This ShootProof vs SmugMug comparison is for anyone looking for a way to store, share, deliver and print their photos online.
It’s become much easier and more affordable for photographers to back up photos in an online gallery here in 2022.
Other features such as beautiful client galleries, watermarking, an integrated proofing system and print sales, can be particularly helpful when you wish to sell your photos.
Let’s have a close look at two popular options – SmugMug and ShootProof.
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ShootProof vs. SmugMug in 2022
1. Ease of Use
ShootProof is above all a website platform to which you can upload your images, choose whether to make them public or password-protected and set prices for them so you can display them to clients in a professional, elegant way.
In terms of overall usability, the site’s interface is ideal for wedding photographers or anyone who sells their photos commercially.
Most importantly for workflow, ShootProof is extremely easy to navigate and finding all the important buttons is wonderfully intuitive.
This same quality applies to the site’s pricing and plan structure: instead of tiered plans with different features, you’re charged monthly by the number of photos you upload and that’s it.
SmugMug is also great in many of the same ways as ShootProof. Its customer service is good, and if offers a rich selection of features for both newbie and pro photographers who want to sell prints or digital images to their clients.
SmugMug’s dashboard is not quite as polished or flexible as ShootProof’s but it still works well and intuitively for essential editing and image loading.
Almost anyone can set up an online gallery site on SmugMug within a few hours, though some of the platform’s more complex features can take weeks to learn.
On the other hand, some parts of this platform’s user set-up can be a hassle. Their system for setting up pricing, tagging of certain projects and sorting photos into galleries isn’t as smooth or fine-grained as it could be.
The most basic SmugMug plan is especially annoying because of the features like image tagging and custom domain URL options that it lacks.
2. Client Interface
The user-friendliness of ShootProof applies to your clients too. The interface lets them do all sorts of things like share photos or albums via social media, input their emails for gallery or photo updates and buy images or receive free image downloads through either their laptops or phones and tablets.
In other words, there’s plenty of client functionality and versatility here.
With ShootProof, you can simply send an email link to clients once you’ve done all the work of setting things up for gallery visitors. By clicking this link they can download what they want for free or buy digital and physical prints such as wall art based on how you set up buying options.
A cool part of this process is that ShootProof lets customers “favorite” specific photos in case they need to think about which ones to pick.
This same email link can also be customized a bit further with client-specific password protection and a feature photo that’s the first to appear in a tiled series of all available images.
Additionally, ShootProof allows for a whole range of permissions for visitors, meaning that you can choose to let one specific client have free access to a range of high-resolution shots while others get different customized access rights.
One huge client-side benefit of ShootProof is that it can do your invoicing and payment processing for you. SmugMug doesn’t come with both options, only payment processing.
SmugMug also lets your clients order photos digitally or as physical goods printed onto cards, wall posters, photo books, coffee cups, phone cases and other random objects.
The platform itself works with some of the biggest printing labs in the U.S and worldwide for quick shipping to almost any number of states, provinces or even countries.
There are also password protection features for clients on this platform, like with ShootProof but with slightly less flexibility.
As a user interface, SmugMug’s client-side is clean, intuitive and easy to navigate.
Less positively, SmugMug’s basic plans don’t let you charge different prices per photo or even per gallery, which isn’t helpful on the client-side.
On a final note, SmugMug comes with a nice amount of social engagement technology. Clients can share your photos via social media with a button click and can even comment on photos or upload their own additional content.
ShootProof’s galleries are easy to create, organize and navigate. They also come with many template options.
The site supports the same gallery features across all plans and this is an ideal budget saver for any photography business. A couple of things like special long term archiving for future client use or musical scores for galleries do cost a bit extra though.
Galleries can be organized by subject, client tags or in almost any arbitrary way you like, and there are numerous templates and layouts to choose from.
These can be further customized too. Galleries can of course also be set up for customized order requests.
There’s even a feature for letting you preview your client galleries as your clients themselves would see them. This is especially useful for avoiding costly presentation mistakes.
Another awesome widget on the ShootProof platform is its “resize” option. With this, you can offer a photo as a high-resolution shot and a smaller social share version.
To complement the above, watermarks can be set and resized for each image and it’s possible to have them disappear automatically when customers download their own high-resolution editions of photos.
One especially awesome feature of ShootProof is its Mobile Apps option. This lets you send a client the photos they rated as their favorites from a gallery but in the form of a cool, simple mobile app.
One problem with the platform is its back-end gallery management interface, as it’s only available in English.
Finally, ShootProof lets you integrate your galleries with your own custom URL so that customers never know they’ve visited a separate website. It’s a bit technical to set up but SP’s customer service and site guides offer help.
With a new SmugMug account, you’ll be asked to choose a template for the look of your site. This will decide how your galleries look and there are a number of stylish templates to choose from.
This step does require uploading at least a few photos to start with but any images will do just for getting things running.
You can choose to import new photos to a completely new gallery or to one you’ve already created and images can be added from both local drives and cloud accounts.
The “Organize” menu is what really lets you create new galleries, which can be kept simple and visible on your home page or customized to look unique. All galleries can also be personalized for clients by having password blocks added to them or being left open to the public.
Photo uploads for Galleries can also be edited and include full social media sharing features and search options for keywords, dates or other things.
On the negative side, SmugMug only unlocks its more customizable gallery editing features and template options with its pricier plans. Because of this, the Basic plan only offers six possible templates with limited customization.
For more refined editing options that include CSS and HTML formatting tools, you need to upgrade to a higher-priced plan.
ShootProof is basically loaded with features and many are very similar to SmugMug’s. In terms of client account administration, customization, billing, invoicing, and integration with both social media and your own personal photography website, SP covers all the bases very smoothly. Some key things on offer include:
- Fully customized shipping
- Photo protection
- Extremely flexible photo access/purchase options in every one of their paid plans
- A plan structure that offers all of the platform’s main features for all plans, benefiting customers
- Social media sharing options
- Major photo and gallery editing tools
- Video editing and uploading support
- 24/7 customer support by phone or email
- Custom watermarks
- Ecommerce integration for billing, payments and invoicing
Some small extras such as archived storage of old galleries, or music customizations for galleries do cost a bit more but they’re mostly peripheral to the main functionality of using ShootProof as a photo business site.
SmugMug is also loaded with numerous features for photo customization, album customization and integration with both social media sharing and your own personal photography website. Key features include:
- Galleries, albums, and specific photo site pages with password protection in all of SmugMug’s plans
- Unlimited photo storage in all plans
- Integration with a custom domain
- Video editing and uploading support
- 24/7 email customer support
- Private sharing
- Custom watermarks
- Ecommerce support
- HTML and CSS customization
It’s worth noting that not all plans include all of the above. Also, SmugMug doesn’t have quite the same level of billing support as ShootProof since this site’s invoice handling capacity is more limited.
ShootProof fully integrates with social media platforms for clients to easily share images to their own profiles.
This includes downloading Facebook and Instagram-friendly resized photos that come alongside downloadable higher resolution print-quality images that your client can buy at the same time.
Additionally, the site is able to be hooked up to a custom URL and offers a billing/invoicing combo that makes it a breeze to collect card payments and deliver your customers itemized charges for services and products.
Another major and useful integration that ShootProof offers is with a list of different studio management platforms for on-demand printing and shipping of your photos to customers in the U.S and even around the world to a more limited degree.
Integrated platforms include Tave, Pixifi, Iris Works, Studio Ninja, ShootQ, 17Hats, Light blue and others.
Finally, there’s ShootProof’s inclusion of the Event Emails iPad app, which lets you collect email addresses at an event like a wedding and then automatically synch them with your ShootProof account for emailing clients with their images.
SmugMug also integrates smoothly with all major social media platforms so you or your clients can easily share photos – but it doesn’t come with neat little extra features like creating an automatic, resizable social media-friendly photo with each high-resolution shot in a gallery.
Just like ShootProof, SmugMug lets you integrate your account with the site to an existing photography website of your own. This is only available in higher-tier plans though.
As for payment, the SmugMug platform handles client payments from all major credit cards in the USA and delivers your funds via ACH if you’re a U.S user. Customers of the platform in certain other countries can use Paypal integration instead.
On a final but crucial note, SmugMug, just like ShootProof, also offers studio integration with print labs in the U.S and Canada. These include BayPhoto, Loxley Colour WHCC and EZPrints.
These labs can handle printing and delivery of both standard photographic prints and deliverables of all kinds with client images imprinted onto them.
ShootProof’s pricing structure is excellent and offers the same essential list of features for both you and your clients across all of its paid plans.
This is great because everything becomes about how many photos you’re likely to handle per month and you can relax knowing that all other features you might need are automatically included.
The most basic paid plan with ShootProof costs $10 per month and lets you manage 1500 photos at a time. From there it increments upwards to $20 for 5000 photos, $30 for 25,000 images and $60 for unlimited image storage. Clean, simple and flexible.
SmugMug does offer a nice 14-day free trial of their premium package for a commitment-free test drive, and all of their plans come with supposedly unlimited photo storage. But here’s the kicker: With all plans, SmugMug charges its 15% commission on all sales.
This is made clear by SmugMug when you set up your price lists, but it can be a bit confusing as you’ll need to factor this cost into what you bill your clients for photos.
The most basic plan with SmugMug costs $48 per year and is paid annually. From there, plans range up in price to $72, $180 and $360 dollars.
On top of this pricing annual pricing, remember that you’ll be paying a 15% commission on all sales you make.
ShootProof vs. SmugMug | Overall Winner: ShootProof
Both ShootProof and SmugMug make selling your photos online a breeze. With both programs, you can quickly and simply set up galleries to share with clients so they can download photos or order prints at the click of a button.
While both options offer incredible features, SmugMug’s pricing plans are their biggest downside. Not all features are available in the lower-tier plans, meaning you potentially have to upgrade to access the functionality you want. On top of that, they take a 15% commission on all sales.
On the other hand, ShootProof offers a super-simple pricing structure that makes all features available for all users. You only need to choose your plan based on how many images you’ll be storing.
For this fact, as well as being generally smoother and more flexible across several areas, we’re making ShootProof our top pick.
Stephan Jukic is a technology technology writer and experimental photographer who spends his time living in both Canada and Mexico. He also loves cross-cultural street photo exploration.