• Deciding to Move Forward

of mine are just crazy. Like the time I booked a wedding in SC and then the a wedding the next day in VA…. yea, I did that.  Sometimes I have GRAND plans and visions for something and then a few weeks go by and I realize that my “idea” really wasn’t that amazing.  Oh! Like remember the “Design Book” idea?! I paid big bucks to have provide a way for my blog stalkers to save their “favorites” in different categorized folders! I thought I was a genius!…. And then PINTEREST was invented.  Ha! This world of photography AND technology is CHANGING… and it’s changing FAST.

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:

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:  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!
30 Comments Photography
  1. Deborah Zoe reply

    PREACH!!! love it:) But I still love sending thumb drives too:)

  2. Brittani reply

    I have been wanting to try PASS for my wedding galleries for some time. I’ll have to for my wedding next weekend – $29/wedding is not bad and I love the sharability. Also just a totally random question – is the SC wedding the day before the VA wedding ours haha? Kind of made me laugh out loud :)

  3. Yair Haim reply

    Beautiful pictures! I love the PASS webpage!

  4. Ahna Beth reply

    Katelyn, this is awesome! Thanks for the help. :) I had a client take some of her bridal portraits for printing. She ordered them online & when she went to pick them up they asked her who took them. She said, “My friend from Ahna Beth Photography.” As soon as she said that they wanted a permission slip from me for her to print my pictures. Do you send a permission slip for your clients incase this ever happens?

  5. Renee reply

    Just wondering- does it not work for people w/o an ipad or iphone? If so, what do you do then? thanks :)

  6. vanessa chupp reply

    we started trying out pass a while ago – still haven’t made the ‘committed switch’ yet though. totally know what you mean about packaging – i LOVE it! i can’t let go of that, and i think it’s such a huge part of our identity. thanks for sharing your pro’s and con’s – definitely helps me understand PASS better!

  7. Laura reply

    And everything you said is why I am thisclose to switching to PASS.

  8. Aimee reply

    Awesome awesome awesome!! I use smugmug for now but this entire post is SO very true. Most photographers that have been in the business for 30+ years aren’t up for selling a CD and I had the idea that it was bad too, BUT that’s what everyone wants.. every single photo. It makes so much more sense for weddings because who would buy a 4×6 of their shoes when they have to pay $15.00 for it? They’d definitely go for a picture with family/faces!

  9. Kate Danielle reply

    Great post! I love that you listed the pros and cons! I also applaude you for being open with your opinions, sometimes I feel it can be indimitating to speak up about new ways of doing things in the photography world but post like yours are encouraging!

  10. Eryn Kesler reply

    Hey katelyn! This was such a fantastic post! I really was affirmed in my choice to use Pass. I would really love to hear how you educate your clients on PASS, this is the biggest challenge for me….I think this blog post is one fantastic way for your brides to be able to understand it…I feel sometimes like I’m trying to explain some super scientific process, because my clients are not all aware of the changing industry, you know? I want to include a blurb on my site or welcome packet about Pass, but just cant’ seem to do it justice on my own.

  11. Michelle Jones reply

    Congrats for embracing change so gracefully, Katelyn!! :) And what a great tool for photographers! Lets be honest, most brides find their photographer via Facebook or Pinterest these days anyway! Why worry about a few hundred on prints when you can focus on albums and snagging new clients?! Thanks for sharing :)

  12. echard wheeler reply

    This looks sweet. But, in case you haven’t looked into it already, check out I’ve been “sharing” the link with my clients for a number of years. Now, it’s not as slick, but you can download hi res files, and my fav part is they are partnered with MPIX. I did this so I wouldn’t have MOB’s going to the local Walgreens and making awful prints. And, it’s way cheaper than PASS. I have everything on Zen. Great post and great work, by the way!!

  13. Linda reply

    I heard David Jay speak here in Kansas City 4 years ago and he said it then. Few are willing to get on board with the digital age. I do not sell prints. I give my clients little goodies and the DVD and they are happy to pay me for my time and talent. win win for me.

  14. Faye Bernoulli reply

    As a newish wedding photographer, I don’t have a huge budget for pretty packaging and custom DVDs/flash drives– not to mention burning DVDs (especially after an error) was a NIGHTMARE! PASS is such a great alternative, especially when everyone just wants to get their photos up on Facebook. It didn’t happen if it’s not on Facebook, right? haha ;)

  15. Kari Jeanne reply

    Thanks for this Katelyn! I’ve tried PASS once but the online sharing platform didn’t have the best quality images – they looked very compressed compared to the originals. All of your images look great in the plus site link you posted – did you have problems with this at all?

  16. Sara S reply

    This post was literally perfect timing, as Matt and I were trying to decide which engagement photo to use on our church program for the ceremony, and he was on my ipad – downloaded the PASS app and voila!! Love it!

  17. Catrina Boucher reply

    I’ve been wondering… I love your work, and I’ve been fascinated at the fact that you don’t watermark your photos. When I first got into the business, I was told over and over again I need to protect “my art”. After reading this post, I have decided to ditch the prints and do the flash drive. I tested out pass for a previous client, and we all loved it! I need more clients, not more prints. Thank you for your openness and insight!!

  18. sarah danaher reply

    it’s SOOOOO WORTH IT!!!! I’ve switched to PASS exclusively, and can’t express how much I love it.

  19. ashley barnett reply

    We’ve been so on the fence about making the leap- but I think for next year’s brides we are going to do it! We’ll definitely be keeping some pretty packaging for now, because we like giving it and our couples like getting it, but PASS is so darn pretty :)

  20. Peter reply

    Here are my cons:

    1. Some of your images will look very blurry and not sharp when viewed.
    2. It does not allow download of original uncompressed files, so you have to send your client a DVD or flash drive if they are to have full rez.
    3. You HAVE to download and install a program on your computer in order to download all files in one go.
    4. Many people will just download the files to their computer and THEN upload to facebook, thereby loosing your credit.
    5. I dont think the user interface is easy enough for all to use.

  21. Lars Nielsen reply

    Before i get started, i’ll just say that i am a big fan of you K. You sure inspire me and i think of your work every time i shoot a wedding…

    Honestly, i think PASS is beta. I feel that the gallery-product is not finished at all. And i know some photog-geeks are currently talking about how some of you wedding-photog-stars are talking so high of PASS. Smells a bit like viral marketing. You, J*, Z&J etc.

    The High-res are not the original uploaded files. PASS has a hard time explaining this on their FB page. The gallery-images looks smuthered and kind a blurry. When you click one, the popup is not even close to the quality of the image uploaded. Me and my business partner tried PASS but found the quality too low. The support was trying to tell us what screens our customers were looking at the galleries on, etc.
    Also worth mentioning is the fact that your Katelyn identity kind of goes away when looking at the gallery. Seems you chose the same design as Zach & Jody. So (at least) to me, your gallery has lost your website-design-identity.

    That being said, PASS gallery is a great tool. It’s soooo easy to share on Facebook. But in order to really make use of the FB-network one have to tag people. The only way to do this with PASS is to mention names in the comments of the link to PASS-gallery. That alone will do wonders spreading the link to the gallery. But actually that effect will be higher if you upload some pix to FB and tag the pictures. People knows these well, while the “mentioned in a comment” are not so commonly used.

    I hope your business will grow with PASS. I’ve decided to wait till PASS have fixed some of their issues with image quality and perhaps do better support.

    Just my 5censt. Scuse my english, it’s far from my native language;-)

  22. David reply

    PASS is awesome. I can see going exclusively digital for weddings. If you’re making 6K or more then it doesn’t matter. But if you are a portrait photographer, it’s hard for clients to see those high numbers and ONLY get digitals. :(

  23. Amy Matthews reply

    Your work is beautiful and you seem to be such a sweet person. Unfortunately I have to disagree with you. Some of us don’t see it as holding files “hostage” or as customers being “victims” of this “type of photography”. A loose quote of Sal Cincotta who happens to represent a million dollar brand- does KFC give you a raw chicken breast, bread crumbs, and oil and say go cook it yourself? I think that’s what we’re doing with digital files (in addition to telling people that a large wall portrait passed down for generations regardless of ever changing technology is worth nothing, just look at it on your computer screen) although you can make a good argument for offering them in addition to tangible products with weddings. I do not want my customers printing their cherished memories and my artwork at any old drug store so they can ruin their prints with sub standard paper and cheap ink. Mpix is pretty crummy compared to my professional lab and does not offer large wall portraits or anything near the products and service we can offer- but it’s the best we’ve got to suggest to them. What happens when technology changes again in a few years and the flash drives become obsolete, or your customer has never printed one image, you’ve deleted them by that time, and they have nothing but the digital files…which went down right along with their computer that crashed. That’s not good enough for me. I’m not the best photographer in the world but I love my customers and personally see it as providing full service to be sure prints hang on the wall. Yes we are in the digital age and the industry is changing. There are pros and cons to this. One major con being what I mentioned above- what happens when clients are sitting around with discs or flash drives that can’t be read by the newest technology- and have not one single photo of their wedding to share with their children. Thankfully they will have an album from you as I’m sure they couldn’t turn down that purchase-which cost them more than a few print sales I’m sure. But what about the ones who didn’t? I find it hard to believe photographers shooting 50 weddings a year will be able to locate and offer every single file from every single wedding shot 10 years ago. I’m not trying to be contrary or argumentative, just attempting to share an alternative perspective that still values the 30×40 textured and framed portrait on the living room wall greeting them every time they walk in. Best wishes and I hope you continue to flourish :)

  24. Anna Grace reply

    This is so helpful Katelyn, I just used PASS for my first wedding and it went great! I was wondering about buying prints so thank you for addressing that! Everything is digital now and it makes sense to go for selling albums and canvases rather than small 4×6’s. Thanks for sharing!

  25. Brittany Bugaj reply

    Hi Katelyn, I LOVE your pass site! This totally convinced me to get it and to upgrade my entire website to a showit site. I just went to the pass website and it’s currently invite only. so the website instructed me to find a showiteer and get them to send me an invite. I was wondering if you’d be so kind.

  26. Songy reply

    I would love to use the service but it seems like it’s invitation only at the moment. Would you happen to have any invite to share with me? :)

  27. While | Virginia Wedding Photographer | Katelyn James Photography reply

    […] you should take advantage of using PASS within a plus site! You can read more about how I do that HERE! (But keep in mind, that is post was using the OLD PASS! It’s 10x prettier […]

  28. Joshua reply

    I would greatly appreciate an invite as well, if you wouldn’t mind! Thanks for your excellent blog posts!

  29. maggie reply

    Hey Katelyn,
    Just stumbled upon this post… in 2015, does this mean you are no longer using an online storage system, like dropbox, for all your originals and edited client images? I’m in the place where we are booking 30+ weddings and I’ve been using dropbox for my internal and client storage, and delivering a custom flashdrive with cute packaging. I’ve heard of PASS and it makes sense to me, but does it replace dropbox as an image holding cell? I also just designed my own bridal guide, let me know if you want to see it!

  30. Carianne McElrath reply

    THANK YOU!!! I am soooo glad you addressed the digital file controversy here. I HATE having to choose images. I made it clear to my wedding photographer that I wanted all my digital images from him and to charge me what he needed to. I want to give my clients all of theirs for the same reason. I LOVE this idea of sharing all of their images with them to use as they see fit all the while still being able to deliver a pretty little package to them. I LOVE getting pretty little things and want to be able to give my clients the same thing…this allows me to do that but also post their gallery!

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