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What's The Best Way To Deliver Photos When You Charge Per Photo?

Published: 19/07/2016
By: larry

DeliveryTod recently asked:

I'm trying to branch out from Real Estate photography into more Architectural and Interior Design photography. I am finding that Architects and Interior Designers usually are much more appreciative of good photography and willing to pay more. So I've quoted my pricing on a per image basis and my upcoming client is fine with that.  Now I've just realized that I'm not sure how to send him the images when I'd done with the shoot.   If he only pays for what he likes (which is how I've set it up), what is to keep the Architect from keeping all the photos that I send him for review?  I guess I could initially send him really small JPEG files.  Just wondering what other folks have done in this situation.

Yes, paying for photos per image is very common when shooting for Architects and Interior Designers. There are a number of ways to go if you are going to let your client select which images to purchase from a larger set of images:
  1. I would avoid sending clients a bunch of images... just too awkward. I think it's much better to let clients browse images online and select the ones they like. To prevent the proofs from being taken with a screen capture or right-click download images are usually watermarked. Or you can disable right-clicking in a gallery, but that won't stop screen captures.
  2. Many photographer websites have much of this previewing functionality built in.
  3. Since you are using you could easily do this on your existing site. Just create a gallery that is not linked in with your main website that has a client's proof images in it and e-mail the client the link to the numbered or named proof images. After the client chooses their images upload the finished images to the same gallery.
  4. Another option is to use a tethered laptop or tablet when shooting to get client input while the shoot is going on. Then you'll know they've reviewed all the images you've shot.

What do others do when letting the client select what images they'd like to by.

13 comments on “What's The Best Way To Deliver Photos When You Charge Per Photo?”

  1. When I'm working with clients for my product photography and other non-RE work, I set up an appointment to review photos in person with the client. I learned this from some wedding photographers who found that sending or posting galleries gave the customer too much time to dither. By presenting your own short list personally, it's a quick process to eliminate images that are not going to work and to discus any further editing that may need to be done before delivery. The objective is to keep the job moving along so you can complete it and get your final payment. Often times, that final payment is your profit and if you have underestimated your costs, it might be a chunk of your expenses too. The last thing you want is to accrue interest on a credit card you used to pay for things while the customer waffles on a decision.

    I would never present all of the images taken during a session to the customer no matter how they are delivered. You may have to include a composition that you aren't happy with if it is on the shot list you agreed to and may need to just show the best result. You don't want to trash the images you didn't choose, but you do want to guide the customer to what you feel is your best work. Having the customer's art director on site while you make images is not a bad idea if they know what they want. Unless you're getting paid by the hour (which would be unusual), you may have to learn how to diplomatically push the session along if the customer is thinking that "we'll just shoot images until I see something I like".

    I also suggest always working with a contract and doing a walkthrough of what you will be photographing before the session. Contracts can be very straightforward depending on the the customer and should have, in the least, a 'statement of work' covering the compositions the customer wants to see, how many images you are expected to deliver and payment/terms. One or two day jobs are usually not a problem but commissions that take longer or involve several layers of approvals can devolve into a "he said/she said" debate when it come time to deliver and get paid.

  2. To add to Larry's statement - If I can see it, I can copy it. There's a number of programs for sale that pretend to make your image copy protected, but if I can see it, I can copy it. Disabling right-click does not disable ctrl-C. A watermark is your only protection there.

    If you make your own website, you can put a transparent layer above the image, and that's what the right-click or ctrl-C gets. A blank image.

  3. Another option, if you don't have a website with the above mentioned features, is to use It's free up to a 3G, you can add your own watermark and make it so they can't download. It also allows you to password protect your gallery and require an email if you chose. I like requiring an email because it notifies me when they've viewed the images. Once they choose the images they want, you can deliver via dropbox or similar.

  4. hi: I am a Architect and a Architectural Photographer. I for one always present my photos to the client in person. It give a more service impression and you can get feedback on the photos if any minor adjustments are needed and you can hand over the files in person along with an invoice.

    I don't charge by the photo, I charge by the complexity of the project and the time required to complete the total project. I figure it out by my day rate full or half. Extra for off hours and extra for evenings. I only charge by the photo when a lets say a engineer who worked on the project wants only one or two.

    Dick Wood

  5. Most of my work is for architects, interior designers and high end home builders.
    Ken Brown is exactly right. I never present images or send them online. I always deliver and review the photography in person, even for clients that I have been working with for 20 years. This not only allows you to control the presentation but also to continue to build a personal one on one relationship with that client. One problem in allowing the client to preview or control the presentation is the equipment they are using. I have clients who's monitors and big screen TVs are set to a variety of resolutions, brightness and contrast....all of which affects the presentation. I use my color calibrated laptop for presentations.
    I also get paid upon delivery.

  6. A method I have used for headshots to clients is making 2 folders. 1 named Proofs and the other with their Original Files. When I process the proofs I make them smaller and have them watermarked. I upload that (I use dropbox) and have them tell me which files they want. I upload a Final folder with their selections in a new Folder.

  7. I've been pricing photos by the image for real estate clients for two years. When a job is complete, I export from Lightroom and make three folders - Internet -1200 px, Print Media 3000 px, and a Preview - 1200 px w/watermark. I then either send the Preview Set via WeTransfer (>2GB free) for client preview and an invoice from Square Register at the same time. I have yet for a client to say they didn't like something, therefore didn't want to pay. This works great for Realtors. Real Estate is about speed.

    Commercial clients - Deliver in person, review in person with client unless asked otherwise. Commercial photography is about service and quality.

  8. Pixieset is good. I use Shootproof.

    I can watermark images with a very bold watermark and clients can choose images they favorite.
    I also set it up to collect money all online. Once paid, I approve the downloads and images are delivered.

    I used to deliver in person to small firms but I find most of them are more comfortable with online delivery that doesn't cut time out of their busy day for an appointment.
    Many of the firms I deal with have upwards of 100 employees and many people need to sign off on projects.

    As for the personal relationships, I meet clients at sites and scout the projects with them (billable). We get to know each other and continue communication online. No big deal, most companies work that way.
    I have two clients that have given me more than $15k of business and I have never met anyone from their firms nor do I even know what any of them look like.

  9. Adobe Bridge - PDF contact sheet with watermarks on each photo. You can also make these in Lightroom, although I think Bridge has better options for layout and design.

  10. I am using PhotoShelter for the website, and it provides very convenient and flexible solution. Once my images are ready, I upload them to the gallery (adding watermark if needed) and then I send view link to the client. PhotoShelter even added proof view functionality when I can send the link and get feedback from several people of the client's team about images they liked. I do not do personal presentation, as often my customers are in other city, remote locations, or have other limitations, like traffic or lack of time. My customers value speed of delivery and nothing can compare to online link. I prefer to invite them for dinner or lunch during off-work hours, and it builds even better relationships.

    In the view gallery images are shown to the customer with the size not more than 1400 px longest side, and I can set this number even smaller (72 dpi of course), almost always watermarked. After the customer review images and confirms the final list (if I priced based on per image value), I upload final images to the same gallery. After customer pays invoice, I am sending the password for download, limiting number of files according to our agreement (say, 15 or 20 files).

    In case I priced on per-project basis, I just open full gallery download access after payment, without limitation on quantity of images. Of course, all final images are without watermarks after download, they are removed automatically.

    A few times customer requested full-sized images to check quality. In such cases I either send them one clean image (full size), or watermark images and send everything watermarked.

  11. I use Zenfolio, which allows me to choose whether an individual photo gallery allows downloading. I simply lock the gallery down, client chooses which ones they want, I delete the ones not wanted, then make the gallery downloadable after the client pays. Fairly simple and efficient.

  12. For any WordPress users, we thought it was worth sharing that our NextGEN Pro plugin can deliver photos to your clients. Currently digital downloads are paid only, but we're finishing up free digital downloads for our next update.

  13. I'm a RE photography lurker, but I primarily shoot sports and I think I have some perspective to share on this:

    I use Zenfolio which allows me to set a watermark template that gets applied to all images that go up on my website. If someone buys an image then they have to agree to the license agreement and make payment before they get the download link for the un-watermarked image. I can also set what resolution they get for different prices (facebook quality is $5, but printable quality is ~$50). What's particularly helpful to me, and may be helpful to the OP, is that when combined with a printer (Mpix and a couple others) orders are automatically handed off from the website to the printer and sent straight to the customer. Once the groundwork is set up all I have to do is upload the images from a game and the money rolls in (or trickles, but either way, my work is done).

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