According to my records, I’ve been serving up my images to clients via an online library system for exactly six years. What follows is a little back story and (spoiler alert) why I’m not about to change my setup.
One of the benefits of my current system is that the turnaround of work is much faster; wherever possible I aim to deliver images within 48 hours from the end of the shoot.
Beyond this, the main benefit to clients is that they have a central image library which they can access at any time and download the images they need, when they need them. The image files are also available at a variety of sizes from web resolution to large print format, which can save the client the headache of having to resize files for different media.
The old system relied on building a web gallery which was really just for proofs, from which the client would then choose the files they wanted me to edit, process and deliver, and had the distinct disadvantage that what the client saw on the gallery were un-processed, imperfect images. I also had to await the client choices before I could finish the editing and processing stage, after which I usually had to burn a CD or DVD of photos and post them off. Lots of delay in that system, but it was as up-to-date as things were at the time.
Clients who are still served by photographers supplying images via email or posted disc have the added problem that if the originals are lost, they have to go back to the photographer (assuming they can remember who took the photos) and request duplicates. With the system I use, the client merely has to log back into their gallery and re-download their pictures with no unnecessary delay.
The gallery system allows me to offer simple, set-price packages which suit the majority of my clients. I can also set up reprint sales galleries on the odd occasion people will want to buy prints from an event. I can taylor gallery content to suit the client, removing pictures which have become obsolete and adding new pictures after a fresh photo session. I can set up duplicate galleries with different levels of access security, I can create multiple galleries with different content for different client requirements. It’s an incredibly versatile system which I imagine will serve me well for years into the future. Assuming, that is, no one invents a way of delivering photos via telepathy. Now that really would be fun!