The online photo gallery. Twenty-five years ago, most people would have laughed at the idea of posting thousands of photos on the internet for parents to view. Watching camps’ social media presence these days, it feels like you are literally at camp all the time. There is nothing like seeing a picture of a beautiful lake, sun rising, tall green trees, knowing campers are about to burst out for the day…in the middle of January. Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest et al are fantastic tools for keeping everyone engaged throughout the year and they are also great for your summer photo sharing. Many camps rely on these sources as their primary photo galleries during the summer and it makes perfect sense.
We are often asked our thoughts on what tool camps should use to post and display their pictures. I will ask about their current use of social media and see if they consider that to be a suitable option (many camps like the openness and transparency to the wider public and many prefer a more private, secure option for camp families only). If camps want to look outside social media for their summer photo gallery, then there are many options to consider such as:
We’ve seen all of these options used by camps. Some of the factors to consider as you look at these options:
For what it is worth, our favourite online photo gallery is SmugMug. It is a stunning product that can be customized to your branding (so, it looks like an extension of your website); there are no ads or spam; you can upload unlimited photos and setup your own galleries with passwords if wanted; it is easy to upload and transfer photos and easy for viewers to download photos (if you want to provide that ability). Full disclosure: we chose to integrate SmugMug into our software as our photo gallery.
So, you have social media tools available and you have many online photo gallery options. The final option is to use a camp-specific online photo gallery that directly ties to registration software. The main benefits of this approach are:
If you are considering the camp-specific online photo gallery service, some points to consider:
I have some pretty strong opinions on these 3 points! As camp directors and owners, you work incredibly hard to build your camp’s brand and your parent relationships. Assuming you choose to host an online photo gallery, I think it is safe to say you want it to be a beautiful depiction of your camp. You want the parent to be delighted with this experience – if it is smooth, elegant, beautiful, intuitive, all of these elements will be positively attributed to you and your camp. The opposite is also true. Poor branding, unprofessional approaches, silly pricing (e.g. $3 to download a photo or $6 for a 4×6 print) will all reflect poorly on you, the camp, even if the prices are set and charged by the third party. Parents are used to downloading photos for free and, if they still buy prints, they are expecting to pay less than $1 for one.
The opportunity to provide parents with a supremely positive experience in the photo gallery far outweighs any small revenue that might be earned. If earning some revenue from this service is necessary, charge a small fee with registration to cover your costs.
Many parents will flock to the gallery daily (hourly?) for that window into camp. With so many great options available, choose one that reflects your camp in the best way possible. It is an inexpensive way to share the incredible moments that happen at camp.
What online photo gallery do you use and would you recommend it?
I look forward to seeing some fabulous photo galleries this summer!