TL; DR: A rising star in the digital media space, Imagely operates with a mission to help photographers increase and improve their web presence while providing a means of giving back to the world in the process. New and seasoned photographers are taking advantage of the company’s features to create content-rich websites and galleries with easy-to-use tools designed to play well with WordPress. We had an opportunity to sit down with Scott Wyden Kivowitz, Imagely’s Chief Community Officer, who gave us the scoop on the company’s premium themes, hosting, WordPress plugins, and expert SEO knowledge. Scott told us Imagely is sincerely committed to humanitarian and environmental issues, which is attracting socially conscious photographers to the platform in droves.
Heavy mortar fire rained down from above as Dmitri Beliakov readied his camera. He was on assignment with his reporter partner, Mark Franchetti, covering the separatist forces in the Donbas region of Ukraine and was nearly killed while getting into the crossfire zone.
For weeks, he had shuttled across the area non-stop, documenting the situation from all sides.
“The conflict hasn’t come to an end. It was only dormant, ready to erupt again,” Dmitri said. “But the world media attention was reduced to zero, and it became impossible to find an assignment.”
Having had a long-term desire to continue his work in Ukraine, Dmitri came up with an idea that would allow him to go deeper and record life within the buffer zone.
“Tens of thousands of people were condemned to spend months near the front lines in unsafe, freezing basements with little food and almost no medical aid,” he said.
To get this story out, Dmitri applied for the Imagely Fund and was selected as the 2016 winner. This allowed him to pursue his passion and continue to broadcast the devastating effects of the ongoing conflict.
Imagely is passionate about ensuring photographers have an online venue from which to deliver their visual messages, and it’s this mission that has been a key element in Imagely gaining the trust of its customers. In addition to its premium themes, hosting, WordPress plugins, and page builders, it is Imagely’s sincere commitment to humanitarian and environmental issues that is winning over committed photographers, like Dimitri, from around the world.
Giving a Voice to Photographers Through Web Design, Hosting, and SEO
Imagely, formerly known as Photocrati, was started as a simple photography education blog. And, even in its early iteration, the company was dedicated to engaging in philanthropy.
“The goal of Photocrati was to raise enough money to pay for the owner’s salary, but also to raise enough money for a photography grant for humanitarian and environmental photographers,” said Scott Wyden Kivowitz, Imagely’s Chief Community Officer.
At first, Photocrati was simply a photo blogging platform and a fund, but, eventually, the company pivoted and built a WordPress theme specifically for photographers that changed how creatives could market and sell their work online.
“It was one of the first themes to do full eCommerce and everything for photographers,” Scott said. “All that functionality was built into the theme.”
Approximately four years into its startup days, Photocrati acquired NextGEN Gallery.
“The whole reason for acquiring NextGEN Gallery was to replace Photocrati’s built-in gallery system with a more robust one and at the same time offer eCommerce to its then 1 million users,” Scott said.
Soon after, Photocrati rebranded as Imagely to better represent its widening array of services. The company’s new focus was centered on giving creatives the tools to make their lives easier online so they could get back to doing what they do best — shoot compelling photographs.
Imagely’s themes are main selling points for users. And its classic Photocrati theme is still among one of the platform’s best sellers.
“It has the bells and whistles for every little thing,” Scott said. “It’s a very robust theme and has tons of customization settings.”
The Imagely themes are Genesis child themes and take the minimalistic approach for the photographer who prefers to keep things simple with only a few customization options.
Most importantly, what Imagely has discovered in its ongoing conversations with photographers is there is high demand for more business tools. Scott told us creatives want all the online tools they need housed unde one roof instead of having to use multiple services.
“The majority of the web is using WordPress, so people want invoicing and booking and CRMs and all this stuff,” Scott said. “There were all these tools for other industries but not for photographers specifically, and we want to deliver them.”
Among Imagely’s solutions are tools geared toward optimizing SEO, intuitive page builders, and an array of plugins developed with the business missions of photographers in mind.
Create Stunning Visuals with NextGEN Gallery and Lightroom Plugins
Imagely touts that its NextGEN Gallery was one of the first WordPress gallery plugins and has continued to be the most popular since it was created. According to Scott, NextGEN allows photographers to “manage, display, proof, and sell photos like a pro,” but the plugin wasn’t always as pretty as it is today.
“The back end was ugly, and the front end is ugly,” Scott laughed.
The company has since improved upon NextGEN Gallery by upgrading the plugin’s interface.
“One of the most popular requests by users is to make the front and back ends beautiful in the free version, so that is something that we are currently working on,” Scott said. “The back end is already beautified and in public beta now.”
Imagely plans to make some of its more beautiful designs available for free but has also released a template system that will allow the site to offer paid design upgrade services.
Another bonus is that NextGEN Gallery integrates smoothly with Adobe’s Lightroom plugin. The integration allows users to publish and manage galleries on their WordPress sites directly from Lightroom, so workflow is seamless.
Imagely, which offers a base monthly fee with no hidden costs, serves as a money-saving option for its customers. serves as a money saving option for its customers. Most photography sites work with third-party vendors who add service fees. The more vendors customers use (hosting, photo prints, etc.), the more fees they incur for those vendor services. At Imagely, what you see is what you get — there are no additional charges even, with PrintLab integration. Imagely serves as host, printer, and retailer.
Keeping Creatives in the Know Through Top-Tier Support and Podcasts
According to Scott, 100% of what Imagely does is fueled by customer requests. However, equally important is what is most financially beneficial to running the company.
“We take all emails and keep a running list of how many people want a particular feature,” Scott said. “That’s how it’s decided what will be the company’s next potential priority.”
When customers purchase Imagely’s premium plugins, they’re not only guaranteed a range of features, including dynamic galleries, eCommerce tools, and industry-leading plugins — they also have access to the company’s problem-solving professional support team. And, for photographers who sign up for Imagely’s Lifetime package, this support is guaranteed forever.
Additional support resources are found on Imagely’s regular blogs and posts that offer entertaining and informative podcasts featuring various photographers, designers, and tech experts who speak about current trends and the latest company news. The company’s blog is a destination to which creatives can turn to learn best practices on SEO, web design, social media, and other topics.
Building A Global Social Presence with a Mission to Give Back
To give back to the world and keep the original legacy of Photocrati alive, Imagely offers photographers the opportunity to make a difference by awarding $5,000 toward a humanitarian or environmental photography project such as Dimitri’s efforts in Ukraine.
Once a grant is awarded, the winner becomes an Imagely Fellow for the calendar year. Imagely isn’t just effective at delivering high quality, innovative web design, hosting, and plugins — the company is dedicated to advancing the craft of photography and the social justice causes important to humanity.
“The goal is to provide support for projects that will have a tangible and positive impact on the world,” Scott said.