Livebooks - A Professional Photographer's Testimonial


I'm a self-confessed technophobe! I'm more of a tactile person; I like things I can touch or make with my hands. Perhaps this is why I stick to the old-school process of shooting with film. Recently, I'd been getting so many requests for my photography website and, well, I'd always been too intimidated with the likes of the web—and unnerved by HTML—to make one. Enter liveBooks!

  I was approached by liveBooks to try out their service—promising that I'd end up with a super glossy and fabulous website. I could not resist this challenge. At least I felt it would be a challenge, being fully aware of my lack of knowledge of all things web-based. I was very, very wrong—liveBooks is extremely user-friendly. In less than a few days, I had a fully functional, beautifully designed online portfolio.

 First, who and what is liveBooks? liveBooks is a company founded by Michael Costuros, Tibi Craciun, Andy Patrick and Matt Bailey—artists themselves—to help photographers and videographers showcase their work. liveBooks is not only a full-service design company that can create custom-designed sites tailored to your needs, but also offers stylish and sleek templates so you can create your own site. Their custom-designed websites can be seen throughout the photographic industry by clients such as Brett Weston, Richard Avedon, National Geographic, Jim Fiscus, Doug Menuez, Chase Jarvis, Magnum Photos, VII Photo, Art Wolfe, Vincent LaForet, Harry Benson and many more. Custom Design gives the client greater flexibility and control over the design and workings of the site. Take a look at some of liveBooks' custom-designed sites here.

 The affordable, pre-designed templates can also be customized, for small fees. Whether it be a logo placement change, a font color, adding a page or slideshow, or even a complete redesign, liveBooks is able to work with you in creating the website of your dreams. It's great to know that as your business grows and changes, liveBooks is there to help your site expand and evolve. In my experience, I found building the site to be simple, but made even simpler with the help of their premier customer support. liveBooks offers online live chat support, as well as email support.


liveBooks builds the websites and templates using a hybrid of HTML and Flash. The aesthetic of the site is controlled by you, and your work. There is a nice flow to the site with the way the slideshows and menus work. Most are simplistic, yet extremely slick and effective. liveBooks offers a 14-day free trial. After the free trial, there is a monthly fee (or you can opt to pay in larger, less frequent increments) which includes web hosting fees, and their ongoing customer service. Once you sign up for the template of your choice, and start to work within the Edit Suite (a very nicely laid out editing program), it all becomes very clear and simple to use. 


I was eager to get started, and I chose the Industrial template. I had already built a mockup in Photoshop of how I wanted my site to look, and with a tiny bit of design tweaking, Industrial was—aesthetically—a good match. A sleek, clean look, with a nice slideshow landing page. Once I chose my layout, with the help of liveBooks' design team, I was able to move my type and change my font color. (These are custom additions, as I mentioned earlier.) The liveBooks design team was fast. They completed my request in a matter of hours, based on the design and layout I submitted to them, matching my specific color requests. 


I was thrilled and inspired to see my front page, and eagerly began to build my site. As I mentioned, using the liveBooks Edit Suite is very user-friendly. I familiarized myself with the suite, noting all the cool things one could do and change. You can even handpick or customize the loading bar, or the way your menus pop up. It's pretty cool. 

As a photographer, I really wanted my work to be the main focus of the site, so I opted for clean, simple lines. You can add music of your choice, even a different track for each portfolio. I decided on an original piece of music, and looped it throughout the site. I like the fact that as my work evolves, I can change the music if and when I feel like it.


Once you are in the Edit Suite, the first task is to start uploading your photos. It's simple to do, and liveBooks makes it easier by resizing them for you. Hooray! That saved me hours of work. Once you've uploaded your first batch of images, you can move them into libraries. You can name these libraries, as most folders are nameable. Then, you move into your Lightbox. The Lightbox is where you build your portfolios which are featured on the site. You can arrange them by merely dragging and dropping. Simple!  Within just minutes my first portfolio was done. 



Once you've built your portfolios, there are other important pages to work on. You may add additional info, such as awards or exhibits, an artist biography, or a contact page. All is fully customizable, or you can choose to upload a designed page. I chose to upload a jpeg image of my pages, as I had a specific layout I wanted. But liveBooks has an easy setup where you can simply add text and a picture of your choice. Other noteworthy benefits of a liveBooks site include client access and iPhone/iPad compatibility. You may add private password-protected portfolios and presentation areas for client access—a very useful option—and you can easily optimize your site for the iPhone/iPad, with the Edit Suite. 


Recently, liveBooks teamed up with Vimeo by enabling users to integrate video pages into their sites. If you know that you'll want to add videos, then choose a template that is video-ready. (You will see this in the menu of templates.) You may decide to have one large video, filling the page like your photographs, or you can add several videos on the page. I chose the multi-video page, because I would like to add more over time. It's very easy to link your Vimeo images to your website; simply add the Vimeo album link, and there you go!  You can also customize the layout of the video page.


Once your website is built and tailored to your needs, it's simple to contact liveBooks support and request the site to go live. Within a short amount of time, the site is live and ready to be viewed by all. Yet another great feature provided by liveBooks is search engine optimization, where it's simple to add your URL to be actively found through Google, Yahoo and Bing. All image titles, portfolio names, and keywords are searchable. Link your site with Google Analytics, and you will be able to see where your visitors are coming from and how they found you. 

I would recommend liveBooks highly to any photographer or videographer looking to market themselves on the web. It's a great, user-friendly service, with fantastic customer support and value. 

Check out my liveBooks website at



Discussion 9

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Thank you so much Bruce and I agree with all the points you made about liveBooks. It really is a great service and so user friendly. 

I'm very happy with the aesthetics of my site, the performance and functionality. I recently uploaded some new work, and it was so easy to change my site around I was done in a matter of minutes. 

Love liveBooks!

Thank you everyone for your thoughts and input. I'm glad I can share my experience with the BH Insights community.

I have been a customer of livebooks for over 5 years for my website. I am a professional oil painter and fine art printer.  I have always loved my site, but I fear they have changed. Their new policies on HTML sites have  changed my perspective on their business practices concerning loyal customers.  I paid for a "one time buy out subscription" $948.00 in 2012.  I was told this was a one time fee, and my website would be hosted  from that point forward for $90.00 a year.  Recently, they have chosen to reformat and say that although the website changeover is free, they will no longer honor the subscription price.  They currently want me to pay for the same website for $240 annually and give no option to keep the old flash site with the subscription pricing, making the "buy out" not exist.  They have not offerred me any deals or discounts to help this situation, and act as if they can decide to charge any price they want

My advice to anyone out there using livebooks services is make sure you have good documentation of your pricing, or else they may choose to change it without any explanation.  Make sure you have written documentation in contract form that your pricing will not change.  If not, you are stuck, because you have already paid thousands for a website they can change at any time.

Greetings all,

I been a very satisfied Livebooks client since early on.  I would like to comment that I credit my search engine ranking to that time in the marketplace but also to Livebooks SEO architecture.  They offer a very nice interface for creating a companion HTML site for portable devices, too. 

I recently added the Vimeo integration and it unbelievably easy!  In no more than 20 seconds, I can update the video embedded in my Livebooks site.

My editorial interests and educational tour business focus on my work in Amazonian Ecuador, but Livebooks really brings it home with consistently excellent ideas and client support!

Sara, you wrote a nice piece and I'm happy for you. Nice work!

Saludos,  Bruce

It looks nice, but it's not that affordable (the most expensive out of the competition), for every add-on they charge a lot.

But very nice photos though.

Howard:  iGiggle.

Alex. Thank you for your kind message. Yes, liveBooks does have a video page, I mentioned in the article that you can add videos through Vimeo, an online video hosting service. It's extremely simple to add your video work to the site. 

Hi Sara,

Have just stumbled onto this site while searching for something else and have just noticed your website.  Love your work!  Very talented.  I suspect someone of your skills is actually making money out of something they love to do.  Keep up the great work.  Us 'amatuers' can only dream to have an ounce of your talent.  Well done. 

The liveBooks service that you've mentioned really shows how unique your style is when using 'old school' film.  Your site really presents your work in a fantastic manner and is very easy naviagate.  Would love to know more about how you got the site up and running.   I do have a question Sara in regards to liveBooks.  Are you able to upload videos onto your site with this service?  If so that would be wonderful.

Love your site and hopefully one day you might be able to present your work here in Australia.


Onscreen, Steve McQueen looked cool. But breaking basic rules of grammar for a catchy brand name?

iBeg to differ...

Thanks Howard! It was a great experience working with liveBooks on my much-needed website. I'm glad I could share my experience creating it with fellow photographers who read B&H Insights because making a nicely designed website is easy than one would think. 

Thank you for the feedback.

And *chuckle* about the P.S. Because it sounds 'cool'? 


I like the look of the liveBooks website a great deal. Very clean! Nice. It was also a good opportunity to see some more of your work.

Thanks for writing this post—quite informative.


PS: Why does everything start with a lowercase letter and feature a capital letter mid-word these days?