The Easiest Way to Distribute Photos

The Easiest Way to Distribute Photos

There are many different ways to store your images in the cloud from consumer budget solutions like ElephantDrive to more sophisticated, custom solutions using Amazon S3. However, just having online storage often doesn’t fully support the needs of serious photographers who require a searchable archive and file distribution capabilities.

When we surveyed our customers, file distribution to clients was a key feature that many photographers were using, and I thought it might be helpful to discuss the different ways you can facilitate the transfer of full-resolution images through PhotoShelter.

Understanding Visibility
Each gallery that you create in PhotoShelter has a visibility status. By default, your gallery is completely private. But you have a number of ways to allow your clients to view and download the images. Let’s go from the least permissive to the most permissive.

Visibility: Invite Only

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Set the gallery visibility to Invite Only

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Invite a user and set the download permissions. The Invite Only mode automatically dispatches an e-mail for you.

When you set a gallery to Invite Only, you also have the ability to allow high resolution downloads of the images contained within the gallery. Alternately, you can set a specific size that you want to allow your customers to download, and all downloads are tracked in the download log.

The Invite Only model requires your client to login with an e-mail and password that they choose. This strict form of authentication was our original method of securely sharing images, but truth be told, it’s often confusing to clients. The reason is that unlike a Facebook or email account, your clients simply don’t login to your website on a regular basis. Having another login/password combination is often frustrating, and can lead to a frustrating user experience. If you have regular customers that need access to your galleries, or you’ve set them up as a Trusted Client, the Invite Only option works really well.

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Visibility: Password
The password mode allows anyone with the gallery password to see its contents. We originally thought that this would be great for an event like a wedding where you might email all the attendees with a URL and a password. What we found is that this method works pretty well for almost everyone from the mother-of-the-bride to a photo buyer at an ad agency.

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When you set the gallery to “password,” you enter a password. You can then set the download options for the images within the gallery. Finally, you can cut and paste the URL of the gallery with your password into an email to your clients.

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When your clients try to access the URL, they will be prompted for the password.

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When they’ve authenticated, they will see thumbnails of the images within the gallery. If you’ve enabled downloads to the gallery and enabled the batch download button within your website template, they will see the “DOWNLOAD” button at the thumbnail view. Otherwise, they will only be able to download images by viewing them individually.

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The Password mode also has an option to make the gallery “not listed” which means it will not show up on the list of galleries on your public website. The gallery is hidden to those who do not have the URL, so it reduces the chances of someone guessing your password, or seeing that private content exists in the first place.

Visibility: Public
The most permissive mode allows anyone to view the contents of the gallery. For security purposes, you can’t allow full resolution downloads from a public gallery (this also prevents hackers from stealing images and/or hammering our servers with bogus requesets).

Like the Password mode, you can also make public galleried “not listed.” Want grandma to see some images of your kid, but not the rest of the public? You probably don’t want to have her fiddling with a password, so the Public, not listed option is a great solution.

FTP
Many PhotoShelter users dealing with corporate clients are required to transfer images via FTP. PhotoShelter has an easy mechanism to send images off to multiple clients simultaneously. Once you initiate the transfer, you can log out of PhotoShelter and be on your merry way. Since we have the ability to transfer your images to multiple destinations at once with a significantly faster Internet connection, the PhotoShelter FTP is typically much faster than if you FTP yourself.

Quick Download
My personal favorite mechanism is for one offs. Often times, someone will contact me with the need for a single image from a shoot. In these cases, I don’t want to go through the rigamarole of setting up a gallery, altering the visibility, allowing the high resolution downloads etc. Fortunately, there is a one step mechanism called the Quick Download.

From your PhotoShelter archive, you can click on the image you want to transfer, and then click the Download -> Send Quick Download button. This will generate a one-time use URL that you can send to your clients. Once the image has been downloaded, the link can’t be used again, so the security is built-in to the mechanism.

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The effectiveness of any one distribution mechanism is partially reflected by your client needs. We encourage you to experiment to find the lowest friction way to deliver your high resolution files.

And if you don’t have an account, try PhotoShelter for 14 days for only $1!

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There are 7 comments for this article
  1. Delane Rouse at 4:16 pm

    We use Password-Protected galleries (a mix of listed and unlisted) to allow our clients to download their images. Typically works pretty good since all they need is the password. We keep an encrypted list of randomly generated passwords and assign them to the galleries. I wish PS could send us an email alert when a client downloads or logs in to the system so I would know they they have received the email and have their file.

  2. Delane Rouse at 4:17 pm

    We use Password-Protected galleries (a mix of listed and unlisted) to allow our clients to download their images. Typically works pretty good since all they need is the password. We keep an encrypted list of randomly generated passwords and assign them to the galleries. I wish PS could send us an email alert when a client downloads or logs in to the system so I would know they they have received the email and have their file.

  3. JA at 4:22 am

    I wish that you could have the “download” button on only photos that have that option, otherwise people click it only to have an error message. (or contact administrator verbiage). Same with batch function.

  4. Allen Murabayashi at 9:02 am

    @JA The batch download button is conditionally displayed based on whether the user has permissions to download. The single image will display a download button if you’ve enabled comp downloads, or the user is allowed to download high-res.

  5. danielsan at 12:18 am

    When changing permission levels, from permissive (specifically from “public”) to more protected, it works for the gallery, but not really for individual images. If my image gets crawled by search engines (via the nice SEO that PS facilitates), I haven’t been able to retract images from search engine listings. The entry via the gallery is appropriately security-trimmed, but you can still get to the individual images. I know this isn’t a regular use-case, but has happened to me (client request), and the only recourse I had was to actually delete the gallery and images.

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