The information in this post is no longer accurate. Phanfare has back-peddled on many of the lame changes they had made. I for one am very pleased about that and say as much in a follow-on post here.
I got this email today saying “Congratulations! Your Phanfare account has been upgraded.” Phanfare is guilty of misusing both the words “congratulations” and “upgraded.” Instead it should have said, “Aha! We got you. You thought we were friends. You didn’t see this coming, but we just [expletive removed] you royal! Ha, ha, ha, ha!”
Just wanted to go public on this one. Phanfare sucks. They’ve turned their backs on their loyal (and very happy) customers in order to try to grab a slice of the social networking and photo printing pie. I was one of those very happy Phanfare customers. Their ease of use was truly second to none. This was a choice feature. I wanted something that Claudia could use easily. It is important that managing your galleries is easy, so you keep them up to date. Phanfare’s client was a pleasure to use. It allowed you to edit galleries, descriptions, captions, everything while the pictures upload in the background. If you made changes on the fly. No problem, the client kept track of it. If you disconnected. It finished next time you’re connected. I wanted my galleries to be ad-free and require no login. They had it. I wanted unlimited storage and user access to my hi-res, full-sized originals. Check. If I wanted to use a custom URL, like photos.georges.nu, I could. Their only weaknesses were that their themes were a bit limited and thumbnails were cropped to a square. Other than that I was really content. I was also committed. I bought the $300 lifetime membership. Pricey, but it was supposed to be a lifetime. Little did know they’d pull the rug off from under me in less than a year.
Now they are requiring that your visitors also get free Phanfare accounts. They’ll need to sign in in order to view your galleries. You’ll be able to see their pictures as well, and keep up-to-date with any activity in their accounts. But this is not how I use my account. This is not how I ever intend to use my account. I’m not interested in trying to get all my friends and family on this service! I just want them to view my pictures!
Well, I’m done with Phanfare. I used to love ’em. Now I hate ’em. They betrayed me. I’m going to have to spend who knows how many hours getting my pictures moved over to a new service. I didn’t want any of my regular visitors to get sucked into Phanfare’s new scam, so I tried to move quickly. I got my smugmug account set up and a couple of my most recent galleries moved over. And I got my links at my website updated. All in less than 24 hours after receiving the bad news. Unfortunately, I wasn’t faster than my mom. She tried to check out our gallery today and was greeted with the “You must sign in to view this gallery” notice. So, she’s one of the new Phanfare 2.0 users. So Phanfare’s user stats are skyrocketing, but I predict it will amount to nothing. They’ll have 99% inactive accounts. What good is that?
Anyhow about smugmug. It has most of the features I want. And the price is essentially the same as Phanfare, only they don’t offer a lifetime membership. They have more themes and more customization. That’s good. But their user interface is not as great as Phanfare. Also you don’t get the custom URL unless you buy the $149 per year pro account. I’m not willing to pay $80 per year for that feature. You get a lot more features with the pro account, of course, but that’s really the only one I’m interested in.
Other disgruntled Phanfare users out there? You might also give zoto.com a look. They have a lot of the same basic features as Phanfare, but the price is a lot more affordable–$19.95 per year. Again, like smugmug, their client is not anywhere as cool as Phanfare, but what can you do?