I cannot believe how many different platforms exist these days for exploring people's photographic work. I still remember the days when Flickr was the only game in town, and for what it was at the time, it was hard to imagine needing anything more. Today, we have 500px, Google+, SmugMug, Instagram, Pinterest and countless others! To be fair, Flickr continues to be relevant, if not slow to adapt, because it still provides a level of interaction and content discovery other platforms do not. However, while the vast majority of photography-oriented social networks are great for exploring others' work, it can be downright maddening trying to figure out the best one (or ones) to invest time sharing your own work from. Personally, I only use a few of these platforms. And one of the most recent additions to my catalog is one that I find intriguing, despite it being a bit cumbersome to use. The platform I'm talking about is Behance.
From an artistic point of view, Behance is pretty cool. It started as a social network for creatives to not only showcase their art, but to also provide a means for interactive critiques and to match creatives with job opportunities. Fast-forward a little bit and Behance was purchased by Adobe in 2012. Subsequent to that acquisition, it was gradually incorporated into Adobe's portfolio, and thereafter, became a piece of the Adobe Creative Cloud (CC). I remember poking around Behance before it was under Adobe, and then again after it became a part of Adobe CC. For whatever reason, I didn't upload my first project until very recently.
One thing that I really like about Behance is that it features work from artists of all kinds, not just photographers. From content ranging from design, to web content, to fine art. In this way, it's great. But there is a downside to Behance, and it has to do with its workflow within Adobe CC. Behance, at least today, is not integrated with Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop - two of core Creative Cloud applications used by a great majority of the world's photographers. This completely boggles my mind. Even putting aside every other critique of Adobe CC, this lack of integration is just plain dumb. What is Adobe thinking?
Talking specifics for a moment, we can take the example of my typical workflow for publishing photosets to my galleries on cherryfivers.com. It is dirt simple: I gather the photos into a collection within Lightroom, call upon the "publish" plugin I use for SmugMug, and then, click, BOOM! Done. All my photos in that set are transferred seamlessly to their rightful place on my website. If I edit or re-process any one of those photos, Lightroom automagically identifies the changes and then prompts me to republish that photo (via one click of a button) so that my public galleries reflect those edits. Yet, NONE of this functionality exists presently between Lightroom and Behance.
In contrast, I'm left left with a much more clunky workflow to publish photos to Behance. First, I need to manually export all the images from Lightroom to a local folder. Then, I need to login into Behance and create a new project.
This doesn't seem like a hassle, but it is. With so many other one-click publish operations from within Lightroom, this manual process makes me feel like I'm living back in Web 1.0. Anyhow, next I choose the option to create a new project, which then triggers an upload dialogue.
From there, I drag and drop my exported images into the upload window, and wait patiently for the images to transfer. The images then begin to populate the Behance window in whatever order they're uploaded in. Only after the fact can this order be changed (not a big deal, but still).
Once the images are loaded into the project, options exist to name the project, tailor the presentation of the images, add text and information, etc. This part is good, and in this way, it feels like any other drag-and-drop web-building platform. In fact, it feels very much like SquareSpace. The plus side here is that it's exceptionally easy to use, and very easy to customize the aesthetic so that it matches your style or brand.
Before publishing the project, you are prompted to choose what category of art it falls into, as well as what tags and metadata best characterize the project. This helps others find your work and is a feature I rather like. Finally, projects can be promoted using easy share options to a few of the most popular social networks, like Facebook and Twitter.
In all, it's not a terribly difficult workflow. I just don't understand why there's not a simple plugin for Lightroom to make the creation of photography projects on Behance easier. The added steps of having to export images and then manually upload them to Behance through a web browser just doesn't make sense for two products under the same Adobe umbrella.
What I would love to see is a completely integrated Behance experience from within Lightroom (or even Bridge) complete with one-click publishing, synchronizing of feedback and appreciations, and advanced options for promoting and organizing projects for critique. Recently, Adobe also opened up "Portfolio" which is meant to pair with Behance, making it possible for users to create simple, attractive, portfolio websites. This is a nice addition to the Creative Cloud platform, but again, the lack of overall integration makes the total experience feel unfinished.
If you're a user of Behance and you happen to have any tips on how to better publish content in a more streamlined way, please leave a comment and share! Otherwise, if you're on Behance (or you want to explore it for the first time), I've created a few of my own projects that can be viewed here.