It's interesting how sometimes things just seem to come together for you.
In accumulating what I feel are the best services I can use, 3 great companies that I am either already a client of or intended to be a customer of, are working together to create an awesome solution for photographers. The companies involved are Showit Sites, Smugmug, and Bay Photo Lab.
I already use Showit Sites because I love their look, feel, and ease of use. David J. has yet another great software product here. If it wasn't for Showit Sites, Showit web, and especially his OSP forum, I don't know where I'd be in the photography world these days.
I have also been using Smugmug for that past two years primarily because I love their interface, but I never thought this would end up being a full-scale order fulfillment solution for me. I intended to use Pictage for this purpose when money & jobs were more abundant for me. While Pictage now offers a much more affordable solution for folks like me and may still be a better choice for some people, I was uncomfortable with their reputation for poor service & the spamming of your clients. While they apparently have addressed these issues and have some advantages over Smugmug, they are still a corporate entity that answers to stock holders first. While I have no issue with corporations at all, I always favor the underdog, especially when they are privately owned by people who genuinely care about their chosen specialty and their community of customers. Smugmug was already known for this and is running at maximum warp into building an even better resource for the professional wedding & portrait photographer community with their latest offering: Smugmug Pro.
Smugmug Pro offers the ability to integrate directly with Bay Photo Lab (yet another great, small company with a passion for their business and their customers!) and the professional features and offerings seem to be growing on a weekly basis. I was sold on SmugMug Pro based on three items: Printing is offered through Bay Photo Lab, unlimited storage! And the eventual ability of bay Photo to work seamlessly with Excel Picture frames to design & deliver orders online in one stop. Everything else they offer is gravy. As an added bonus, they are building on their community by starting SMUGS, a monthly regional meeting of fellow SmugMug users to meet, network & discuss business issues. I went to their 1st Southern California meeting in Hollywood last night at Robert Evans’ Studio in Hollywood. It was great to hear David J. speak about Showit’s new features and integration with Smugmug and Jeff Jochum & Don MacAskil of Smugmug share their stories & take questions. This was also a great meeting & networking opportunity in which I got to meet Jasmine Star, Dane Sanders, Robert Evans and also see some other new friends from the recent [b] school meetings such as Regis Chen, Ryel Hendrickson and Michelle Yam (who I shared a ride with and provided excellent company!...her site is coming soon. ;-)).
Jasmine Star will be involved with hosting Smug meetings in Orange County and so I have that to look forward to next month. To me, this is the most exciting thing going on in the photographic community these days and I am so glad to see these small companies doing so well and forming this awesome symbiotic relationship with each other.
Thanks to all who spoke at this meeting, to Robert Evans for opening his studio for this event.