Why photographers should use proofs with clients

Why photographers should use proofs with clients

In this article, I explore why photographers should use proofs when working with clients. From enhancing collaboration to preserving their creative vision, proofs serve as an indispensable tool that benefits photographers and elevates the entire client experience.

Join us as we explore how the judicious use of proofs can be a game-changer for photographers looking to thrive in today’s competitive market.

If you’re more of a visual learner, be sure to check out the video I made on this topic:


What are proofs?

Proofs in photography are a selection of images that photographers provide to their clients as preliminary previews or samples from a photoshoot or event. These proofs are typically unedited or lightly edited versions of the photographs, and they serve several important purposes in the photographer-client relationship.

Why should photographers use proofs with clients?

Here are the reasons why photographers should consider using proofs:

  • Selection process: Proofs allow clients to review various images from the session or event and choose their favorites for further editing and final delivery. This helps clients have a say in which images they want to keep and ensures they receive the specific shots they desire.
  • Collaboration: Clients and photographers can collaborate more effectively when proofs are involved. Clients can provide feedback on specific shots or poses they like or dislike, allowing the photographer to adjust their approach.
  • Protection of artistic vision: Proofs help protect photographers’ artistic vision. By presenting only a selection of images, photographers can ensure that their work is showcased in a way that aligns with their style and standards.
  • Quality control: Proofs can act as a quality control mechanism. Photographers can use this stage to identify any technical issues or imperfections in the images that need correction before final delivery.
  • Managing expectations: Providing proofs early in the process helps manage client expectations. Clients can see the initial results of the shoot, which can help prevent misunderstandings or dissatisfaction later on.
  • Additional sales opportunity: Some photographers may use proofs to upsell clients by offering further editing or printing services for the chosen images.

How to create proofs

Now you know the benefits of proofs. So, how do you create them? Well, luckily, it’s really easy once you get the process down.

Here’s the process I usually go through when creating proofs:

  1. Import and organize images:
    • After a photoshoot or event, transfer all the images to your computer.
    • Organize them into folders or use photo management software to make them easier to work with.
  2. Culling process:
    • Review all the images from the shoot to select the best ones, the process called culling.
    • Eliminate any unusable or duplicate shots.
    • Consider factors like composition, exposure, focus, and client preferences when choosing the images.
  3. Basic editing (Optional):
    • While proofs are typically unedited or lightly edited, you might apply basic adjustments for better visibility and presentation.
    • Adjust exposure, contrast, and color balance if needed.
    • Crop or straighten images as necessary.
  4. File export:
    • Export the selected images as proofs in an easily viewable format, such as JPEG.
    • Create a separate folder for the proof images to keep them organized.
  5. File naming and numbering:
    • Rename the proof files to indicate their status as proofs and ensure they are easily identifiable.
    • Some photographers use a numbering system to make it easier for clients to reference specific images.
  6. Create a contact sheet (Optional):
    • If you provide physical proofs, consider creating a contact sheet, a printed grid of small thumbnail images.
    • You can create a PDF document containing all the proof images for easy viewing for digital proofs.
  7. Delivery method:
    • Decide how you will deliver the proofs to your clients. Options include:
      • Uploading them to a password-protected online gallery or file-sharing service.
      • Creating a physical proofing package or contact sheets for in-person review.
      • Sending proofs via email if there are only a few images.
  8. Client review:
    • Instruct your clients on how to review the proofs and provide feedback.
    • Encourage them to make selections or provide comments on their preferred images.
  9. Feedback and final selection:
    • Gather your clients’ feedback and preferences.
    • Use their input to finalize the selection and make necessary adjustments to the chosen images.
  10. Further editing (Optional):
    • Once the client has selected their preferred images, you can proceed with more extensive editing, retouching, or any additional enhancements they request.
  11. Final delivery:
    • Provide the fully edited and finalized images to your clients as per your agreement.