Photo-sharing services make image delivery to your client easy. It’s almost a seamless process. As a long-time user of the Creative Cloud and a professional photographer, I subscribe to a web-based service that gives me file management, photo printing services, a portfolio, and takes care of client interaction and payments for ordering prints and gift items of my photos. Passionate photographers, whether pro or not, can join sites like SmugMug sitebuilder or Flickr for photo sharing, and even social media communities, like Instagram, are being used to feature photo portfolios.

I have to upload my images, tag them, make sure the settings are enabled for my clients to pay for and receive prints of the image I created for them. It’s nice not to have to deal with all the ins and outs of the process of fulfilling my clients’ wishes. There is a cost, though. Besides the time involved in uploading photos to a community, which can be considerable, depending on internet speeds and files sizes, the fees can add up. Some services have a basic subscription which is free or low cost, but those generally limit how much you can have on their site at any given time. Then there are the fees associated with whatever payment method is used. For my business, all those fees become part of my overhead, and I charge accordingly.

Free sites like SmugMug (or even the paid version of SmugMug) are some of the better-known options for this service, and a lot of pros ask about it. Especially if someone is just beginning to market themselves and needs a good client delivery system. Let’s look at some of the pros and cons of the SmugMug family set up for the foreseeable future.

First some of the pros…

Image Quality

The image quality on SmugMug will look fantastic on any type of device your client is using to view them. On other services, I have to make sure my clients know that they are viewing what are essentially proofs and that their orders will be of the highest quality once they actually select the photos they want to order. I like to think of it like the sample pictures I would have made right away when shooting film. I always wanted to put my best foot forward. Still do. SmugMug definitely has an edge here.

The final products’ image quality is also quite high. SmugMug offers photography business owners the choice to decide which photo lab to use for the ordered prints. EZPrints is a good, low-price alternative, similar to most discount printing operations out there. Bay Photo has more premium choices to choose from.

Then there are the gift item options. Certain clients will love that they can send granny a calendar or give out mugs to their coworkers all with personalized images on them. To be honest though, besides basic gift items like that, I rarely see anything else ordered. While it might be fun to think of that portrait or wedding shot on a giant blanket or a deck of cards, clients just don’t seem to care enough to pay the rather high prices charged