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Photography

3 Smart Ways to Deliver Work to Your Photography Clients

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This post is part of a series called Better Photo Workflows: Post-Production.
How to Use Smart Collections in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom

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.

Dropbox

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.

Dropbox sharing
Any file that’s in your Dropbox can be shared with others. Right-click (Control-click on Mac) on a field such as this zip archive and choose Share Link to get a link that can be shared with your clients.
Client view on Dropbox
For the client, they’ll be shown this view when visiting the link. The zip archive can be downloaded directly to the device, or copied to their Dropbox if they are a Dropbox user.

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.

Dropbox Album
To share an album of images, right click the folder that holds your images 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.

Share Album in Dropbox
After you’ve created the new album, you’ll be taken to a page that shows the images inside of it. If we click the “” button, we can choose the Share Album option. We’ll get a link to the album to share with a client.

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.

Using the Dropbox Album
Using image sharing with Dropbox is great for collaboration, as viewers can leave feedback on each image.

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

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.

Pixieset
Pixieset is one of my favorite choices because the galleries are automatically assembled and are aesthetically pleasing.

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.

Pixieset share settings
To get started with modifying the share settings for your Pixieset galleries click the name of the gallery on your Pixieset dashboard, then click the gear icon on the gallery settings.

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.

Set a password for Pixieset
Set a password on a Pixieset gallery to restrict access. This is a great feature when client photos aren’t meant for the public eye.

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.

Set a PIN for galleries in Pixieset
Pixieset goes beyond a standard gallery tool by allowing clients to download the full resolution JPEG images in the gallery. Assign a PIN to the gallery to control access to the download.

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.

Set Favourites in Picieset
When Favorites are enabled in the Pixieset gallery settings, a viewer can favorite their top images. Later on, you can review these favorites and even export the file names so that you can find them easily on your computer for further processing or delivery.

Adobe Lightroom

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.

E-mail photos using Lightroom
After you’ve selected a series of images, right clicking (control + click on Mac) and choosing “E-mail Photos” will open the dialog to attach images to an email.

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.

Send e-mail dialogue
Inside of Lightroom is an e-mail editor that will show after initiating the e-mail sequence. You can add a message to the images and choose a recipient. Also, make sure to choose a file-size preset that matches your image objectives; a medium sized file is the perfect size for a quick preview. You can also choose a full size export for when quality really counts. Simply press send when you’re finished, and Lightroom will send the images.

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.

Install the FTP plug-in
On the export window, choose Plug-in Manager from the lower left corner of the window.
Press add to find the plug-in
In the plugin manager, press Add and browse to the location of the extracted plugin.

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.

FTP upload from Lightroom

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.

Enter your credentials
Finally, after you click the Edit Settings dropdown, you can enter the login details for your client’s FTP server. This will connect your export directly to a server, and send images to the folder that they provide.

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.

Recap

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.

Keep Learning

  1. Best Practices: How to Deliver Digital Image Files to Your Clients Over the Internet
  2. The Anatomy of a Digital Asset Management System
  3. How to Create an On-Demand Photo Book in Adobe Lightroom
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