Shoot and Share Photographers - You Either Love Them or You Hate Them

Shoot and Share Photographers - You Either Love Them or You Hate Them

Over the last couple years, more and more photographers are turning towards a new business model of sharing the digital files with their clients rather than requiring them to place print orders to generate revenue. The traditional business model photographers who rely on sales of prints to make money are furious with the growing popularity of "shoot and share photographers" even going as far as "declaring war" against it. Here's what photographers need to know.

What is a "Shoot and Share" photographer?
It is a photographer who has chosen to turn over the edited digital files to their client so that they can share the images as they would like and print them wherever they wish.

Why are so many photographers upset with this business model?
They feel it cheapens the industry and cuts into revenue sources that photographers have been relying on for years. Traditionally wedding or portrait photographers set up meetings with clients after the photos have been edited and use the time to sell prints of many sizes to them. An average sales meeting for traditional photographers will yield them anywhere from $500 to $3,000 extra income from the sale of prints, canvases, albums and other photo related items. Photographers relying on this extra income to maintain their business are growing upset at the number of photographers offering the "shoot and share" model making it too easy for clients to receive the digital files and print them on their own.

Fstoppers Shoot and Share Photographers Wedding 1

Are they ruining the industry?
Over the last few years as the "Shoot and Share" model of photography has continued to grow a number of outspoken photographers have taken to the blogging, email newsletters or Facebook to pronounce their disgust with the model. Often they will say that photographers who follow the "Shoot and Share" model will be out of business in just a matter of years or that they care less about the clients because they don't want to sell them beautiful prints and canvases for their homes and instead just push them to Walmart to have products made. "Shoot and Share" photographers are told they are ruining the photography industry and that if they keep it up soon we will all be out of business. John Mireles, who calls himself "The Photographer's Business Coach" even went as far to say in a blog article published on August 10th that he was "declaring war" on one product and its innovator. In the article the author says those who follow the "Shoot and Share" business model are, "not making's a hobby at best and recipe for failure at worst." He goes on to say, "Now if you're a photographer who just likes to shoot the wedding and then wash your hands of it, that's your prerogative and I respect that. It's just important to know that you're leaving a significant amount of money on the table." He goes on to explain in the article that he has yet to meet a photographer who is rolling in the cash because he sold a bunch of prints and that the reason photographers following the traditional model charge as much as they do is because it is necessary to "operate sustainably."


Can't we all just get along?
Now before I go any further, this article is not about trying to sway photographers to choose one model of business versus another. I say pick whichever you feel works best for you. My reason for writing this blog post is because over the last year I have seen a number of contentious battles between the two sides. In fact, I was once a member of a great group of photographers on Facebook but, because they constantly battled over this idea that photographers cannot be profitable as a "Shoot and Share" business model I decided to leave the group and in turn have lost daily contact with a number of friends there. I was just tired of photographers slinging mud at each other and being disrespectful in the way they handled different attitudes towards running their photography business. Ultimately we all want to do the same thing, which is bring happiness to our clients while making money to continue operating our business successfully.

Here's a business term worth knowing.
What I hope all photographers reading this article learn is the business term that was coined by a professor at the Harvard Business School Clayton Christensen called "disruptive innovation." According to Wikipedia, "A disruptive innovation is an innovation that helps create a new market and value network, and eventually goes on to disrupt an existing market and value network (over a few years or decades), displacing an earlier technology. The term is used in business and technology literature to describe innovations that improve a product or service in ways that the market does not expect, typically first by designing for a different set of consumers in a new market and later by lowering prices in the existing market."

Fstoppers Shoot and Share Ikea Southwest

Examples of companies that shook up their industry.
When IKEA entered the furniture retail business it shook the industry up and had other furniture stores reevaluating how they manufacture and sell their product to compete or differentiate themselves. When Southwest entered the airline market with its low cost, no frills, pick your seat way of doing business, other airlines took notice and some even tried to compete, some went out of business while some re-innovated their own marketing strategy to continue operating their business in a more traditional sense of the way. There are a number of examples of companies that have used disruptive innovation to shake up an industry.

One visionary who was incredible at doing this was Steve Jobs. For those old enough to remember, he took Apple from a struggling computer company that was competing with the behemoth Microsoft and turned it into a consumer device company. The iPod and later the iPad were disruptive innovations that turned personal computing on its side and revolutionized the technology industry. Then came iTunes with the ability to buy individual songs from artists rather than having to purchase the whole disc of music, then apps (disruptive innovation to the software industry) then came their new line of laptops that didn't even offer a CD/DVD drive thereby pushing users to do their file saving using cloud services.


How about Netflix? or RedBox? Look what those two companies are doing to the video rental industry. Are they not making money because they are doing it differently (which happens to be the argument of the traditionalists)? Not at all. Both of these companies have found ways of getting a product consumers want into their hands without the need to build one of the more traditional brick and mortar retail stores stocked with product and employees.

Is it really worth going to war over.
The way I see it is that the "Shoot and Share" business model is a disruptive innovation and for that reason has caused such a visceral reaction by some who might be susceptible to losing business because of it. Sadly, some who feel threatened think it's best to go on the attack, "declare war" and try to sway as many photographers as possible to their side of the battle field. Often they will ask you to sign up for their email newsletter, "Like" their Facebook page, or buy their coaching so they can show you the "correct" way to operate your business. Does fighting with one another do anyone any good? Does it really help to sling mud, call each other names, and waste our time writing or reading blog posts that are full of hate? It's sad to see our industry is filled with so much hate. I understand why bloggers/coaches write this kind of stuff, it gets a reaction. It gets shared and liked, they get applauded, they feel good for the week as they see the number of site visitors climb. In the blogging world we call it "click bait."

Why waste time fighting when you could be growing your business instead?
So, do photographers really need to waste time kicking, clawing and screaming at one another? Absolutely not. Find a model that works best for you and OWN IT. Let me give you an example of a business that has stuck to its traditional ways and is thriving by marketing this difference. The financial company Edward Jones has been around for a long time. Their business has always been to hire a representative for an area, build a small office for them right in the heart of town and then make that representative available to locals for help with their financial services, 401k rollovers, savings accounts and more. Many financial companies started out the same way but as the internet made it possible for people to trade stocks online most financial service companies followed suit and began offering the same service. Edward Jones however held steady. They did not change their business model. Instead they decided to do what in the business terms we call "disrupt the disrupter." They began marketing themselves as some place different. Edward Jones knew their business model, who their customer is, and what that customer considers valuable. Rather than trying to publicly fight other financial companies telling them how they are doing business all wrong, Edward Jones has separated themselves by showing people they are simply different and if you like that business model that revolves around a face to face interaction and a handshake versus a mouse click than you are a perfect fit.

Fstoppers Shoot and Share Edward Jones

In conclusion
If you believe that selling prints to your clients is the best way to serve them then by all means stick to your beliefs and do what you love! Find a way to market yourself so that those who value those services find you and together you'll make a perfect match one for another. Stop wasting time drawing battle lines and instead focus your energy on your business. The same goes for those who enjoy the "Shoot and Share" business model. Sure you can highlight your differences but don't try to tell traditional photographers that they don't know what they are doing. Many of them feel comfortable with their structure of doing business and have been doing it for sometime. If someone tries to waste your time with hateful speech about one business model or another, move on, hell, run as fast as you can away from them. Instead look for those who will help you understand the benefits of each model and then choose the one that works best for you. Lastly, don't sit comfortably thinking your business model will stay the same forever - remember disruptive innovation is always changing things - and in order to be successful you need to be on top-of-your-game knowing what is new and how to adopt it into your business, differentiate yourself from it, or die.

Here are some links to articles I have referenced in the article.
Harvard Business Professor - Clayton Christensen
Responses to Disruptive Strategic Innovation
The Photographer's Business Coach
Reinventing Your Business Model
Disruptive Innovation Explained - Video

Trevor Dayley's picture

Trevor Dayley ( was named as one of the Top 100 Wedding Photographers in the US in 2014 by Brandsmash. His award-winning wedding photos have been published in numerous places including Grace Ormonde. He and his wife have been married for 15 years and together they have six kids.

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Previous comments

I have heard from others who have used Shootproof with lots of success. Thanks for sharing your experience. Best of success to you.

Hey Trevor, shouldn't let everyone know that DJ paid you to be in his video?

I wish I had been paid. I was at a conference. They asked if I would be willing to share a few words. I stepped into a room, spoke for 2-3 minutes and they used a few clips from it. No payment was ever made. Do I love using PASS, you bet. Did I talk about PASS in this post, nope.

Ah but you did by mention this - “The Photographer’s Business Coach” even went as far to say in a blog
article published on August 10th that he was “declaring war” on one
product and its innovator. In the article the author says those who
follow the “Shoot and Share” business model are, “not making money…it’s a
hobby at best and recipe for failure at worst.”

By noting this you let everyone know who/what you were talking about, but not mention names so you could backpedaling like you are doing now.

Why not own up to the fact that all you are doing is standing up for DJ and PASS? If you really do love it mention it. (And the fact that you are a spokesperson on the web site.)

I shoot, get paid, and share. I've been giving digital files with all of my packages since 2003. But I sell $40,000 - $50,000 in albums and print per year too.

Why won't PASS let the photographer chose the price of a 4x6? Because that would mean they would make less money. And that is the flaw in that system.

From the craptacular PASS website "*PASS makes a small amount on the sale,
but that money comes through price negotiations with WHCC."

The fact that you drank the Koolaid - but won't admit it in you article is why you and the Mouscashowiteers are hated.

The reason I refrained from mentioning any names of products in the article is for the very reason you are naming here. My intent was never to advertise for anyone or talk about one product over another. Had you guys not even mentioned it here in the comments, others wouldn't have even known about it. Please feel free and go back and read this article. Here I will even help you... Here is a copy and paste of the last paragraph.

"If you believe that selling prints to your clients is the best way to serve them then by all means stick to your beliefs and do what you love! Find a way to market yourself so that those who value those services find you and together you’ll make a perfect match one for another. Stop wasting time drawing battle lines and instead focus your energy on your business. The same goes for those who enjoy the “Shoot and Share” business model. Sure you can highlight your differences but don’t try to tell traditional photographers that they don’t know what they are doing. Many of them feel comfortable with their structure of doing business and have been doing it for sometime. If someone tries to waste your time with hateful speech about one business model or another, move on, hell, run as fast as you can away from them. Instead look for those who will help you understand the benefits of each model and then choose the one that works best for you. Lastly, don’t sit comfortably thinking your business model will stay the same forever – remember disruptive innovation is always changing things – and in order to be successful you need to be on top-of-your-game knowing what is new and how to adopt it into your business, differentiate yourself from it, or die."

I read your article, twice. Fact is I could tell by the article that you were a "Shoot and Share" proponent and a David Jay drone.

If you really were on the "Hey I'm neutral like Switzerland" side of the debate. You wouldn't be a video advertisement for PASS on their website.

You won't find my picture on Miller or MPIX's site.

Again you should have been upfront with your allegiances and then your last sentence might ring a little more true.

I guess we will just keep going in circles here so this will be my last comment and then I will let you have the last word and we can lay this to rest. As much as I love PASS this article is not about PASS or David Jay. It is about the Shoot and Share concept and the business term, "disruptive innovation." I have absolutely no issues that people know I use PASS, after all I wrote about it here on Fstoppers as a product that I absolutely love. Here is the article: The reason I don't talk about it in this article here or talk about how much I love it is because this article is not about a product. I didn't want to cheapen the principle I was trying to teach others about by bringing products into the picture. If you read this article I think you will get a good understanding that I tried to be pretty fair and balanced covering both sides and asking people to stop fighting about it. You have course can interpret how good or bad of job I did at that, that is entirely your opinion. Well I am done. I will let you have the last word and we'll then lay this to rest so we can both get on with our day doing more important things.


More important things indeed. I hope someday a great product to help both photographers and clients really does come out from someone who is much less self-serving.

Maybe someone should write an article about they are "Share, deliver, and sell" (I don't use them either).

Honestly I would close my business before I ever gave another penny to my old buddy DJ. But some people don't care where their money goes, as long as it helps them make a buck

I'm not against shoot and share, if that is your thing rock it.

Just do the world a favor, don't support a false messiah.

Thank you for linking to this video. I am glad others will get a chance to see it. Sadly I look like a hot mess during it and wish I had known I was going to do it so I could have looked a little bit better. Here are some links to other products I have discussed here on Fstoppers. I am realizing one of two things though since I have never been paid for my efforts by any of these companies that I talk about... 1.) I am terrible at collecting money for my efforts in advertising other businesses, OR 2.) I enjoy teaching and sharing with other photographers in the industry products and software that I have enjoyed using over the years.

Canon Selphy CP900 Printer - -

Best Marketing Dollars - Promo Videos -

Adobe Lightroom -

Mextures Phone App -

Photomechanic -

Favorite Battery Charger -

Canon Tilt Shift 90mm Lens -

Wescott Jumbo Soft Box -

I have written over 100 articles here on Fstoppers... You are welcome to go and read them all if you would like. I have not been paid a single dollar by any of the products, software or things that I have discussed over the last year of being a writer here on the blog. As a writer we are given the autonomy to write about things that we would like and encouraged to share tips and gear that has benefited us in our business with the readers of the blog. We hope that over the years our readers benefit from these articles as much as possible. The funny thing is here in this article I don't even mention a product, I talk about a concept. But since you feel otherwise I just thought I would address it. Best of luck to you in your business.

I'm surprised people actually feel threatened enough by this that they feel they are entitled to react so aggressively. I live in Colombia and I charge 1200 USD for a wedding (that money goes a long way here, yet I progressively raise the prices as I feel that my experience and resulting quality goes up, and will continue to do so). I don't use any assistants, just me and my two cameras, so I don't really have any costs except for the equipment I bought years ago.

I give my clients 700+ photos (500 being the minimun guaranteed) with basic lightroom processing to control exposure and WB, 20 fully "print ready" photoshopped photos that are of stellar quality, AND a 4-5 minute HD video. I detest labs, I detest having to do quality control, or having to go get the prints. And in Colombia this can be a bit more time consuming. That part of the process was actually taking much longer than anything else. Plus, my 9-5 job would make it tricky for me to be on top of the lab making sure the quality is on par.

So, without the labs and the printing. I takes me 1 day of shooting and 2 of post to get everything done. That's enough for me. I have moved on to tv production in my 9-5 job, so I've learned from the INSANELY HECTIC rhythm of television, and now I just churn out material like it's nobody's business. TV has really improved my video abilites, so I can get that video out in 3-4 hours (from 200+ clips) and THIS is the main selling point really. People just go NUTS for the videos cos they're short, concise, and they're so easy to share with people on youtube.

Also guys, please take into account that consumer trends are also changing, people much rather have a gallery they can share with their guests than have a clunky album that they crack open maybe 10 times in their lives. Sure, they'll get 2-3 prints to have lying around the house, but most clients have definitely shifted towards sharing digital prints rather than having something physical.

Anyone else on the same boat? What do you guys think?

This article kind of touches on something I've been noticing for awhile. It's not just a disdain for the Shoot and Share model it is a utter disgust for by established "mature" photographers against anyone that handles a camera and takes a dollar for photos.

I have now been in a number of workshops where, the instructors, more often than not, at some point devolve into a rant about "these people" now... cheap digital cameras have ruined the profession... anyone with a DSLR can call themselves a photographer... they only charge $500 for a wedding and I used to charge $7500... they're giving the stuff away... they don't even darkroom, WTF?... everything is done in post... they have no education, creativity, experience, talent,... (et al)

The very people that are taking money from a new wave of photography enthusiasts couldn't be more irate with them. This "Shoot and Share" is just one more thing in a long line of issues to rail against. It's really getting to be bad. Or maybe I'm just going to really bad workshops.



Miss not having you in the group.

Anyways, I would like to see this nameless "shoot & share" provider be truthful with his members and stop saying that they can make money using his fixed price method of selling pics. Perhaps if he would allow member photographers to get rewarded for their "Time & Talent", his scam might not be such a disaster for the industry. Fortunately there are many other photo phone applications that are available which are better in how they treat their users. It is just a matter of getting the word out about this disaster which John Mirles has begun and put an end to the crap from the nameless.

Take care of yourself Trevor, you are always welcome.
Joe John.

I think if I had a studio space and no other obligations other than my biz i would have the time and the luxurious space and appealing venue that says, 'reassuringly expensive' , but I push hard to work as much as I can and not I do share the edited shots but i do so for a fee, otherwise clients can order prints from their gallery.

Wow! What an interesting article and set of interesting comments! As an 'outsider' looking into this subject (I'm a Sales Trainer who's an amateur photographer) I see a lot of 'arguments' here in the comments where people are defending THEIR position and THEIR choices!

What most appear to be forgetting here is it's NOT about YOU. It's about the CUSTOMER and what they want. I have some photographer friends who obsess over image quality that the clients can't tell the difference over. They're amazing photographers, but don't have enough clients! Their focus is on the wrong person ;-)

Is there still a market for people selling a service, plus then prints afterwards? Yes.
Is there a market for people charging a fee and providing the photos digitally? Yes. The client will make the choice.

It's also less about price than you think. I know some expensive 'Shoot & Share' photographers. I also know some 'traditional' photographers who are very cheap.... because they have no work on!

It's about POSITIONING and TARGET MARKETS. If you position yourself as an expensive, 'traditional' photographer then that's the market for you and what you aim at.

If you decide you're a cheaper 'Shoot & Share' photographer, then that's the market for you and what you aim at!

Are 'Shoot & Share' photographers 'ruining' the market, or the profession of photography? Absolutely not. They're just catering for a different market than those of more traditional, or more expensive photographers! That's the market and the type of customer that wouldn't have paid the higher fees anyway, so they're not 'taking your work'.

From most of the weddings I've been to recently, there are far more guests at the weddings taking pictures on DSLR's than ever before. Do you think those people will share images on Facebook, Flickr, Instagram etc? Of course they will! So I can understand customers wanting your images (as they would be the best ones surely?) able to share in the same way too!

So stop feeling 'threatened' by the Shoot & Share photographers. Stop trying to tell them to up their prices or stop proving the images. Just realise they cater for a different market and a different type of customer. And get on with focusing on YOUR business, and the great service you provide!

We're in a changing world right now. Where the 'parameters' of business are changing for a lot of people. Realise that and make the changes to your business that you deem necessary to take advantage of it. Or like Edward Jones in the article above, position yourself as doing it in a way that YOUR customers still like ;-)

And never forget... 'everyone' thinks they can be a photographer.... just like 'everyone' thinks they can be a sales trainer.. etc etc. Just get on with your stuff and leave them to it.

Can we all just get along now? ;-)

Thanks for your insight Andy. Lots of great points.

Spend an hour researching the controversy around David Jay and his PASS product and you'll better understand the anger.

Without knowing the context, it's easy to assume that most of us are just being selfish and thinking about ourselves. Fact is, we love the industry, we love our clients, and what David Jay is doing is scaring the crap out of a lot of us.

Welcome to the free market. Scared people only add to the efficiency.

I'm a shoot and share Photographer cos that's what is obtainable in my country. My country is such that you give your clients their CD of their images and you happen to be in their house three months after. You'd see your images on their walls without your permission or the canvas being order from you. So I don't fret anymore, I just charge more, give them their images and move on with another clients.

There are fast food restaurants where you can get a burger fries and soda for a buck and across the street there is Wolfgang Pucks restaurant that sells a prime beef burger for 18.99. Enough said.

My position is that I think that shoot and share photographers don't value their work. They need to realize that they are capturing a timeless moment or creating a peice of art. You are devaluing yourself when you just hand someone a disc and let them put it on something not worthy of art. Did Picasso paint on cheap cardboard? Or did he choose a nice cavas? Think about it. I'm not saying it's wrong, it is just making it harder for us full time photographers who live this 24/7 and not just on an occasional weekend because they have another job. Value what you shoot and the client will too. In fact, they will appreciate you more because you chose to care what their images were placed on. For those who care about referrals, think about what they will tell everyone. " He cares" not, " he's cheap ".

I am a "shoot and share" and my clients love it! With social media taking over, I feel it is the only way to go. People want to post their digital images to Facebook, Twitter, and all the other SM outlets. I do explain to my clients that they can order prints wherever they would like, but there is a quality difference from professional labs to places like Walgreens. I then offer them my prices for printing if they would like to add that to their cost after receiving the digital images. I feel like that is a good balance of the 2 worlds.

I hope somebody can do a survey on who is making money and who is still in business 6 months

I only let my clients have images printable up to 8x10 only, anything larger they must go through me. 11x14 and larger(I am going for the larger canvas prints of at least 16x10) is a la carte.

What I have been seeing a LOT of recently in my own area of the state I live in, are photographers offering a session with 20-50 (or all) fully edited digital images on a disc for $150 or $200. This to me, is what I feel most people are upset about. Not that our clients are upset that some photographers are giving the digital files, but that they are educating the client that they should expect custom photography to include all of their photos, fully edited, for pennies. Personally, I give the digital files of the prints that are chosen in my collections, but my collections range up to $5K. I have priced my collections for profit and sustainability of my business. I have had my share of potential clients who come in and expect much lower prices and I'm not going to lie, I don't feel I should need to defend my pricing to anyone, so I simply turn those clients away (professionally of course). This article, while well written, doesn't really go into this point of the matter. Most of the shoot and share photographers I have seen, are not educated properly on how to sustain a business and I think are mainly doing it for quick cash, without the thought of the actual work that they have to put into it and then the clients are left dissatisfied with their products. If a shoot and share photographer wants to charge $1000 for their work, then great, but at $150, I think it's doing a disservice to not only the customers, but to other photographers - by educating the customer incorrectly.