A few years ago, I was looking for a brand new way website. As a geek, I opted to create something myself. With the geniuses at Mediaworqs we created an FTP based system, where an FTP Publisher in Lightroom created gallery on my server. Taking captions and titles from EXIF data, it was a robust system that worked great. Only, it wasn’t too responsive. So instead of figuring out how to make it work, I turned to find another solution.
That solution was Photoshelter. With nice templates, it was a robust way of showing images. However, some small features were missing, like selecting which images to show on the homescreen. In the end it was too limiting, despite having a great Lightroom plugin.
Enter Smugmug. The biggest rival of photo shelter, it offers a whole lot of tweakability, but it’s another system that is not just built at showcasing photos, but to selling them. A whole lot of work was needed to tweak the site so it just shows content instead of trying to sell it. It’s a whole different world than how I work. It’s not all bad, they have a great app that’s great for showing content offline, and their Lightroom plugin also works great. But all those boundaries you encounter makes things quite frustrating. Add the whole 90’s approach of their back-end and the aggressiveness of adding their branding to your content. Even mails coming in from my webform form have their branding and disclaimers. That’s not how I like to work, so I wanted to get out.
So my eyes wandered to Adobe Portfolio.
A clean system, aimed at artists and photographers, it can be a feel a tad limiting, but their clean approach works and feels great. It has integrations with Behance and Lightroom, and great typography (coming straight from Typekit).
You can tell that this approach is more like Squarespace, that offers a focussed view on showcasing your content in a beautiful way instead of trying to do offer everything and the kitchen sync.
However, it’s not all clear sailing. It’s still a system that you plug your content in. I can’t add custom scripts like Facebook Like buttons or a Zendesk support widget. Updating a single gallery takes thirteen clicks and around three minutes to get it back in the order you want! You see, because Portfolio has a direct connection to Lightroom instead of a Publish Service like Smugmug, it doesn’t know when you’re done tweaking your images, so it asks you to reset the online gallery.
An understandable way of thinking, were it not that it also resets any orderings you had. (I prefer to have everything from new to old, which is logical as a photographer). So, logging on on my site, followed by those thirteen clicks is a whole lot more than pressing one Publish button inside of Lightroom, and knowing everything will be as I want it to be.
If there’s a major flaw with Adobe Portfolio, this is it. If you want to update more than one gallery, you spent more time clicking around to get it online than actually editing the damn photo itself. To be fair, Adobe has said they are working on streamlining this, with just the updates being pushed/pulled from Lightroom, but “it’s on the backlog”.
Another missing item, and what is on the top of the Lightroom & Portfolio users is synced captions. For years we’ve diligently added captions, titles and more information to our photos, but Portfolio doesn’t read these. When asked, Adobe was “certain it was going to be put on the roadmap soon”.
So, why would I leave a flawed system to a new system that isn’t perfect either?
It’s all about what works, and how you feel with it. Adobe Portfolio is a rather new service, that is built by the same company as the software where my photos reside. It’s built on new web technologies, comes with a whole responsive view. It’s easy to use, and breathes freshness and openness. Adobe has been open about their future plans, and it looks bright. And lets not forget this very important nugget, it’s already included into my Creative Cloud subscription!
So for me, Adobe Portfolio is the new way to go.
You can find my site at www.krisvandesande.be