Episode 117: 4 Reasons Portrait Photographers Should Stop Using Online Galleries

4 Reasons Portrait Photographers Should Stop Using Online Galleries


Photography Business Institute
Photography Business Institute

I’ve talked to so many photographers who feel like they’re serving their clients by offering them online galleries… but the truth is, that business model is actually doing your clients a DISSERVICE. 

Here’s what I mean by that.

When I started my photography business, the last thing I wanted was to be pushy or salesy.

I thought that it would put extra pressure on my clients to have them make a decision the day that I showed them their images.

I thought that they needed to go home and think about it.

So, I’d give them proofs of their portraits and send them home… 

Then, the overthinking happened. 

My clients would message me saying they weren’t going to come to their ordering appointment because something came up.

They’d put ordering on hold, and they would never come back in. 

Sound familiar?

I wasn’t making it easy for them to order and they were getting overwhelmed and having decision fatigue. 

So, I sat down and reworked my system.

I thought about my business model in a whole new light.  

I realized that if I’m serving my client and helping them pick their portraits, there’s no pressure at all (I treat all of my clients like they are my best friend)! 

Here are four reasons why the online gallery business model isn’t working for you. 

1. It’s not serving your clients

Your clients are busy, and they’re not experts at printing.

When you give them an online gallery, they have to figure out what to do with the pictures, how to print them, how to manage exposure, and how to color-correct.

They don’t use professional labs like White House Custom Colour!

So if they’re doing anything, they’re going to Walgreens or Costco and hoping for consistent results. 

Then they’re telling people you took those photos.


2. It positions you as a “button-clicker” who churns out pictures, not a full-service professional who can help you select wall art for your home! 

Think about when you drive up to McDonald’s and how you perceive the person who takes your order.

I’m sure they’re lovely people, but they’re not necessarily culinary experts. 

When I was in Chicago, I went to an amazing steakhouse and my server came over in a bow tie.

He brought us a palate cleansing drink, a little bit of sorbet, and teased us telling us we look so young.

He was with us for probably 90 minutes and he told us all about the menu.

We gave him a huge tip at the end of our meal because we viewed him as an expert. 

Do you think anybody at McDonald’s tips the person who takes their order?

Not saying we shouldn’t, I’m just saying it’s highly unlikely because we order in the speaker and then their hand reaches out the window to take our money. 

When you are putting up online galleries, you’re positioning yourself just like everyone else.

And they are basically McDonalds.

Not an expert.

So what do they think you’re worth?

Less than an expert.

3. It’s stopping you from getting what you want AND need 

You want your clients to have portraits to decorate their home.

You need money to keep your business going.

If you put your images on online galleries, your clients are not going to order wall portraits for their home and get what they want, and you’re not going to get what you need. 

They’re just going to share the digital files on social media and everybody will move on.

That is not a way to stay in business if you’re wanting to make a profit and put your family first.

4. It gives your clients decision fatigue

When you send your clients home with an online gallery, they get overwhelmed and can’t visualize portraits in their homes.

So they lock up and they have decision fatigue. 

Your clients will LOVE having a big, beautiful portrait on the wall, celebrating the people they love!

That’s what you do.

But they can’t get there without your help.

You’re not a fast food restaurant, and you don’t do online galleries. 

When I created my system, I sat down and looked at how I could serve my clients and help them make this hard decision – just like I would with my very best friend. 

There’s nothing pushy or salesy about holding your client’s hand and helping them order instead of putting up an online gallery.

In fact, my clients actually love this process.

Once they’ve gone through it once, they get it.

They understand and never want to go back.

4 Reasons Portrait Photographers Should Stop Using Online Galleries
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