Zenfolio Tiled ImageAs the director of business development at Zenfolio, Ian Stone knows what it takes to maintain successful photo websites and market them creatively. He was kind enough to tell us how Zenfolio keeps their innovative edge and offer tips on how you can do the same. Plus, until the end of December, Lensbaby blog readers get 20% off their first year Zenfolio subscription with the coupon code below.

Getting Started – Is photography experience as important as technical web skills for your team?

Absolutely. It takes a photographer to know what other photographers need! Our founders come from companies like Adobe and Microsoft but they all love photography – either as a hobby or a business.

One of the coolest features Zenfolio offers is what we refer to as ‘dim the lights’. When you click on an image it’s displayed full-frame with a dark background eliminating any distracting page elements. You get to see the image crisp, sharp, and with the colors the photographer intended – all of which stems from our photo experience.

Are there particular Zenfolio users that inspire you?

I am inspired on a daily basis at Zenfolio – visit the home page and click examples to see what I mean. I love seeing how people have created their own themes and it seems I see something new every day!

What do you do to build an audience or attract new users?

Well, we attract new users by being awesome! I’d say that word of mouth is likely our best advertising engine – along with our development team’s emphasis on innovation. Our iPhone / iPad apps allow users to navigate the images in a way that is native to the device – like the finger swipe on the iPad to move from image to image.

Advice for Others – 
Nearly all photographers have a website – how can they stand out and attract an audience?

The important thing to understand is that great images won’t necessarily make your career as a professional photographer. Successful photographers are not only good at creating stunning images, but also at sales and marketing. A photographer needs to know how and when to close the deal, for example.

It is also important to understand a bit about how the Internet works, because simply creating and posting a website isn’t going to bring success. You need to learn how to increase that site’s visibility in the market you are targeting. Search engine optimization is increasingly important which is why the Zenfolio system tags relevant text field with a green “SEO” symbol alerting the photographer that important keywords are needed in this space in order to increase their web presence. Another key is having a website that is completely branded as your own. We provide a number of templates and also offer intuitive tools that allow our users to build their own theme from scratch. I spoke with a fine-art photographer recently who uses the Zenfolio iPad application religiously. While sitting on an airplane and speaking with his neighbor about his work, he was asked if he’d ever shot an image of a specific place – since he had the image on on his iPad’s ‘to-go’ list he was able to make a $1000 large format print sale right there.

Nostalgia Time! Tell us about your first camera:

Wow, you are really making me show my age here. My first camera was a Pentax ME 35mm SLR. I got this camera from my father for a high school B&W photo class. I really fell in love with photography and began spending all of my free time in the darkroom.

I got a digital camera pretty early on (late 90′s). My first digital SLR was a Fuji S2 pro, purchased from a photographer who sold me the camera with a Lensbaby attached!

That was the first time I had seen a Lensbaby and I fell in love with the classic look and style of the images I produced with it. It really helped bring out my creative side and brought me back to a lot of the things I’d learned in school.

I’ve also had the opportunity to work with 4×5 view cameras on occasion and I still have some of those prints. In fact, I have one framed on my wall at Zenfolio.

Although I’ve dabbled in wedding and event photography I have realized that it’s not for me. I like my picture taking to be completely stress free.

Thanks Ian! Readers, don’t forget to check out Zenfolio. Sign up now and get 20% off with coupon code LBABY20.

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