PBase – a poor photographer’s website that’s awesome

pbase

I’ve been working on my website for way too long. Making websites is not something that excites me very much, at least not for more than an hour or two. It’d be great to have the whole thing done for you with a magical press of a button.

Well PBase is almost, kinda like having it done with a press of a button. I’ve been using it for about three years now and have to say that it’s one of the most useful, best value-for-money products out there for photographers.

PBase is not perfect, but for $23 a year (for the basic account) it, in my opinion trumps everything else out there. For those who don’t know; what exactly is PBase? It’s something between Flickr and SmugMug. But I prefer it over the two for seriously presenting my photos. Flickr’s interface is not an ideal platform for making your images look their best, yeah there are ways to do it, but who really cares enough to go to the effort? It’s also got this air of amateurism about it. All those little badges and group invitations seem so much like a thing for teenagers. SmugMug’s interface is a little better but that crap that pops up on the images is very annoying and seriously; what’s with the name?

PBase’s interface is as simple as it gets and with some basic knowledge of CSS you can customize the look of your galleries beyond that in the preset templates. You are of course rather limited to what you can do, but there’s enough for a simple, elegant presentation of images, without adds, badges or pop-up icons.

I would not feel right sending an editor from a serious magazine/organisation to my Flickr account (which I do have). If I get annoyed navigating through it, an editor may not even bother. As far as PBase goes, I send my editor at Getty Images there all the time, to make selections from my submissions. He doesn’t have to navigate through all the nonsense to get to the photos and the whole experience is pretty convenient. Same goes for magazine editors. I create a gallery, upload a submission and email the editor.

PBase is also a community. Not anywhere nearly as large as Flickr’s but a community nevertheless. For professionals in the early stages of their career an important point of being part of a community is to get your name out there, perhaps even sell an image or two. I’ve had some success with that on PBase, none with Flickr. Sure I’ve had countless badges and hundreds of people adding certain images to their favourites list, but in the real world; who gives a shit? There are also many people sending me Flickrmail and asking for freebies, it just seems that Flickr can be as annoying as it can be useful.

I’ve sorta revamped my PBase galleries to work as an extension of my website. With the help of my IT genius father I customised the look a bit (but it’s nothing hard really). I also got rid of all the older stuff, put some of the more relevant work on there and sorted it in groups. I’m still working on the whole thing, but you’re all welcome to HAVE A LOOK.

So the verdict is – PBase is awesome. If I didn’t have a website, I may have opted for Photoshelter’s offerings, you get some great options, but the price of those is in the hundreds. If you’re looking for an easy, cheap way to get your images online, look no further. If you’re looking for a place to which you can quickly upload images from anywhere in the world to show them to clients, editors in a simple professional manner – PBase is great.

Well, they’re not paying me to advertise them and you all get the point.

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15 Responses to “PBase – a poor photographer’s website that’s awesome”

  1. Joe Says:

    PBase seems nice, some photog friends use it, but yes you have to pay to get some of the useful features…

    I am liking Picasa Web, something that Google made and works well with an on-computer sorting & uploading software called Picasa that’s free. A lot more flexible and easy to navigate than Flickr, I reckon.

    But yeah, thanks for peek into PBase!

  2. Mitchell Says:

    Hi Joe, thanks for your input. Yeah, you have to pay, but just the basic fee and quite frankly, US$23 is a joke for what you can make of PBase. I checked out the Picasa thing, it is more flexible than Flickr, perhaps, but it still seems like you can’t do anything with the interface/look of the page.

  3. Ankur Says:

    Hi Mitchell,

    PBase looks like a great option for USD23. However, I do not prefer rightclick save feature which allows anyone to download your photos. How do you counter that – do you keep the resolution low, etc.

    Thanks for your time and for the PBase review.

  4. Mitchell Says:

    Ankur, I did consider the right click option matter, but in reality it is not a big deal. I do keep only low-res images in the ‘galleries’ accessible to the public, to get to the hi-res images there’s a password, which will only be given to relevant people – clients, editors etc.

    On my own website I thought about getting rid of the right-click option, but then I remembered how at times editors liked to ‘pull’ images off my website and send them to me for reference, I didn’t want to create an inconvenience by removing that option. Also if somebody does want to steal your image they can, easily, even without the right click option – through a simple screen grab.

    So yeah, keep resolution lower – 800px (on the long side) or slightly under is plenty to show off your work and not enough to make a decent print beyond small post-card size.

  5. Ankur Says:

    Mitchell, yes I agree, a screen grab can always bypass a “no right-click” feature. Low resolution is the only way I guess – as I also dislike large water marks that distort the photo itself.

    Thanks for sharing your views on this.

  6. Stuart Says:

    Totally agree with you re Pbase. Even a small amount of customization can result in great presentation for your photos. I much prefer a simple, clean template that doesn’t distract the viewer form the photos and I like what you’ve done with yours. Of course that’s not even half the battle – it’s the pictures that count – and yours are awesome.
    Thanks for sharing your tips and experience here.

  7. Andres Says:

    Mitchell,

    I can’t agree more with you. I’ve been using PBase for a few years, and despite the flaws, I still think like you. It’s way much better as a place not just to show your work but to reach out to a community that really enjoy photography. It’s true that is far away from being web2.0, and some features should be drastically improved. But I found more interesting the forums and the feedback in PBase than the ones in Flickr. I understand the instant gratification factor of Flickr. A good picture will receive tons of comments/visit that will greatly feed our little ego. But there is certain shallowness in Flickr… However, the fact that getting your work known is critical when you want to make a living of it, requires to have a volume outreach media. And here, Flickr shine big time compared to PBase. So, I guess that for the professional photographer, is necessary a wise combination of channels to reach as much as audiences as possible. For me, that shooting is a hobby and a media to keep memories of my backcountry trips, I stick to Pbase 🙂

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