Photographs speak for themselves; they capture our memories, share our passions, and demonstrate our skills. So how can we best showcase our digital world of photos?
The first thing to consider is what level of photographic web hosting we are going to need. Well, what type of photographer are you?
If you just want to share your trip to Washington, DC or show off your German shepherd playing Frisbee, there is a free solution. There are many social networking sites to choose from to host your photos, making it easy for your friends and family to enjoy the photos without having to send everyone large email attachments. The sites are generally easy to navigate, and you can build your own site almost instantly by choosing your favorite photos and uploading them to a photo gallery. Free hosting, however isn’t always reliable, and you have to append your domain name to the main name of the free web hosting site. Also, be prepared for unwanted advertisements and pop ups, which free hosts use to offset their own costs. You will be limited in terms of features, you may be limited in the number of visitors allowed to view your photos, and may will be limited to the number of pages you can have. It’s also possible someone can steal your images, so if you don’t have a lot of visits, and you limit the number of photos you show, then the free site is an easy solution.
If you’re a bit more serious, and want something a little better, but still very inexpensive, you can consider a “shared hosting plan” with a guaranteed 99.9% uptime and as a bare minimum. The website owner can choose his or her own domain name, but cannot always configure their website as they’d like it. Depending on the hosting service, different packages will include bandwidth, speed, up-time, disk space, technical support, access, and applications which include the most popular scripting languages. Again depending on the hosting service, features included such as PHP, FTP, SSI, Perl, SSH, MySQL, and SSL are used to accomplish different tasks. Database maintenance and report processing may be made available. Using a one click installer, you can install the open source gallery software to produce certain types of dynamic web pages. The biggest problem with shared hosting is if one website is flagged as a bad site, all the websites get the same status since all are sharing the same IP address.
Depending on your own requirements, you will need to ask your web host if you can have 100, 500, or 1000 photos. Keep in mind you want a hosting service where you will not run out of disk space or bandwidth and the site will allow you to grow. The more visits you have, the more bandwidth you will require.
For the more serious minded or professional photographer, your website is very important to both showcasing your work and expanding your client base. Owners have the choice of dedicated web hosting, virtual private server hosting, managed or reseller hosting. As a photographer, you will want to be spending your time on your craft, and ideally you will want your site to be maintained to maximize the beauty of your photographs for both appreciation and sale. So what should you look for in a good professional photograph web hosting company? Expanding photography businesses are heavy web page users because they have multiple files to upload, for instance client images where clients get to proof their photos, so finding a great web host is not the place to cut corners when your business highly relies on an optimum running website. Here are some suggestions:
- The site should give a great appearance to display your photographs.
- You should be able to have your own domain name.
- Your business should be able to grow and have as many images as you want.
- You should have control to upload images as well as be able to edit your site.
- The administrative system should be user friendly.
- There should be no additional software required.
- PayPal accessibility and flexible shopping cart should be integrated for online sales.
- Referencing and personalized search functions using tags and keywords should be available.
- There should be rapid image loading and navigation.
- You should be able to store full-sized files with no need to resize.
The best web hosting for professionals is not necessarily the most expensive, but you do need to be educated. Unlimited storage space and bandwidth will allow you to store as many photographs as you want, and the downloading process will be optimized. You can have an unlimited number of domains which will allow you to host multiple photography websites using only one main account.
Quality hosting sites have “unlimited” storage and downloads. Be wary of services that limit the number of files that can be uploaded to the server. Others limit other resources, while some will allow you all the bandwidth and storage you want, but will limit the CPU usage; in reality your potential traffic is limited. Read the fine print. Also consider the support offered by web hosting companies. Support is very important for new web gallery owners and experienced photography technical support should be a priority. It will help you to build your website quicker, save you a lot of time, and avoid expensive web development fees if you can get answers.
Show the world your photos, but show them with the highest fidelity for everyone to appreciate and enjoy.