Redesign done ahead of schedule! (and a review & plug for Photocrati)

Well, last Saturday rolled around and I had a decision to make–head for the eastern sierras for a marathon day of shooting at Owens Lake for my documentary project, or dive in to the upgrades and redesign my site was so desperately in need of.  Since I was still trying to catch up on sleep from my Utah/Arizona trip the previous weekend, I opted to plant myself in front of the computer and get to work and save the marathon shooting trip for a couple of weeks from now.

I use Photocrati’s excellent WordPress-based premium templates for photographers, and had been waiting to upgrade to their newest version.  I considered switching to different software just to change things up–there are several options out there to choose from–and ultimately decided to stick with Photocrati (and am so glad I did).  Here’s why: everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, is completely integrated in the most recent version of the software, and it’s 100 percent WordPress-based (which means it’s easy to manage and customize).  My problem with other software options were that nobody else offered everything–blog, galleries and e-commerce options–integrated in a way that could be completely contained on a single domain.  And many of the other programs also charge an additional monthly fee for use of their e-commerce tools–not Photocrati (a bargain at $79, all in).

The newest version of Photocrati includes dramatically improved and fully integrated galleries; no more plugins to deal with, which invariably brought with them the occasional glitch.  It’s the most headache-free gallery setup I’ve tried to date, and the display options are great, too (and a biggie for me is how well the new galleries handle vertical images).  They’ve also integrated–for free, I might add–an e-commerce option that sets up easily and works beautifully.  Previously, if you wanted to buy any of my prints you had to email me for a price quote, which is more of a hassle than I care to subject potential customers to.  Now you can go to the “Buy” page, choose whatever you want, and pay conveniently through PayPal.

The templates themselves are attractive, cleanly designed, and almost endlessly customizable.  The customization possibilities are characteristic of WordPress templates, and one of the reasons I really like some of the premium themes out there.  Surprisingly, one of the roadblocks I came up against over and over when looking at other software options was the inability to incorporate my blog–a big dealbreaker for me.  With Photocrati, I get all the benefits of a WordPress-based blog and I’m not stuck hosting it at a different domain.  If you’re shopping for software for your photography site, I highly recommend Photocrati.  They also donate a portion of the proceeds from software sales to the Photocrati Fund, which provides grants for photographers working on socially significant documentary projects, so the money you spend with them also helps fund a good cause.

Now that the redesign is all finished, I’ve been able to add several new images to my galleries from this year’s photo treks.  One of the shots I really like is this one of Delicate Arch in Arches National Park; I like it because it’s a personal reminder that sometimes the most interesting light we get is not necessarily the light we were hoping for when we ventured out to take a particular picture.

I’d long been looking forward to visiting this very famous arch, and hoped to catch it with some spectacular sunset color.  There was an impressive sunset with lots of brilliantly lit clouds–well to the west of the arch, and positioned in such a way that I wasn’t going to be able to include any of that drama in my shot of the arch.  What I did get, however, was an intensely illuminated arch with a dark and stormy sky behind it, creating a level of drama and contrast I had no way of expecting.  These occasions are small object lessons for me as a photographer, reminding me to keep an open mind and always watch for unexpected surprises in the light.

I’ll be off to Yosemite this weekend to check out the dogwood blossoms, raging waterfalls and the green lushness that makes spring in Yosemite Valley such a beautiful thing to behold–and to be ready for whatever surprises the light brings me.