The delivery method of a photographer’s images says a lot about their level of professionalism, but it’s something clients often don’t even know to ask about. The method will depend largely on whether the client has asked for prints or digital files, so we’ll break it down into those two categories:
Unless the photographer is a really big cheese with the budget to buy and maintain their own printing equipment (it gets expensive, fast), they will probably go through a professional printing lab. There are plenty of reputable ones out there, but Walmart, CVS, and their ilk (though great for many other things) are red flags for professional photographers.
If your photographer is still giving clients their digital images on a CD, that’s a big red flag. Many people don’t even have a way to read CDs anymore and they’re so easy to damage. Photographers really shouldn’t be bulk emailing final images as attachments, either.
Instead, the industry is leaning toward digital file sharing via a service like Dropbox or a digital photo proofing and sales service like Pixieset or ShotProof. That means the client gets a link to a folder with the files or a gallery of their images where they can choose and purchase what they like.
“What’s the Best Way to Share Photos with Clients?” Expert Photography weighs in on that question with information about several different photo delivery platforms.
Like digital technology itself, industry standards are prone to shifting as fledgling professionals bring new perspectives into the field. However, there are some standards (like an efficient workflow) that should stand firm in the name of quality and customer service.
In the name of developing and maintaining strong standards in the photography industry, we’ve created a checklist that combines all the things we discussed in this article. Photographers looking to step into the pro game can download and use this list to track their progress, then link to it on their website so clients can see how well they measure up.
Clients in search of the right photographer can use this list to see which of their options checks the most boxes. Remember that no photographer is perfect and the ideal one for your job may not check off every single box. But it’s a great place to start and will give you more confidence about making your final decision.