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As an adjunct to the Tangents blog, the intention with this forum is to answer any questions, and allow a diverse discussion of topics related photography. With that, see it as an open invitation to just climb in and start threads and to respond to any threads.

Ability to Purchase Prints On-Line (?)

I've signed up for a service in my area where people looking for a photographer can send in a request, and if the service feels you are a good match, you can bid on the job. Prospective clients can specify a lot of things, and one of them is "Photo Products". So, here is an example of one request I feel I cannot meet, so I pass on this type of request:

Photo products

CD / DVD, Online or digital proofs and prints, Physical proofs and prints, Ability to purchase prints online, Album.

I'm a part-timer, just trying to get going in Events. I can obviously handle the CD/DVD, Online prints, and maybe even the physical prints, but I would have to go to a decent rpint shop, and just charge the customer what I pay plus a little extra. I can't imagine photographers, unless they are a huge business, printing their own stuff.

But what do you do about "purchase prints online", and :"digital proofs". Any suggestions? What do you guys do, or how do you handle this?

Thanks - Dave


  • When I sold prints to raise funds for a charity (photography is not my day job) I used Smugmug and it worked great. You can setup albums that people can review, you can have a watermark appear online and then they can select images for purchase specifying the size prints they want (you setup in advance what sizes you want to offer), etc. They handle the ordering, payment, production, and shipping, and you get paid from Smugmug. I know I was only using a fraction of what the site offers. I'm sure they have lots of competition as well - Google would be your friend to research.
  • Nikonguy - Thanks. I've heard the name before, but wasn't sure what they did. I'll look into it for sure - Dave
  • Hmmm ... there's a charge for using Smugmug?
  • Dave,
    Smugmug works well especially if you do not have an opportunity to meet with those who were photographed at a later date. There is a yearly fee for smugmug and the charge varies according to what services you will be needing. You can set the price for prints and downloads. You can also choose which lab and products you want to be available to clients. Downloads are what most people seem to want anyway and you will receive more profit from a download than a print if you price them correctly.
  • Thanks, Julie. I'll have to check it out more carefully. Do you use it? Do you somehow price in the yearly charge so you end up paying little, if anything?

  • Yes, you can price the amount you would like your profit to become. Most times though I had wished that i just created only a set download fee..... no prints, more profit that way and they get instant downloads after payment. I still use smugmug as a backup to my family images, but I have not been shooting non client type events lately. Whatever you decide, be sure to watermark hard on smugmug. I can't tell you how many insta, twitter, snap pics Ive seen with my images and the watermark on them.
  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    I use Zenfolio for print fulfillment. I don't want to touch a print. 

    I also use them as my online / offsite backup of the full-res JPGs of every shoot. 
  • Hi - I'm renewing this discussion because I am now it the situation of "Online or digital proofs and prints", as someone through "Thumbtack" has hired me.

    I know I would have to talk with a person at Smugmug or equivalent. So, I am imagining a link is sent to the customer, and they can pick and choose whatever images they want to have printed. Is the cost totally on the customer, which is what I'm hoping? What confuses me is the "you can price the amount you would like your profit to become" statement.

    Like I wrote, I will have to talk with a rep. I need the least expensive option for me. I'm hoping I didn't mess this first job up in this portion, and I don't want to take a bath.

  • CanonJayCanonJay Member
    edited September 2015
    Hi dbruno! I use shoot proof for all my images online. They have a tier payment system. I think up to 1500 images is like 10 bucks a month. It is linked to several labs and you can choose which one to fulfill orders with. You customize it to your brand and set packages all within. Send the personalized link and away you go. All your print orders filled. As Neil has mentioned, Zenfolio is good also but if Im not mistaken a tad more expensive. I've used both in the past, but have stuck with shoot proof for the simplicity and I like the look of it. Hope that helps! 
  • Thanks, Jay. For what it's worth, this is the question (I just sent to Smugmug:

    Hi - I am a part-time event photographer, and potential clients who are looking for a photographer sometimes ask for "On-line digital proofs and prints" or "Ability to purchase prints on line". A photography forum I subscribe to has suggested Smugmug.
    Really all I want to do is put my finished product (with watermark) somewhere that my client can view, and order whatever print they want. What is confusing to me is making a profit from this action. All I want, or at least what I think I want, is for the client to buy their own photos, and leave me out of it. Is this something I can accomplish inexpensively with Smugmug?

    I don't *think* I want to get involved with making a profit from people buying prints. If they see something they like, they buy it. Am I completely out of touch with this process? I am hoping to figure this out within the next couple of days, as I have a gig on Saturday where the customer's request is "Online or digital proofs and prints"

  • Gotcha dbruno! For what it is worth, you can set packages in ShootProof to any rate you want. If you don't want to make a profit, that is fine also (but I would not recommend that at all) You can also just set a image download option. Where people can go in and download the original file or the whole set. You can charge for that or not. Its up to you. I have several price lists set up in mine. One is for weddings and portraits. The other is for events, such as sports etc...You just assign the list you want and thats it. But since you asked if your out of touch and I am not preaching, so please forgive me. I am not perfect. I would seriously value your images and mark them up a fair price as you will be putting time into it. No money exchanges hands as its all automated and you don't have to do a thing. As far as I am concerned, Its a very easy system. 
  • Thanks, Jay, I will check into it. I was assuming it would be similar to me sending the client a USB thumbdrive or CD, and if they want to print an image, they go to a local place and have it printed. When I do that - meaning the customer want the final product on a CD - my price is built in, and whatever they do after that as far as printing, I'm not involved and I don't make any more money. You know what I mean?

    Trying not to digress: This client Saturday is the first one I've snagged through a site called Thumbtack, and it's important I do well and get a positive review. I charged a flat fee (the support team highly recommends that versus an hourly rate), and the job is only an hour. Usually, I charge a processing fee which includes the final product mailed out on CDs or USB. The reason I don't want to make a profit is because I got the job before working out all this on-line stuff. I will be talking with the client soon, but my hope is that he is not assuming any and all prints are included with the price. maybe after I get my you-know-what together I can figure out making a profit on prints. But I'm a part-timer, with the goal of 1-3 paying jobs/month on top of a bit of volunteering, so paying for a service I may seldom use doesn't go along with the plan for making a buck here and there.

  • Ok I am familiar with that site. This is my suggestion. First they cannot expect getting everything included unless that was worked out a head of time. I am assuming they just want a "a shoot and burn package" , which all they expect is the image files for them to use. With that said, I suggest offering the download included (image files) which satisfies the original agreement. Then offer prints for sale at an additional price through you. They would have to go somewhere and pay anyway. Why not make money here if you can and its easy.  
  • Thanks for all the suggestions. I am interested in finding out through one of these sites what the cost for a print is. You know, like walking into CVS and having an 8x10 printed out for $4. Once I delve into it, I will probably find out. ShootProof looked pretty good when I looked at it, and they offer a 30-day free trial.

  • So, ShootProof is unable to give me any sort of pricing advice, and I am totally lost about what to charge if someone were to order a print. All I want to do is not lose money and/or end up eating some of the cost. Anyone got any advice?
  • Ok dbruno. As pricing goes, it is as personal as the shoes your wearing. Of course you don't want to lose money, so I will try to be specific as I can in relation to the steps. First and foremost you will need to set up the shoot proof account. Furthermore, I use black river imaging as my lab to fulfill the shoot proof orders. When you set up the price list within shoot proof they have a couple of tools to use. It will show you what your cost of each item, you set the price on the next tab  and the next tab shows you the profit. Then the last tab has customer shipping options.  They actually have a markup tool within the panel to help with this. This will insure you don't lose money. 
  • C-Jay, thanks for this help. I set up an account with ShootProof, choosing to go with them over SmugMug as they were really responsive. It turns out the client for Saturday is going with my standard format - USB thumb drive mailed out 2-Day Priority.

    I opted for the "free" account, which gives me storage for 100 photos. There are no bells and whistles, and I am going to set some stuff up in the next few days. If I find I am getting more clients who want this method of delivery, I will upgrade to the $10/month account.

    One of the reps did send me a pricing example from one of the labs, and it really isn't as expensive as I thought it would be. It's not 19 cents for a 4x6 at CVS, but not outrageous.


  • Ok great dbruno! Glad it worked out for you. 
  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    Zenfolio / MPix Pro asks 
    69c for a 4x6
    and $1.09 for a 5x7

    I ask $10 for a 4x6 
    and $15 for a 5x7

    There's great advice to charge the same fee for any print 8x10 or smaller, because it takes you the same amount of time to retouch it! 

    Even when I give clients the JPGs, they still order through the Zenfolio link I give them, because these prints are retouched for skin blemishes and exit signs etc etc. 

  • Thanks, Neil. The short-fuse situation I had last week went away when the client told me he just wanted a thumb drive sent to him. But I still have to set something up for the future.

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