So you've just finished your very first photoshoot as a professional photographer, and you're feeling great. All of your photos are edited, they're looking beautiful, and they're ready for you to send them over to your client for proofing before you can add them to your online portfolio. But what is the best way to share photos with clients, especially when you're dealing with multiple high resolution images with a large file size?
If you try to send your photos as email attachments, the quality of your images will suffer, and your files will probably be way too big to send in a single email. Plus, it just doesn't look professional, and could make clients see you as a less viable option when they need to hire a photographer in the future. In this guide, we'll go over everything you need to know about delivering photos to clients in a professional manner, including some of the different softwares and tools that professional photographers can use to create a high quality client gallery.
What Features Do You Need To Send Photos To Clients?
The best way to deliver photos to your clients is going to depend on the features that you need from an online gallery. Here are some of the common features that many photographers look for when it comes to choosing a program to use for delivering high resolution images to clients.
Ability To Handle Large File Size and Quantity
Do your photography clients need your photos to be print-ready, or will they be using them exclusively online? Print-ready files will be higher resolution and take up more space on whatever file sharing method you choose. If the photos are just being used on a website or for email marketing, however, your clients will need smaller images that are sized to their specifications to reduce load time. Some clients may require multiple sizes and resolutions of each image, so you need to make sure that the client gallery program you choose will be able to handle the amount and size of files that you need to share.
Client Proofing Capabilities
If you're going to be receiving client feedback, it's way less of a hassle to allow comments directly on the photos in your client gallery, rather than having to keep track of emails and double check exactly which photo they are referring to.
Using a method of sharing photos that allows for advanced and customizable security settings benefits both you and your clients. For example, password protection allows your customers to trust that their images are only being accessed by them. Watermarking and disabling right-click save can also prevent your intellectual property from being stolen.
Different Methods for Sharing Photos With Clients
There are a few different ways that you can share photos with clients, and they all have their pros and cons. Let's take a closer look at the methods (and programs) that photographers use to share photos with their clients.
USB Stick or DVD
While this way to share photos has probably been around the longest, that doesn't mean that it's the most effective anymore. The main downside to using a USB stick or a DVD to send photos to your clients is that it will have to be physically delivered to your customers rather than allowing them to access their photoshoot online. For that reason, this is a less convenient method of sharing photos.
File Sharing Service
File sharing services are a straightforward way to deliver a gallery of photos to your client, and all they will need to access the images is an email address. Since file sharing services allow you to simply generate a link which you then send to your clients, it's not going to be complicated for them to access their photos, even if they are not the most technologically advanced.
Many file sharing services are also free (or they have free plans available), making them an easy way to deliver photos for a photographer who is new to the business and doesn't have a ton of extra cash to spare just yet. However, these file sharing services may not be the safest bet. Most of them are not password-protected and could be risky for your original creative work.
Here are a few file sharing services that are commonly used by professional photographers for delivering images to clients.
WeTransfer is a file sharing service that allows you to upload a ZIP folder of photos and receive a shareable download link, which you can then forward to your client's email address. It's important to note that the transfer link will only be available for 7 days after the initial file upload, so your client will need to make sure they download the files before then, or you might end up being forced to upload your images all over again.
Their free plan allows you to store up to 2 GB of images with no registration required. If you need more space and settings, the paid version starts at $12 USD per month and includes features like password protection as well as giving you up to 20 GB of space in a single email link.
Like WeTransfer, Dropbox's free plan allows you to use up to 2 GB of storage, but since the link won't expire after a certain number of days, this means that you have to keep using that storage for as long as you want your images to be available to your clients. Plus, Dropbox is cloud based, so you also need to keep your files on your hard drive or your clients will lose access when you move them to a new location.
Here's how it works: download and install Dropbox on your computer, then drag and drop your images into the Dropbox folder. Your files are then automatically uploaded to the cloud, and you'll receive a link that you can send over to your clients. The link will never expire and will continue to provide access to your photos as long as you don't move or delete the files.
If you need more storage that 2GB, Dropbox's basic plan for individuals is $19.99 USD per month and provides you with 3 TB (or 3,072 GB) of storage space.
Google Drive is a great option for a photographer who doesn't have a large budget, because they offer up to 15 GB of storage space with their free plan. You can share individual files or entire folders, and you'll be able to edit your settings to control which (if any) images can be edited and downloaded and which are strictly read-only.
A huge benefit to Google Drive is that so many non-photographers already use it as their main online storage, so it won't take an adjustment for your clients to get used to using it.
If 15 GB isn't enough, you can upgrade to a paid Google One account, where the most basic plan starts at $1.99 USD per month and provides up to 100 GB of storage space.
You may already be using Lightroom to edit your photos in post-production, but did you know that you can also use it to send your images directly to your clients? This means you can finish editing your photos and immediately send them off for client proofing without even having to open a new browser tab.
The downside to using Lightroom as your file sharing technique is that the images are sent by emails, which has its limitations specifically when it comes to accommodating large image size and the number of images you can share in a single email.
Adobe Lightroom is available for $9.99 USD per month, and that includes access to 1 TB of storage space as well.
Online Client Gallery
While file sharing services are a totally reasonable choice, especially if you're new to professional photography, there's little doubt that an online client gallery is a better option if you really want to impress potential clients with your skills and professionalism. Rather than having your clients download a basic ZIP folder using a link, online client galleries can be customized to reflect your brand and photography aesthetic, and they allow for a client to browse all of their photos at once in an aesthetically pleasing way.
Most online client galleries operate in pretty much the same way. First, you'll upload your high resolution photos. The system will resize them according to your client's specifications, which is especially helpful for busy photographers if your clients need multiple file sizes for each image, as you won't be wasting your valuable time creating different sized photos for each of your client's needs.
You can also set a password and you get to choose how long the gallery will be available to your clients before it expires (if at all). This allows you to make the most of the storage space that you are allotted by clearing out older photoshoots and making room for new work. Unlike with cloud-based photo sharing, you don't have to keep the files on your drive in order for clients to access them.
The protection of your creative work is extremely important as well. For website builders, like Format, the client gallery allows you to not only share password-protected photos to your client, but also watermark your work. This adds an extra layer of security for your images.
Another benefit to using an online gallery for photographers is that you can integrate an online shop directly through the program you're using, so that clients can order prints while browsing the images from their photoshoot. Most client galleries offer free plans as well as upgrades for photographers who need access to more storage space. Here are a few of the best client photo gallery sites for sharing images with your clients, including some great options for hosting a free online gallery for photographers.
Now that you understand the difference between the various ways that you can share photographs with your clients and have some examples of programs to use and how they compare, it's time to decide which online image gallery you're going to use for your photography business. Choosing the best method for you will depend on many factors, like what features matter the most to you and which ones you feel you can do without for the time being. It's a good idea to write up a budget and determine how much money you are willing to pay for a client image gallery, no matter what point you're at in your photography career.
Once you've got your new online photography sharing gallery all set up, you can start tailoring your customer experience and delivering images like a real professional photographer. Don't forget to carefully select your very best work to showcase on your online portfolio website, so that you can keep documenting the work you're doing and attracting even more of your dream clients for future professional photography gigs.
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