You’ve reached the end of a photo edit and are ready to share the images with your clients. Before you hit “send”, however, take a moment to consider what your clients need. With a couple of smart moves you can solve a problem they might not even know they have!
With the rise of cloud services, there are more ways than ever to share images. The ideal photo delivery solution has three key characteristics:
- Collaborative: the best part of sharing images with clients is when it becomes a collaborative process. It’s ideal when viewers can leave feedback directly in the sharing tool.
- Secure: when possible, we want to ensure that the photos we’re sharing are only in the hands of our client. Choosing services that have the option to password-protect a gallery will increase the trust of our clients.
- Frictionless: we never know what the technical capabilities or our clients are, so it’s best to use tools that transcend workflows.
So, following that criteria, the tools below work for a variety of needs.
For many photographers, Dropbox is a natural choice because there is a good chance they’re already using it for cloud storage of other documents. Whether you’re keeping your tax documents or Lightroom catalog in Dropbox, it’s a tool that’s already familiar to many of us. The familiarity of this tool drives its popularity for sharing photos with clients.
Deliver with Dropbox
The simplest way to share images with Dropbox is to compress the finished image files into a zip archive and send them to the client. Most modern operating systems include a built in tool to do so; on Mac, you can select a set of files, Control-click, and choose Compress. Once the process is complete you’ve combined all of the files into a zip archive.
If you move the archive to Dropbox, right-click will give you the Share Dropbox Link option. When you click this, Dropbox will put a public share link in your clipboard that you can paste elsewhere. Give this link to anyone to download the original archive. They don’t need your Dropbox login to access the zip file.
However, this isn’t the best way to use Dropbox. Dropbox has some special functionality for sharing images and letting the viewer give feedback on the image. This meets our collaborative objective.
The best way to enable collaboration is with a Dropbox shared album, which is viewable through any web browser
To create a shared album, gather your images and place them in a new folder in your Dropbox directory. Next, access the Dropbox website and login to your account. Find the folder with your images and right click it, and choose Create Album.
After you create an album, Dropbox will put all of the images in a Dropbox Album, which doesn’t create a separate folder. It’s simply a grouping of images that exists only in Dropbox. Now let’s invite a client to the album.
When the viewer visits the link that Dropbox generates they’ll see the images of the album. Upon clicking an image they’ll have the option to leave feedback for each image. The option to download images is also available.
You’ll receive notifications of comments as they’re made, and you can even trade comments on the images. This makes Dropbox a great solution for image collaboration.
Pixieset has a simple and minimalist approach to displaying photo galleries, with a mosaic grid style display. It’s one of the easiest, cleanest ways to get images online and presentable. Upload images to Pixieset and it generates a shareable website, which can also be guarded with a password. Finally, Pixieset allows you to setup a shop for your clients to order images.
Deliver with Pixieset
Pixieset is a strong choice for photo sharing because it allows clients to share their favorites with you. Delivery is also secure, as you can generate pins that expire after use.
After you’ve created a gallery with Pixieset you can change the sharing options for your clients. From the user dashboard, choose an image collection to change the sharing options.
Setting a password helps us achieve the security objective and build trust with clients. Once we set a password, our visitors will be required to enter it to view any image in the collection.
Pixieset isn’t just an online gallery solution: it also allows the client to download the images from your account. You can set a four digit PIN to allow for the download of the gallery. You’ll also get notifications when the image collection has been downloaded, so that you can keep an eye on when clients have viewed a gallery.
Finally, one of the most helpful features is the Favorite option. When your client is viewing images, he or she can add a favorite tag to any image directly from the browser. You can review the favorites later on.
Adobe Lightroom is the do-it-all image management and editing tool, and its sharing power has increased significantly in recent versions. Much like Dropbox, the strength of sharing with Lightroom comes from its integration in many workflows.
Deliver Via E-mail From Lightroom
Lightroom features several different options for delivering images to clients. Although e-mail may not be the best way to deliver a large gallery, it’s a great way to give clients a quick look at what you’re working on.
When you want to send a single image or small set of images to a client to review, start off by selecting a single image or series of images in Lightroom. I’ll usually do this from Grid View, where I’ll Shift-click to select a range. Then, Control click and choosing the “E-mail Photos” option will open the e-mail window.
On the next window, you can add a Gmail or other e-mail account, and then compose a message to go with the images. Don’t forget to choose a preset at the bottom of the image; I typically use the medium option to make it a small export.
Deliver via FTP
In addition to e-mail, Lightroom can help you upload images directly to an FTP server with the help of a plug-in called FTP Publisher. When a client needs images published directly to their server, like news and editorial publiscations for example, this is a great way to do it. Download the FTP Publisher plug-in from Photographer’s Toolbox. You can export three images at a time for free with this plugin, or purchase the plug-in for around $16 USD and unlock the limit.
After downloading the plug-in extract it anywhere on your computer. Find the Export menu in Lightroom by choosing an image, Right-click (Control-click on Mac) and choose Export. Then install the plugin by clicking Plug-in Manager… on the Export window.
After you’ve added the FTP publisher plug-in, press the Done button and return to the export window. At the top of the window, choose FTP Publisher from the dropdown window to prepare your first FTP upload.
Finally, you just need to add our FTP connection details, including the server name, user name and password. Choose Edit on the FTP Server Settings dropdown, and then log in with your credentials.
That’s it! Wou’ve added the FTP plugin to Lightroom and run your first upload. This is added piece of functionality saves crucial time when your clients need images sent directly to their server as quickly as possible.
Sharing photos with your clients is an essential, but often overlooked, part of the professional photographer’s workflow. In this article you’ve learned about three great ways to get images in the hands of your client, as well as the key things to consider when doing so. You learned how to use the software and features to get images to your client, keeping in mind collaboration and security.
For a more detailed look at what you should deliver, including README files, contact sheets, and more, I suggest reading Best Practices: How to Deliver Digital Image Files to Your Clients Over the Internet by Harry Guinness here on Tuts+.
How are you delivering and sharing images with your clients? What do you look for when choosing a delivery method? Do you prefer another cloud storage provider over Dropbox? Competitor to Pixieset (there are many) a better fit for your workflow? Or maybe you’re a Photo Mechanic fan. Let us know in the comments.
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