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03/30/2014 10:59:15 AM · #1
My annual Zenfolio contract is coming due, and each year I like to check out what's out there as alternatives--including self hosting as an option. Not that I am unhappy with Zenfolio...things are pretty good (though their last software upgrade broke a few things for me that I've had to work around). But there are a few things I'd like to have...and I wanted to see if any had me covered.

The LR/Zenfolio publish service (via Jeffry Friedl's plugin) is the cat's meow when it works. Unfortunately, it doesn't completely cover my site. I can't get existing galleries to sync, so most of my stuff isn't covered unless I start over. (And I've lost sync before, so no guarantees there either.) And honestly, I don't find the hierarchical management of galleries too manageable through that interface.

What I'd really like is to be able to have a local folder tree to mimic my gallery structure on an online service, and use automatic FTP sync software like Goodsync to keep them synchronized. Then I could publish to a local folder (or just export), and management of files and browsing could be done either locally or online.

I also don't want to spend much more than I'm already spending on Zenfolio.

Most of the other features of Zen are fine. They do charge a bit too much shipping for people who order small prints.

Actually, right now I'm looking at a pretty nice one that's open source and seems to have a lot of plugin support...Piwigo. Anyone use that? Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to meet my FTP requirement, but it looks otherwise pretty promising as a self-hosting option. Here's an example of a Piwigo website...someone else's I found as one of their examples... //www.sichr.net/index.php?/categories another ... //demo1.piwigo.com/

(If you want to try your own gallery, piwigo.com gives you a free 1 month, no obligation trial...saves you the trouble of installing things just to test it out. That's what I'm using right now to play.)

Anyway, happy to hear ideas and thoughts from people. I have until April 9th to replace or renew!

Message edited by author 2014-03-30 11:02:24.
01/03/2015 11:38:02 AM · #2
Ok, I didn't make any moves away from Zenfolio last year, but it's time to look again! I've been inspired not only by the price hike at Zen, but also by the fact that when I went to grab a copy of my website files from Zenfolio, using the Zenfolio Downloader, it's been a pain in the rear--very slow downloading, and then it hangs, and you have to start over (and then I've been doing it in pieces and merging, which is time consuming). And since LR doesn't seem to keep a "good" copy of what's been published up there, the Zen downloader is the only way you can grab your site structure if you did ever want to move it.

Last year, I got pretty close to what I wanted in Piwigo, so I'm going to try again. There's actually a Perl script for Piwigo which does just what I asked for...you make a local file tree with photos, and it syncs it up to Piwigo, only uploading new and changed files. And there's a Piwogo lightroom publish service as well.

The end-user interface is pretty close to Zen...in some ways better, but not as complete, and not "quite as professional" unfortunately.

Incidentally, I did a trial of Smugmug again, since it looked like they had really improved the interface and modernized it, but I had a lot of problems with it just not working properly. Like what's with the watermarks on the index of photos? //nrshapiro.smugmug.com/ (this will only be there until my trial expires, which is soon I think)

I'll post more of my experience as I move forward here....hope others join in.
01/04/2015 11:35:08 AM · #3
Hello Neil, your post did bring back the interest to have my own Web photo site so I did some research on the various alternatives available.

I first had a look at Zenfolio and I also did check Piwigo, Smugmug, Wix and a few others… finally I opened a trial account with Zenfolio. For me, it seems to be the best one for what I want. The look of the sites created with Piwigo doesn’t seem to look as professional as the ones created with Zen.

For now I’m just playing with it to test the various functions but I will most probably upgrade to the Premium account. Once my trial period is over.
01/04/2015 02:10:14 PM · #4
Hi Neil
I too have gone with Zenfolio. I don't want to have to do the printing/framing so I have linked the Zenfolio account with a printer who does all that. I just want to sit back and watch the money roll in. (Fat chance)
01/04/2015 10:20:41 PM · #5
Not sure how good you are with wordpress but they do have many good templates. I have my website in wordpress along with all my client's website in wordpress and it takes me about 10-15 minutes to put up the site with content.
01/05/2015 03:14:02 PM · #6
Originally posted by NewtoNikon:

Hi Neil
I too have gone with Zenfolio. I don't want to have to do the printing/framing so I have linked the Zenfolio account with a printer who does all that. I just want to sit back and watch the money roll in. (Fat chance)


Do you mean a printer other than the default Zenfolio printers (one of which at least is MPIX)?
01/05/2015 03:22:45 PM · #7
Originally posted by pgirish007:

Not sure how good you are with wordpress but they do have many good templates. I have my website in wordpress along with all my client's website in wordpress and it takes me about 10-15 minutes to put up the site with content.


I actually purchased a gallery template recently at a holiday sale...I've done a fair number of wordpress sites now, so I'll have to give it a try after I'm done with Piwigo.

But after spending a fair amount of time this weekend playing with Piwigo to test with my personal site (which is now on Zenfolio), I did get it mostly up to speed. With full print size images, it seemed slow on the Piwigo.com site, so I'm moving it over to my own host and see if that's any better. But of course, part of it would be addressed if I didn't use full size images--currently, there's no option to set up online ordering of prints for Piwigo like with Zenfolio...so full size isn't necessary. Though it may be I didn't figure that out yet!

Once you get over the "hard core customizations" (meaning banner and tweaks that require CSS), Piwigo is pretty nice. Definitely not as slick as Zenfolio, and that translates to not as professional, but for a personal site, it looks like an option.

My Zenfolio site hosts my professional photographs (items for sale) and some personal galleries. It was a pain on Zenfolio to differentiate them, and seems to be a pain to keep them that way (right now it seems like I have to keep specifying the alternative template for each new gallery, rather than it inheriting it). So I'm contemplating splitting the two up for good.

Meanwhile, it gives me more experience with Piwigo so maybe I'll figure out how to make a total switch...which would save money.

As I mentioned, right now the BEST feature of Piwigo is syncing with my local photo tree. And of course, it's easy to change themes, and getting easier to configure as I learn more. (Definitely not as easy as Zenfolio though.)

12/23/2017 03:00:51 PM · #8
Two years on since my last post, I still have my Zenfolio site. But I'm looking to change. #1 reason is that they are raising my rate significantly this coming April. That's how long I have to decide.

So I've been continuing to try alternatives. I'm hoping others will chime in here with their experiences.

I'd love to find something self hosted, since I pay for a server anyway for my web development work.

Piwigo continues to be a useable alternative for personal work. I just don't think it looks professional enough for a pro or art site. I have my personal family photos hosted on Piwigo at //shapiroworld.com if you want to have a look see.

I just did a trial of smugmug to see if that's a good alternative, and while it's improved markedly since I was a member, I didn't find it very usable and didn't like the result. It is a bit cheaper than Zen after my price increase, but not much.

What I like best so far interface wise is another service: pixieset Here's my test gallery. Pixieset is free, for up to 3GB of photos, and $96 for up to 10GB, but if you plan to host a large number of photos there, it's more expensive then Zen or Smug. I have a lot more currently on Zen, but I could likely trim that (though I'm not sure to 10GB if I'm hosting print size images). Here's my test pixieset gallery: https://neilrshapiro.pixieset.com

Is anyone using a wordpress based portfolio gallery? This one isn't cheap, but it's cheaper than the online services at $99 to purchase the wordpress plugin. Also, there's a lightroom publish module for it. Here's the demo page: https://enviragallery.com/demo/ (not my demo)

Hopefully, others will chime in here with their experiences! I just need to decide before April.

Message edited by author 2017-12-23 15:01:11.
12/23/2017 06:57:17 PM · #9
From my view, if I am going with A company and I start managing site under there umbrella, it becomes very hard to move to another as it really becomes very hard to download all photographs and upload again and setup again to the new server/company. That was the reason I said earlier wordpress as you own the hosting account, you have all tech details underneath. All my sites are on wordpress and so far all going well.

my official site

My personal portfolio

AND my technical resume :)

01/04/2018 10:58:47 AM · #10
I renew Zenfolio (yearly) in September.

the plugins for LR change too much every year to be reliable. mostly, because ZF isn't doing it themselves, they're making the userbase create something. SO... I'm down to 5 months, to figure out WHAT to change to, and make the change.

I'd LOVE to see Wordpress plugins, (preferably free, but if I can save the zenfolio budget, I have some funds to work with) that make Galleries less coding. I'd LOVE to see the ability to do password protected galleries for sensitive images, and I'd love to see the ability to at least generate a print order, even if there's a manual step by me involved in processing it. Any suggestions?
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