BlueMelon.com Website Review


http://www.bluemelon.com
by Renae DuHaime

Being a semi-professional photographer (I do gigs on the side, but it’s not my primary source of income), I like being able to use a photo sharing website that is easy to use, but also offers a lot of different options.  On the surface, BlueMelon.com is just your average photo sharing website.  However, once you take a walkthrough, you’ll soon realize that the opposite is quite true; BlueMelon is far from being average.  With features like smooth drag-and-drop photo uploading, customizing your own store in which to sell your photographs, and the ability to incorporate branding into your page, the possibilities are endless.

BlueMelon.com came into existence in 2009, and it’s obvious that they know what they’re doing.  I have been using their servicesfor a few months now, and it has become apparent to me that they are a website focused not only on photo sharing, but on the photographers’ interests as well.  The website itself is very well-written, visually appealing, and all content is concise and to-the-point. The front page may seem a little overwhelming to new users due to the amount of content included, but everything is well-organized and easy to find.  Overall, it’s obvious that BlueMelon was created and designed by a team of intelligent professionals.  The site is very focused on photo sharing and helping photographers display their work, but my favorite thing that sets BlueMelon apart from other photo sharing websites (aside from its numerous unique features) is the fact that the site is geared toward both professional photographers and hobbyists alike.
Photos are able to be drag-and-drop uploaded, in the smoothest and fastest process that I’ve yet experienced with any other website.  This is great for when I don’t have the time to find the source of each individual file—I can just drop it into the window instead.  For the average photographer, photos can also be imported directly from other photo sharing websites like Flickr and Shutterfly, and even from social networking giant Facebook, using BlueMelon’s “Import Wizard”.  This gave me the advantage of being able to collect all of my best and favorite photographs in one website without the disadvantage of having to upload them from the computers they were originally stored on (I’ve used four different ones in the past five years or so).  It’s perfect for a photographer on the go, like me.  BlueMelon also gives the user the opportunity to use basic editing tools (rotate, mirror, etc.), or you can even edit the photos through Picnik.com, granting access to a much wider variety of editing options (crop, saturation, exposure).  This isn’t something I have much use for (personally, I use Adobe Lightroom and GIMP), but for someone who isn’t keen on downloading a bunch of different programs or who wants to do everything in the same window, it would probably be preferable.
Looking past the basic features, BlueMelon also offers a slew of elements geared towards professional photographers as well.  Their watermarking feature is nearly effortless.  I was able to upload an image to use as my watermark, set it as a permanent watermark, and then apply it to any images I had uploaded.  In addition to watermarking, the user also has the power to choose whether visitors to their website are able to see and download the original images, or if they will have access only to the watermarked version.  These two features were probably my most-used of all.  If I don’t want someone stealing my images, I can make sure that there’s no way they would ever have access to the originals.  This is a prime example of how much consideration BlueMelon puts into allowing users full control over privacy settings.
Users also have the ability to determine privacy settings on individual albums, even offering password-protected albums for photographers like me who want to keep an album private from everyone except their clients.  I found this to be especially convenient for when the person whose photos I was delivering wasn’t easily reached, especially in person.  Photographers can also offer prints and gifts of their photographs to clients, and set the prices to whatever they wish from a flat starting point.  BlueMelon offers this service in such a way that the photographer does not have to pay for the items, but receives profit based on how much more they choose to charge for their merchandise.  In the past, I’ve used other websites that charged you (the photographer) for the item first, and then you could sell the items in your store.  This was a big turn-off for me due to the fact that I had to put money down before making any profit.  The fact that BlueMelon doesn’t charge for something like this is a great advantage to me.  This feature is also exceptionally good for wedding photographers looking to make a little extra cash from prints and photo albums.  BlueMelon even gives users the option to create coupons to be used in their webstore, which I find to be a great promotional tool—more discounts means more traffic!  Another feature the site offers is right-click protection, which works well, although I came across one small flaw.  In testing the feature out, I discovered that if a visitor zooms in on a photograph, the photograph is displayed in a separate window in which the right-click protection no longer works, allowing the visitor to then right-click and save the image file.  This was a bit disappointing, however, a solution to this (as posted in the FAQ section of the website) is to disable zoom on all albums.  Despite this small disadvantage, I was happy overall with the privacy and copyright protection aspects of the site.
In addition to what is provided for freelance photographers and hobbyists, BlueMelon also has options for photographers who own their own business.  With a “Power” account, users are able to incorporate branding into their website, creating a lasting image that clients will remember.  Considering that I do not own my own business yet, I haven’t had much of a chance to implement this tool, but it’s something that I could see being extremely beneficent in the future.  Users have the ability to assimilate their personal logo, colors, and anything else specific to their pre-existing business, as opposed to being limited to a selection of cookie cutter themes.  On the other hand, for the hobbyist, the cookie cutter themes are still available.  There they go again, keeping everyone’s best interests in mind.

As a whole, BlueMelon.com is exactly what it claims to be—a photo sharing website.  It is, however, much more than that.  I’ve found it to be a photo sharing website that can be utilized by everyone from the high-end photographer who is so booked up he has to pencil you in for an appointment three years from now, to the teenage girl down the street who wants to share the photos from her sweet 16 party.  Too bad my sweet 16 was seven years ago…

BlueMelon:  http://www.bluemelon.com
My BlueMelon.com page:  http://bluemelon.com/renaeduhaime

<3Renae

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~ by jeezycreezy on February 14, 2012.

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