Proof Like a Pro: Online or In-Person Photo Proofing?

After you have set up the photo session, taken the pictures and edited them, the next step is showing the work to your client.

Essentially, photo proofing is a process when a photographer views the photographs he/she has taken with the client, to give the client the opportunity to choose the best shots from a photo session. However, the debate rages on among photographers on which method is better: in-person proofing or online proofing.

History of Photo Proofing

Photography was invented long before the internet and obviously long before digital photography was developed. In the same way photo proofing services, as they are known today, have developed from a much more tedious process that was used before digital photography existed.

As a rule, it was done by reviewing tiny printed photo samples or by looking at the negatives of a camera film. After clients made their choice of the pictures, they were printed in laboratories or dark-rooms.

Jared Erondu
Photo by Jared Erondu

Various techniques were applied to enhance the shots. Basically, this was a manual process which required time, skills, and special tools, such as paper, chemicals, lab equipment etc. This is the exact reason why photo proofing has been simplified as much as it has – to get rid of unnecessary work and costs.

Photo Proofing Today

With the rapid growth of both photography and printing technology, we now have a wider range of choices when it comes to photo proofing. While there is no need for a physical dark-room anymore, there is a digital version of a dark-room still in use.

Be it Photoshop, Lightroom, or any other photo editing software, every photographer these days does the same job, but without a physical dark-room. Some photographers have a rule to never show raw images to clients, which means that a photographer should work on perfecting every shot, without even knowing whether a client will choose it or not.

There are two variants of photo proofing: in-person proofing and online proofing. Let’s discuss the cons and pros of these two methods.

In-Person Photo Proofing

In-person photo proofing refers to meeting a client and showing him/her the images from their photo session. If you do not have a studio, you may meet your client at their home or at a local coffee shop.

Startup Stock
Photo by Startup Stock Photos

You will show your client small printed samples of each image that you have taken, your price list, photos from their photo session in a digital format (just in case) and some other product examples you would like to sell, such as a photo album, postcard etc..

Let’s face it, meeting your client in-person gives you huge advantages. When you put the picture samples in front of your client, you can see his/her emotions at once. Making an emotional connection with your client in this way, may help you to improve your sales.

Among the disadvantages of in-person meetings are: it takes time and money to print the samples and get prepared for a meeting. The meeting may take over an hour, taking into account travel time.

Online Photo Proofing

Online photo proofing is an alternative to in-person proofing. You just need to upload all the images to the photo gallery online and send a link to your client. From there, your customers are able to decide which images they would like to buy, and even download them, depending on your specifications.

The ease of online photo proofing depends on the proofing tool you use. It should have unlimited space to store your photos, beautifully organized galleries to show off your pictures in the best way, and maybe some payment system, so your client is able to pay for your job online.

Pawel Kadysz
Photo by Pawel Kadysz

Online photo proofing is quite painless in comparison to in-person proofing. It takes less time and effort. It suits the photographers who sell photography packages, as they can upload an almost unlimited number of images. It’s the best way to show raw images to your client. Also, online proofing gives your client extra time to decide which images to choose, while with in-person proofing the time is limited.

However, giving a client too much time to decide on which photos to order can also be a disadvantage. When a client has many great shots and all time in the world to decide which to order, sometimes it’s rather hard to make a choice. In this way it can sometimes take a really long time to get an answer from a client. Also, you do not have the opportunity to influence your client’s decision and offer extra products that you sell.

How to Choose the Best Online Proofing System?

When it comes to choosing the best photo proofing tool for your business, take into account the following things:

  • Galleries should have a professional, sleek look
  • The system should be easy to use for you as well as your clients
  • Will you get charged for the sales you make using this tool?
  • Can you set up a password to make your galleries private? (This is extremely important when it comes to boudoir photography for example.)
  • Are there any additional features, such as adding music or creative slideshow effects to your galleries?
  • Is there a customer support service which can help you in case of technical problems?

There are a lot of online photo proofing services available these days. The list below features the best photo proofing services for you to choose from:

Defrozo is an all-in-one marketing platform for photographers. It allows you to not only create photo galleries for your clients, but to make a whole portfolio online, manage your tasks, schedule events and more. When it comes to client galleries, you can download high-resolution files, customize the gallery, and create a mobile-ready design. Defrozo is free.

Defrozo Screenshot

PASS has beautiful Pinterest-style galleries, following the “Shoot and Share” principle, which means that you can download your photos and share them on Facebook with a link back to yourself. It costs $29.

PASS screenshot

Zenfolio offers a whole package of various features to manage your client galleries. For $140 per year you get Client Proofing & Favorites included in the Premium plan.

Zenfolio screensot

PhotoShelter is one of the most popular photography platforms these days. It offers various image uploading methods, even including Lightroom plugins.Their galleries are easy to manage and customize. When it comes to pricing, the cheapest option they offer is $9.99 per month for 4GB of storage.

PhotoShelter screenshot