ZEP Review: PASS Beta
I recently gained access to the beta version of SHOWit's latest product, PASS. It's important that the "beta" portion of that sentence gets pointed out, because it really wouldn't be fair to review the service in a release candidate status, because there's a chance that the software is going to change. In fact, I sincerely hope that the software developers take some of the suggestions from its users into account, because there seems to be a few things off about the tool.
Before I get into all of that, however, let me explain the concept of Pass. From their website, "PASS is the first program that gives you the freedom to "pass" your pictures on to your clients in a way that's classy. PASS is built for the new generation of photographer who loves shooting - loves sharing - and loves knowing that their clients pictures are safe & secure." In short, PASS is a new tool for photographers that gives their clients a neat, flashy new way to look at, and interact with, their photographs.
That point is where PASS really shines. The presentation given to clients is really stunning. If you're a user of Google+ or have had a chance to see the new way Flickr displays your contact's photos, PASS looks an awful lot like that. It's definitely going to have more than one client saying "Wow!" when they see their results. For example, I've thrown a gallery up on PASS so you can see what it looks like. Also make sure to check it out from a mobile browser, because it's formatted nicely for that.
That, however, is about where my dream date with PASS ends. From a client's standpoint, PASS is fantastic. From a photographer's standpoint, however, the nightmare begins almost as quickly as signing up. From the get-go, I have some major issues with SHOWit's pricing model. As it currently stands, every single pass gallery, costs $29 per year (or $99 for 5 years0 to "upgrade" the gallery. What does an upgraded gallery get you?
- The ability to have the gallery viewable for more than 30 days
- The ability to prevent downloading
- The ability to restrict who can, and can't, see the gallery
- Printing (not currently implemented, so this is an assumption)
- The ability to share a link to major social media sites (images are not shared, just a small link to the image within PASS)
So for $29 per gallery, per year, you're essentially given something that a lot of other "gallery" competitors give you, with the promise of potential printing and a flashy interface for your client. There appears to be no customization for galleries so every client essentially gets the same front end.
So, you build the $29 into the price of your sitting fees, and move on, right?
Not so fast, my friend. By my math, At $29 per gallery, per year, you would be beyond Zenfolio's prices in five galleries (Zenfolio is $120 per year, unlimited storage and length). Even the previously talked-ill-about SmugMug prices are beat out after only 9 galleries. If wedding photography is your primary source of income, you could be forking over hundreds of dollars to keep these galleries up for only a year! On top of that, the only way to get the features that (in my opinion) are fairly integral to professional photography, you HAVE to pay for the galleries. Let's also not forget that there's probably a really good chance that SHOWit will end up taking a cut of any sales you might make for prints.
I hope that, in a few months, I can come back and edit this review stating that I'm switching over to PASS for my client work, because the presentation really is a thing of beauty, as long as you don't want custom looks and photo protection. These are basic features that need to be built into any sort of photo gallery site, and it's a real shame that there is a pay wall up that doesn't seem to offer much else. PASS is a great tool to play with, and in time I really think it would be something worth considering to give to my clients. It also looks great on a tablet device, which is really appealing if you're attempting to wow a potential client with your portfolio.
As part of being in the beta, I do have two invites to get into the program. We'll be giving out one of the invites on our podcast, and I'll be doing a giveaway for the second one in a few days. Make sure you tune in Wednesday to hear me talk a little bit more about my experience, and stick around below for a gallery of the tools.