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What Are the Recommended Photo Delivery Methods for Real Estate Photographers?

Published: 22/07/2017

DeliveryBill in Northern Virginia recently asked the question:

I have been experiencing some issues in sending clients their photos and videos. What are some recommended photo delivery services to use?

First of all, I would not send video files to Realtors. Most Realtors won't have a clue what to do with a large video file. Host the video some place like YouTube, Vimeo or iPlayerHD and then send your client a link to the hosted video.

Jim also wanted to ask:

I've recently started using my realtor as my test dummy while I refine my photography and editing skills, and learn what he needs as a customer. He made the suggestion to use for getting him the pictures, because that's what he used with someone else in the past. He recently asked if I know of any other sites, since is very slow to download, after which he must upload to his MLS. Do experienced RE photographers use sites that realtors can download directly to their MLS? If not, how is it typically done, and do you have a list of commonly used websites?

Typically, only Realtors or their assistants can log in to upload photos to the MLS so real estate photographers deliver photos to the Realtor and the Realtors must do the MLS uploading. Many times, there are assistants in a real estate office that do much of the uploading to the MLS for all of the agents.

Here are the typical alternatives for real estate photo delivery:

  • Physical delivery of a CD: Many agents would just love to have you deliver a CD to their office. While this is certainly a customer service opportunity it just doesn't make economic sense and it doesn't scale to large volumes of clients. Besides, most modern laptops don't even have CD players anymore! Also, in some states (like WA and CA) there are sales tax implications when you deliver a tangible product. If you deliver a physical product in these and other states the whole shoot is subject to sales tax. So this is an alternative that is dying out.
  • Client logs into your site: This is a very professional approach for online delivery because delivery is via your personal branded site. However, this means you must have that has this capability. is one example. There are many others. Basically, each client has their own account on your website where they can log in and download their photos.
  • File/photo delivery services: A few years ago there used to be a few of these, now it seems like there are hundreds. A few of the popular ones are,,,, and All of these are professional ways to deliver photos and other large files. Many, like are tailored for photographers. They are all in the area of $10USD per month. With, you can deliver under 100 photos for free.
  • If you use for tours, it has a great built-in photo delivery feature that delivers two different sized photos. I use this feature all the time.
  • MLS-Delivery: A cloud-based solution proving time-saving tools that real estate photographers need to deliver professional media.
  • I put DropBox in as a separate alternative because of its wide usage and the fact that you can get 2Gb of storage for free. You can send anyone a download link to Dropbox files. This may be a good, free getting started service, but it doesn't look as professional as other alternatives.
  • Google Docs: Google Docs is very similar to and can easily be used to send files to clients.
  • PaySnap: There are several new services like PaySnap where the client must pay before the photos can be downloaded. Most of these services allow the client to download a watermarked version so they can see the photos but have to pay before they can get a version that is not watermarked.
  • Photo Invoice: Similar to PaySnap

Think of photo delivery as a promotion and customer service opportunity. Use delivery to present yourself professionally. For most of these delivery sites at around $10USD/month, they provide a very professional delivery process. One thing to avoid is sending ZIP files of the whole photoshoot. Some Realtors are not able to deal with ZIP files.

Larry Lohrman

21 comments on “What Are the Recommended Photo Delivery Methods for Real Estate Photographers?”

  1. Once again, I break the rules, depart from the norm.

    I just zip up the files and put them in a protected folder on my web server. I have had problems with realtors who do not understand zipped files maybe twice in the past six years.

    Just in case, I put a tutorial on my website to help people who might have a problem:

    I hear more realtors complain about Dropbox and no one wants a CD delivered. Here in Missouri, we have to pay sales tax if we deliver a tangible item, where digital files are not taxed. I pay enough taxes.

  2. Like Reed, I zip up the images for web use and print and upload them to my web server/FTP (Host Color) where I have 20Gb of space and email a link to my customer that they can click on to download the files. I'm already paying my web host, so why pay somebody else for the same functionality? I've never had anybody that can't deal with a .zip file and the notification I send is a standard template email describing the number of photos in the archive, the size of the archives and the one instruction, "Click on the link to automatically download the file to your computer" with the admonition to not try it with their phone as the files may be too big to successfully download. The links are from my domain, just like my email (why would you publish a Gmail address when you have your own domain?).

    The goal is to always keep things simple for the client. Dropbox, Google files, etc etc may require that they sign up/in to get the files. I suggest not allowing customers to pick and choose photos. RE work is low margin and going back and forth with the customer is unprofitable. CD's are too slow on both ends and the tax implications are a problem in some areas. My clients want their images as fast as possible. By using my FTP space with a good host, both the up and down speeds are at maximum and I have complete control. My photo directory does not list its files so customers can't see the other files in the folder. This means that I don't have to set up and manage individual accounts for each customer.

  3. I pay about $10. a month for a 1 Terabyte Dropbox account - I know many other professionals that do the same. I make each of my clients a shared folder in my account that they can access anytime - I usually text them (and ask for a confirmation text reply) when I've added a new shoot. I've done this for over 4 years with no trouble. Some clients leave a copy of all their shoots for the year in our shared folder - those have their own Dropbox accounts. Others have free accounts and remove their new image folders after I notify them of delivery - I also let them know that they get more free space for everyone they invite that signs up for Dropbox. For the rare client that only wants to receive their images by email I use wetransfer - free up to 2 gig and you get email confirmation when they've downloaded. Simple and works well for me.

  4. Like Ken I choose the photos to be edited for both my real estate and builder/developer clients - most RE orders are 20 stills or 20 stills plus video. More stills and longer video for larger homes - priced accordingly.

  5. or Dropbox. I have paid subscriptions to both and use whichever is the clients preference. We Transfer tends to give folks less problems in my opinion.

  6. I've used Photoshelter to deliver all of my commercial work, including real estate. I like sending them a link and a password. They can download the set as a batch. Best of all, they go to my site and perhaps look around and see that I do other work as well (they all need a headshot).

  7. I've used Photoshelter to deliver all of my commercial work, including real estate. I like sending them a link and a password. They can download the set as a batch. Best of all, they go to my site and perhaps look around and see that I do other work as well (they all need a headshot). Easy.

  8. I use Microsoft OneDrive. I have subscribed to Office 365, which only costs $6.99/month, and I get 1TB of space on OneDrive with the subscription. I upload to photos and send a link to the client. I leave all of the delivered photos on OneDrive forever. I look at it as another backup copy of everything I deliver.

  9. I have used for a number of years and like it. $10 USD a month allows you to brand the page, send files and leave them in place for as long as you specify and also allows clients to send you files through your account so it can be a two way conduit. This last is very useful if you do photography/video for fields other than RE.

  10. You Send It was bought out by Hightail years ago and I've been using it ever since. It works very well although I no longer have much business because I've retired. The lowest price for it is about $30 per year and well worth it.

  11. All of these suggestions are good ones.
    The appearance of professionalism is a subjective one however.
    I email a download link because I do not want the client to spend time clicking through pages to get what they want.

    Yes, they can look at your branded site but the fact is they already know who you are and just want the pictures.
    As for ZIP files, I think I have a higher percentage of technophobes where I am as I get a few issues with people unfamiliar with how to handle them.
    I also have clients who work on corporate networks that prevent downloads or even clickable links.
    For those people I do use Shootproof.
    The additional advantage for me is that some clients are on a per shot billing structure so they can pick favorites from a watermarked gallery and I can send them directly along with an invoice.

  12. Like some here, I have been using Hightail for many years (formerly YouSendIt). Never had any issues and it offers multiple conditions for you and your clients. You can restrict, verify, etc if you want. The biggest plus for me is that the service sends me an email when the files are uploaded by the client.

    What ever you choose, just make sure that your clients are happy with it. Invest the time to run the download process with them until they are comfortable. In the end, you will save yourself a lot of frustration, trying to help them when they are panicked because they waited until the last minute to load their photos and do not know how to do it. The point is, that all your efforts to win over the client, deliver good service at the shoot, create good photos and deliver on time ...... could all go out the window if they are frustrated at the way you send your product.

  13. I tried google drive but it had too many access rights issues. I have an Amazon premium account with the unlimited photo storage. Upload zip file, share, done.

  14. I use a Smugmug site solely for client delivery. Each client has their own password protected page with galleries of all photo shoots I've ever done for them.

  15. I think smash is the best. It's free, it looks amazing, it's set up by, and designed for creative professionals. I did an entire video blog on my website on why I think it's the best ("Best File Transfer Service for Photographers") if interested.

  16. I followed Andrew's advice the last time method of delivery was mentioned, and started using Smash for my 'less technically gifted clients'. They absolutely LOVE it - Thanks Andrew!

    TourBuzz is easy too. I'm still trying to figure out why anyone thinks Dropbox isn't professional looking... My largest clients, every single one, swear by it...

  17. Fair warning - this is my first reply on this amazing site, please go easy 🙂
    First - I can't thank all of you enough for your dedicated contributions to the community. I've devoured endless opinions, techniques, methods and workflows on this site over the last solid 6 months. I'm finally just starting out and I have begun to use View Shoot. I have found instant success with this for a number of reasons, but to the point of the post's intended topic, "What Are the Recommended Photo Delivery Methods for Real Estate Photographers?” - The ease of dragging and dropping my files (or a folder full of full size files) into the photo section with the option for View Shoot rename the delivered files based on the property I have made photographs from... To resizing my images based on the sizing I have set in my admin settings... To even providing two separate links in a customizable auto-generated email sent to my clients for them to download two zipped files (small & large) and not to mention the ability to add additional links (to Dropbox, etc) if I wish to add additional photos, has been a tremendous help for me personally as i just get going. As I make sure I'm crossing my t's and dotting my i's, having the system consistently be as easy as drag and drop, has been exactly what I had hoped it would be.

    Again, thank you everyone for all your kind, generous advice over the many years here.

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