I have to be honest, when I initially started my photography business a few years ago, I had not thought about how to deliver photo galleries to my clients until after my very first session. See, when you start a photography business, it’s easy to be overwhelmed with all the tiny pieces of the puzzle to put together. After I edited my very first photo session, one piece of the puzzle I didn’t think about was how I was going to actually get the images I took in my client’s hands.
Should I put the pictures on a USB drive and mail it to them? Nah, I’m too excited to deliver their gallery when I finish editing. Mailing a USB drive will take too long.
Maybe I can upload them to a google drive or Dropbox? Nope, I didn’t like that option either. It just feels too unprofessional.
Since the above options didn’t work for me I thought about the most important factors for how to deliver photo galleries to my clients? I want something that was professional. A platform that is beautiful and wows my clients as soon as they open their gallery. It needs to be super easy for my client to use (I was not into answering a million emails about how to download photos). Lastly, I want something that is relatively inexpensive – I mean I am in the beginning stages of starting this business and don’t have all the money in the world.
I spent a few days researching online the different options to deliver my galleries. I Googled everything under the sun. As I researched, I learned that there are different companies out there that specifically cater to delivering photo galleries for photographers.
Here are some common gallery delivery programs that exist:
(NOTE: It is important for me to note that some of these gallery platforms, like Zenfolio and SmugMug, allow you to create a photography website as well. Feel free to research the gallery delivery platform that you like best, but PLEASE do not use these systems as your actual photography website. These platforms were not created with SEO in mind. It’s very difficult to build up SEO and be found on search engines, such as Google, using these platforms for your website. If you want to know what website platforms are best for your photography business, you can read this article all about the best website platforms for photographers!)
The above photo gallery delivery platforms are all similar. You can’t go wrong with one of the above options to make you look professional and make delivering client photo galleries easy.
With researching all the possible options for delivering my photo galleries, I still had the dilemma with how much to spend on this.
What I did was find a platform that gave me the most for free. After researching and comparing many of the above gallery delivery platforms, I found that Pixiset gave the most storage with their free plan. You can get 3 GB of storage for $0. I tested out how Pixiset looked and functioned. I loved its simplicity and the fact that I could use it for a while for free was a huge benefit.
Pixiset made it super simple to create separate galleries for each client. I can customize how each client’s gallery looks and the style of the cover image. The best part is that I can email the gallery directly to my client from Pixiset.
You can make the gallery public or hidden. Password protection for galleries is also available if security is important to you or your client. Finally, Pixiset automatically resizes your images so your client can download the high-resolution size for printing, or just the web-size for posting to their Facebook and Instagram accounts.
When I delivered my client’s first photo galleries, I gave them two weeks to download their photos. After those two weeks, I deleted their gallery from Pixiset, which freed up more space for new galleries.
This idea of setting a time limit for my clients to download their images worked like a dream. For a while anyway… But, I started booking more and more sessions and I didn’t have enough space on the free account to upload images without deleting galleries that were still active. I upgraded to Pixiset’s lowest monthly payment plan. Right now, for $8 a month, you can upload up to 10 GB of images (roughly 3,000 images).
Now I had a system to deliver galleries that was fairly inexpensive ($8 a month was covered by just one photo session). I left my galleries open to my clients for a longer period of time (one month) and deleted old galleries as I needed more space.
If you are just starting out in your photography business and don’t have the money to pay for unlimited storage for photo galleries, then this is a great option for you!
As I am writing this blog post, I want to be open about where I am at now. With my current photography business, I shoot a lot more sessions, elopements and weddings. I have also come to understand the importance of having a really solid back-up system for my files.
Last spring, I decided to move all my galleries to be completely online permanently. In addition to my current two back-up systems, I wanted a third back-up system for the final, edited images I deliver to my clients. (It just scares me to death to ever lose a client’s images!)
So, I set out to research a gallery delivery platform that allowed for unlimited storage/backup for the lowest price. I stumbled across Pic-Time. From the amount of research I did, Pic-Time is the cheapest option for unlimited storage while still being a beautiful, easy-to-use system.
I moved every single one of my galleries over to Pic-Time (you can do this manually yourself, or they offer gallery migration for $2 per gallery). I now pay $29 per month for unlimited photo gallery storage and every one of the galleries that I deliver is backed-up with Pic-Time. And, Pic-Time still has all the same functionality that I loved with Pixiset.
As I’m writing this, I was curious and looked up Pic-Time’s pricing for their free galleries. Heads up, Pic-Time blows Pixiset out of the water! Pic-Time allows up to 20GB of storage on the free account (Pixiset only allows 3GB)! So, if you are a new photographer looking for a professional, long-term way to deliver your photo galleries to your clients, I would 100% recommend starting with Pic-Time. You can start out with their free version and upgrade as needed.
I hope this article was helpful to you! I hope it removed one stumbling block that was keeping you from moving forward with creating the photography business of your dreams. Let me know what other questions you have about running a photography business below.
P.S. I felt like it was important to note that I am not getting paid at all, or even was asked to do this, from Pic-Time. I am just a photographer, sharing all the research I have already done with hopes that it will help somebody else!
Hey, it’s me, Larissa! I started my photography business three years ago with a one-day photography class, a craigslist camera and zero experience photographing people. I’m not a hot shot in the industry, but a real person who built a business that replaced my previous job’s income and a fire in my soul to share how I got my business off the ground with other newbie photographers. If you want more advice, how-tos, and tips on getting your portrait photography business off the ground, head over to my photographer’s page!
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I really enjoyed your article. I do have one question though. I am in the process of re-building my photography business. I am looking to do photography as my part time job. I am currently looking for a website builder where i can also post my client galleries. I was originally interested in Zenfolio but I don’t like how they charge commission fees. I then stumbled upon Pic-Time but I saw in your article that you said not to use this as a website. Is there a reason for that? I wasn’t really planning on having a website on top of another site that I use for photo delivery. I was just looking for more of a one-stop-shop. Do you have any suggestions for that?
Hey Amber! So the reason I don’t recommend an all-in-one like pixiset or pictime or smugmug is because they do not have the SEO control and functionality that other platforms like wordpress, squarespace and showit have. They also provide little control in terms of the functionality or the design of your site. But most important is SEO control! I get more than half of my leads from unpaid SEO so believe a good website platform is critical to making that successful. I have yet to discover a website platform AND gallery delivery all in one that also is good for SEO and functionality/design. I currently have my website through showit and deliver galleries through pictime. I’d love to chat more and help out further! Feel free to email me at email@example.com
Also, here’s a blog I wrote about the best website platforms for photographers and goes more into depth on reasoning: https://wethelightphotography.com/best-website-platforms-for-your-photography-business/