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Pictage vs. other sites?

Addy Hampton , Jul 24, 2007; 05:52 p.m.

Hi, I was just about to sign up with Pictage when I started reading reviews on this site. Now I'm confused :-) and would love some advice. Most of the threads I found were almost a year old, so I thought maybe things have changed for the better (or worse?)

I do some weddings and a lot of portrait work, and I still do film (not digital, yet). I have been getting a "hard sell" from Pictage and it sounded great to me; I love the idea of sending Pictage the film, they process it and upload it, and help me market to customers for reprints, holiday cards, albums, etc.

Last year, I did a wedding and gave the bride a big price reduction, and she still hasn't ordered prints. (Of course, the prints were what I was counting on!) So I thought Pictage would help me in situations like that, by making it easier to "remind" the bride to order, and making it easier on me to design the album, etc.

However, after seeing the reviews, I don't know if it's such a great idea. On the testimonials CD, of course, the photographers loved the print quality and I would love to avoid having to run all over Los Angeles to get my prints made - and black & white print prices are so high now that, to make a profit, I have to charge a lot for them! But then I hear (via reviews) their print quality is inconsistent, etc.

Can someone give me advice, for my particular situation? Is collages.net any better?



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Mark Parker , Jul 24, 2007; 06:27 p.m.

I feel that they are vicious marketers and they have a poor product. Yesterday I emailed Tom Brown at pictage and told them that I would almost be willing to pay them $99 if they would just quit emailing and calling me. Of course he called me this morning to discuss my feelings.

Bob Donlon - Albany, NY , Jul 24, 2007; 09:18 p.m.

I use Smugmug and it's customizable, not having some of the stuff pictage does, but it's a hit for me regarding sales. I only wish they would offer print package pricing for brides, and bulk purchases, etc.

Conrad Erb - Philadelphia, PA , Jul 24, 2007; 10:20 p.m.

IMHO, Pictage is a printing company that has an online gallery system on the side. they are NOT primarily an online gallery company.

yes, they are vicious marketers and are expensive if you only want a shopping cart enabled gallery.

if you want their products, they can give you good stuff - proof magazines and certain albums. they also have forums and live chats which make you think that you are part of some club, and that you are special.

but for $100 a month, not worth it if you only want a good basic gallery. in fact, my clients didn't like the interface, and it was a hassle to have Pictage "approve" every event. Pictage also does NOT, AFAIK, let you upload small images and then upload ONLY the images that people buy. this means LONG upload times.

much better for basic use is smugmug. it is highly customizable, much friendlier and without the attitude that Pictage has. interface is simple, you can set print prices what you want, AND you can set a print delay so that you can upload in full rez only the images that a customer orders beyond a certain size.

Dumping Pictage and going to smugmug reduced my costs by 90%, reduced client complaints, results in increased per print profit, reduced billing errors ($150 a year instead of $100/month, hence much easier to catch any mistakes), and make me happy b/c when there is a problem, smugmug will help you out FAST.

I highly recommend smugmug. just try it for 10 days. then try pictage. you compare. I did, and I am much more satisfied with smugmug.

Ed Rodgers , Jul 25, 2007; 08:00 a.m.

I been using Pictage for the last year myself, and I want to leave. It's an expensive, inflexible, mediocre product with a used car salesman mentality.

I don't have many customer complaints about it, but I don't like the system.

I'm going to check out smugmug. --Thanks Conrad How's the print quality?

Victor Rachael , Jul 25, 2007; 10:27 p.m.

I haven't used Pictage before, but check out www.photoreflect.com. I used them for awhile, then they dropped the lab closest to me and the shipping costs got to high. Photoreflect has lots of options and is highly customizable. I now use SmugMug and really like them, only wish they did packages.

Jana DiMartino , Jul 26, 2007; 12:22 a.m.

Pictage worked out ok for me. If you are good at marketing yourself then you may not need them. But if you are like me and want to do the minimal amount of post shooting work then they are perfect. They promote your print sales, fulfill orders and mail you a check. I have yet to receive a customer complaint about them. They also organize networking meets they call Pugs that provide good opportunity to learn new things and exchange ideas.

Steve C. , Jul 26, 2007; 12:29 a.m.

I've been with Pictage for 5 months. While there are many good things to be said for them, I've had some real problems in the customer service area. Most of the time, they're nice and respond fairly well, but too often they assume that everyone outside their offices are "on the same page" as they are, and know every nuance of their system. When you have issues, they aren't as receptive and helpful as they could be, sometimes even snooty or short with you. Not good. Then, I had a client that wanted her prints shipped to her PO box. I selected "Pictage choice" for the shipping client, assuming they would see PO Box and ship it via USPS. Nope. They sent it UPS, which as we all know, does not ship to the post office. This caused an embarrassing delay while my client anxiously awaited her prints. Of course, Pictage did not discover this for themselves, I had to discover it after they had shipped, and had to call 2 or 3 times to straighten it out. I made them overnight the print order (which they had to reprint) via Express Mail. My client simply did not want to use a physical address. You'd think their shipping department would know better.

I found their interface arcane and their internal terminology confusing at first. It's just not intuitive.

They have a "photographer recommendation" feature, but it only is available under certain circumstances with requirements for orders being placed. I feel that if someone liked what I did at a wedding, they should be able to make positive comments without all the restrictions, and the feature should be available to anyone. After all, positive comments help the photographer AND Pictage.

When you place a print order, you are NOT taken to a form that tallys up everything to let you see all the charges (like any other online ordering process). It just places the order and you discover what it all cost you when you see the debit on your checking account.

I also feel their print prices to photographers are too high. An 8 x 10 print costs me $3.00. Thru Mpix, it costs $1.99 (same quality). I've even gotten them thru Adorama for .99 cents when they're running a sale. There has to be better pricing than $3.00.

I'm paying $1200 a year for Pictage, and yet I feel they are lacking in a number of important areas, mostly in service to photographers. I've told them that there are many other similar services available to me, and they're a mouse click away. Like Collages.net, which I'm looking into. And they're only $700 a year for the annual membership, though you do have to pay that up front. Plus, Collages offers gallery wrap canvas which Pictage does not have. I'm going to try Collages on a per event basis to see how it works.

Steve C. , Jul 26, 2007; 01:29 a.m.

By the way, the biggest problem I see with this whole online hosting service issue is clueing in the public to what it's all about, what they can do with it, and why the service is better than taking a disc of images to a pharmacy or lab. It's hard to gather e-mail addresses sometimes, it's hard to get the bride to solicit them or enter them in the guest book for you, when you take a clipboard to an event with clear instructions ("the images from this event will be online thru Pictage, the greatest thing since sliced bread, please leave your e-mail address below to be notified, etc.) you get many misspelled e-mails, hard to read, people put their name/address instead of e-mails, or they simply overlook it altogether. I've promoted and worked it every way I know how, and have barely made enough sales to offset the monthly cost. I suspect this is the case not only with Pictage, but others.

One other annoyance about Pictage: they want to charge you for marketing materials to promote THEIR service. Sure, they have brochures that sell Pictage to your clients, but you have to pay them for them. They should send you these for free, because they have YOU out advertising for them. This logic makes no sense.

Joshua Westbrook , Jul 26, 2007; 02:33 p.m.

I use instaproofs.com and love them. Free to upload as many events as you wish. We also use backprint.com and smugmug.com

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