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The End of An Era: Pictage Finally Closes Its Doors

August 25th 2015 2:20 PM

Pictage announced yesterday that it was closing its doors. I’ll have to say, I wasn’t surprised to hear the news, but I was quite surprised to hear they lasted this long. Started in 2000, Pictage was an industry giant when I first began my photography career in 2008. As one of the only online storage and workflow management systems for professional photographers back then, every photographer I knew used Pictage to host, proof, print and deliver their images. They were the big dogs in the industry, with one of the largest and flashiest booths at WPPI and sponsoring lavish Vegas parties during the convention.

[RELATED: CHANGE OR DIE: IGNORING PHOTO INDUSTRY CHANGES MAY BE DETRIMENTAL TO YOUR BUSINESS]

Back then, Pictage was an easy, no fuss solution for the sea of photographers entering the field. With many free sources, community building groups, proofing and hosting options, and print delivery, it was easy for a new photographer to jump in and have a nice, professional, manageable workflow. The first signs of trouble began when word started going around that Pictage had been sold. Photographers began to complain loudly of their clients being “spammed” by the influx of email reminders Pictage would send to their clients reminding them to order prints. After all, Pictage’s business model was based on the high percentages they would take from print sales, and with photography as a whole becoming digital-centric at that time, Pictage needed to evolve or die. Pictage virtually disappeared from the industry overnight, no longer present at trade shows, in magazine ads, etc.

pictage-new-corporate-logo

As their reputation continued to decline among the industry and photographers began leaving in droves, other hosting and proofing solutions began making themselves known, most notably, SmugMug, who quietly snuck in with more options, taking less percentages from photographers in print sales, and had a fun, company culture and brand. Then overnight, it seemed, there was an influx of new hosting solutions. The choices were plentiful and the breed of professional photographers seemed to be thinning out a bit. Pictage’s new management also began making some major missteps, making poor decisions, and yet, ever clinging to their outdated business model and doing nothing to repair their damaged reputation in the industry.

[REWIND: PICTAGE ANNOUNCES MAJOR CHANGES, CONFIRMS INDUSTRY DECLINE OF PRINT SALES]

A few months ago, Pictage announced that they were going to change their business model entirely. But it was too late. Yesterday, Pictage sent an email to existing clients with the news that they would be closing their doors on September 27th and the site will go offline. This leaves current Pictage customers scrambling to download all their images from Pictage’s servers. Unfortunately, due to the number of images they have stored and the number of people trying to access their images, Pictage’s website has been down for the past few days. Pictage promises to restore the site as soon as possible. If you are a Pictage customer, you can read the official email that was sent on their blog here.

pictage-closing

About

Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at www.hanssie.com and www.fittedmagazine.com. Follow her on Instagram. Email her at:
[email protected]

Comments [8]

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  1. Chess Macal

    Just to mention another alternative, I’m a professional photographer and I use Zenfolio to host my photos. They are offering a free 3 month trial to former Pictage users. A free trial this long can be really useful when you need to learn an entirely new system. Check it out – https://goo.gl/QDv9P1

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    • richard Vallon Jr.

      I saw where the industry was headed and looked into Pictage- I decided that I would rather do Macintosh consulting and work my commercial photo clients that try to make prints in the bad old years of 2002-2006- when prints from digital STUNK. Pictage seemed archaic even at that time- not being able to remove an image file w/o having to renumber the whole gallery- what a mess.

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  2. Stephen Jennings

    I wish cloudspot was more like Smugmug or Zenfolio with the ability to design the actual website instead of just hosting the gallery. Basically, Cloudspot seems like a better service, but a service like Smugmug is more convenient and good enough..

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  3. Mark Romine

    Not surprised but I am surprised that they lasted this long. I tried using back around 2002 and had a terrible experience with their customer service and the quality of their products and decided to stop using them. After repeated phone calls made to me by one of their customer service reps to get me to give them a second chance and come back I decided to give them another try. Their excuse was they that were experiencing huge growing pains. The 2nd experience was just like the first if not worse. This was over a period of about thirteen months. This was probably the worst experience of dealing with any photo industry supplier that I have ever had in 40 years in the industry. I feel badly for those that have and will loose their jobs.

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  4. Matthew Saville

    The fact that my article from a few months only got two comments, kinda speaks to the lack of interest in Pictage as a company in general. Or maybe it doesn’t heheheh.

    Either way, as you said Hanssie this comes as no surprise. Pictage users mocked the amateurish-ness of sites like SmugMug, and Pictage management probably thought they didn’t have to worry about new business models such as the “shoot and share” generation. They probably saw the writing on the wall with the decline of online print sales, but the point is that they didn’t take action to adapt, scale down if necessary, and/or change their business model completely if necessary.

    As fantastic as digital technology is, it is creating a volatile economic environment for the imaging industry. Adapt or die. Make tough decisions.

    Gary Fong was brilliant enough to ride the wave that hit after film wedding photography died, but before regular consumers figured out they could make their own prints for nine cents at a drugstore.

    Pro photographers (some who say Gary Fong “ruined” the wedding industry by capitalizing on its rapid expansion into the digital age) really have only themselves to blame for today’s wedding photography industry situation, for better or for worse; they’re the ones who were gung-ho about things like the Pictage PUG, and all sorts of other community environments in which we all spread the word that anybody could be a wedding photographer.

    Personally, I still have a very positive outlook on the wedding and portrait photography industry, despite the turbulence. You just need to find the right business model for you, for your personality and your geographic area, and streamline it as much as possible. And I think that the next generation of professional photo hosting / post-production services are really getting that.

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  5. Scott Wyden Kivowitz

    For photographers running WordPress for their websites already, I recommend checking out NextGEN Pro. It’s the premium add-on to the super popular NextGEN Gallery plugin. It offers ecommerce and proofing all on a self-hosted WordPress website.

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  6. Pye

    Yeah, kinda crazy. The end of an era for sure. When we entered the industry, Pictage was the game changer.

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  7. Joseph Wu

    Well that’s unfortunate. Really wonder why they are shutting down..

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