We Review Picflow: A New Client Proofing Service for Photographers.

We Review Picflow: A New Client Proofing Service for Photographers.

Picflow is a new program that allows you to deliver images to your client and for that client to select and even download their favorites. Let’s take a look at Picflow's features and operations.

It seems not very long ago that I was delivering images to clients on CDs or DVDs. These formats suffered from major compatibility problems, and even if the disc was working when you first gave it to the client, it was very possible that it would not work a year later. This had one small benefit in that it was unlikely that a client would continue to use your images indefinitely since the discs were often unplayable after a few months and most clients didn’t have a proper archive system in place. Some of my better clients would send a bike messenger over to pick up these discs, but back in the day, I did hand-deliver quite a bit of them myself. Sometimes, this allowed me to talk with the client or network with others in that office, but just as often, delivering the images by hand was a chore that took hours of my day.

Gallery for client image delivery created using Picflow.

Today, image delivery is much less time-consuming. We can simply move images to a folder on our desktop and use a free service like Dropbox or WeTransfer to send them to a client instantly. But this delivery method can cause problems for our clients since the average person doesn’t have a proper platform for scrolling through and sorting dozens of images quickly and efficiently. And if you want that client to select which images are needed for retouching or you want the client to cull the original set of images down to a smaller number for wider distribution to the client’s coworkers, then you are going to have to empower that client to perform these tasks by using a more comprehensive delivery method. Fortunately, several services make the process of the photographer sending out the images and the client making the selects simpler. The latest entry into this workspace is Picflow.

In the video below, I try out the service from the perspective of a photographer and that of a client.  As is standard operating procedure for me, I didn’t bother to read any sort of instructional material before jumping in. Check out the results below.

I was impressed with how easy it is to navigate the platform for both the photographer and the client. The gallery that you present to the client is clean and beautiful, and I especially love the fact that you have control over how many options are shown to the client. You may want the client to only have the ability to select favorites. Or, you might want the client to be able to use a more sophisticated system of color labels. For example, images tagged in red by the client are to be deleted from the gallery. All images tagged blue may be sent out after an embargo. Images tagged yellow can be distributed immediately. Images tagged green should be sent in for retouching. I am confident many of my clients could use Picflow to assign these labels and thus organize images in this manner. The program is still in beta, and the creators plan to add features such as image watermarking and print sales. As long as these items can be turned off by the photographer and the interface stays clean for the client, I believe Picflow is on the right track regarding adding additional options to an already strong platform.

What I Liked

  • Intuitive interface for both photographer and client
  • Photographer has the option to turn certain client features on or off
  • Image galleries are uncluttered and utilize the entire screen
  • The client can share full galleries or single images

What Can Be Improved

  • Current plan caps storage at 1 TB worth of images on the site

Like most apps these days, Picflow is subscription-based. If you’re interested in trying Picflow, you can use the code: FSTOP50 for a 50% discount on the Picflow Pro plan. Code is valid until December 31, 2022.

John Ricard's picture

John Ricard is a NYC based portrait photographer. You can find more of Ricard’s work on his Instagram. accounts, www.instagram.com/JohnRicard and www.instagram.com/RicInAction

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Not sure how much the subscription is, and it's probably a valuable service for some level of photographer/clients.

I can do a simpler version of this with my SmugMug galleries. They probably have a few more features than when I was using them more actively for client proofs..that said, the photo roll would simply get added to a pre-made gallery and the client would select which images they wanted by file number.

Thanks John. I have a Nextcloud installation on my server which has almost all the features of this system. I share my photos with my clients this way. It lacks tagging, but my clients still download the archive (it creates a ZIP archive if more than one photo or file is selected) and tell me afterwards, what images they have chosen by simply returning the image's number or name.
The nice thing about Nexcloud is that there is an app for Android or Apple phones that is perfect for viewing the photos. In addition, Nextcloud has many other features, some of which are also useful for customer relations.
The difference with PicFlow is: there is no real limit to the storage area. It doesn't cost anything, but web space also costs and you have to set it up and maintain it yourself. The 1TB limit of PicFlow is quite a lot. At the moment the functionality of PicFlow is quite reduced. There has to be more if it wants to be successful, e.g. that you can label pictures. With Nextcloud I open up an account for each of my clients (sharing a link without account ist possible though).
(Edit: 1TB limit)

I think the best software for image distribution depends on who your clients are. My clients don't have an easy way to scroll through 200 images. And, they don't have an easy way to even identify the file names. If you're using an iMac and browsing images through the Photos app, you won't see file numbers. And since my file names can be rather long and were designed for my own understanding only (mgjj20211206_0004jr_) is a typical example, it is awkward for my clients to copy that file number down and send it back to me. The average person has no method of even copying the file number without actually re-writing it somewhere. So I think PicFlow is offering something that is very easy for a client to use as compared to my just sending them a folder with hundreds of high res images in it.

I have registered for a trial version (14 days, pro).

The user interface needs a little work. Try to return to the main page after visiting a gallery and viewing a series of images. It is not possible. If you're logged in, at least there's a floating link on the bottom left that takes you back to the login page. But as a guest: no chance.

I managed to get a link to share. I logged out and pasted the link into the browser. Protecting the shared link with a password is only possible with the Pro account.

I couldn't figure out how to rate pictures. I can only mark them as "favourite" or give them a colour coding. I would prefer a rating system from 1 to 5, for example. The colour coding does not replace a rating system. Some customers will not use the colours the way you want or they will make mistakes. This would not happen with numbers.

The download option limits the image size to 2400x1602. This means that the images will be scaled no matter what. You have no control over it. The original image was 3000x2000 with 632kB. The downloaded image is 2400x1600 with more than 1.1MB. It doesn't matter how big the image is, it will be scaled to 2400x1602.

Even worse, if you upload the image at 2400x1600, you cannot download it from the gallery with these dimensions. It will then be scaled down to 1920x1280.

I could not add an image to the same area of the gallery as the images from the previous upload. I have to create a new section each time I want to upload more images to the gallery.

You cannot change the order of the images in the gallery. I think that should be mandatory.

All EXIF data was taken from the downloaded single image. The resolution was changed from 300 to 72 dpi (doesn't really matter).

Bad: When you are in the gallery view and download an image, the colour space of the image is changed. I uploaded an image with prophoto RGB as the colour space. It has been replaced by sRGB.

When you download all images, a ZIP archive is created (this takes quite a while for only 12 MB). All images in the ZIP archive are the original images. The colour space is not changed. The EXIF date is kept.

As a guest, I can enter any fake or accidentally misspelled email address.

For the monthly cost, I would expect to be able to sell the images directly through this website. If I want that option, I would have to subscribe to another service, which I don't want, because who wants to manage two websites?

I think they entered the market too early and should finish their work first before going public.

-- "Try to return to the main page after visiting a gallery and viewing a series of images. It is not possible."

The Esc key should work.

Edit: Also, there should be a back arrow upper left.

Perhaps the article doesn't stress it enough, but the program is in Beta and the developers are actively soliciting feedback like yours and are willing to make changes to the software. But I don't think they launched too early. Using the Chrome browser, the program worked fine for me and I could use it right now to distribute images to my clients and I don't think I would have any problems at all. Also, I use Photo Mechanic for image tagging when I'm alongside my clients in the studio. I use a color method for that and my clients understand it quickly and easily -especially when I tell them Green is for images they really like and Red is for images that they want to delete.

I appreciate you for taking the time to write such a detailed comment. I'd love to see that level of effort and intelligence be the standard on a site like F Stoppers.

Thank you, John. It's great to hear that they are listening to the comments. I agree, there is always the question of when to publish something and finally make money. I like the idea of the website. They should take a look at Nextcloud (Opencloud) if they haven't already. There are some good ideas to adapt there. But who am I to say? I'm just looking for an "Eierlegende Wollmilchsau".
(Swiss Army Knife)