Digital images have revolutionized the online the proofing and ordering processing for most photographers. The ease of choosing and paying for orders over the Internet has allowed photographers to sell to a wider client base (at a wedding he can provide a link to all of the guests and they can order along with the bride). In addition it has simplified the process – with pay pal and online credit cards processing, payments can go directly into the photographer’s bank account without any effort on his part.

When choosing the proofing system there are a number of issues a photographer should consider before deciding on his method.

The major decision that needs to be made is whether the photographer is going to go with a service that handles the ordering process for him or if he will maintain the ordering system himself on his own web site. There are advantages and disadvantages to both.

Removing the ordering headache from the photographer is one the major benefit of going with a company that offers a full service. All the photographer needs to do is upload his proofs to the website. The usually then takes care of security, server space, bandwidth, framing, orders, and payment. In addition many times these services, because of their size, are able to offer a variety of products that a small photography studio would find difficult to maintain.

The major disadvantage of this type of service is the loss of revenues to the photographer. The provider usually takes a hefty percentage of the order – often up to 18%. The provider argues and many photographers agree that besides saving the photographer time, the provider’s expertise in selling and additional options creates larger orders which compensate for the expense. Others say the value is not there and that they could do as well themselves. These are the photographers who provide their own online ordering system.

These people don’t write the code themselves. They usually purchase a software package and set it up on the same server on which they are running their websites. Control over the proofing and ordering process and additional profits are the reasons given by photographers who go this route. The photographer gets to see the pictures and fulfill the order himself. The risk of mistakes made by third parties is eliminated. In addition they get to keep that 18%. The majority of photographers (with employees) clear about 48% on their orders after paying variable costs variable costs. The saving of 18% is a major savings for this group.
The disadvantages of this type of processing are more work and the need of more technical abilities. The photographer will need to customize his site, manage the server space and fulfill the orders.

Online ordering and proofing has become a major part of a photographer’s business. Choosing the right system is critical. A photographer should consider the above advantages and disadvantages before deciding how he will complete this work.