Most professional photographers, designers and artists struggle to get their work in front of prospective clients. In the old days, this meant putting together a portfolio and shipping it by courier. In the age of the Internet, it means having a Web presence. For many creative professionals, however, that can mean spending thousands of dollars to design and build a quality Web site, and hundreds more a month for support.
Of course, some artists may be able to construct their own sites. But they run the risk of creating a less-than-top-notch site that may actually detract from the work itself. Another option is to hire some kid to do it, but he could be off snow boarding just when you need the site updated prior to an important client meeting.
For artists and creative types who live and die by displaying their work, there's no substitute for a well-crafted and well-maintained Web site that shows your art, photos or designs in the best possible light. But instead of spending a fortune on it, you can rival the finest studios at a fraction of the cost by using liveBooks, an editable Web site presentation tool by evolutionStudio.
"Designed from the ground up for creative professionals such as photographers, artists and designers, a liveBooks 4.0 Web site lets our clients showcase their work as huge, high-quality images that download amazingly fast, even on a common DSL line," said Michael Costuros, Director of evolutionStudio.
liveBooks in Action
EvolutionStudio has an impressive list of clients, big and small. Renowned advertising and fashion photographer Stan Musilek, for example, uses liveBooks to attract and interest customers. His Web site has a sophisticated look and feel. After all, it you want to attract clients like Apple, Banana Republic, Christian Dior, Forbes Magazine, Microsoft and Nike, a Do-it-Yourself HTML Web site won't cut it.
Even though they're all photographers, each artist's site has a very different look and feel. Musilek goes for a starkly dramatic style, Griffith blends nature with the words of Walt Whitman, Lyle Owerko's gritty photo journal of 9/11 is like a stream of consciousness, and McNamara's quirky photo-realism has a surreal clarity.
The presentation software accentuates each different photographer's unique style. No bland templates here. Instead, LiveBooks provides a suite of editing screens that lets the artist update and edit the content of his or her Web site within minutes.
Another big plus for liveBooks is that even though it works well on small sites, the biggest studios use it, too. Magnum Photos, the world's best-recognized photographer's collective, uses liveBooks.
"Many art buyers and art directors don't even know that they can hire a Magnum photographer to shoot their client's ad, and Magnum plans to change that in 2005," said Mark Lubell, Magnum's New York City Bureau Chief.
Web Site Economics
A server-based program, lifeBooks can run on any computer that has Internet access. The vendor recommends a PC with at least Windows 98SE or a Mac with at least OS 8.5. That takes expensive hardware purchases out of the equation. Here's a breakdown of the four different liveBooks packages and what you can expect to pay for them.
• liveBooks Folio: The smallest package is designed for the artist or photographer just breaking into the field professionally or the amateur who wants a nice Web portfolio. Features include full-page images that display at 750-by-500 pixels-per-inch (ppi) or single images at 357-by-500 ppi and one WebBook with up to 32 page views for a possible 64 images in the portfolio. You also get a choice of two Web site color schemes, or you can customize your site as an upgrade. It also includes Photoshop tips for preparing high quality images.
Price:$950 plus $15 a month for hosting.
• liveBooks Lite: This version's aimed more at the pro who's been around the block. It has everything in the Folio package plus slightly improved resolution for images, more pages — up to a total 128 possible images — an automatic slideshow feature, search engine compatibility and a 30-day support package.
Price:$1,900 plus $15 a month hosting. Optional installment and leasing plans available start at $950 down and $87 a month for 12 months.
• liveBooks Pro: Designed for the high-end professional. It contains all of the Folio and Lite features, plus the highest possible resolutions for a 17-inch PC display — 920-by-562 ppi, up to 192 possible images (you can add more for an additional cost), image storage libraries, color and font customization and printable image comp-cards in custom layout.
Price:$3,900 plus $15 a month hosting. Includes 60-day support.
• liveBooks Agency: If you're a photo agent like Magnum, this package gives you all the features and capabilities of the previous packages. It also includes an editable home page that allows one image per photographer along with editable contact and bio pages, specific modules to showcase the talents of each photographer on your staff, and they place you at the top of Google search.
Price:$2,500 plus $1500 for each photographer module.
Compare these various options to building your own Web site from scratch. A professional Web designer will charge around $150.00 per hour; hardware will amount to several thousand; software packages like Adobe, Flash and others will set you back another few thousand, and upgrades and site support can also mount up quickly.
For creative professionals, liveBooks is a relatively inexpensive way to add sizzle to your online presentations. Unless you already have adequate in-house Web design expertise and have already purchased the requisite hardware and software, liveBooks is worthy of consideration and a great way to create or improve your Web presence. "The traditional approach to portfolios is time consuming in terms of editing and creation — and costly in terms of updating and shipping," said Costuros. "liveBooks makes them obsolete."
Drew Robb is a Los Angeles-based freelancer specializing in technology and engineering. Originally from Scotland, he graduated with a degree in geology from Glasgow's Strathclyde University. In recent years he has authored hundreds of articles as well as the book, Server Disk Management by CRC Press.
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