Tag Archives: Behance

Behance in practice

I’ve already found that Photoshop and Lightroom don’t integrate very well with Behance, but that doesn’t mean that Behance doesn’t have a value. This post sets out to evaluate Behance from the point of view of an advanced photographer (whether pro or semi-pro) or an artist-using-photography. I will also bear in mind that Behance is augmented by ProSite, a more fully-featured Web site creation tool, which I’ll evaluate separately.

Before sitting in front of Behance, I first want a list of criteria, that is, the functionality I want to see from an image storing and publishing site with elements of social media about it.

I want:

  1. to be able to control access to my images. My model for this is Google Docs, where I can keep documents or entire folders private, make them available to individuals or groups, or make them public (I’m not expecting or wanting full document management features though);
  2. to be able to license my images, preferably using my choice of one of the Creative Commons licences (Since I’m paying for Behance I don’t expect to give away my images in return for the service e.g. Flickr);
  3. to be able to organise my images, either in projects, albums or by tagging;
  4. to be able to sort my images into a specific order e.g. for a proposed book layout. The ability to maintain multiple permutations for comparison would be even better;
  5. to be able to perform bulk operations on my images, e.g. select multiple images and delete/tag/move/rate with one click;
  6. it to be clear when an image/project/album is a work-in-progress or is finalised;
  7. viewers to be able to rate images on a scale, say 0-4 or 0-5 with criteria that I can set (just “liking” an image isn’t particularly useful)
  8. viewers to be able to comment on images, ideally using an annotation overlay to the image (e.g. “darken the sky here”, “warm the skin tone there”)
  9. version control on edits and revisions. This implies a history of changes needs to be kept and that comments are linked to specific versions of an image/project;
  10. viewers/picture-buyers to be able to compile their own albums that include my images;
  11. to be able to sell my images, ideally with secure on-line payment facilities or, failing this, to indicate that they are for sale with a link to an e-commerce site of my choosing.

So how does Behance stack up against these requirements?

Requirement 1 – able to control access to my images

I can set visibility to Everyone (i.e. the world), to a circle of people with accounts on Behance, or to individuals with Behance accounts. That’s about all I need really.

It is interesting that even though I set a restriction, an anonymous search of the Behance Web site will still show that I have a project on Behance, the viewer just cannot access the images until they log in and are verified.

I can set a warning for adult content, which allows others to selectively control access.

Requirement 2 – able to license my images

Yes, I can select any of the 3 options for my Creative Commons licensing (allow commercial use, allow modifications, allow derivatives. Attribution is always set, which is fair enough). I can alternatively opt for No Posting Without Permission, which some might want, though this limits potential exposure.

Requirement 3 – able to organise my images

Behance has 2 areas for my images: Work in Progress or WIP; Projects, which are groups of my images.

Unfortunately Behance does not allow me to move WIP images to Projects. Instead I have to delete WIP then upload images as projects. This seems unnecessary use of bandwidth.

Within a project I can re-order images, caption them individually, mark them for sale and change the spacing between them. I can replace or delete individual images.

I can also attach a limited amount of metadata to the project as a whole by allocating creative fields (e.g. architecture, landscape design, typography) and by tagging (e.g. landscape, black and white). I can write a description of the project and I have access to additional fields: brand; agency; school; credits; tools used. The main use for these is as filter criteria when users search the site. There is also a link from a project to a WIP that allows you to direct viewers to an image in the WIP area. I’m not sure how I’d use this yet but it’s probably part of someone’s workflow.

Requirement 4 – able to sort my images into a specific order

I can re-order images within a project, so this would be OK for discussing, say, a potential book layout with a publisher. Although I can control visibility of my project I cannot control editing rights, so although my editor can view the project she would need to email me about changes as I am the only one who can edit. This does not lend itself to collaborative working; it would be better if I was able to select who could view-order-edit-delete separately.

Requirement 5 – able to perform bulk operations on my images

Bulk operations are really limited: if I upload a lot of WIP images and later turn them into a project I have to delete each WIP image individually then upload them all again as a project – yuk! I can keep multiple versions of each WIP image and delete them all with one click but that’s about it for bulk operations. This is an area that will have to improve or busy professionals will quickly find a better alternative.

Requirement 6 – be clear when an image/project/album is a work-in-progress or is finalised

Behance certainly does this: WIP and projects are completely separate – too much so (see criticism in Requirement 5). It is possible to link a project to a WIP image, but only 1 image – I can’t yet see what value this has unless the project only consists of 1 image perhaps…

Requirement 7 – viewers to be able to rate images on a scale

Behance supports Likes and Comments – but so does every social media site on the planet. I need my collaborators to be able to rate images with scores or stars and, if possible, against multiple criteria. Nope, Behance can’t do this.

Requirement 8 – viewers to be able to comment on images

WIP images and projects both support comments. It’s basic and nothing to make it stand out from the crowd. Now if my colleague could drag an arrow from her comment to a point on my image, that would be really useful (e.g. “lighten the face here”, “remove this tree branch”).

The random sample of comments I’ve seen are no better than comments on general public sites, e.g. “nice landscapes”, “beautiful”, “great work Gerhard! always an inspiration”. Perhaps within closed circles the comments are more constructively critical but from what I’ve seen so far there’s nothing to distinguish between the audience on Behance and any other image-based site.

Requirement 9 – version control on edits and revisions

WIP images can contain multiple revisions and each revision has separate comments. The revisions are not date/time stamped though the comments are. This is quite a useful system. Projects can only be discussed at the project level, not image by image. Images can only be commented on as a WIP. Unfortunately there is no integration between projects and WIP images – shame.

Requirement 10 – viewers/picture-buyers to be able to compile their own albums

Nope.  Behance does not have anything resembling lightbox, album or basket functionality. I will have to look elsewhere for this.

Requirement 11 – to be able to sell my images

There are no e-commerce tools in Behance so for e-commerce functionality I will have to look elsewhere. All I can do is flag images as “for sale” and link to an external site.

Conclusion

Behance’s declared mission is “To empower the creative world to make ideas happen”. Unfortunately the hype and the reality are a long way apart at the moment. Adobe bought Behance because it needs this on-line platform. What I see, though, is only a start. At the moment Behance expects me to work in a particular way and be constrained to its workflow. That won’t do, especially for its target customers – creatives. It needs more flexibility and more functionality.

As a promotional tool it has potential. The customer base is creative and image-based, and the quality of the work I’ve seen is high, so it should be a lot more targeted than, for example, Flickr.

But as it stands Behance is very much a work in progress. I really hope Adobe has a development program in place for this platform because from what I’ve seen so far, it definitely needs it. I am continuing my subscription for a year and will report back on enhancements as they appear.

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Photography Program applications and Behance

I’m already getting the feeling that the four elements of Photography Program are separate products packaged as a single subscription. There is a loose inter-working between Photoshop, Lightroom, Behance and Prosite but Creative Cloud doesn’t add much to the package, at least at the moment.

Behance (http://www.behance.net/) is a Cloud repository for photography projects where you can make sets of images available publicly for other to see and comment. It is intended for work in progress, and is a bit like a blog really, or perhaps a more up-market Flickr. The images feed ProSite, which packages & publishes them in a polished, customisable form. If it’s as good as the marketing blurb would have us believe, it should replace my stand-alone Web site. Well, we’ll see!

In December 2012 Behance and ProSite became subsidiary operations of Adobe Systems Inc., So I guess we can look forward to better integration in the future, but at the moment your Adobe ID isn’t linked to Behance or ProSite; a separate account is needed. I’ve covered the account creation process in a previous post; here we’ll see how Lightroom, Photoshop and Behance work together.

Lightroom and Behance

The obvious tool to hook up to Behance is Lightroom, and sure enough, there is a publishing option in the Library module

Behance in Lightroom

The Behance publishing service in Lightroom’s Library module

I can log in to my account and set a number of publishing options in this interface

Behance options in Lightroom

Behance options in Lightroom

I have several projects that I’d like to get feedback on so I’ll use one of these as a test. Eventually I will publish these images on ProSite, and a quick read through the Beginners Guide shows that the maximum image size it can display is 1920px wide so that’s what I’ll set in the Image Size section of the dialogue. Despite this, when I upload images to Behance they all come out as 710px wide, so that’s the first bug. Worse is to come.

Lightroom can only upload images as work in progress (WIP), not as projects. This is bad, particularly when there is no way in the Behance Web site to group my WIP images into projects. To use the Project feature of Behance I have to export my images from Lightroom to my hard drive then upload them via the Behance Web interface directory as a project. Adobe really hasn’t thought this one through from a user perspective. And there are user comments on Adobe’s own blog sites dating back to June 2013 expressing their contempt for the Behance plugin. Despite these gripes it didn’t get on Adobe’s to-do list as the plugin in LR5.2 hasn’t changed. I had hoped that Jeffrey Friedl would have produced one of his excellent plugins to replace the bare-bones Adobe effort, but he hasn’t (He does note a serious publishing-related bug in Lightroom 5 though, which also didn’t get on Adobe’s to-do- list: http://regex.info/blog/2013-06-10/2268)

Conclusion: at the moment (i.e. Lightroom 5.2) the Behance publishing plugin is too limiting to be worth using in my own workflow.

Photoshop CC and Behance

Photoshop CC sports a new menu option to Share on Behance, so let’s see if that fares any better than Lightroom.

Photoshop CC’s Share on Behance option only exports the currently visible image to Behance. The image can be titled and tagged, and a multi-layered PSD will be exported automatically as a flat JPEG, but the width is again limited to 710px. And the image can only be uploaded as WIP, not added to a project. So, unless you have a loyal following on Behance who are willing to comment on your images, perhaps as part of a distributed team working collaboratively, this feature seems of limited value.

Conclusion: the Share on Behance feature in PsCC is too limited to be of real value outside of a niche set of users. It is unlikely I’ll use it.

More development needed

The limited interface between Ps, Lr and Behance may be of some use to Adobe’s core creatives if they need tools for rapid iterations of work in progress, but Photography Program is aimed at professional and amateur photographers whose workflow and requirements are different. In particular, Adobe hasn’t catered for those who see Behance mainly as a staging post to making a full Web site available via Projects and ProSite.

Adobe urgently needs to improve the functionality of the Lightroom Behance publishing plugin if it wants to claim any sort of integration between the elements of its Photography Program. And Behance should add the ability to migrate images from WIP to projects rather than having to re-upload them (what a waste of time and bandwidth it is at the moment) as well as improving bulk operations on files (every file has to be uploaded and deleted individually).

Until the plugin improves, my workflow will be to export images from Lightroom to my hard drive then upload them as projects via the Behance Web interface.

Photography Program and Behance sign-up

I was promised a Behance Pro site as part of the Photoshop Photography Program but it’s not immediately obvious how I get one. Checking Adobe’s Web site only led me through the Photography Program purchasing chain. The Behance Web site was no better. The Creative Cloud application on my computer has a tab for Behance

Creative Cloud applicationbut this only gave me two options: make my work public or link to my Behance account, neither of which seemed appropriate. What the heck, I’ll click on the Make my Work Public button and see what happens. Hey presto, Behance wants me to open an account and not pay them any more money! As they say, simple when you know how.

They have a  Beginners Guide (sic), so off to read its 35 pages then report back on how I get on.