flash again.

    As a side note, since I am also an experienced IT admin, as well as a shooter, people might be surprised at the amount of organizations that block flash plug ins from being installed on their networks.

    Also, a large amount of mobile phones choke on flash content. If your like me and you market to non-photography crowd, this can be an issue.

    • @Rory, awesome images, you have obviously learned a lot from your famous dad.

  31. @J, please, please, PLEASE don’t tell us that Brad is #1 under ‘sports photographer’ because of his Livebooks website! If you believe that, you don’t undertstand what SEO is. Now get off this board and sell your wares someplace else.

  32. yes, resizing your browser windows is evil and arrogant. especially when at work and it blows the website up to fit the screen size of a 30″ monitor. pisses me off on my laptop at home as well.

  33. Folks, what amazes me is that you have a member of your targets, Rob, telling you that this is what works for him, and still so many of you say “no.” Is Livebooks the be-all, end-all? Not for every photographer and Rob never said that anyway. He did say that it raised the bar and it surely did. Crappy sites look ever so much more crappy when compared to a LB site. LB sites work, and they work well. That is a simple fact.

    Two other facts is that they are completely SEO-friendly (yes, the site you see is a Flash site, but the LB folks have a simple and successful solution to the SEO issue) and they are custom designed sites–not templates.

    I review sites all the time and for way too many of you, you would be so much better off with one of their sites than the freebie, el-cheapo, homemade, poorly designed, unnavigable sites that you currently put out in the world. Too many of you hobble your marketing because your sites have music or the images are too small or the page/s is/are too big (and the site doesn’t resize to fit any monitor) or the navigation is at best mysterious. We won’t even get into the image choices some of you make. ;-)

    I really encourage you to re-read what Rob has written and think about WHY he would say what he said–he is not paid by LB–he said what he said because he was trying to offer help. His advice is very sound and resonates with what I have heard from MANY other buyers. Give it a chance.


  34. @37 – it’s a bit of a mystery why “sports photography” would bring a single photographer with a flash based website to the first page of a Google search. But – I agree – it has NOTHING to do with livebooks templates. NOTHING!

  35. Leslie,

    I think if a Livebooks site were somewhat more affordable, less people would be complaining about them. It’s the combination of cookie cutter template site vs. really high price that I think annoys people. The sites look fine to me, but as someone who is working on building a portfolio and site on a limited budget, and trying to start a business, it’s not a possibility. It seems to me to be insanely overpriced, considering that your site will not have a unique look. I’m not totally crazy about the look but it’s totally ok. But the price seems out of control. I should say that I have not looked into having a custom site built, and I’m sure that it would not be cheap. Foliolink seems to be offering a similar amount of service for a much cheaper price. Admittedly it’s a yearly price, vs livebooks one time price x a yearly fee, but it still works out to be about 1/5 the price for an equivalent site. Whether any of these companies will be around in 5 years is anybody’s guess.

    Or as I heard someone quoted in a forum talking about
    Livebooks, “overpaying for anything is not an investment”.


    ps does anyone know what the deal is with I love the backend, the site looks great, and the developers seem to have disappeared to never never land. The dream of an affordable and good looking portfolio site…a dream deferred.

  36. livebooks websites are nice but whatever happened to having something unique? I remember when people would do anything to have something different than the next guy, now its as if everyone wants or needs to have the exact same thing as the next guy – livebooks…personally I get a bit bored seeing the same old thing and refuse to put my cursor over the right hand side of the website so it can block part of the photo…not trying to sound like the Bitter Photographer but I’d rather see a nice bright orange portfolio like The Jackanory’s than a the same old black leather portfolio “of the web”

  37. I agree with Leslie, its all about the work. Showing you work quickly and easily. You can cripple yourself trying to make decisions about the design of your website when it all about the image.
    I was told long ago, never try to do make-up again-ever and not to play with kerning. I try to live by that!

  38. @30 Flash In The Pan

    While I personally use LB for my own site, many of my favorite photographers (who I would hire at the drop of a hat if only my magazine could afford them) use HTML sites. Examples:

    Like I originally said (this coming from the photo editor side of me), deliver the best images you can and keep your site clean + simple. No assembly should be required to access a photographer’s online portfolio. I would rather see a Photoshop web gallery with kick-ass work than an award winning flash site with mediocre photos. If one can deliver amazing photos and have a killer site, well then you’re probably busy shooting and should not have the time to read this blog.

  39. Creative Motion Design offers customization, too! I just had to throw that in there because we’re not on the list and we have plenty of customization options, and that’s (proudly) part of what differentiates us from our competitors!

  40. for me a flash site is a product of design art. if i would ever use flash for my own photographs it has to be reduced to a minimum, ‘cause it’s the art of my photographs that should be shown, not the coolest design of this little webspace a funky web designer thought it should look like.

    it’s really difficult. i am a «flash-developer». but the more and more i have to handle this ultimative tons of informations every day via the internet, I always click on «html» whenever I got the possibiltiy choosing between the flash- and html-version of a website. why? cause it’s always faster, simpler, gives me (in my own) intuitive way the information i want to have very quickly. I do not have the time anymore having fun with flash animations. I’m not always (and more and more less) in the mood beeing directed by someone else ideas of web design and usabiltiy.

    designing and programming real good flash-homepages is maybe an impossible thing. yeah, some of them do exist. but they’re rare. plus: I think some photographers are showing too much of their work on the internet. for them it’s the argument «so many content? you’ll NEED CMS ’cause your database will be huge bla bla»-stuff that they’ve been told as an argument for flash. for me when I listen to a photographers work, I am absolutely done with maybe six categories and in each one six photographs. a mass that can be easily done with html and js. it’s always too much content involved.

    a photographer’s homepage should be an appetizer, not a catalogue. keep it simple. content rules! less is more.

  41. @46 Terence:

    Everybody’s got a preference, Terence. Not a problem. To each his own. And if everyone had killer work, there would be no need for Flash; you’d just create your killer web galleries out of one of those cheesey templates inside of Photoshop, stick it on the web with a purple background, and the phone lines would instantly light up. But sadly, not everyone’s work is killer, so sometimes you gotta put a little lipstick on that pig. And agreed that Yang and Buck have strong sites, but who’s to say they wouldn’t be working more if their site was as slick as Nagy’s, with those sexy dissolves? (See, the photo business is only about fear, and about how many jobs you’re missing out on).

    @39 Leslie:

    Just because Rob has a preference on Livebooks, then we’re all to just get in line like lemmings? Should our sites not please us as well? Livebooks is a good comparison to “the black leather portfolio from Brewer” — there was a point when all you could get were black Brewer books, and basically, we would just SETTLE for the Brewer book; it’s not like we LOVED them. It’s just “what you did” at that time, but that time was 1991. Now there are options, (just like there are with website design).

    And with all due respect, I used to see your posts on PDN forum, and for a long time, (maybe until about a week ago when Rob cleared it up), I really did think you worked for an Auto Parts Company, and you just dabbled in talking to photographers on the side. So there’s a little feedback too, about your “clarity of message”.

    @ Rob:

    Might as well add some Links about “black leather portfolios”, and other options, too:

  42. Ugh. I can’t believe you like livebooks. I can’t describe how much I hate livebooks.

    At least black portfolios come in different shapes, sizes, capacities, leather vs. “wax skin” vs. canvas vs. orange velour if you want it. It makes no sense that they limit the number of pages per “portfolio”, or that the images need be separated into “portfolios” in the first place. It’s more like the online version of those cheap Prat portfolios they sell at B&H. Crapola.

    Not to mention you have to host your site on THEIR server. (Why?)

    All this for only $890. It costs even more for more 32-page “portfolios”. And you have to pay more or upgrade your package for EXTERNAL LINKS (!?!?!?!?!).

    For that much you could hire some programmer in Russia to code a scalable kick-ass site with a CMS so you don’t have to dirty your hands in HTML/CSS/Flash when you want to update it.

    Sure, one might say the work is what matters, but it’s also important how it’s presented (ie: the earlier post about site design affecting the marketability of your work). When it’s in a livebooks site, I think “this person doesn’t care about design”. It’s like the McDonalds of websites. Sure it’ll keep you alive but it’s crap. Only difference is you can get McDonalds cheap.

  43. First I’d like to thank Rob for coming out of the “closet” and for having such a great blog. There is so much BS on the net it’s great to have this site.

    I’m a photographer who wants to spend more time shooting and less time in front of the computer and I’m giving a shout out to the guys at Sitewelder. I wanted a site that showcased my images, with lots of great looking templates options and Sitewelder does that and much more. I don’t know XHTML/CSS from BYOB but they do and that’s the beauty of the deal. The guy who started the business is a photographer but don’t hold that against him…

  44. […] Neat discussion on  A Photo Editor about portfolio website designs. Thanks to Rory for the compliment. It took me a while to realize that my photography site is NOT the place to showcase my design skills.  I’d been a designer for far longer than a photographer and it became evident over time that photography was where I wanted to take my career, so I utilized what I know of design and web development to that end. I am so instantly turned off (and in some cases head right for the browser tab ‘close’ button) by sites that take forever to load because of Flash, that resize my browser window, that have music, or even that make me move my mouse around to get from one ‘next’ button to the other.  That little button should be in the same place so I can just click click click.  And I’m not even a photo director or editor so I probably have more patience than they do. […]

  45. You know what I hate?

    Those prissy little Flash websites where you have to guess how to use the navigation to get inside.

    Its like “Hey I’m so cool that you… mere plebeian who dare surf across my great site………you must struggle and strain to work out how to get to my great images”.

    We all know APE and his colleagues have little time to spend doing some sort of Tomb Raider puzzle to get to your contact details.

    So fellow photographers:

    Let your images do the talking. Not your website designer.


  46. Hello.
    I am Michael Costuros, a passionate photographer and the founder of liveBooks.

    I usually don’t get involved in blog threads involving liveBooks because I do not want to say anything that could be construed as being motivated solely by the goal of gaining new clients.
    However, reading the comments in this blog I am compelled to comment by my desire for photographers to know what makes a website successful, (based on feedback from our clients, and your clients), as well as correct a few of the many incorrect statements contained in this thread about what liveBooks offers. It seems that many commenters who are speaking with a tone of authority have not read our product offering in quite a while, if ever.

    1. DESIGN DIVERSITY :: I believe that the vast majority of liveBooks sites are skillfully designed to uniquely support a photographers brand identity without upstaging their images. Rather than say more, I suggest that you see for yourself by looking at our Sites Of The Week picks. They are hardly “black books”.

    2. WEBSITES THAT GET YOU WORK :: What all liveBooks sites do have in common are exactly what photographer’s clients, weather they are editors, art buyers, or brides, have asked for. We surveyed a lot of your clients to learn what they want in a photographer’s website. They all say the same thing. Big images, intuitive navigation, and nothing that makes me wait or distracts them from the images. Our designers share what we have learned over the last 6 years with our clients during the design process, where the challenge is to design a site that uniquely brands them and supports their images while remaining functional enough to make their clients job easier and less frustrating. When I read Rob’s quote, I know that we are doing our job well.

    “I’ve said it before, “I love liveBooks.” They revolutionized the online portfolio. Big, vibrant photos and not much else. I’m not shillin’ for them at all and I can honestly say photographers have risen a notch in my book by switching to their product.”

    Over the last 6 years my team and I have learned one thing for sure, that is that our success depends on our clients success. I believe that the reason liveBooks enjoys the success we do is that, one, we genuinely care about photography and photographers, and two, liveBooks sites successfully meet the needs of art buyers, editors, brides, etc, which makes our clients more successful, as a result, they refer us to their friends. Last I checked over 60% of our new clients each month come for client referrals. We must be doing something right!

    Opening a New Topic :: What makes a great editSuite?
    One thing surprises me above all in this thread. Nobody has talked about how important the editing software that gives you control over the content of your site is to your site’s success. Judging any website providers product by the website design alone is like buying a house without ever going inside.
    Ask these questions to any website provider you would consider partnering with. How easy is it for me to upload new images, new portfolios and re-sequence my existing portfolios? Is it fun and intuitive? Try it and ask yourself, does this editSuite support or hinder my creative process?

    In my opinion, if updating the content on your website, especially re-sequencing your portfolios, is fun and easy, you will do it often, and your site will always be up to date and looking its best. That is what the liveBooks editSuite offers, and another reason why most of our clients are so happy with their site. To see what I am talking about, check out the liveBooks editSuite demo.

    It is my hope that you have found my comments relevant, informative and thought provoking. I will leave you with this. With a website, as with your camera gear, you get the quality you pay for.
    Thank you for considering my points of view.

    Michael Costuros
    Founder liveBooks Inc.
    My photography site :

  47. I also agree with Rob that going with a template site can greatly improve presentation.

    Although I used to be a flash guru, back when gabocorp was one of the top designers:

    However, I created my site with XHTML/CSS with a CMS backend so I could incorporate a blog. If you don’t have a web development background, you’ll save more time and frustration by going with a template based site. Putting your creative side away to concentrate on conditional javascript / ajax can be painful.

    And Michael, if you are reading this, I’d love a job with LiveBooks!


    • @Gary C,

      I remember that era. I started using Flash since v.1 I can’t believe that website is still effin cool. But flash has become bloated and annoying these days. Flash should be and needs to be transparent. But, I believe that javascript frameworks & ajax is the future. I stopped using it since 2002 and see it’s demise and its use will continue to dwindle.

  48. I am a big fan of slideshowpro – very cheap, very customizable, and a great content mgmt back end.

    I would always love any feedback on my site design…

  49. Hey folks,

    I read these things with such disbelief- complain, complain, complain and if you wonder why are you busy shooting is because you are busy complaining. You sit in front of your computer trying to knock everyone else down when you should be knocking down doors.

    Stop trying to take down LiveBooks. Stop not listening to the advice of the very people you are trying to target. Stop not taking the advice of a great consultant (Ms. Burns) and start listening. As a former Art Buyer at a MAJOR International Ad Agency, we didn’t care less whether web sites were similar – we cared about IMAGES that were going to solve the solution of our projects- we cared about seeing your work in the best possible way- no bells and whistle, for God-sake no music but we cared about the images. FACT of the matter- you are in sales- you sell your vision, talent, technique and art to sell a product or a story. So are you going to say that all commerce sites from Target, Costco, Red Envelope are all the same so therefore you won’t shop there- no? So when we were looking for a photographer it was about the images not the avenue in which to view them.

    I recommend to a lot of my clients Live Books (which for the record is not expensive- you know the old saying “you get what you pay for”) and Neon Sky- why, because they offer great sites for an affordable price. They are about the images!!!!! so if you don’t have great images- as one person said adding lipstick to a pig, then stop complaining about the people who are successful in their fields and go out to shoot!!!

    • @Suzanne Sease, I have to agree with the above…thank you Susanne for the contribution as you have always provided valuable information and insight. I am hearing lately that besides the images it is about “vision” these days. Do you agree?

  50. Yeah I got your beige REI khaki pants right here. LB sites can really be tooled to fit your needs and they load fast and dont have cheesy music (unless you want) but most importantly they get art buyers to the images in a easy way.

    My LB site is designed to go with my blog and my myspace page, the cost is not that much. Why is it that we’ll go shell out thousands on gear but get super cheep when it comes to the presentation of our images?? I don’t get that.

    A LB site can be broken down into small payments but if you’re not taking in enough business to afford a $2500.00 site then there are other options like raising your prices and firing the lame-o clients you bitch about all the time anyways.

  51. I used to use flash for my folio but eventually reverted back to good ol’ HTML – so, I guess I fall into that “HTML rules” section. There’s nothing like a smart, clean and simple design.

  52. […] Blijkbaar betalen ook heel wat fotografen voor de diensten van liveBooks: an easy, time-saving website solution that makes you look great and gets you more business. Alternatief is SlideShowPro (tip van Mixette). Voor meer betalende sites zie het overzicht bij A Photo Editor. […]

  53. I apologize if this ahs been addressed, but I constantly see people misinterpreting technology and it drives me CRaaaaZY…

    At the top of the comments there is a gross misunderstanding of the flash player.

    Flash supports several different file formats. When a JPG, TIFF, PNG, BMP, AI, PDF, ETC is displayed in the Flash Player…IT IS DISPLAYED IN THE ORIGINAL IMAGES NATIVE FORMAT. It is not recompressed unless there is a command or action to change scale, resolution, ETC. In these cases vector art will receive no detrimental effect, however lossy formats such as JPG will indeed be subject to another round of compression.

    Flash is a client side player, much the same as Java and is not a compression or file type platform. A Flash SWF is a compiled flash file that can contain and support any number of different file types.

    I hope that helps in some way,


  54. After posting some basics on Flash I read all the comments…whew.

    There are many misconceptions here and I would like to clear up and offer my 2 cents…

    First off Google is working very hard to identify Search Engine Optimization techniques for working with flash. If your flash site is dynamic a sitemap or robots follow line of code in your HTML tag and an additional file in your sites domain root will allow a search engine to gather all of the XML code you are likely using as a translation file to your images or database to be crawled. For search engines currently they are not crawling your flash ‘content’. This is HUGE and any photographer worth their salt need to understand this, evaluate solutions, and have a plan for getting around this issue. If you ever want to be on top of Google, which I promise you do, it is imperative that you identify what type of search you want to be found and pursue this. You will never be on top of Photography, but I bet with a solid plan and some patience it is relatively easy to be found on top for a search on say ‘Yellowstone Photographer’…

    Secondly if you are having image scaling issues or want to severely improve your workflow to the web, look at using Slide Show Pro with Director. It is fast provides on the fly images resizing and compression that is IMHO excellent quality at about 60 bucks US. The front end can be heavily customized or left as it is. It provides a workflow that employs a standard flash component which you can make look and behave however you would like and allows you to interface right from spotlight and soon to be aperture.

    Finally, if you don’t understand the web, HIRE SOMEONE WHO DOES! Whether your using a template, CMS blog such as Text Pattern, Flash, or HTML/JS (people can have JS turned off) a web developer will be able to give you the most bang out of whatever you would like to use.

    There are many more issues that have not been addressed above and I can only assume that is because you’re not even aware that they are issues. The main reason to use Flash in a portfolio is two fold. It is on 98% of all computers world wide, and what your portfolio looks like on your browser is exactly how it will look on all other browsers through out the world and on cell phones. Having said that, keep it simple stupid KISS!

  55. I’m currently making a site for a photographer. I would greatly appreciate input from a photo editor or someone who is knowledgeable of a typical photo editor’s system and browsing behavior. Here’s the issue: what resolution should be supported, 1024 or 1280? My conservative way would be to support 1024, but he wants big “splashy images” and would gladly move it up to 1280. According to him, “it’s about the images”, and I will not disagree. Here are a few questions that come to mind. 1) What is a average resolution a photo editor works with? 2) How much work is done on laptops? 3) Do photo editors prefer to work with their browser window open to full screen, or do they prefer to dual browse?

    Your comments are appreciated!

    Thank you,


  56. Has anyone here had any experience with The feel seems very similar to livebooks but at a fraction of the price. Not the best choice perhaps, but maybe an alternative for those of us on a tighter budget who are still looking for a good interface and user experience.

  57. Regarding the web site issue, here are my thoughts.

    As a photo editor of multiple magazines, I look at photographers’ web sites every day. My pet peeves are intro movies, music, user-unfriendly navigation, not updating sites literally for years, photos that take seemingly forever to load, and not listing your geographical location. I’m constantly assigning shoots around the country, and I need to know where you are! To that end, I often look for photographers on PDN’s PhotoServe and ASMP’s Find a Photographer portals but pursue it only if there’s a web site listed. And on any site, I obviously have to see examples of the type of work I need to assign.

    On the Flickr issue, if you want to use it in addition to your own web site, fine, but I wouldn’t have it as your primary site. Professionals need to have a more distinctive presence.

    When you promote yourself, go to the effort to find out what type of photography a company uses so you aren’t sending fashion promos or web links to photo editors who assign only editorial portraits, for example. Your promo should include your web link, and be sure it’s active. If I like the promo, I’ll look up the web site and bookmark it.

    Good luck!

  58. Why should not I look through professional photographers sites for inspiration?

  59. @Paul McEvoy: is very much alive.

    To contribute to the discussion: we choose to work with Flash galleries for, because it makes it very easy to embed your work in to any website (flash is easier to embed than html), even a custom website. People are very creative with this, see those websites for example:

    Our portfolio pages are basic. The aim is to use them more as a ‘tool’; you can use it as your portfolio website, or when you’re working on a new website as a temporary solution, or to show selections of your work beside your website:

    It is also possible to link to the individual galleries directly, to show a selection of your work to a potential client, or gallery:
    (Great red filter photography by the way)


  60. OK. Enough about which website….
    let’s talk about contact management and database management programs…..oh and don’t forget invoice & accounting…what are some of your solutions?

  61. I need a website on the cheap. My daughter’s a web designer; she says html is better, and suggests iweb for a fast, easy solution. Nobody here has mentioned it, I am clueless, what do y’all think? I’m a fine art photog. with no plans to do anything commercial; I just need people to be able to see my work. I want something simple, clean, elegant. Help, por favor!

  62. Interesting post and comments! Very useful.

    If you like flash to display images and galleries, I think the best option for flash templates is to “wrap” them within a robust content manager like WordPress. I do that frequently for my clients and their search ranking and traffic increases dramatically. Now matter how well someone works to “optimize” flash it never provides good results SEO compared to non-flash solutions. And yet the flash galleries are very appealing. So the best option is to combine both and replace the typical flash splash page and info pages with a blogsite.

    Thanks again for a great post,

  63. First, thank you Rob for an awesome site… very helpful for an upcoming photographer like myself.

    I have been contemplating several of the sites suggested here for my website portfolio, but was wondering if Flash will be practically obsolete in a couple years. The reason is that Microsoft Silverlight is supposed to replace Flash. One of my close friends is a web designer and he practically always uses Silverlight rather than Flash. What do you all think? I really love Flash but I’m thinking Silverlight might be better. The links about Silverlight are below if you are unfamiliar with it:

    Thank you for your feedback everyone,

    • @Brett G,

      A three-words answer: Not Gonna Happen.

      Silverlight is a proprietary solution (like Adobe Flash) and requires a plug-in. People (and I mean professional web developers) who despised Flash will not view Silverlight in any better light (pardon the pun). And coming from Microsoft, which for many members of the public is the IT equivalent of the Death Star, I dare say that Silverlight will have not even get close to the market penetration that Flash currently enjoys.

      Oh, right, this is 2010, not 2008: what I was ‘predicting’ in the previous paragraph has already happened. Or NOT happened, if you were expecting Silverlight to succeed.

      All the best,

  64. is a great template-based website to add to the list. It’s very similar to Livebooks, but much more affordable and also supports multimedia.

  65. Rob

    Add Nadine Brown of Brand Envy/Lost-Luggage to your list.

    She redid my site and is part of the team that branded the new Geographic Assignment division site/portfolios.

    I am very pleased with the designs and update she proposed for me plus bringing everything up to date and away from the dreaded Trajan.

    Good person to work with.

  66. Flash looks great….except it can be very slow. I like livebooks also but I have never had the patience to sit through a full site. It takes a while, but looks great. Html still seems to be the way to go, if you go with flash, make sure it moves quickly.

  67. I’m looking for a template that combines both a photography portfolio and video clips. I’m a photographer/cinematographer so I have both a stills portfolio and various demo reels. I couple of my criteria is easy to use, clean and professional looking, and hopefully not too expensive.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

  68. In the DIY you may want to consider LRB Portfolio. It is a website within a gallery for Lightroom and for the price(10 euros) it cannot be beat. Very strong on SEO, large image display and easy to update and maintain. I’m into clean and simple so it works for me. Fortunately it seems to be a constant work-in-progress so updates happen and they are free. NFI.

  69. My portfolio website isn’t up yet but the website itself is finished and ready to use. I think it looks great and simple.

    To recover some of the investment I am re-selling my own website for a low price.

    See for yourself here:

  70. Beautiful site,

  71. It’s a difficult thing to find a website template or company to design your website. I was with livebooks for years and just got bored with the box within a box (the computer screen) and extensivie scrolling. I also didn’t want to keep paying for little things like font changes or email links much less pay for adding portfolios.

    I found foliolink, they have lot of template options and there was one that was nearly perfect for me. I went with them a month ago. You can just use the templates off the shelf and tweak the the XML code if you want to.

    I got into the code which I knew nothing about and in 10 days my site was up and it looks almost exactly how I wanted for a very low price. The code is difficult at first, but once you learn a little about how it works, it’s very easy. I went with the Nairobi II template.

    The result. My agents, my clients and potential clients and friends love it. The response has been overwhelming.

    I imagine, I’ll get tired of how it looks and change to a different template and it will look new to me and to people who view my work. We live in a world where change is normal. Also in this business change is an expectation.

  72. I used this blog as a great tool to choose a new web site company. I decided to go with a photoflio. I think their product is stupendous. price, features, interface, support. its fantastic. ill have my new site up soon, and dont regret going with them at all.

  73. Another option for easy to use flash, flash and html, and blogsite (wordpress flash site hybrid sites) is

  74. Google keyword tool provides good suggestions for getting keywords for your website!

  75. digitaltechparis

    – Big images + simple navigation + clean layouts designed with photo buyers.
    – Great SEO.
    – Optional PhotoShelter customization.
    – WordPress blog installation.
    – HTML email design.
    – One-time payment & personal customer support

  76. Here is another portfolio service for consideration:

    Key features:
    – Flash website with fullscreen mode & deep-linking
    – SEO optimized HTML alternate
    – iPhone alternate
    – Online Content Management System

    CMS features:
    – Drag & drop image/page sorting
    – Visual font selection
    – Customizable font-size
    – Color selection via color picker
    – Logo upload
    – Google Analytics integration

  77. I really like

    not sure if you’ve checked em out, but they seem to be fairly popular and are always coming up with fresh and new ideas for aiding their clients.

  78. Another option for easy to use flash, flash and html, and blogsite (wordpress flash site hybrid sites) is

  79. Hello! I’m currently exploring a switch to either LiveBooks or PhotoBiz.

    I feel like PhotoBiz has more customization options, and I actually prefer PhotoBiz’s templates (when stripped down and simplified using custom colors… The default color schemes, to my eye, distract a bit from the photos themselves). Also, PhotoBiz has a really nice proofing system, to get that with Livebooks you’d have to add Pictage, so it ends up getting pretty expensive.

    Anyway, my big question is… Does having a LiveBooks site give you any kind of a leg up simply by virtue of BEING a LiveBooks site? The article says, “photographers have risen a notch in my book by switching to their product.”

    How much of a notch is that? ;-)

    Also, I LOVE, unfortunately I don’t have the $1000 for the setup fee to get it up and running! That would probably be my first choice if money weren’t an issue.

    Thoughts? Thanks!


  80. Nice page, thank you. I needed to find Indexhibit, and I couldn’t remember the name – and then check what else was similar.

  81. What do you think about photoshelter? It´s a good tool for sell pictures?


  82. Verry nice portfolio sites. I’m going to use them for inspiration.

  83. What’s the best website for serious photographers to share their portfolio?…

    I think there’s a distinction to be made between photo-sharing websites (i.e. Flickr) and dedicated portfolio websites (i.e. your personal/professional site). If you’re looking for recommendations on template solutions for the latter – Rob Haggart ha…

  84. I might also recommend Stacey for the “Free designs or DIY pool”.

    IMO, it’s much more intuitive than IndexExhibit and highly customizable with CSS/HTML. There are many good examples on their site.

  85. Great information, nice for sharing this!

  86. Hi,

    I was just on your website: (Google search
    “website design”) thought you may be interested in Association of
    web design professionals. A global search directory for web professionals
    such as yourselves.

    We are at:
    Sorry if this not a convenient time.

    kind regards

    Rob Cullen

  87. Great post! Really valuable information, good examples and arguments. I would also suggest ReadyPhotoSite which provides flash photography cms websites for photographers. Check from

  88. Some very inspirational websites to use there. I agree with you that a portfolio site is the most important thing.

  89. Thanks for sharing this informative piece.This is really helpful.

  90. To add to this discsuuion, here’s a new player thats offering a great service:

    Pixpa – is an online service that enables photographers, artists and designers to showcase, sell and share their work with style and simplicity. Pixpa helps creative professionals create their personalized and professional web presence easily and cost-effectively.

    Why Pixpa ? Here are the top 5 reasons:
    Full creative control – Choose from tons of preset designs or create custom design styles. Switch designs and styles anytime.
    Flexibility – Create photo and video galleries, slideshows or info pages, sell works, enable client proofing. Do more!
    Awesome social media integration – Publish galleries directly on Facebook + Share and promote works on social media sites
    Embed and include – Embed widgets, web pages or external assets within your website.
    Honest Pricing. No setup fees. All features included.

  91. Thanks Impressive & Comprehensive collection; also thanks Gary for adding another tool to the list.

  92. Excellent website and thanks for the links!

    Regards From Canada’s Far East!

  93. Hi there, i’m a professional dancer. i’d like to make a showreel with regard to my promotions. I also desire to use some animation. Can someone suggest me the best animation studio, but definitely not very expensive? I’m here for 3 months for a tour.

  94. haha ang panget fake epick fail

  95. A few reasons for NOT using flash.

    EVERY art director I know has an iphone/ipad, which do not support flash. Really you want to make it as easy as possible for people to view your work on a whim where ever they are. Also Google can’t read flash so won’t be able to turn out your images in a search or rate it. These alone are enough for me to avoid flash like the plague! Also with HTML5 you will be able to do everything that flash does without any of the negatives. Flash in my opinion is on its way out. You could build a flash website plus an HTML site to avoid these problems but you have to ask yourself, are you a photographer or a web-designer? Personally the less time i’m messing about with my site the better, and without relying on people have the right plug-ins etc. I want my site clean, simple, easy to use, quick to update and available to everyone on every device.

    Also I don’t believe flash makes a notable difference to anything but the ability to animate your website, which for me don’t out weigh the negatives.

    • Try Creative Motion Design. All of their flash designs come with iPAD and iPHONE sites incuded in the price. And they now have some great looking HTML templates that look and feel like flash site!

  96. Rob,
    First of all I would like to say thank you for being here. I remember the late 80s’ and the early 90s while I was at SVA… info like you have here was hard to come by .. even WITH the resources I had at SVA. For this I thank you.
    I don’t want to hijack this thread by any means… I’m working on my new website, and I came across this post.. I agree with you. In fact my site IS a WordPress template ( for SEO benefits) with significant modifications…. it implements FLASH galleries that actually convert to html seamlessly on iPad/phone/mobile devices.
    I’ve got the best of both worlds and will share with everyone in a few short days. However… .. EMAIL…. what do people prefer… a LINK to email OR a EMAIL FORM? I’m interested in everyone’s opinion… and while this wasn’t the subject of the post.. I thought it may be of interest to those here reading…. I do hope.

    Cheers everyone!

  97. Great blog and post, i think a lot of will change with HTLML 5, th flash problem is than already solved in the browser.

  98. Great info thank you so much!! =)

  99. One company missed of the list about is Creative Motion Design. All of their flash designs come with iPAD and iPHONE sites incuded in the price. And they have recently started releasing so great looking HTML templates that look and feel like flash site!

  100. i’m looking for a website to print a 4kb pic – any reccommendations?

  101. Great list Rob, your blog is always a fantasti resource.

  102. Zion started or rather had placed their first stepping stone with Web Application Development. Years of experience and unmatched quality framework has rewarded us with popular clients around the globe. Zion with its exceptional clientele for application development in Gujarat,( India ).
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  103. Wow, great information you have provided! I will use some of this in my marketing. Thank you! I’m a quinceaneras photographer in the San Francisco bay area.

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