All businesses have expenses. One of my biggest business expenses is photo software and processing fees, such as photo culling and editing software, photo hosting, backups, and archiving.
For editing photos alone, I maintain six programs that I regularly use. After that, I can categorize things into four parts: external hard drives, photo gallery hosting service, continuous computer backup, and photo archiving. Here, I’m talking only about gallery hosting and photo archives. Let’s break it down!
I personally use Shootproof for my client photo galleries. I started using this web based service many years ago, and continue with it to this day. It’s user-friendly – for both me and my clients – and they have some great features. This is the way that I instantly share my finished galleries with my clients, allowing them to download files and to easily share files with family and friends.
Shootproof has a few features that I am particularly fond of — automated emails, customization of galleries, password protection, and lots more. I also love that for online ordering, it links directly to my photo lab, making it convenient for me to complete customers’ orders as they are placed. They can order high quality prints, canvases, metal prints, and greeting cards.
So, yes I love my online gallery program, but it’s not free! As a professional photographer, I have thousands of photos to deliver to clients each month. I want to allow enough time for clients to view and download their photos, and this amount of storage has costs associated with it.
Backups & Archiving
I do try to keep photo galleries for a period of time, although I can’t keep them forever due to the sheer number of photos I take and deliver each year. There are numerous methods of file storage, including Shootproof, although I opt to back up my photos on external hard drives. This is the most cost effective for me, even though it requires extra uploading time.
What does this mean for clients?
It takes me time and money to be able to deliver and store your photos, even for a short period of time. This means that photographers have to put time limits on how long photos are accessible to you to review, order, and download.
In my business, I keep weddings up for a year, and all other sessions for 60 days. In my delivery email, I state that extensions can be granted as long as you ask for the extension before the expiration date. And in those cases, sessions are extended by 2 weeks, and weddings by 4 weeks.
Once a gallery expires, I charge a $50 reactivation fee (also stated in the gallery delivery email and expiration alert email one week ahead of expiration). The reason for this fee is that once the gallery expires, there are extra steps I have to take to make the photos available to you again. Since I use a separate storage for my long-term archive, I have to spend time finding the particular gallery, then re-uploading the photos to create another gallery in order to make your photos available to you again. This takes time out of my workflow. In the last week or so alone, I've had 13 inquiries to re-upload galleries! If each one takes on average an hour or so to complete, you can see how much time this takes away from my editing and delivering current clients' galleries.
Even though I’m paying for my galleries yearly, there is still a limit to the number of photos I can post based on my plan. I utilize 100,000 photos, but you’d be surprised how fast I get to that number!
Download your photos in a timely manner
The key takeaway here is to be mindful of your expiration dates, and download or order your photos upon receipt.