The greatest thing I’m learning as a small business owner is that we can NEVER stop inventing, dreaming and CHANGING. New ideas are what keep us going. New poses, new business strategies, and new technology keep us from becoming stagnent. I could go on and on. I was using SMUGMUG for my galleries. It’s great! It’s super cheap and SUPER easy to use…. but what if there was something BETTER?! Something more impressive and user friendly… something that would WOW my clients and take my customer service to the next level?! Would I do it? Or would I just stick with Smugmug because I was comfortable? …… Well, I’m embarrassed to say that for almost a year, an opportunity was right in front of me and I chose to be comfortable. I decided not to jump on the PASS bandwagon because I was very unsure of this whole idea…. the idea of SHARING.
When I first started in the industry, the idea of “protecting” my images was drilled into me. It seemed like an industry standard. I was told to watermark EVERYTHING, make clients pay for prints, don’t share digital negatives unless you charge $4,000 for a CD, and NEVER share images with a vendor without making them compensate you. The idea was “protect yourself so that people will know that you’re legit and will value your work”. At the time, this made sense. I mean, only NEWBIES shared stuff for free, right? If photography was art, then I should protect every single image and guard it with my LIFE and try to make a living on print sales! So that’s what I had been taught… along with every other photographer that started and was influenced by an older generation of photographers. Freely SHARING digital files was not an option…… and then PASS came along.
PASS broke ALL of the rules. All of them. Let me explain…. PASS is an online sharing tool that was created by the the amazing people at Showit (my website company and photography family!). They went on tour sharing this new idea and I liked it, but I wasn’t hooked. Basically, you can upload a whole wedding (fairly quick I might add!) and your clients have instant access to facebook sharing (with automatic photography credits), high res downloads (You can control this feature if you want) and a beautiful gallery built just for them. That’s not ALL… as a photographer, I get to enjoy INSTANT BACKUPS, the most customizable gallery sharing on the market, and mobile access to all of my high res files!!! Yea! Did I mention that my clients can download the FREE PASS APP and instantly have their WHOLE WEDDING at their fingertips?! Whether they are on the ipad or iphone…. they can view their special day whenever they want… and they can SHARE it whenever they want. And isn’t that what couples WANT? When my wedding was posted… the LAST thing I wanted was to sit down and pick out prints. I wanted to get those babies on facebook as fast as I could so that the world could see 101010!!!
This leads me to my next point.
And just to be clear, not everyone is going to a agree with me on this and I totally understand that. …. But here’s the thing…. we live in the DIGITAL AGE. Things have changed… this whole INDUSTRY has changed. In the past, holding digital files hostage worked because there wasn’t facebook, twitter, blogs, etc. Clients used to be just fine with getting an album and those were the only images they received. My poor mom was a victim of this type of photography back in the day! She has one little album with about 25 pictures. They are 4×6 prints and that’s all she could afford at the time and so that’s all they have. 25 images. Those days are long gone. I’ve always offered clients digital files from their wedding day and they have always been high-res….. so why was I so afraid of PASS? Because it was NEW. It seemed so revolutionary that it scared me! What if the ancient photography gods strike me down for FREELY SHARING my images with VENDORS and CLIENTS?! Well, I’m happy to say that I have since gotten over myself. I am officially a PASSER and I want to kick myself for not switching over sooner! Seriously. This tool is changing my business for the better and I’m loving it!!! I’m presenting my images in a way that makes me stand out! It’s sleek, it’s fast and it’s user friendly!! I’ll NEVER go back.
So here are the PROS and CONS of PASS for those that are interested:
– Instant sharing on Facebook with automatic credits to the photographer and links back to the client’s full wedding gallery!
– Instant mobile access for both the photographer AND the client. PASS galleries can be accessed on an iPhone and iPad and so I have all of my high res photos at my disposal constantly!
– Galleries can be imbedded into a plus site. If you have Showit, this is a no brainer. I can make as many “sub sites” to my website as I want! This means my clients have CUSTOM websites that include their PASS galleries. Check it out: http://joshandmandy.katelynjames.com/
– Instant backup! Oh thank heaven!
– No need for packaging! CD’s and Flashdrives are obsolete!
CONS & how I’m handling them:
– What if I love my packaging?! Well, this is an issue for me too. I STILL send a custom flashdrive to clients. Why? Because my brides LOVE receiving that pretty little package in the mail! So for me, packaging is still an option. This may not be forever, but for right now, it’s working just fine:)
– What about prints?! PASS isn’t not connected with a shopping cart of any kind (yet). I’m not sure about the future plans of PASS but I do know that over the last 4 years, I’ve made diddly-squat on print sales. Sure $600 here and there is great… but I would RATHER focus on promoting my ALBUMS than trying to sell prints. When you deliver digital negatives, it doesn’t matter how hard you push for professional prints, clients are going to buy them where they can get them the cheapest. I’m not happy about this because we all know that Walgreens is NOT going to represent our business well when it comes to printing!! So I have “Printing Recommendation” cards that I send out to engaged couples who need prints. These cards share some professional printing options that will not be a poor representation of my brand but that everyday people can use. (ex: mpix.com) For my wedding galleries, if the couple requests it, I’ll upload a smug mug gallery and add a link to it on their pass gallery if they really want to order prints through me. Smugmug is $100 a year so this isn’t a huge expense.
– Cost. It’s $29 per event. That can add up…. but it’s worth it! I signed up for a special they were advertising and I bought PASS for LIFE! So this isn’t an issue for me but I understand that it may be for others. In my opinion, it’s worth it! So worth it. I mean, look at these next two screenshots! How could I ever go back to my old way of presenting images?!
This is Brian and Kristen’s Plus Site!
This is their PASS gallery imbedded into their Plus Site!