I Declare War on David Jay (and his Self-Serving PASS System)

Hopefully, you know me for my level-headed and impartial analysis of the photography business. Forget that. Today I’m going to go off on someone who is not only doing a disservice to the industry that he purports to serve, he’s actively working to destroy it. In the words of The Dude (from The Big Lebowski): “This aggression will not stand!”

I’ve written about David Jay before. Over a year ago, he released “The System” where he attempted to teach new photographers how to enter the world of wedding photography. Though it had a few useful points, for the most part, it was a dismal failure insofar as being a worthwhile tool for the newcomer.

Sure, many photographers thought that it brought the industry down by virtue of encouraging new photographers to “spray and pray.” While I won’t argue the point,  I personally viewed The System as more of an nonsensical annoyance from someone pandering to make a buck.

Despite – or perhaps because of – The System, David Jay remains a popular figure within the photography world, and as such, his voice continues to hold influence upon many working photographers. Maybe because he was once a photographer himself, he’s viewed differently than your average CEO trying to make a buck marketing to photographers.  David Jay still has that “man of the people” aura about him – which I suppose helps him to attract photographers as customers.

None of that however has anything to do with why I declare war on David Jay. The reasons for that lie in his PASS System. For those unfamiliar with the PASS System, it’s a web viewing platform for event photography whereby the photographer uploads the photos to the system and then the images are immediately available to the client for using as they wish, including sharing on Facebook and other social media site. It’s all part of his Shoot and Share method that is supposedly the new way for photographers.

But it’s not just the basic PASS System and this Shoot and Share ethos that’s got me convinced that David Jay needs to be put out of business. It’s his latest venture, PASS Prints, as well as his accompanying philosophy that is just plain bad for photographers. David Jay has gone from being a nuisance to actively working to destroy the industry that spawned him.

With PASS Prints, clients can now order prints from images uploaded to the PASS System much like they can any other service. The catch lies in that prices are set by PASS at $1 for a 4×6, $2 for a 5×7 and $4 for an 8×12. In the FAQ section of the PASS Prints website, the question is posed, “Can I make money off of the prints?” The answer is “Yes” since the photographer makes 50% of the sale.

I’m sorry but receiving 50 cents per print is not “making money” as a photographer. I think the technical term for this is “chump change.” The website goes on to emphasize that “PASS takes no commission on the total sale.” Well, duh, they don’t need to since they’re marking up the prints already. They buy the prints for 19 cents then charge the photographer 50 cents. I’m not sure whether to sarcastically thank David Jay for not charging us twice or to be insulted by the fact that he thinks we’re too dumb to realize his little game.

And while this is bad enough, it’s the ethos behind his message that I believe is truly corrosive to the industry. In his introductory video to the PASS Prints system, David Jay states, that “PASS is not a way to mark up your prints and make as much money as you can off of them.” He goes on to add “That’s just a different business model.”

And what is this “different business model” that he’s referring? Oh yeah, it’s called Earning a Profit! So if Pass is not for photographers interested in maximizing their return on their business efforts, who is it for? Those interested in working for free? Not making money is not a business model; it’s a hobby at best and recipe for failure at worst.

To be fair, Pass is all about those photographers who “don’t like to sell” and just want to “shoot and share” (as though they are part of some free loving hippy commune). 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. The difference between a sustainable living and one where you’re constantly working to get ahead but never quite do is in all the stuff you deliver after the wedding.

My problem isn’t with those who choose to operate their businesses as they see fit, it’s with someone, specifically David Jay, who promotes a product and a philosophy which works against his customer’s business interests just so he can make a buck. I don’t know if the term “con man” is the term to use for someone who smiles as he takes your money but stabs you in the back – but it’s the best description that I can come up with.

And it gets worse. Not only is David Jay promoting a product and ethos that is harmful to the profession, he also takes the time to personally browbeat someone who choses to leave his service. I’d heard about a Facebook message that he sent to a former user where he did just that. I took the time to track down the recipient and, fortunately for us, she’s a fan of the Business Coach so she forwarded to me the message in its entirety. (A screen capture is posted below.)

David Jay sends a Facebook message to a former user of his service

From the above: “Shoot and Share photographers are making it really difficult for sales driven photographers to continue marking up prints to high heaven so I’d suggest making the switch to a service based business quickly even if you don’t use PASS. The days of massively marked up prints are over.”

Wow. First, I have to wonder if David Jay is that desperate for customers that he feels compelled to take time to essentially guilt this former customer into staying. Perhaps the PASS system isn’t the cash cow that David Jay had hoped for. Instead he finds himself clinging to every last customer like a desperate lover wailing “Please don’t leave me!”

Regardless, I take exception with his claim that “The days of massively marked up prints are over.” This idea that photographers “massively mark up prints” is absolutely ludicrous. It’s an insult to every photographer out there who’s ever worked hard to create a product that the client will love for years to come. Yes, many photographers may charge $25 or more for an 8×10 with a physical cost of $2. To the uninitiated, that may appear to be a substantial markup.

But that markup does not include the time and often times years of expertise that it takes to prepare the files for printing nor does it include the overall profitability from the wedding. I’ve yet to meet a wedding photographer who was just rolling in cash from his or her “massively marked up prints.” Photographers charge the rates they do because that’s the bare minimum required to operate sustainably.

The subtext to this message is that David Jay is essentially telling us, “I am enabling the race to the bottom among photographers by significantly undercutting the market. If you don’t undercut your fellow photographers, you will be left on the chopping block.” Unless you feel that what this industry needs is more undercutting and lower prices, you can understand why this whole attitude leaves me livid and with nothing but contempt for David Jay.

Fortunately, the days of photographers charging profitable prices for their work are definitely not over. There’s no question that times are tough, however I meet with plenty of photographers who charge healthy rates and incorporate profitable pricing throughout all aspects of their businesses. Good business practices are certainly not dead.

Though I can’t say that I don’t wish the same about David Jay’s business. My recommendation to all photographers is that they avoid using PASS and spread the word that others do the same. If you’re a PASS user, I suggest switching to a service that is not working to destroy the very industry that you’re a part of. Though we can’t do anything about the fact that digital cameras are everywhere and the economy continues to remain a challenge, we can do something about who we choose to support with our hard-earned dollars.

My suggestion is don’t use those dollars to pay David Jay or his misguided PASS system. Like a bad virus, let’s stamp it out before it spreads.

John Mireles

PS: Since originally writing this post, I have followed up with another Why Print Sales Matter to explain why this issue of print sales matters to photographers.

About johnmireles

Photographer, writer, thinker, climber, outrigger canoeist, bad guitar player and even worse singer.
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200 Responses to I Declare War on David Jay (and his Self-Serving PASS System)

  1. bertopics says:

    Well Said John, I think David intended pass to catch on like a virus! I am sure he caught allot of newbies with his let me help you approach, but the truth is that pass does not even remotely offer any working photographer a chance for a sustainable business in todays market! Its the quick road to death at best for a business. Hopefully more and more photographers will see through this BS and realize David Jay is not helping our industry as he pretends to do so!

  2. Joe Barnet says:

    Very well said John. I agree with you wholeheartedly! In everyone of our classes and workshops we try to show new photographers how this type of mentality is not a business plan, it’s a suicide pact. We have to sell ourselves to our clients, as skilled professionals, in order to win their business, but we have to sell product to make a decent living. Another reason why the PASS and shoot and burn mentality is killing our industry is that it hurts our clients. People who hire this type of photographer will receive an inferior product. There is no incentive for the photographer to provide artfully retouched photographs, albums, etc, he or she couldn’t afford to, even if he or she wanted to. If every photographer worked this way, quality finished imagery would become extinct, since there would be no financial motivation to provide it. The full time wedding and portrait photographers would also be a thing of the past since there is no way to make a good living this way. Thank you my friend, for endeavoring to protect our industry. We’re right there with you!

  3. Melinda says:

    Well said. Thank you for re confirming that I’m not “misinformed” like I was told in reply to my comments about PASS on this fstoppers infomercial errrrr… I mean “informational article”. http://fstoppers.com/same-day-slideshows-and-how-pass-makes-them-even-better

  4. John, beautifully said!! I would love to connect with you sometime and share some of my own stories. I could further HORRIFY you with some stories of when I worked with David Jay’s business coach. Feel free to reach out and I will share.

    Thanks for putting your view out here in such an eloquent way.

  5. We need to stop wasting time on DJ, & take our argument to WHCC.

  6. Andrew Knesis says:

    DJ took that control from PASSERS because he knows at a $1 people will buy A LOT and not even think about it, thus increasing HIS profit. Easy. Bam. Done. If he allowed photogs to set their own prices, there may be a chance that some would not order as much. Ugh. It IS THAT control issue that makes me even more angry. And the fact that he’s doing everything …..or as little as possible so that he can profit. For example…..offering 8x12s and shitty packaging. I could go on and on…

  7. I agree that we should be conn
    cting with WHCC somehow…but not sure what good it will do. I have used WHCC for YEARS to satisfy my paying clients—-or should I say my clients who don’t mind paying for quality work. I too conversed with DJ on the PASS forum on FB and was made to feel guilty for trying to make a profit….not an unrealistic profit either. Seems HE is doing just THAT with PASS……but at the expense of the industry.

  8. Joe Barnet says:

    WOW! You hit a nerve here John… I suggest all those who have left a comment here, and those who didn’t but agree with John, forward this post to your friends, promote it in Facebook and tell every photographer you know about it. WHCC is not to blame here, they’re just a lab… Although, if they want the industry they profit from to thrive, they should get involved on the right side of this issue, or risk loosing clients to another lab just on principle… It always amazes me the lengths these software developers and sellers (that’s all DJ is) will go, to make a profit. I guess he’s counting on the real pros going away and only part time photographers remaining to fulfill clients needs with low quality product… We need to reach out to as many new photographers as we can, and help them with their business. If we help each other provide a well priced, quality product to discerning clients, we all win. The way I see it, this is a pivotal time for our industry, not only because of products like PASS, but also because of shoot and burn shooters, etc. If we stand together as professionals, young photographers will be able to make a good living doing what we do, if not, only a few of us with established clientele will be able to stay in business… For now. It’s all up to us… Thanks again John!

    • Melinda (aka Minnie) says:

      Joe, Im afraid to link to this Blog post. I’m afraid people will fall for the shiny glitter and ease of not having to do the whole job that a professional photographer must do to not only profit, and remain profitable, but to run their business with integrity. Just from my short exchange with David Jay on his Facebook page, I had three friends like his page, read his system, and the links with in to his products. I had to contact them all privately to explain that what they read was a bunch of nothing, and to steer clear of all of it. The last thing we need is more people following him, reading his posts about “serving” and learning more from positive reinforcement than critique, and how clients want YOU and not your prints, how using PASS makes it so you don’t have to collect or pay taxes, how it’s bad to make a profit off of your hard work and expertise in creating a final product for your client, and better and more selfless to not complete the job, how if you pay him your job is done as soon as you upload, etc etc. People can and DO fall for this, even if they are told otherwise. Easy, shiny, money, positive and happy, selfless or difficult, not so glamorous, grueling never ending learning, taxes, book keeping, insuring, contracts, and marketing and selling etc. Which would you choose? It’s a fancy package. I, like many have a lot of lay people who follow/friend me, a lot of lay people who want to be a photographer. I won’t be sharing this.

  9. jeff says:

    Wish I could share with you the insane emails I received from him in a nastier tone then you received because I dared to even ask questions about PASS and suggest ways that it could work better for photographers, and actually enable photographers to make money instead of David Jay (or as well as).

    It’s funny it wasn’t many years ago that he was teaching the exact opposite on his bus tour with his “freedom house” or whatever it was called. Then when that most likely went belly up (probably because people wised up to taking advice on how the industry should operate from a guy that hasn’t been in the industry for years, and was barely in it when he was in it). If I remember correctly it use to be about work less, and make more per event ‘freeing’ your life.

    Now its… book anything you can, no matter the price, and shoot shoot shoot shoot, and give everything away and be everyone’s best friend. Oh and of course pay me $29 per event (or whatever it is) for your pass event to give all your profits away.

    There is a reason he now wants the photographers to shoot more events wouldn’t you think? More events = more pass events purchased, = more $29/per in his pocket. Now…. he is running a business so I don’t fault him for wanting to make money. I have a problem with trying to make it out like he is trying to help photographers, or that he is such the authority on what is dead and gone in this industry when he isn’t actually working in this industry. It’s laughable if not disrespectful.

    And if you go at all against the cause or ask questions, he deletes the comments, kicks you out of the group and sends you a nasty gram (or has one of his people do so).

    I will say, that I use and love Showit sites. It’s brilliant. I just wish he would have stopped there and focused on just the technology which is something he does rather good at.

    His all or nothing mentality with his ‘system’ is really sad, and more sad to see how many photographers are blindly following it. It was amazing talking to some of them in a facebook group and hearing the crazy things they would say about what it means to run a business, be a professional, and their negative comments towards anyone looking to make a higher profit or dare sell things to their couples….. Like every other business in the world……

    I have offered multiple times to debate him live anywhere any place on his system and methods, be it online, or WPPI platform, or wherever. I haven’t been taken up on that offer yet ha.

    • Michelle S says:

      so well well well put…you spoke everything right from my heart. My history and experience from anything Showit/PASS related has been based on the inability for it to work with my business model. I agree he should have stuck with the original concept and not tried to make others trying to build their businesses based on additional sales feel like they were doing it “wrong”. The entire world of PASS has become slightly cultish and I’m sad that the people I once trusted now feel like they’re only my friends, or were just to get me to drink the koolaide or be a part of the “family”. I hope that this somehow turns around and puts everything back in perspective that one person’s business model isn’t necessarily wrong, but just might not work for others.

  10. Josh Newton says:

    Sorry, but your article doesn’t have any facts to back up what you’re saying. It’s just a bunch of nonsensical feelings that no logical mind would read and want to switch from PASS. Where are all these photographers who mark up prints and make profits? What are the exact numbers? Just because you don’t like a guy for killing your business model doesn’t mean you’re right :p

    The old way of music business hated Napster for changing their business, yet iTunes came and revolutionized the music industry. People were sick of paying $15 for an entire album when they wanted one song. The old way of the book publishing business hated amazon for “killing” their business. Same with movies, and now photography (now as in 5 years ago). It’s not a matter of when we all revert to some old way of thinking, it’s a matter of when all products are completely commoditized by the photo industry and those depending on print sales fade out.

    People are sick of photographers charging 6000% of what a print is worth – people aren’t dumb anymore. So thank goodness a creative and brilliant man like David Jay finally came and paved the way for the new and successful kind of photographer – giving clients for what they want. I’d much rather be a shoot and share than a shoot and horde – as my business is and always will be service based.

    • fdonnino says:

      I agree John.

      To the writer…

      War? Really? You seem angry.

      With all due respect to anyone’s opinion, as a 33 year veteran in this business, I happen to like PASS and unlike your passionate view (almost venomous in tone) there are photographers who disagree with you. After all, David has his view and other photographers have their view. Now you are asking photographers to take action against David. You want photographers to follow your advice. Seems kinda like the same thing right? Each of us has the right to run our business as we see fit. I mind my own business and you can mind yours.

      • SC says:

        “I agree JOHN.” Maybe that was Freudian. I must say Frank, as someone who has heard you speak at a PPA convention and admired your work, I’m surprised to see you drinking this koolaid.

      • fdonnino says:

        SC…again…and pot shot. My bank account is all I care about. Don’t be surprised. I have never changed my mind/stance on business. I am all business and never called anyone names because they have a difference of opinion. I suggest you do the same.

      • SC says:

        And I suggest you work on your comprehension skills. You haven’t seen me calling anyone names. I’m glad you admit that all you care about is your bank account. At least we know where you stand. Some of us actually care about the industry.

    • Kristin says:

      Hi there,
      Thing is, we’ve also been told that clients book us based on our dazzling personality. Our art. Our outlook. By people like David Jay, and others. And now that’s not the case? it’s about pile ‘em high, sell ‘em cheap?

      There are still clients out there who don’t trust something that’s so cheap it has the feeling of “too good to be true”. There’s a market for high-end photography. You go offering a print for slightly more than they can get themselves in a local shop or via consumer sites, you don’t think they might think photographers are selling a consumer product as a professional product. (I would!). And you end up competing purely with the consumer market too – and the consumer market can afford to be cheaper than you (FYI: Cheapness is not a USP – rule 1 of brand building and marketing!) and can afford to undercut you on a much larger scale than any photographer or group of photographers can take on. Your selling point isn’t how cheap you are – you’ve got to be so much more than that to survive.

      As for the mark up itself…. Photographers don’t “mark up” things for the hell of it – they do it because they have overheads to cover! wedding shows? magazine or blog ads? taxes? New kit? Oh, and the ever sensitive issue of actually earning a living wage that they deserve as much as anyone else. Photography as a career means making money, and that’s nothing to be ashamed of.

      Before I finish, though, have you heard the story of Picasso? Depending on the version you’ve heard, he was sitting in Paris (in a cafe, or by the river) when an admirer approached and asked if he would do a quick sketch on a paper napkin. Picasso agreed, did the work and handed back the napkin. When the admirer offered to pay him, he asked for significant amount of money. The admirer was shocked: “How can you ask for so much? It took you a minute to draw this!” “No”, Picasso replied, “It took me 40 years”.
      Any photographer – whether they’ve been in business for 1 year, 5 years, 10 years…. every photo they produce now, for their client, has taken them that long to get to the point of being able to create it.

      In the midst of recessions and economic downturns, there’s two markets in any industry that usually survive – the top luxury end, and the bottom, bargain basement end. I guess you’ve chosen your marketplace.

      • Josh Newton says:

        Was this comment supposed to be towards me? If so, I don’t know what you’re saying. I’ve been shooting for 8 years and am definitely in the top luxury end. I choose to shoot and share, and there are people that shoot and horde. If you’re the latter, good luck =) Only if you’ve been in business a long time and love selling will you survive. That is a fine way of doing business, but just because you mark up doesn’t make you good. How silly to think such a thing =P

    • Paul says:

      Amen Josh.

    • johnmireles says:

      This post has caught on far beyond anything I thought it would. I’m having a hard time just keeping up with approving comments let alone responding to them. The point about Napster and iTunes is an interesting one and one that I’d like to respond to.

      Prior to Napster and iTunes, musicians would make money off of the royalties from their CD/record sales and from touring. After Napster/iTunes, the royalty stream of money pretty much died so no musicians are forced to constantly tour to make money. They’re essentially working harder for less money.

      This system is great for iTunes however since they’re making the lion’s share of the money. It’s good for the seller, bad for the artist.

      It’s much like what David Jay is trying to do with his PASS system. He’s trying to kill off the revenue stream to photographers from post-shoot print sales by making the print prices super cheap. That means that if photographers want to maintain their revenue, they have to book more gigs. More work for the photographer for less money. Who profits from this? Just as with iTunes, the content aggregator who is in this case David Jay.

      The difference between the music industry and the photographic industry is that, in the music industry, consumers were able to start exchanging songs without the consent of the artists. The artists and music companies were powerless to stop the change.

      In the case of the photography business, David Jay is asking photographers to do this to themselves – and pay for it as well. It’s like he’s handing photographers a gun and charging them $25 for the privilege of shooting themselves in the foot. It makes no sense. It’s our work. We should control the price we set for it. The value of it is determined by the price we set relative to the market. So long as clients are willing to pay for the work, there’s no reason we can’t – and shouldn’t – charge accordingly.

      Napster was forced upon the music industry. No need to invite the photographic equivalent upon our industry. Pass on PASS.

      • Paul says:

        iTunes isn’t the only place people can purchase music. You can get music anywhere (Amazon, Google Play, PirateBay, etc.) and the quality of the music you download will be slightly different. The consumer doesn’t know the difference in the bitrate (192,128, etc.).

        It’s the same way with prints, consumers KNOW they can go to Walmart and get a 4×6 for 40 cents or get it themselves on Shutterfly for cheap. If photographers want to continue to lie to their clients about how much better their prints are from some big photolab like WHCC, Millers or whatever that’s fine. Yes I realize WHCC is who the print lab is for PASS and I believe they are SLIGHTLY better than what they can get at Walgreens or any other consumer place. That’s why I feel fine charging them the PASS rates for them. The bottom line is that I can’t sleep at night charging $40 for an 8×10 knowing they can get something PRETTY CLOSE to the same quality for less than $2 somewhere else.

        I believe the answer is offering products that clients can’t get themselves (linen prints, creating collections of canvases that are as a group of piece of art, H.H. Boogie products). It’s easier to sell the value on something that actually has value. That’s just my opinion of course, I’m not choosing to go to “war” with someone over it because what works for me might not work for everyone…

        I’m not saying that the business model of charging 4000% over cost is wrong, it’s just not something I feel comfortable doing. If you have to sell prints at that rate, then maybe you aren’t charging enough up front. Maybe your current business model isn’t set up to allow you to sell cheap floppy prints for cheap floppy print prices. Maybe you’re happy with the business model you have and your making money with it. Rock on.

        If you see the writing on the wall that PASS and some of the other upcoming companies are going to shake things up a bit, then maybe you need to put more of your energy into combating it by shaking up the way you do business and less into downing those who have created a new niche.

        PASS on being a Negative Nancy and pull your pants up like a big boy to keep your business being all that it can be, whatever that may look like.

      • Josh Newton says:

        I can’t argue with you whether or not all of the industries old way of doing business is good or bad. We could argue that for hours and get absolutely nowhere. We both have a right to run business the way we want to. It’s America and personal attacks just don’t matter. I’m one of DJs best friends and I don’t need to be told who he is or isn’t. However, whether you want to admit it or not, the photography industry is heading to shoot and share vs shoot and horde. Very few will be able to make it as product based companies, just like all of the music labels and book publishers. Sure, people might have to find a different way to make money, but change is happening and you can’t stop it. If you want advice, maybe you should ask the CEOs of WB, Universal, Decca and ask what they would have done. Or ask Blockbuster what they wish they would have done when Redbox, Hulu, and Netflix came on the scene. They’ll really be able to tell you which direction most people should go!

      • @Josh why do you use the term shoot and horde ? I don’t shoot and horde. I shoot and sell. Shoot and create. I cannot afford to give my work away for free. I am not a mass producers of images. I am one photographer offering services to one client at a time. Again we cannot compare the photography industry to other industries that are designed for the masses. Has the way we take and share and print snapshots changed? Yes absolutely–that is where you might be able to draw some similarities between the music and movie industry.

    • Tom Roche says:

      The comparison with napster and iTunes is now a valid one in my opinion. Recording artists are selling the same work to a mass market. Photography, wedding and social photography that is, is largely a bespoke service. I cant sell the same image to multiple brides.
      Also by the way, Napster was out and out theft and it made a lot of money for the founders.
      I’m sure there are photographers out there capable of making a living shooting and sharing, but for the most part, especially internationally, that is not the case.
      I’ve been a showit user for many years, and believe the software that DJ has managed to create is fantastic. Where I object though is where my concerns as a paying customer are dismissed out of hand.
      Honestly I think the real goal for DJ is not the 50cents per print he is making, (I don’t think that’s sustainable unless he owns the printing facility, which as I understand it he doesn’t. Similarly he doesn’t own and maintain the network of servers on which Showit and PASS are hosted, its all outsourced to the cloud.
      If Pass were aimed at the consumer market, then I wouldn’t mind so much, but when the defined market for the service is supposed to be professional photographers, I don’t believe its sustainable in the long term.
      In my view the long game for DJ is the eventual floatation of SHOWIT INC where he can leverage the number of active users. I Don’t believe when the time comes that that strategy will be successful.

    • jeff says:

      “The old way of music business hated Napster for changing their business, yet iTunes came and revolutionized the music industry. People were sick of paying $15 for an entire album when they wanted one song. The old way of the book publishing business hated amazon for “killing” their business. Same with movies, and now photography (now as in 5 years ago). ”

      This is the continual David Jay talking point. What he fails to recognize is that both the Music and Book business are in the toilet and both musicians and authors and book publishers are now making a fraction of what they once made. Why the hell would we want to fall to the same fault of those industries that are all but now vanished? Artists no longer make practically anything on their music and only make by touring themselves half to death.

      Why on earth do you think this is a good business model to follow? Providing digital files are not the devil itself if you ACTUALLY CHARGE FOR THEM, or use them as an incentive to move up your package offerings. But crazy people that follow David Jay are including them in their base packages and making nothing and killing all their profit potentials. They aren’t ‘including the costs’ in their new packages, as they are only raising their price a tiny bit… where the files are worth thousands in opportunity cost.

      Josh, I have ALL the numbers that you are talking about, and if you want them…. as David likes to say, then pay me to come and learn from me and I’ll show you. Or again I’ll debate DJ live any day anywhere.

      You can choose to follow a guy that hasn’t been a photographer in over 5 years and was barely a photographer then, telling you what you need to do to stay in this industry, or you can think for yourself or ask REAL photographers what they are doing and doing great at with customers that LOVE them, and they still charge for their hard work and talent.

      The fact is you want numbers? Ask David to show numbers. I have several times. You know what happened when I did? My comments were deleted, I was kicked out of the facebook group, and I was sent a nasty gram basically saying… you either believe 100% or leave. (not giving a single detail as to how his ‘system’ works).

      Truth is his system only works for him, at $29 per event from all the photographers selling their hard earned work for absolutely nothing. Driving the prices down in the industry as the next way to compete, killing profit potentials, and having photographers have to work 2-3 times the amount of events they use to to keep up and stay in business. This goes against every business principle I know (and I have 2 degrees and a masters in business).

      If you don’t believe me… spend some time in the facebook showiteers group and see the insanity. Then go to the websites and see the pricing listed for some very talented photographers and they are all are offering prices of $2,000-3,000 base with all files included. I see that, and I think… what a frickin shame.

      • Well said Jeff! Bravo!

      • Josh Newton says:

        It’s not a matter of if our industry is going towards where all the other industries are going, its a matter of when and if you’re going to do something about it. Who cares how DJ is making his money, its America. You’d have to get mad at a lot more businesses before you could get mad at his. Whether you agree with it or not, the numbers will show you that the industry is heading towards shoot and share and unless you’re the best in the industry and CAN charge $80 for a 4×6 bc you’re so high in demand, starting to charge that in the beginning won’t make you a good photographer and more than likely your business will die in these times.

    • joliem says:

      People might be tired of every so called photographer out there charging 6000% of what a print is worth. But peope are not dumb, some out there still choose photographers based in their work not their pricing. That being said..I get tired of this whole argument. Our society will always have its Walmarts and its Nordstroms. You don’t hear nordstroms complaining. I don’t charge what might clients wants to pay. I charge based on cost of doing business and my time spent,and the profit needed to help support my family.

    • Rick Weaver says:

      Napster? Really? That’s a non-sequitur. Photography is always custom and will never be a commodity like someone’s pre-recorded and stamped out by the million songs.

      Putting images online and having clients go online and purchase prints is the opposite of service. It’s laziness. Maybe YOUR clients want to do that, but I can guarantee that the clients who value service and art want to deal with a one-stop shop, from camera to wall (or album).

      I don’t want your online clients. You can keep them. I’ll keep my thousand-dollar-order clients, and gladly go to their home to hang their artwork, while the PASS’ers work a lot harder for such an order.

      • Josh Newton says:

        Good luck with your business too 🙂 I think you’re one of the few. One of the last remaining few. It’s a way to make money, sure, but it’s not where the industry is heading and it’s not where we should be pointing new photographers to. It would kill their chances… But I bet you’d like that 😉

    • It is just such a ridiculous line to say what a print is worth is how much it costs to print. stop buying shirts at ANY store….because guess what…it doesn’t cost that much to make the shirt.


      I charge $35 for an 8×10. to some thats crazy low, to some thats crazy high. if i charged Less than that I would Loose money. I do not have crazy mark ups just to make a profit. I mark up products because I am in the business of selling a product and with that comes expenses that have to be paid for.

      DJ says there is a line drawn, photographers who serve and photographers who sell


      I serve my clients far more than any shoot and share model would allow.
      In home consultation, wall art design via Preveal, helping them create wall art for their home because, shockingly, people do still want wall art for their home. Custom album design.

      Sure anyone can go to walmart and print photos for themselves. they can also build their own house, and cut their own hair. People hire professionals in service positions because they trust the professional to do the job better than they can. And for photography, I wholeheartedly believe that often includes more than just PASSing photos off.

      My way is not the only way, I honestly like the idea of PASS as software…but it is incredibly insulting to have it suggested that I am taking advantage of clients by giving them a full service experience.

    • First, your examples are mute as the music industry simply broke up an album and is selling individual songs, often it would actually cost more to purchase all those songs individually over the album, but as you said, many just want one song. So that was a lame example as the mark up per song is still very much there and often sells for more. believe me, the books and movie industries are making more of a profit from going digital, less hard costs.

      Second, Are you actually making a living solely on being a photographer with using the pass system? The only way I could see this working is for a wedding photographer who charges a buttload up front if they use this for the after sale. But any portrait photographer won’t last a year if they are actually trying to make a living with photography and using the PASS system. Also, my clients don’t pay for “what a print is worth”. That’s insane thinking and why so many photographers don’t last in this business. It’s not about a $.50 piece of paper. My clients pay for me, my devotion to them as clients, my low volume business model(so they are my priority), my skills, my retouching, my art. Calling clients who are willing to pay $$$ for one print, “dumb” is insulting to both them and myself. They aren’t dumb, they are educated and know that you really do get what you pay for and they choose quality. I give them beautiful images presented in top quality products. Oh and guess what else, I make a profit. Go figure.

    • I’ve got to say that I find this a bit intellectually dishonest. How easy is it for someone who charges from $4000 to $8000 on wedding packages, to suggest that “shoot and share” is a better system. Of course it is, for you. But I would suggest that you’re still “getting yours”, but you’re getting it all up front. Now, don’t get me wrong – that’s awesome that you can charge that and get it. Kudos. If people are booking you for those prices, you can easily adopt the shoot and share method. But does this work for the beginning photographer, who is just getting their portfolio together, but trying to eat at the same time?

      What does the Senior and Family portrait photographer charge if they are going to use PASS?? I would suggest that they have to charge so much up front, like you do for your weddings, that it ends up being the same. The client is either paying for it up front in “session/service fees”, or you’re paying for it in prints & packages.

      I can see PASS working for wedding photographers (and I am one) where we get that large chunk up front and then you can shoot and share for whomever else might want some photos from the day. I just don’t see it working across the board for all facets of photography unless, of course, you are charging huge session/service fees. You’re charging the client either way. Period.

  11. Melinda (aka Minnie) says:

    I asked a lot of newbee questions about taxes, insurance, licensing, printing, preparing files for web vs print, color managing, product delivery, and so on. In which he replied… Well see here for yourself https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10151419406710632&id=129451330631&p=30&_rdr

    Then a showiteer came on and asked if the big name showiteer she just paid to go see was involved with “the system”, and if she should ask for her money back. I told her that “the system” and/or David Jay says that ALL the showiteers came up with it together, so more than likely her big name tog was indeed involved and endorses it. She then went on to say she may give up her showit site all together. Shortly (within minutes) after our exchange, we both were banned from his page, and with that all our questions and comments disappeared.

    Anyone who treats his own clients like that, and answers straight up legit newbie questions with self serving garbage… Well I’m going to reframe from calling names. Lets just say, I don’t like the way he conducts business, uses God to sell his products to take advantage of people by telling them what they want to hear. His house of cards will fall.

    • Steve Brack says:

      My BLINK factor identified this huckster when I attended his ShowIt Tour years ago. I purchased Showit and never could find any help from his people. He is like a traveling snake oil salesman. Slick presentation and evangelist techniques of finding believers, but vanishes with the money and on to the next lie. His little Jasmine Starr is the same. I think they maybe shot a dozen weddings between them. RUN!! if you see anything from these two.

      • johnmireles says:

        Actually, Jasmine Star does shoot weddings and she does provide a lot of useful knowledge to photographers. She’s smart, hard working and helpful. Her name has been brought up a couple of times in the comments, however, in the future, I’ll delete references to her unless there’s specific information about her that’s relevant. I’m not interested in dragging people’s name through the mud just because they happen to be associated with another person.

  12. Jerry says:

    What many people do not know is – David Jay is one of the chief ” backers” of getting Jasmine Starr in the industry and ” pushing ” her along – another story in itself and I saw it with my own two eyes! Now he has a shootq “ACE” ( so she thinks) promoting his sites and junk.

    • Zoe says:

      David Jay invented Jasmine Starr. He even owned her website domains. She is and was always just another of his marketing tools to make profit off other photographers. I’ve been working as a professional for over two decades, and been able to survive keeping up with various changes and market demands, without looking to any “crockstars” for business insights. Thankfully, I never believed any bull being sold to photographers over the years. There is no one-size-fits-all “secret” to success. The only way you succeed is having a realistic definition of what success means for your life, and working hard to get there and maintain — being persistent and having determination to stay the course during highs and lows…adjusting and keeping up with changes in your specific market. That is how you survive and succeed in the long run. David Jay, and all others like him, basically make their profits selling bullshit like snake oil salesmen, and lie about having all of the answers, much less even one reliable and sustainable business model. And yes, bringing up Jasmine Star is germane to any discussion about David Jay’s credibility. The industry always questions people like this, because after a while most people eventually learn the truth…..that your own success has very little to do with the success or business model of anyone else. As for the PASS product, it really is not anything new to the industry, so it is absolutely ridiculous to think that David Jay invented this or is some kind of visionary. I’ve been using a similar service for hosting client galleries since at least around 2005, where I can set my own prices for print orders that I fulfill myself ordering through my lab’s ROES, and clients can also download high-resolution files from the gallery (if enabled….you the photographer choose and manage this function). This service stays up to speed with technology, easy mobile functionality, and html5 for SEO, etc. This is nothing new at all, so it baffles me that people think delivering files without disk or thumb drive is somehow new. That is the ultimate bullshit sales pitch. People, look outside of the homogenous wedding/portrait industry for some of your business solutions. You’ll find way more tools/services have been around for a very long time, and often at fraction of cost of what photo industry hucksters will have you pay for them.

  13. Jason Talley says:

    Good article and very informative point of view. Never been a fan of this system. I don’t like not having control over things like the costs of my prints.

    I’m not a product sales guys but understand the importance for those who are.

    My Proofs does a tremendous job of performing as a gallery for your phone and does a lot , if not all of what PASS does but while keeping the control in the photographer’s hands.

    May be a great alternative for those looking to make the jump away for David Jays PASS.


    The creator, John Klasko is AMAZING and always looking out for the photographer. Always putting in updates requested by us and looking for our feedback.

    Tha is again for the article!

  14. Frank says:

    With all due respect to anyone’s opinion, as a 33 year veteran in this business, I happen to like PASS and unlike your passionate view (almost venomous in tone) there are photographers who disagree with you. After all, David has his view and other photographers have their view. Now you are asking photographers to take action against David. You want photographers to follow your advice. Seems kinda like the same thing right? Each of us has the right to run our business as we see fit. I mind my own business and you can mind yours.

  15. SC says:

    Because I’m a capitalist, I don’t have a problem with the pass business model. I do have a problem with the fact that DJ isn’t being honest with his customers. It’s obvious that he doesn’t care how much they make, as long as they use pass. The whole premise is to charge all your fees up front, then give your images away. What he doesn’t tell them is that there is only so much a client will pay, no matter how good your photography is, for digital only. And the more saturated the market becomes, the lower that figure will get. But again, as long as he gets his $29 (or whatever) per event that’s all that matters. Notice how he tricks his customers into upgrading their events by NOT allowing the print feature to be turned off unless they upgrade. Pretty slick. Because he gets a cut from WHCC. If he weren’t out to destroy the industry as we know it, he would let his customers set their own prices.

  16. This post is disgusting gossip. David Jay is an incredible man. Whether you like his PASS system or not, he would never try and hurt another human being like this article is trying to do to him. I’ve lost all respect for this writer.

    • SC says:

      Unfortunately what you see as disgusting gossip is the sad reality. And I don’t think you know him as well as you think. Hopefully you will see the truth before giving him any money.

      • Steve Brack says:

        Laura, this post is factual business observation. Disgusting gossip would be ” DJ is sleeping with unsuspecting newbies of both sexes!” Now that would be disgusting gossip. Be glad that someone out here has enough long term vision to point out the PASS system role in killing off traditionl photograpers and their earning potential. Be glad that someone is experienced and secure enough to point out the dishonesty in the “hot new thing” that is exactly opposite of the 2007 “hot new thing” from the same scam artists. When you find someone making a living with this PASS technique, be sure and let us know.

    • jeff says:

      There is nothing about this post that is ‘gossip’. I can tell you some pretty crazy things I have gotten in emails from DJ and his other lead people. My dealings with them have been insane and I can tell you what the poster is talking about is true. You might be able to call it an opinion piece, but not ‘gossip’.

      I am sure David is a nice guy in person, he unfortunately doesn’t treat his paying customers that well anywhere else. I have purchased everything he has put out in software besides PASS and the way I was treated made me want to find ways to dump everything else I was giving him money for.

      Truth is though, showit sites is freakin awesome, and I haven’t found anything to replace it with so I continue to pay and use it. I give him much credit for creating that…. I just wish he would stay with software development instead of trying to tell an industry how they ‘have to’ act, when he isn’t even in the industry and is clueless to how it actually works.

      I would also say the same of Jasmin Star as mentioned above. She seems to be a very nice person, but I wouldn’t say she knows the ‘real world’ of what photographers can do in their home towns, as that is not the world she lives in. She is great at learning how to promote yourself and sound out gifts and what not, but she wouldn’t be my choice to learn photography or practical business applications. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses.
      But you will notice all of the photographers in that ‘stable’ all look a particular way, dress a particular way , etc etc. Not saying that is wrong, but it is a bit interesting isn’t it. Maybe that is for a reason and what ‘package’ of a person works best for a national speaking tour huh?

      The best advice always comes from real full time working photographers, not on the workshop circuit (except for a few like the Jerry Ghionis’, Yervant, DQ Studios and a few others that have actually earned their place in this industry). If you want to believe any workshop photographer on their business knowledge and ideas, first ask them to open their books and tell you how much they make on speaking and how much they make on actually shooting weddings.

      • Whether you think think this article is gossip or not, David Jay is a living and breathing human being with feelings. This articles stoops to an inhumane level. That’s what I find disheartening. I would be embarrassed to have written an article like this. None of us would ever want someone else to write a nasty article about us and then have the rest of the photography world chime in about everything they don’t like about us. C’mon people. Be better than this.

    • LS says:

      Laura, do you know David Jay personally?

    • Rick Weaver says:

      Laura, someone who doesn’t listen or allow dissenting opinions or suggestions on how to improve, isn’t “incredible”. Because of this arrogance (Jim Jones comes to mind), the only way to combat the damage done to the photography industry is to write articles like this.

      Sometimes the truth hurts.

    • SC says:

      Trust me Laura, he isn’t getting his ‘feelings’ hurt over this. He’s feeding off of it. This article just says what very many people have been thinking for a long time.

    • SC says:

      I don’t have to assume anything. I know it. Just wait and see. I’m really not trying to argue with you….I promise. But I’ve seen DJ (on more than one occasion) take delight in someone losing their business. I know it’s hard to believe because he comes across as a very likeable person. Read all the comments here from people who know him personally. I admire your loyalty, and I hope it doesn’t end up hurting you in the long run.

      • Thigpen says:

        I tend to agree with SC. He’s THRIVING off of this. I have personally witnessed several people who have formerly called him an “incredible man”, just as you have here, only to later post an amazing amount of disdain for him. He’s flat out a user of other people, and while he may seem nice on the outside, I absolutely believe he’s a terrible human being based on the way I’ve personally seen him treat other people. I’m absolutely fine with you disagreeing with my position vehemently. But my advice to everyone that deals with him…be very, very careful, because it’s just a matter of time before you will be on the losing end of his public rants. There are plenty of very public examples besides the Gary Fong stuff…

      • I also know him personally and admire him greatly. You are making huge assumptions about someone you don’t know.

  17. Thank you for saying publically what I have been saying for years…..David Jay is evil!

  18. Paul Krol says:

    David Jay is a cancer for photography. I had the misfortune to see some of his earlier photography work and it was horrendous. Imagine giving a camera to a random person on the street and having them shoot a wedding that day. But worse than that. And he charged through the nose. He basically ruined a few people’s weddings and he could have cared less. And now he does this. And for all of his supporters – you guys are either completely brainwashed or simply lacking a few marbles. He certainly is a con man – how people can’t see that is truly baffling. Great article, hopefully it wakes some people up.

    • Frank says:

      Paul…first “War” and now “Cancer” “Con Man” I’d be calling my attorney about now if I were David. It’s one thing to disagree. It’s another thing for the “personal” attacks and obvious hatred. As far as your comment about his supporters being “brainwashed”, even the author (who sells services and products right?) of this article as a business coach would appreciate that 57 cents out of ever dollar I am bringing in right now goes to my bottom line (not gross profit…net) PLUS my clients are thrilled PLUS I have a life. So your point is? I am wide awake dude. But this “war” stuff is way over the top.

    • Steve Brack says:

      Paul Krol hits it right on the mark! Wish there was a way that we could inform more newbies to steer clear of this hoax.

  19. More than anything, what I find most disconcerting are those who follow David Jay as if he’s the next messiah but can’t see past the glaring hypocrisy that is his life. You are not “serving” your clients, you are “serving” him and his voracious appetite for luxury living. Every single time he posts an image – of his expensive travels, his house renovation, the shared private jet he’s using, the new Tesla — people eat it up. Who do you think is paying for this? All of the PASS users. But heaven help anyone who has a bad word to say about the guy — after all David is a saint, serving the “Lord” and you with his wonderful new product.

    My gut feeling is that this too shall “pass”. The photographers that support him will be run into the ground and I would hazard a guess that the many corners he cut rolling this out will catch up with him. He’s not building out the infrastructure of PASS to ensure it is robust, he’s building out his life and buying new toys so he can continue to impress everyone around him with how successful he is.

    It will take just one major hardware failure (and many lost client images), before he’s gone and hopefully gone forever. For $29 he claims he will store the photos for 10 years? Think about how many terabytes of data this guy is promising to store for the cost of a few weeks worth of coffee at Starbucks. It’s a disaster waiting to happen.

    • johnmireles says:

      I’d just like to make the point that I don’t know much (nor care) about David Jay’s personal life. If he’s a successful businessman and can enjoy the fruits of his efforts, more power to him. I only become concerned when he and his business act to negatively impact the photography profession. Once his products begin to detract from or destroy the business model that allows photographers to be profitable, then there’s a problem and that’s when I speak out.

  20. Maria Z. says:

    has any one not notice Jstar really has not been promoting DJ in recent months, not sure if falling out but its been hush hush between those two

    • Melinda (aka Minnie) says:

      Of course it has. Jstar is selling, and David Jay is…. Well… David Jay. She did link to the System and then quickly pulled it down. She also promoted PASS and showit (of course) and then quickly stopped doing it after one video, and one blog post. They can’t afford the risk of her promoting it, because she might lose some of her audience. I’m sure they planned on using her to promote it HUGE right along with David, but David’s veil just isn’t as thick as hers and they need it to stay that way.

      • Melinda (aka Minnie) says:

        Sorry John, I posted this before I read your comment above. I’ll refrain from here on out, and stay more on topic

    • Thigpen says:

      Maria – David put up a post not too long ago that was harshly critical of someone’s “Star-Dumb”. I don’t have the link handy, but I’m sure it’s easy to find. 🙂 Needless to say, that was the end of her promotions of his activities…at least that I’ve seen.

  21. Michelle says:

    Paul….you can’t sleep at night charging $40 for an 8×10? Really? I’ll sell my clients $4 8x10s all day long….they just won’t have my work on them. They are quality, styrene mounted and linen textured 8×10 prints….in solid white. If they want 8+ years of my experience as a photographer printed on them, the price is $45. And I sleep quite well. I’m not rolling in the dough, but my business pays the bills.

    When they purchase prints my clients are paying for YEARS of education and expenses related to my actual equipment costs, overhead, taxes, licensing, etc.

    • jeff says:

      It’s amazing to me Michelle people like Paul that are on that side of the coin. Yet if they go to shop at any other business do they get these crazy low prices that they want for photographers? If you go in to buy a car and you want the extra nav and tech package, do they give it to you for free? If you go to McD’s and you want to supersize your meal do they charge you for it?
      Do you leave either of those places then posting on social media calling them shady businesses because they actually charge you for these things? I don’t know why photographers allow themselves to be the only ones to fall into that category, and we , unlike them are creating one of a kind pieces. It’s not the piece of paper you are selling. You are selling also what is on the piece of paper.

    • Tracy Maisch says:

      Well put! Plus, I don’t see why anyone would lose sleep over creating a product and selling it to a willing customer, a customer who sought you out in particular because they liked what you were selling. We are wedding photographers, not Big Pharma.

  22. I think there are huge changes coming to our industry as they did before. Nothing new. One thing DJ realized early enough is, that technology will get rid of DVDs and flash drives to deliver photos. A download system is what we all will need and that’s what DJ smelled. He indoctrinated that sharing is good, DVDs are out and prints are for the old-fashioned ones…. Who wants to be old-fashioned… He teased the volumes that way.
    Actually, the 29$ are probably an ok price for hosting, download and backup. But that’s not the big scale business of it.
    To me, it all smelled bad from the beginning. It was probably his notoriously playing good guy, sharing sharing sharing blablabla…. And he proved his intentions with the implementation of the print ordering system. Talking only about what you get, not what you could get. Taking off control to set prices yourself and thereby ensuring that his share will not be less than half the price minus production. It would have been so easy to make it the real way, but all he wanted is the masses of prints, while making naive photographers think that prints are out, un-sexy, un-shary-nice…. (word-creations by a non-english speaking guy;)
    It’s a pure print volume game he’s after. He makes more per print than photoshelter, zenfolio or smugmug do on a lower total print price that drives the volumes.

    Thank you John for posting this!

  23. Field says:

    I know that life has been rough, first the DVD came out and destroyed your VHS sales, then Netflix came along and ruin your Blockbuster store, and now this!

    For shame David Jay and others trying to progressively change the industry.

    That sarcastic rant aside, I understand what you are saying about print sales, and your opinion of DJ somehow getting a cut that he hasn’t made public. What I don’t understand is all the hate in this article. I am a lifetime member of Pass and Showit, and I absolutely love the product I deliver to our clients. I don’t use the “print” feature in Pass, and I offer our clients prints just as any other photographer since 1839. The greatness of Pass doesn’t lie in the weeds of printing from WHCC, it lies in the delivery of great work in a simple way. With Pass I never have to send a disc/thumbdrive just as those who have been in the business for years no longer send negatives. This industry, like the world, thrives on the difference of opinions, the ability to adapt and offer something new, something that utilizes the power of “today” with the essence of “yesterday”. And for me, and my business, Pass does just that.

    Henry Ford said, that if he asked people what the wanted before manufacturing the car, they would have said “faster horses”.

    That being said I’ve never been in your shoes. I’ve never been able to justify selling prints at drastically marked up prices, instead my time, work, creativity, and relationship building with my clients is in the price of time.

    So please, continue to offer a different voice, a different opinion of my own. I welcome it, I embrace it. It always leads to “soul searching”, and helps me further understand why I choose to do things the way I do. But please remove the hate and negativity from your business, and most likely your life. I get that you are passionate about your belief over that of DJ, but unless you come to the internet with something other than warmongering, the “people” you are trying to “save” will not listen.

  24. I just wanted to weigh in something here. Just for some context and to be clear I am not paid by PASS and actually own a product company. I have been full time single income for 8 years and I really do want the best for our industry. Ok, here’s what I’m observing.

    There is a very real pressure and shift happening in our industry. And in this moment in this shift PASS is the face of that shift which is drawing fire understandably from those who are selling prints at a premium or that are offering their digital files and rights at a premium(ie; above the shooting investment). Again, understandable.

    But I think something that we need to realize is that this is a natural shift. PASS has chosen to take their business in this direction because they believe that this is where the industry is going. And I tend to agree with them. I believe that this shift is a result of client demands, not the other way around. Every time technology becomes more accessible to the public industries change and those that have niched into the previous change feel the heat. When the huge wet plate cameras gave way to smaller digital cameras those in the industry said “this will ruin the industry!” and the new “film” photographers proudly proclaimed “you must get with the program or die old timer!” haha. Then film became instant and the new school became the old school and said “this will ruin the industry!” to which the digital photographers proclaimed “you must get with the program or die old timer!” now here we are…..the digital photographers with another group of people that are here to “ruin the industry”. What are we going to say?

    I think if we are honest we all know that the danger of this shoot and share thing is that the clients will obviously want it. And the fear is that they will stop wanting our products. My contention is that if the client is free to choose, and does not choose the products, then then perhaps we weren’t offering a service after all.

    So that’s how I view this shift. A shift that PASS didn’t create but that they do embrace. A shift that our clients are demanding. Many of us still believe that digital is just the beginning of how clients preserve their products. And our challenge is this. How do we accommodate the desires of our clients and still offer products that they will swoon over and pay to have.

    I am for you guys, and I’m not telling you how to run your business. But I am fearful that taking a hard line on selling inexpensive product at a high price will leave you blaming the next school when they run off with all of our business.

    with love,

    p.s. you will need to find your solution but here is what my clients experience.

    Commissioning me includes:
    My time, my talents, my best efforts and the images they paid for.

    If they would like cheap prints to hand out, throw in a drawer or keep in their purse they are welcome to print on their own or they can purchase for cheap through PASS.

    If this is a moment and a memory that they want to preserve. A moment that they want their kids and grand kids to know and remember. I have fine art options for that. They are more expensive but not expensive for the time you will cherish them.

    again, i want the best for this industry and I’m hardly the final authority. All the best.

    • jeff says:

      Technology may change….. and basing a system in a high way on something as pass-ing as Facebook…. and then saying it’s about keeping up with technology change? Um….

      One thing is crystal clear. You know what will last beyond any technology change? An awesome wedding album and beautiful prints. You don’t need a floppy drive, VHS player, DVD player, or even a computer to view them any time you want.

      Just think of the zombie apocalypse….. then what are you going to do? ha.

      • That is my point I think haha. To value the digital files highly is folly. I think we should be devaluing them, giving them to our clients cheaply(along with floppy prints) and focusing on products and that last for generations. Those defending charging a premium for cheap prints and digital files I think are MORE in the camp of doing a disservice in this way.
        P.s I think we are agreeing with each other yeah? haha

      • Jeff says:

        No Jeremy
        We are DEFINITELY not agreeing.
        The problem is when you don’t value the files and you give them away you also give away all of your profit potential. Why would they buy the milk when you gave them the cow?
        The negatives should be held at the highest item on your price sheet as they hold all of the opportunity cost of profits right there.
        The most important product that lasts forever is the album. In order to protect and sell the album, you can’t give them the digital cow for ‘free. ‘

  25. AP says:

    Do people realize that in PASS you CAN turn off the print purchase option and you CAN turn off the download option. If you don’t like it, turn it OFF. PASS is a beautiful interface and my clients love it. There are ways to make it work to your advantage. I actually charge clients to turn the print option on. I also charge to turn on the download option.

    We should embrace new technology and develop new business models. Realize that the world is changing and the industry needs to adapt. Having an entrepreneurial mindset will ensure your business will succeed.

    • jeff says:

      Actually I don’t believe you can. The user has the ability to ‘unlock’ the download ability by paying the $29 on their end. At least this is how it was, maybe it changed in the last 6 months or so?

      It could be a great system to use, but unfortunately DJ being so close minded to any form of suggestions or criticism won’t allow for small tweaks that could make it more usable (like truly blocking that function, allowing the photographer to change the prices, and offering TRUE full high res downloads not the watered down sized files they are trying to claim is the same thing)

      • Field says:

        “I don’t believe you can.”

        Its never changed. From the beginning you could always set who can view, who can download, who can create favorites, and when the printing option came out, who can print.

        It is an option, we have always been very strict about who can view and we have never allowed clients to print.

      • Jeff says:

        We will agree to disagree, because this is how DJ himself explained it to me in one of his nasty grams to me. According to him you can’t turn it off. Either you activate it for them or they can do it themselves for $29 on their end. He does like to go back on what he has said early and contradict himself though so who knows maybe I am wrong.

    • Melinda says:

      AP, It’s not so much the product, but the way the product is marketed along side bad business advice and hot air that makes some photographer’s blood boil. I don’t think you are quite getting it. Yes, you can turn features off, you could only supply smaller files that only print well to an 8×10, you can tweak it this way and that way, and make it work for you if you wish to. Of course after turning everything off, only uploading small files, and all the other tweaks that are always suggested, what are you left with? a way to share files on the web, and/or a proofing system. Sorry, but I’m not impressed. And PASS is not marketed as flexible business tool, it’s marketed as a way of life, the right thing to do, and those who oppose it, or dont jump on board are just so silly, and angry, and so full of hate. That it’s bad to mark up prints. Your clients want YOU, not your prints. It is suggested to charge what you would make in print sales on the front end, and leave it to your client to do the rest, as soon as you upload your job is done, etc etc. Every time I see a discussion on this topic, it is brought up that you can turn off the features, use it as a way to back up and store your files only, don’t upload full RES if you don’t want to, etc etc and “shoot and share photography doesn’t mean we don’t sell finished products at a mark up, it doesn’t mean we don’t finish the job” and so on, but guess what?! That’s not what David Jay says about you, that’s not what PASS promos tell your clients. It’s not what any of the promo videos say that sell PASS. Quite the opposite actually, and people buy into it. No, it’s not PASS that makes me angry, It’s the people behind it, and how they chose to sell it, and how it could hurt someone new to the industry that doesn’t know any better, and buys into using it how it is marketed, advertised, and built to be used. There’s nothing wrong with selling a product/service such as this, but don’t tell your clients that you are serving them, while sticking it to them

    • Jeff says:

      To disable those features it that makes even less economical sense to use PASS . Basically the only two differences between the new SmugMug and Pass are that in PASS you can allow clients to download all images at once and in SmugMug you can set your own pricing. Both allow images to be emailed and shared on social networking sites, and both now have a similar look and feel.

      Lets say for discussion you shoot 25 wedding a year. On PASS that’s 25 x $29/gallery = $725. SmugMug charges its pro clients $300/year no matter how many galleries you upload. So if what has been suggested in other posts here is true, that the shoot & share model requires you to shoot more events to be profitable using PASS makes even less sense as the more you shoot and share the more it costs you as opposed to other services

  26. No one should attack a man’s character who calls themselves a professional in the industry. I understand pass isn’t for every photographer or business model – but for those who it is, this article is attacking more than a ‘business model’. Your point was clouded in all of your emotions. This was just a waste of time to read and honestly, just sad. Btw, we love pass and what it has done for our business and most importantly, our clients love it!

    • Dee says:

      Did you read Melinda’s post above? A big part of the way that PASS is sold is by attacking the character and business practices of any photographer who doesn’t subscribe to the PASS philosophy, and claiming that using DJ’s product is more moral and right than say marking up the prints and selling them to clients for a profit.

      Because anyone who does that (marks up prints, or worse “hold the files hostage”) is a “hoarder” not a “sharer.” So in a roundabout way, those who add to DJ’s bottom line are “good,” and those who don’t are “bad.” The underlying message is negative, but it’s wrapped up in a pretty package. It’s not a nice way of doing business, and it’s extremely divisive.

  27. TW says:

    So completely agree with this. PASS and the shoot and share mentality does indeed hurt our industry. As far as “money hungry print sales photographers,” David Jay lives in a (almost) million dollar home and drives a Tesla…. I drive a beat old Camry, so maybe I AM doing something wrong 😉

  28. The printing and downloading features on PASS are optional, which this article does not bother to mention. Also, it is limited to only the three sizes – 4×6, 5×7 and 8×12. Those are gift print sizes. If your ENTIRE business model and profit margins are based on how well you can sell 8x10s, then you are doing it wrong.

    DJ is an incredibly helpful and kind man; good for him for seeing some needs within the industry and coming up with products to meet those needs and making some money off the deal That’s the American dream (or the small business owner’s dream, which we are all trying to reach for), isn’t it? PASS is a beautiful, intuitive and helpful solution – but it’s not for EVERYONE. There are incredible benefits to using it. However, it is not MANDATORY.

    So you don’t agree with DJ, ShowIt or PASS? Awesome. Don’t use it and don’t associate it. But using a platform that purports to help other photographers and the industry to bash and publicly demonize another professional is a disgusting practice. Shame on you.

    • Melinda (aka Minnie) says:

      “using a platform that purports to help other photographers and the industry to bash and publicly demonize another professional is a disgusting practice. Shame on you”. Exsactly what this article was also trying to point out to its readers, along with how detrimental it could be to your business to use the product in the way it is marketed and advertised to be used. There are hundreds of alternatives to PASS out there. services that give the photographer more control over their bottom line, and more freedom to run their business in a way that makes them succeede, without using shady, controversial, dividing, and argumentative, drama inducing, marketing tactics like Daiv Jay does. Tired of the arguing? Tell David Jay to stop instigating, are start working FOR his clients and potential clients, instead of against them.

  29. jbb says:

    I couldn’t care less about David Jay or Pass but I find his intimidation tactics creepy. No business that is doing well and offering a great service tries to keep customers out of fear tactics.

  30. I live in San Francisco and this argument reminds me of how mad taxi cab drivers were when the UBER app became really popular. UBER made getting a cab in SF (which is not a great city for cabs) much more easy and efficient for riders. You can visually see where the cab on your phone, if he/she was actually en route, they personalize it so you knew the name of your driver before he/she arrives, and the best part you didn’t have to use cash, tips are NOT accepted. It completely turned the old way of driving a cab on it’s head and it is much better experience for the vast majority of passengers. This feels like a similar type of issue: 1) new business innovates 2) client’s are happier 3) the old guard is upset.

    Bottom-line something like PASS is a much better experience for a certain type of client. ‘Declaring war’ on someone just for making something better or different seems extreme. My photography business has changed drastically over the years and that’s just what happens in business. Things change. We happen to be in a volatile time in the photo world and we won’t all be able to keep doing things the old way. The more time you spend delivering really beautiful images to your clients better and faster seems like time well spent. I’d rather spend my time making images, delivering them quickly, and making the process as simple as possible so my client comes back again…and they get shared along the way saving me more time and energy.

    We should just do what’s right for our own businesses and spend less time tearing down the innovators (whether you like him personally or not). p.s. I’m not a PASS member. I signed up but decided not to use it.

    • Larry S. says:

      Good, balanced view Sarah. I have worked in a lab that serves both pro’s and consumers for 30 years. Either model is valid as long as misrepresentation is not involved. Selling digital files isn’t always bad, but consumers are not always made aware that they are passing on decent facial retouching, etc. Doing a loss leader sitting fee and then shocking the consumer with high print prices causes problems for the industry as well. Be open and up-front then either model is ethical. And shame on Pro’s who rage about the value of their work but then go cheap and use consumer paper instead of better pro paper. We must deal with consumer perception – if you sell 1 or 2 prints at $35 each, customers will just scan then themselves – it’s not right, but they will live with an inferior copy of the Pro’s work and even tell people it was the Pro’s work. Realistic fixed cost selling up front is harder, but really represents what the market is forcing on many.

  31. Chad Pennington says:

    If this is the case – Why does David not offer his service for free or for $5.00. Do this David and then we may believe that you really want to give back to the world. Until then stop short cutting an industry that put you on top.

  32. bigity says:

    Tell your friends.

  33. Monte says:

    We need to educate our clients that they are not paying for the actual physical print but rather the artistry that went into creating it. For better quality work you pay more whether it be printed at Wal-Mart or some high end lab. The print cost is really irrelevant and it is our responsibility to somehow make our clients understand this.

    • Josh says:

      Yet another example of the diminishing returns from technology. Lets face it, David’s business model is for the bored housewife who got a DSLR for Christmas and became a photographer overnight. He is doing a great job at minimizing the amount of skill it takes to actually be a professional photographer. Get your camera out, focus and shoot(on P), I will do all the hard work.

      It is in David’s best interest to convince his clients that the sales made after the event are a thing of the past and that your customer is wise to the fact that spending X on a 4×6 print is over when they can just go to Walmart to get it done. Ironically the majority of the photographers who subscribe to this model are only producing Walmart quality work.

      In the end they are just trading time for money, just like a Walmart employee. Their product does not produce the profit margins necessary to make a good living so they resort to booking more events and trading more time for money. This of course is the opposite of that “Freedom” stuff David was preaching years ago.

      It’s all part of the new consumer model that we American’s are falling into. Get what you want at the lowest price possible, those who facilitate the sale really get nothing and the person at the top gets all the reward. Essentially David plays the Walton role, the photographer plays the Walmart employee and the customer get’s it for nothing. But hey, if you get 50 “Likes” on Facebook then I guess it’s all worth it.

  34. Mark says:

    As the owner of a high volume wedding studio (approx. 150-200 per year), I know the aggravation you’re feeling about reorders. I got tired of being brow-beaten with every couple I met that only wanted to consider our studio if the rights to the photos were included. So for the past 6 years all of my packages have included the rights. However, when it comes to pricing packages with the rights you have to ask yourself this important question, “What is the minimum I would charge for a wedding for ________ hours if went into this job knowing that I wouldn’t sell a single print?” Whatever that amount is will be the starting point of your minimum hourly charge or smallest package price, then increase your prices as you add additional time. After working in the wedding photography business for 19 years so far, and pricing my packages with this type of thinking for the last 6 years, I’m still doing as well as ever. Thanks again for your insight with this John and safe travels!

    • DorcasMulcahy says:

      Bingo! It’s kinda bizarre to see such vitriol being spewed in this argument. There are multiple ways of making money in this business – charge it up front, at the back-end or, more likely, some mix of both. Mr. Jay is obviously a proponent of the “up front” approach. Now, if you have some problem with the way he’s conducting his specific pieces of the industry, that’s fine. But to conflate that with “declaring war” on his preferred business model is just…ridiculous. There’s no reason why multiple approaches can’t continue to be successful. As someone who has catered to a lower end of the market, the “selling the rights” method has been the most profitable way to go.

  35. Greg says:

    David Jay has never been anything less than a snake oil salesman who (ab)uses religion to build trust and peddle his latest garbage.

    This was just about as obvious in the days of OSP as it is now. Not really sure why it took people so long to see the light…

  36. TC says:

    Yes. Yes and YES!
    I’m not saying there aren’t ways to use PASS in a way that doesn’t undermine a photographer….but David Jay’s way is not sustainable for any business except his own.

    As soon as PixieSet adds the option for printing, it’s gonna be gold.

  37. [ b ] says:

    John, this reminds me of when the gay community called for a boycott on Chic-fil-a because of their stance on same sex marriage. That backfired big time as Chick-fil-a had their best day ever or since. Anytime someone organizes a boycott, or declares war on something, they just give so much free press to what they are against. If PASS isn’t for you, just pass on it! <– Get it? See what I did there? But I think a lot of photographers these days don't rely on making money from reprints, and they'd rather have their images spread virally, and make their clients super happy to get more referrals. (And I believe you can turn off the print option within PASS and just use it to share images… which a lot photographers and their clients seem to like). You do make a few good points, but I think DJ will actually appreciate, and eventually profit even more from, all the free press about PASS.

    And good of you… lots of traffic to your site for stirring the pot! Well done bro! Hopefully folks will buy your excellent contracts (which I've been happily using for years).

    • Tia says:

      You know, I charge up front for the packages that include digital files but still mark up the prints. Please tell me why I should leave that money on the table when I can instead make more money after the original contract has been fulfilled whenever a family member or a friend of the couple orders prints? Wouldn’t I be a complete and utter fool to charge a measly Dollar for a print and give 50% of that to David Jay instead of charging real money for that service?

  38. Why are we declaring war? Why is our industry fighting over this? I have seen so much hate and slander thrown around, so much bickering, professionalism has been thrown out the window, it now seems to be us vs. them, PASS vs no PASS, David JAY vs we hate David Jay, when is all the hate going to stop? We work in a beautiful industry that does amazing things in people’s lives and behind the scenes it is growing more and more bitter and bloody. I am sad that you are contributing to this to. You are a voice that reaches so many and yet you are using it to make the factions grow ever stronger. I have not read one opinion on this that actually looked at the shoot and share philosophy from all sides. I have just seen attacks. I don’t care who attacked who first, that is no excuse for lashing out in return. Someone needs to break the cycle and encourage the hate to stop.

  39. bigity says:

    Pass and Shoot and share would work fine if the average customer was willing to pay a rate for services that enabled a photographer to make a fair living.

    Unfortunately this is not the case. Customers call around and compare rates. This has photographers competing in a race to the bottom in order to book jobs that have no chance at back end sales.

    The customer has complete rights to the artwork and access to professional quality labs. The photographer has received nothing of value unless he or she can convince their customer that their service is worth a premium. Not everyone can.

  40. SHS says:

    I don’t think David Jay destroyed the industry by himself, though it appears to be that way. I’ve been in it for nearly 20 years. Seriously, you wouldn’t recognize it 20 years ago, and if you didn’t know you basic photographic skills you’d feel very small at meetings when people spoke technical jargon. Today, who sponsors the seminars? The camera companies. What do they say? Unless you buy the 5D Mark 3 or whatever body, lens or gadget they are pushing you’re compromising your photography. There are also video tapes to purchase, seminars by hot young chicks who were working at the GAP three years ago, and a website known as Pinterest full of other peoples work and ideas for you to steal ideas. In college we called it plagiarism, now we call it “inspiration.” The wedding industry has turned good photographers into rock stars and they never want to stop selling you stuff. These aren’t demigods, they are merely pitchmen with over priced merchandise to sell. They may recognize you at seminars but you mean very little to them in their lives, no matter what they tell you on their blogs. If you truly want to be a better photographer learn your craft. Put the camera on manual and take ownership of everything you produce. Over the years I’ve learned that there are your clients and other peoples clients. Your clients will understand that you need to make a profit and make a living. People who want warm bodies with cameras at their weddings really aren’t your clients.

  41. Jim Kennedy says:

    John, I always love reading your perspective on things. Keep it up!

  42. johnmireles says:

    Hey Everyone: I posted a followup to this blog post where I break down the numbers so everyone can see how prints sales impact their bottom line: https://photographersbusinesscoach.com/2013/08/12/why-print-sales-matter/

  43. Greg Gibson says:

    Photographers aren’t in business to sell paper. I can buy a piece of paper for a fraction of a penny. However, if I want a lawyer to write on it I will cost me a few hundred dollars per hour. Photography is no different, it’s not the cost of the paper itself, but the content being printed on the paper that has value. Yes, a client can take their own files to Costco and buy a $2 8×10, but it won’t be the same level of image made with my thousands of dollars I have invested in top of the line equipment or the experience gained from the millions of images I have taken in my career.

    It’s not a debate about whether the quality of a Costco print is better than a WHCC print. It’s a debate about content, what the value of that content is and whether or not the marketplace is sustainable to professionals providing that content. The problem is the primary market for this system isn’t full time professionals, but those who don’t earn a living from their photography work. Anyone who supports themselves or a family with their camera understands that selling prints at these rates is not a sustainable business model.

  44. Thigpen says:

    As one of the “Ousted Customers” for being openly critical of the way this company treats its customers, I’m happy to see this article. When someone goes out of their way to be as controversial as possible in order to draw attention to themselves, they deserve to have these types of articles written about them. When PASS was first released, I quietly provided some feedback to officers of the company about why I personally would not use this product. The response was swift and judgmental, and yes, I received a darn healthy “Browbeating”. I was told all the reasons why I’m one of those photogs that will always be stuck in an unsuccessful past, despite the success of my business to date. Amazing how I’ve been able to succeed without doing whatever David Jay tells me to do! (It’s SARCASM people) Quite frankly their response ticked me off. I was merely trying to be helpful by providing feedback with a private message. My experience is unfortunately a very common one among customers of that company, based on the absolute wars I’ve seen in their various Facebook Groups. Everything that product does can be found elsewhere for free, or cheaper COGS for us business owners in the case of the prints. Personally, I also hope this terrible company goes out of business.

  45. @Paul and other pro PASS photographers:

    My clients are not paying for a piece of photo paper. They are paying for the time and artistry it took to create the print that will live on that paper. Luckily my clients know this and still value my services.

    My clients often own their own dslr camera’s a as well–they could certainly take their own pictures and print them at Walmart if they wanted to but they choose to invest in a photoshoot because they value the service I offer.

    I offer both prints and digital images–for the same price because it’s the service and the images I am selling not the paper and the CD.

    You also cannot compare the music industry to the photography industry. Music is created for the masses–photosessions are created for the client–in my case one family at a time.

  46. Paul Rumohr says:

    For everyone professional defending David Jay, please explain how this could possibly help your long term business prospects.

    “The catch lies in that prices are set by PASS at $1 for a 4×6, $2 for a 5×7 and $4 for an 8×12”

    Do you live rent free with a trust fund and live without the need to eat, warm and cool your home, put gasoline in a vehicle, wear clothes not from donations to your local church, pay health, car and business insurance- and oh yes, last I checked- cameras, lenses and lights were kind of pricey.

    If you love David Jay, and are flocking to his rescue, please illustrate a situation where this is possible.

    I will contribute first.

    In order to gross $100,000 for the year, under the PASS system, I could sell 100,000 4X6s. Shooting an average of 50 events, that is a mere 2,000 4X6 prints ordered per event.

    Oh no, you say! People don’t order 4X6s, they order 8X10s! Well then, all I need to do is sell 500 8X10s per event, as they are apparently grotesquely profitable with PASS.

    Mind you these basic strategies would only net you $50,000 which would still be taxable income. I recommend working towards doubling these numbers to have a life that resembles anything like that of a middle class person in a mid to large sized town.

    This is totally insane for anyone who activates this feature on pass.

    It’s a blow up your business button.

    • Tia says:

      LOL. Yep.

    • Paul Russell says:

      Dude, just charge $4,000 for the wedding up front. $120,000 net. No need to get all worked up over how many prints you sell. You’re still thinking PRINTS first…think “Hey I’m going to go take some great pictures and they are going to pay me for those up FRONT.”

      It’s not rocket science.

  47. tara says:

    I do believe there is one way for PASS to work without bringing down the industry…

    I do in-person sales sessions, where my client orders prints and frames for their wall, canvas, or whatever it is they do, and if they order the high resolution files, they could be delivered in the form of a PASS gallery. I’m not using it for proofing, and I’m not cutting into my high-priced wall portrait sales. Clients that have paid for the rights to print their images can do so through Walmart (where I get nothing further, and they get shitty quality prints) or they can print through PASS (where I could make a few bucks, and at least know they aren’t handing out hideous 4x6s to their family members, telling them I took the photos).

    They are limited to gift print sizes with PASS, so wall portraits and other high end products will still be ordered through me at regular pricing. If PASS adds further size options I will be out for sure, but for now, it seems there could be a place for it in some scenarios without cannibalizing my sales.

    Unfortunately this is not the way most photographers are using PASS, and I’ll admit at first I was annoyed at WHCC for signing on for this, but if they didn’t, another lab would have anyway.

    • hstarr1234 says:

      That would be a great way to use the system IF the prices could be set by the photographer instead of David Jay. For example, Shoot Proof allows you to set your own prices as well as choose from a few different labs.

    • Amen! I do not see what the big deal is with PASS offering “gift prints” these are print sizes I do not want to bother with anyway, and if my clients want to go order them on their own through PASS then yah, because I do not want to deal with 4×6, 5×7, and 8×10 orders. I want to sell my clients large canvases and prints for their walls, and I do not believe using PASS cuts into those profits.

  48. This was forwarded to me by a fellow photog. *applauding* well said and amen to that!! I hope there are a lot of your followers that take heart and follow suit. There are certain people in this world whose Kharma cannot come fast enough and if stalking someone on FB is something he has time for then he is hopefully facing his impending reality. And looking it straight in the eyes.

  49. bkukucka says:

    To quote Steve Brack, “Be glad that someone out here has enough long term vision to point out the PASS system role in killing off traditionl photograpers and their earning potential.”

    Sorry, but we killed that off ourselves by charging $5000 to get out of bed to shoot the wedding, and then held the images hostage until the client paid an additional $500 minimum to get a low resolution disc of the images they thought they already paid for by getting us out of bed to take them in the first place. And if they wanted good quality prints? Add another $15 minimum for a 4×6 … After all, we have studio fees to pay, and weddings are seasonal, so it’s just understood (and promoted by our colleagues) that we should be compensated for that fact. Oh, and it takes months to fine-tune an image to be the amazing one-of-a-kind work of art that they just can’t get anywhere else. (That one gets me every time.)

    But then again, we’re being compensated for our “years of expertise that it takes to prepare the files for printing.”

    Sorry, but if it takes YEARS to know how to prepare a file for printing, you should have just stayed in bed.

    • Dave Nelson says:

      Sounds so sincere the way you put it. Why don’t you take your best work, and your innovative price list over to some local wedding coordinators? You can tell them why you feel justified charging much less. Be sure to bring a lot of business cards. The next day you’ll find them in the dumpster. In the first meeting they told the bride and groom that they bill 15% of the total wedding budget. If you are saving the bride and groom $5000 that’s $750 coming out of her pocket. Even if you are a superior photographer in every way she’ll know exactly what to say to talk her clients out of even consider speaking to you. If you want to spend the rest of your career shooting the local golf course and local catering halls you’ve got the right attitude. If you aspire to shoot the nicer venues that the coordinators dominate you may want to rethink your position.

  50. YIKES. It’s high time to give up ShowIT and move on everyone. Soundslides, anyone? http://soundslides.com

    • Paul Rumohr says:

      Hmm, nice! I will check out. I’m not sure I’m into these never ending subscription services that cut you off when you don’t want to pay for them anymore 🙂 I take it you are a user of the program and like it?

  51. You know, my very first PASS experience was AWFUL! The client downloaded the image, re-edited it (HORRIBLY) and then posted it on FB while my name was still attached. I went to the PASS FB page and expressed concern and David Jay just shot me down. He was right, I was wrong. “It’s a shoot and share world” was his response. WTF? Not stoked on this guy. I came from a background of customer service and he doesn’t even try to help or take constructive criticism. It helps to read this blog post to further validate that the bad taste in my mouth is still here.

  52. PASS is totally irrelevant to me, as a Wedding Photographer located in Greece. However, I can fully understand John’s point given his long-standing committment to the wedding photography industry good.

    I can also understand other photographers’ points that do choose to offer dirt-cheap prints through PASS because “that’s what clients ask for…”

    BUT I have also been trained by John’s excellent training DVDs and I have to confess that I these photographers who sell photos at such low-prices through PASS or elsewhere are indeed my BEST ALLIES: thanks to them I can make a statement to my clients why my photography can stand as photography art”, versus “paper-trade”, why a single wedding photo that I will create with them and present it through in any medium will be a long-standing piece that they will cherish, while others sell them paper and soul-less stuff based on metrics such as kilograms of paper or other gimmicks.

    If it weren’t for the cheapos I could never step up above them, and place my wedding photography as upscale. So YES, let them sell their own photographer-bodies in cheap, let them put their prints or prices even lower, let them wear out and create an unsustainable business model: in the end they will wear off and flop, while my high-end placement strategy shines.

    That’s my 2c from across the pond.

  53. jccarley says:

    So this post is turning my head and making me rethink using PASS. Problem I have is just how beautifully the images look when presented to my clients via PASS. What are the other options in the industry that have a similar collage, simple, clean interface where it is easy to share images like PASS does? I know that is not really the point of this thread but if one is hoping to move folks away from PASS, I would love to see some options that have the modern feel that PASS has found.


    • johnmireles says:

      I am hearing good things about the new Smugmug layout. I’ve used a custom Smugmug page for years and find it to be a great service. I use it for client galleries and backup. (Note: In the interests of full-disclosure, they have sponsored me in the past.) I’ve also heard good things about Zenfolio.

    • wspboston says:

      Check pixieset.com out. Similar design as PASS, better in my opinion, all web based (no software to download), monthly subscription, more customizable, print feature coming soon (with custom pricing and choice of lab).

    • The new Smugmug interface is just as lovely. I’ve been with Smugmug for years and their customer service support is fabulous…and I love their new look. : ) (and they did not pay me to say that)

  54. swanderphotography says:

    I’m currently developing a wordpress plugin that is essentially the same thing as pass. The difference is you can set your print prices to whatever you like. It still does have all the other features (a lightbox carousel, social media capabilities, a very attractive look). I’d love to share it with you and the people who read your blog. I’ts not ready for full release but it works right now and I should have it working almost perfect within the next two weeks. Shoot me an email shawn@swanderphotography.com if you are interested I’ll make a video showing it off. Here is a video of one gallery plugin I made http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SZ3CUVvVQec it isn’t designed to look like pass but it has similar features. The one I’m working on now looks a lot more pleasing to the eye close to the way pass looks and the features are lighter (they load much faster)

  55. jccarley says:

    I gave PASS a try on a few engagement sessions and one small wedding and actually loved using it. I used it because I was having such a hard time getting Pictage to function on my computer. (Their PUT system is on the fritz ~ at least it has been for me for the last month or so.) I found it to be beautiful, simple and quick. My clients seemed to really like it. Then the print feature was activated. Ugh! Prints for $1!!!! Not being able to set my own pricing is a deal breaker for me.

    This whole thing is kinda of too bad for some of us as I think this product is the nicest looking and operating one out there right now. My clients and my office could really benefit from the ease of use, the modern look, the quick sharing…but we really can’t support it when it is not supporting photographers.

    I am now looking to you all asking where do we go to get the modern, easy feel of PASS with a creator/company that supports us?

    (not sure if my first post went through so I reposted…hope I am not rambling 🙂

  56. Dee says:

    Have any of you who think that John is being negative somehow missed DJ’s many negative and belittling comments about photographers who don’t care for PASS? Or the way that people who offer constructive criticism or politely question any of his products are treated? On DJ’s Facebook wall, it says there were 26,956 events “passed” in May. While all of these photographers are celebrating the “revolution,” at $29 per event, that’s $781,724 in his pocket for the month, not including print sales. And that’s okay. If the system works for you, that’s fine. But please understand that there’s serious money involved here, and with this business model in place, the amount going to photographers is not sustainable unless you’re doing this for fun. It’s clearly in his best interest to have as many photographers using PASS as possible, regardless of whether they’re actually making/losing money. Seriously, if earning a profit is so wrong and selfish, then why not just photograph weddings and portraits for free, and why isn’t PASS completely free as well? And, btw, I have nothing against digital downloads; I just choose to use Zenfolio.

    • Josh says:

      Lets say you shoot 30 events and share it on PASS at $29 per event. That is $870 a year to “shoot and share”. Then you sell 5 8X10 prints @$4 each for each event. That nets out to $10.00 of revenue from the print sales. Multiply by 30 events and your total is $300 for the year in print sales. David’s is $1170. You did all the work and David makes 75% more than you. For what, hosting your images and forwarding a print request to WHCC. I don’t know about you but $300 barley covers my electric bill here in SoCal.

      *If my math is wrong feel free to beat me up.

      • Dave Nelson says:

        Your math isn’t wrong, but I’m just bummed you decided to clue in the kids about how they are getting screwed over. David Jay is looking out for their best interest. Well no, David Jay is looking out for my best interest which is to put my weak competition out of business as fast as possible. I don’t object to him collecting a paycheck along the way. If people insist on putting DJ and others like him on pedestals then they deserve what they get! .

      • Dee says:

        Exactly, Josh!

  57. chicagosbestweddingphotographers says:

    Well stated. This is the exact same argument I’ve been making against royalty free and micro stock for years.

  58. M@ says:

    I’m not yet sold that PASS’s print feature is even big enough warrant this much focus and discussion. I mean that both literally and physically. The ordering print feature through PASS isn’t the easiest to find. The interface may seem intuitive to an iPhone owner who is familiar with Apple’s icon images, but not to many of my clients. And even less so to those in the older age brackets that aren’t as technologically savvy. From someone who owns and uses PASS, many of my clients struggle just to download their PASS images let alone actually place a print order online. Although the layout was designed to look and feel like an app, it has a long way to go before it eliminates less-tech-savvy-clients coming back to the photographer with questions after delivery. I would be interested in hearing from WHCC on how much of a print sales impact PASS has had; and getting some indication as to how much of that impact was taken away from photographer studio sales vs how much the bride’s mother would have printed regardless at Costco. As a photographer that uses PASS, I’m not yet sold that it is as understood by the client and taking away from studio sales. In practice, PASS is not as intuitively understood and navigated by our clients as its designers intended it to be. Yes we do our best to explain it to clients and create graphics and websites on how to use it, but I am baffled at how confused clients get when trying to navigate a gallery without text labels.

    Here’s where I disagree with how PASS has marketed their product. I feel like they missed the real benefit to what they created. The advantage to a photographer using PASS isn’t so much ‘shooting and sharing’ with your client or about the convenience of no longer having to deal with mailing DVD’s, it’s about getting new clients. The beauty of PASS is about whipping out your iPhone during a discussion with someone new you just met and showing them the icon app of last night’s shoot while you tell them the story. Showit teaches relational marketing as a way to get new business. This is the feature of PASS that they need to lead with. It’s those moments and those stories you tell to new people while showing them the shots you just took that get you new jobs. It’s like having an instant portfolio on you at every moment with every shot you’ve ever delivered.

  59. Bill says:

    WOW! That’s a lot of comments. It’s like a political discussion and people have gotten really heated about how they deliver products to their customers.

    We don’t use pass and we certainly don’t “shoot and horde” as Josh wrote. Rather, we partner with each one of our clients to help them have something that they want. If their ultimate goal is ONLY digital images, then we will sell them digital images. If they want a large canvas or print collage, then we will sell those.

    We ask a LOT of questions and find out what our customer wants rather than putting them all in the same basket. The art of qualifying has been lost to many people, but finding out what a customer wants and providing for them is a matter of customer service.

    Anyway, if I could offer anything to this discussion it would be to figure out what will exceed your customers expectations WHILE making a good living for yourself and you have the perfect business mode.

  60. Molly says:

    I love this post! I knew DJ before he was famous, when I lived in Santa Barbara. He is a great, loving person, but he has veered off so far when it comes to photography. What is crazy is that he was a photographer for such a short amount of time before he created Showit. I think doesn’t have the long time experience of being a working photographer that running a supporting business to photographers take. I honestly feel what he is doing is out of lack of experience, ignorance and having “yes men” all around him.

    I am just so thankful you wrote this. I felt that I was all alone in my dislike for the pass system and his ideas. Although I enjoyed the ease of use of having a Showit site when I first started out, I never agreed with anything else he was doing. Now I have moved on to learning about and creating my own free WordPress page.

  61. Dave says:

    To run my business, that is to pay myself a living wage, to pay the rent, the utilities, the insurance, and all of the rest of the expenses that go with running a business, I have to make $115 an hour. So for a 12 hour wedding I need to charge a minium of $1380 just for the day. Now I have to account for the time dealing with the customer before the wedding – lets add another 8 hours or $920, and then we have the post processing – I’ll be generous and go hour for hour of shooting time – so another $1380. So now I am at – and this is to just break even, a cost of $3680. To that we have to add the government share – so another $1000. So we are at $4680. Go ahead and try and sell a digital image only wedding for that price. That is what PASS is saying is the wave of the future – and like a tsunami it will leave pile of broken photographers in it’s wake. But those bodies will be of the photographers that have bought into the PASS idea.

    The bottom line is that the only person who makes money from on-line sales of any type, is the person owning the site. The market isn’t the established photographer that has been around long enough to know that it doesn’t work. The market is the thousands of brand new baby photographers that have a few extra bucks to spend on a camera and hang out a shingle declaring they are a photographer.

    PASS isn’t the first system devised by a photographer that has realized that there is far more money to be made in hosting files, running seminars, selling actions, templates and props to newbies, than in actually taking photographs.

    • Josh Newton says:

      I charge 8,000 for a digital delivery and don’t sell any prints. Soooo……

      • wspboston says:

        That’s not what your website says…..

        FULL COLLECTION | $8,000

        Photography coverage of wedding, full day
        Engagement session, 2 hours & 2 locations
        12×8 guest sign-in album
        12×8 wedding album
        24×36 giclee canvas print (stretched)
        100 4×6 prints
        Rehearsal and rehearsal dinner coverage
        Custom wedding website
        Custom wrapped DVD of proofs
        2 small parent albums

        ‘I charge 8,000 for a digital delivery and don’t sell any prints. Soooo….’


      • wspboston says:

        ‘don’t sell any prints’

        A LA CARTE


        guest sign in book……………….500
        wedding album……………………500
        24×36 giclee canvas print……..500
        100 4×6 prints……………………..100

        So you don’t actual sell these things, just website decoration?

      • SC says:

        And I see you just got ‘promoted’ to admin on the passpremier facebook group. So you can probably quit shooting altogether now.

      • Melinda (aka Minnie) says:

        This is the way it always plays out. Someone promoting PASS comes to a discussion and claims “I’m shoot and share exclusively. I don’t sell prints. PASS makes me money”. Then, as the conversation progresses, they talk about how they use PASS, they talk about how “shoot and share” doesn’t mean they don’t finish the job, that their clients receive products, that you can turn features off, and you don’t have to provide high res, yadda yadda yadda. In short… they don’t use the product or business model as marketed. At least the ones willing to talk about their business from a financial stand point. Even Dave doesn’t support what David Jay is peddling, but he doesn’t mind making money to promote it. lol

  62. It’s apparent this guy doesn’t know the photography business. It’s like you said, he’s out to make a quick buck. He doesn’t realize or does he, that he’s taking money away from the photographers that make a living at this.

    • Josh Newton says:

      Funny. He’s actually made me money… But I’m shoot and share not shoot and horde. Sure I sell my images and make money off of prints, canvases, and albums. But I’m not dependent on them! Thank goodness for that because the industry is changing whether you want it to or not 🙂

  63. Effie L. says:

    This was a great read and I hope a real eye opener for those who are using PA$$.

    If you wish to set your own pricing, and have excellent customer service, I tried out Pixieset, for clients who have purchased digital files from me and it’s pretty good. Actually better than pretty good. Pretty awesome.

    You set your own pricing.
    Great interface along with social sharing if you wish.
    Password protected galleries and password protected for downloads.

    It is free, unless you need a higher volume of space. Then the pricing ranges from $8/month to $40/month.


  64. lisa says:

    I was personally attacked by him also because my views were different and was thrown out of the group. All of his groupies came to his aid and started to personally bash me as I questioned the pass system and it’s archive ability.

    • Josh Newton says:

      Would love to see the types of comments you posted to get kicked out 🙂

      • wspboston says:

        Unfortunately DJ usually deletes these comments, if you’re ‘lucky’ enough to not get kicked out of the group. I got booted twice for providing feedback, needless to say, my comments are gone forever because he can’t deal with feedback.

      • Lisa says:

        Yes DJ scrubbed the thread after I was kicked out. I really can’t believe the following this guy has its almost cult like. The minute I questioned PASS his minions came in for the kill it was very strange.

        I love all the photos he shares online as I am still friends with him on Facebook, he only deleted me from the pass group. He shows his beach homes, his use of private jets, fancy cars, etc. That’s what all the other (cult followers) photographers have bought him. He is basically bring down photography as an art form to anyone can do this and then use this to share it with everyone. It should have been apparent from his Spray and pray method of photography.

        While I think some of his services he built are great I like the showit websites and I have no problem with a person making money of a service. Some of them like PASS are not and his SPRAY and PRAY for wedding photographers.

        I have tried pass and have used it for certain things but the only photos that go up on PASS are ones with watermarks. I have my own proofing gallery for buying and I only use pass and a preview system for clients and only to burn through some free credits that I won a long time ago when pass first came to light.

  65. Richard Blaine says:

    I remember what Bambi Cantrell said about her print prices, she said something to the effect that she isnt selling the paper, she is selling the art that is on it. My work is worth more than $4.

  66. Coukd not agree more
    David Jay’s actions and his product,pass are disgusting
    It is hard enough to earn a true luving without a saboteur

  67. Unfortunately PASS users will have no idea how much revenue they could be making if they are talented photographers. I have found if you take great photos they will sell on-line. Even when the client gets all the high resolution files. My last print order was over $1,000. It is offensive for DJ to say I am wrong for making money because there is a demand for prints of my artwork. I am an artist and I should be paid for what my work is worth. On the other hand, DJ is also an artist. A con- artist that only has his best interest in mind.

  68. studiofotollc says:

    So I do agree with you! But there is a way pass works. If you sinonomously use the product pass to replace the product of a high res disk then it’s a win win. We use Pictage to proof and sell all weddings. If they bought the high res flash drive for $1200 then we would mail it to them. What is the difference in that and pass? I will tell you one view. If I mail them the flash drive they Will print at snapfish and I will earn $0 if they use pass I will earn a min of $.50 per print. That’s more than if I didn’t use pass. While I agree with some of what your saying Pass as a cloud based flash drive is awesome. We get paid up front so it’s fine that dj makes money on this. Also in our studio all clients that use pass have either bought a $3100 album or a copy of their files for $1200…..

  69. studiofotollc says:

    So I commented on this post then I read almost all the responses. I have been shooting for 13 years and I think I know who I am and am darn good at going with trends. Pass is great as a replacement for the DVD/flash drive, that’s it! If you use it to shoot and share your missing a huge amount of $. I charge $65 for an 8×12 and I sleep just fine;) I wish I could charge more!! Some of you challenge the value of what we sell. A Jackson pollock probably cost under $100 to make but it’s being sold for $20mil, why? Ask yourself “am I worth it” we are making a valuable memory for a family is t it worth something !? I am sick of our industry thinking they are different than any other business, we are not! Being a young and fabulous god fearing person doesn’t make you a good business person or a good photog, Trust me I used to vet for SMP! Dj invented a tool use it or don’t, but please make sure your getting paid! I was at a wedding that dj shot way back, trust me he is a entrapanaeur not a photog 😉 I am a Pictage user, a ShootQ ace and a pass user and they all play a part in my business. Dj has a bunch of baggage that follows him… I have to say I am not a fan of anything else but pass is a good tool….to take the place when a client pays for their dig files. Turn off the printing if you want, but they can still download and print at shutterfly! So make your $.50 or don’t:)

  70. Alistair Quick says:

    David Jay is a lover! David Jay is an artist! David Jay is a communicator!

    And not just because it says so on his website. But because it’s true.

    David Jay is, quite frankly… awesome! And creamy!

    Strolling through his website brings us so many nuggetty and delicious tidbits to chew over and swallow. From heartfelt thoughts from the big man himself, and from others to which he humbly aligns himself, such as Mother Teresa. And God.

    On the subject of God, he sagely declaims God to be “pretty awesome.” Alas he laments his lack of formal education:”I’m a college dropout so I must read a lot to catchup”. Really! You don’t say.


    Meandering on to the “Artist” link uncovers many splendid career highlights: an article in Professional Photographer. A clipping from a minor celebrity’s wedding, and some other stuff that isn’t really that impressive if I’m totally honest.

    Through the difficult and often tedious pursuit of wedding photography, David became an artist. His paintbrush: a state-of-the-art DSLR. His canvas: state-of-the-art photo-editing software. Artistry became him! I direct you to the picture of the plaintive genius staring forlornly at the camera – clearly misunderstood if not passively messianic – daring you to question his sincerity.

    As a wedding photographer, or “artist”, as wedding photographers prefer to be called, David has been at the forefront of cutting edge developments that have re-shaped the industry at large, and that’s just through his handsomeness.

    (However, it is not true that David is able to change the Sun’s magnetic polarity on a whim.)

    Sauntering over to the “Communicator” link reveals the soul of a man out of time: “More than anything… I want to communicate love and grace to the world.” And how does David Jay accomplish this? Through pictures. Pictures of David Jay. David Jay in a suit, laughing. David Jay in his black wedding outfit — the artist as philosopher. David Jay in a t-shirt making a gang sign. Sick!

    Jesus is his “hero of communication,” he states in a rare moment of candor tinged with humility. And just like Jesus, David can sometimes be seen sporting a halo. But much better than both Jesus and God, he is the only one of the three to ever design a slideshow specifically marketed to wedding photographers.

    Take that, Deities!

    ps: Please stop giving this man your money.

  71. eric says:

    All industries change with technology; portrait photography is not immune. It’s all about supply and demand. Without the “film and developing cost” barrier to limit or discourage new photographers, it’s a massive unlimited resource of new photographers entering the market every day. All of them with different levels of talent. It’s not ending anytime soon. I got out 8 years ago after a profitable and successful 12+ year run. I saw the writing the wall back then with scanned copies and unauthorized prints and changed paths.

    Unless you have a niche or unique look or final product that no one else has access to, you are just one of millions doing the same thing. If you are a legacy photographer and are upset because you are “a master” and “a real professional”, you can kick and scream all you want, the industry is and has changed and not going back.

    Look at it like this: Do you think the professionally trained, years of school, auto mechanics; like the one at your local dealership, spends his days blogging about the countless gear heads working on cars out of their home garages and how they aren’t qualified or professional? No. They have excepted the facts that everybody who needs car work will go to the person that can meet their standards, either the standard is at the novice or the professional level.

    The industry is influx and will most likely settle or find an equilibrium in another 5-10 years. The result will be MANY more photographers, much fewer professional studios, ‘at cost’ prints, and reduced session fees. Again, unless you have something (style, product or connections) that no one else has, you will shooting for less.

    Get ready to find a fulltime job to support your photography career!

  72. Mitch says:

    I have a standing policy that I will provide prints to clients at no cost – a MUCH better than they can get at their local Wallmart, etc.

    They just won’t have my images on them. Those they have to pay for.

    Its a bit of a stunt but it gets the message across to my clients: I am not in the business of providing commodity reproductive services. I am in the business of creating images. To conflate the value of an image with the market cost of the medium on which it is reproduced is no different than judging the merit of a painting by the quality of the canvas it sits upon. To insist that the two things are the same is not simply disingenuous, its sophistry.

    Now, it may well be that the market for creative output does some day become nothing more than a commodity (as it has in music, and closer to home, stock photography), and at that point, I won’t shoot for compensation. But I still get my share of clients who love what I do and place a value on it greater than the price of paper.

  73. Ronda Bragg says:

    I really don’t understand why the battle, if you were a wise business person you would still make your money that you intended in the first place. Personally I do use PASS, BUT ONLY for my clients who pay me my price for my wedding USB/DVD. If you sold this before Pass you had no idea where they were going to print your images at. You can suggest places but they could still go to Walmart (cringes). If my client pays my price that I would have just handed them over the DVD for I now actually feel better knowing that they will be printing with WHCC and my work will be portrayed better than it would have it printed at a Walmart. I still made the same exact… actually MORE then what I intended because the brides feel this is wonderful that they can share it that easy with their friends and family. I even bumped up the package price that includes their USB that includes the PASS gallery in it and it’s the most popular package now. I didn’t loose a cent, actually made more. It’s all in how you use it, if you have a good business sense then you shouldn’t loose any money or undercut yourself.

    • SC says:

      I think Ronda the battle, at least for me, is because the leadership at Pass continues to imply that photographers who choose to sell prints at prices that are ‘marked up’ are ripping their clients off. I also personally feel that the same leadership isn’t being honest with their own customers.

      • Ronda Bragg says:

        I can totally get that, if people are only using it as a quick scape goat type of thing it will totally lower our industry! I can see the one side of it, I just wish most would use the sense of it as a selling tool and make good money at it like I do. No I am not a TOP wedding photographer, I still need many years under my belt! But I am most def not selling this as a $50 or $100 package or even FREE as I have seen some do! This package for me is over $1,000 on top of my wedding fee. I am making just as much with this with a little added kick from the prints plus getting the bigger print sales because they can’t do that yet in the pass. It does suck that the Pass leadership is downgrading us and saying we charge too much. And my proof galleries all have a HUGE watermark across it lol so I am actually taking advantage of the free month of upload I get to send to a client for free. I think the problem is with the Pass people themselves trying to downgrade some and of course the newer photographers who don’t charge a lick to begin with that is hurting us. If we all banned together and actually used this to sell with as a marketing tool and making good money at it, it would be well worth it. I do love how it can be shared, Pinterest, Tweeted and so on. I have had many of my images seen all over because of this. It does have it’s advantages and disadvantages I guess.

      • Dee says:


    • Melinda says:

      “I can totally get that, if people are only using it as a quick scape goat type of thing it will totally lower our industry! I can see the one side of it, I just wish most would use the sense of it as a selling tool and make good money at it like I do”.
      Unfortunately that’s not the way is it presented or marketed, so a lot will use it just as David Jay tells them to. It’s a shame really

    • studiofotollc says:

      This is what I’ve been saying since pass 1 came out!

  74. bbp says:

    I am able to sell PASS to my clients for over $800+ and still sell $300+ on prints using another lab. I don’t see any problem with PASS, I see the problem with photographers being poor salesmen.

  75. Melinda says:

    Disagree with David Jay’s marketing tactics? Embarrassed or professionally compromised to be associated with him and his divided photography camps sales pitches and nonsense? Tired of arguing and drama David Jay causes over all of this?
    Just SOME alternatives that haven’t yet been mentioned in the comment herein, for those who want to leave PASS or those who would never touch it with a 10 foot pole because your integrity and professional ethics will not allow for it

    There are literally hundreds of online proofing/delivery/gallery sharing/order fulfillment services to choose from out there. These are only the results on the first page of google search. Some facebook integrated, some showy, some bare bones, most mobile device friendly, etc etc. All of which allow you to make a living, running your business the way you like, and how it works best for you, without getting reprimanded for it. In other words: They market to photographers without the craptastic detrimental/harmful marketing, and do away with all the bad karma and drama David Jay creates to promote his wares. Just google search, check them, out, read reviews, ask around. I’m sure you can find one that is right for you, and the way you conduct your business

  76. Brittany says:

    The idea that shoot + share photographers don’t make money or a profit is weird to me. I know shoot and share photographers that charge $6,000 minimum upfront because they are good at their job, and create such a great experience for their clients. They become their friends, and clients love being a part of that circle. Those photographers still offer other products, like albums at $1000, but still allow their clients to do whatever they want with their digital files. Those S+S photographers are making plenty of money to live on, buy houses with, and even be the only income supporting their family. So no, the PASS/S+S system is not destroying the profit-making side of the industry.

    • studiofotollc says:

      So Brittany, $6000×30=$180,000-35%fedtax=$117,000. Now subtract overhead and all other cogs from that Tell me they are making a good living and supporting families…and that is assuming 30 weddings which I feel is a above norm. So at least in ct it’s extremely hard to make a living without the extra sales!

  77. Mark Potter says:

    Wow, this seems so aggressive and hateful. PASS is working brilliantly for me and I applaud David Jay for creating a system that allows me to do what I love and have a life. My business model is to make money from the front end not the back end marking up prints. None of my packages contain prints. My brides want coverage, digital files, and albums so my collections contain these. My brides absolutely love PASS and because of that, I do too. It’s a different generation now. Brides know that there are quality printing options out there at very low prices. Because I make my money on the front end, anything a bride orders through PASS is a bonus, because it’s not part of what I provide anyway. The print feature can easily be turned off too. This article was very biased and aggressive in my opinion. Declaring war on someone that has created a great system that thousands of photographers are loving and finding success with?

  78. SHS says:

    This has been a great post, probably the best of the year! I never give much thought to what David Jay says or thinks. He’s just a guy with some interesting idea. Every couple of years there are new photographers who proclaim “the line starts behind me” and a surprising number of people follow along.

    Someone told me a couple of years ago that a set of guy will show up to your wedding for 8 hours for $600 and photograph everything that moves and burn you a DVD that night at the reception. if this isn’t the bottom, I don’t know what is. At the very least I can’t say that David Jay has brought the industry down to this. level.

    I was describing what the industry has become to a friend a few weeks ago. I said that the industry was like a secret lake somewhere that only the locals knew. You knew you had to cast your line far off shore in the daytime and closer to shore in the evening. Now there is an interstate that runs right by the lake with easy on ramps and off ramps and many bait and tackle stores close by. When you get to the lake it’s loaded with people in boats and rafts all fishing to the point you can hardly even see the water. Is it David Jay that ruined the industry or that fact that every high school student who gets their first camera for Christmas has a wedding photography website by summer?

    • Dave says:

      It’s not the high school students, it’s the “rock stars” that have decided that selling crap to those new kids is far more profitable than actually taking pictures for a living.

      Somebody here posted the guesses at number for income for Pass at about 3/4 of a million dollars. That’s pretty good coin for what in reality has nothing to do with photography.

      What I find offensive about PASS is that all of the marketing that I have seen promotes what are in fact bad business practices. It’s no different than when he was promoting his system with the put it on P and spray and pray and if you shoot enough you might get something. He’s just picked a different spot to hit with his message.

      I don’t know of any photographer that when they killed their on-line galleries as a sales tool and went to doing in-person sales sessions that didn’t increase their sales numbers. Yet the marketing for PASS is exactly that. Don’t deal with those icky customers. Just throw your images up on my site, and I’ll take your money so you don’t have to sell anything.

      The fact that the photographer isn’t likely to be there next year is no big deal for Pass because every day there are more new photographers that have no idea of what is needed to run a profitable photography business, and that will buy into the hype.

      And just for the record – it doesn’t matter what business you are in – once you go into business your primary job becomes sales. If you don’t like sales, then never open your own shop be it photographer, mechanic, or lemonade stand owner.

  79. Pingback: Why David Jay is right

  80. JT says:

    I still don’t understand why people are making such a big deal about this! If PASS doesn’t work for you there are a number of other gallery and sharing sites for you to choose from. Pixieset being the closest to the look and feel of PASS. PASS is meant to replace the DVD. There are people complaining about the $29 fee per event. I spent more than that on custom DVD for my clients so I’m actually saving a few bucks. As for the print feature, I usually don’t sell after. All my packages come with albums and prints already so clients pay for that upfront. So if I sell anything through pass that is a plus for me but for those who do rely on selling after then just turn it off! You can even turn the download off if you wish. I just don’t see how PASS is bringing the industry down. If anything this article is just promoting PASS and making it known to 100s of photographers that still haven’t heard of it. I’m not saying PASS is perfect but its a pretty good tool to use. Find which one works for you. There is no need for the bashing.

  81. wspboston says:

    The comment sections seems to be littered with a lot of people who use PASS coming to defend it’s positive attributes. I’m not certain that anyone is refuting that PASS does garner a lot of great things; what most (including John) do not like about PASS are it’s limits in helping photographers generate as much back-end business as other platforms, and the general way in which DJ and other PASS employees criticize those who suggest enhancements to the platform and disagree with anything about PASS.

    I personally really wanted to use PASS, it’s beautiful, no one is arguing that. In this business, we sell pretty things, so why would we not want beautiful galleries to share our images? Unfortunately the minute I joined the PASSpremier group and started asking questions about a tiered pricing model, features, etc. I was met with a stern ‘This is how PASS works, if it doesn’t fit your model you don’t have to use it’; instead of ‘That’s an interesting idea, we’ll definitely add it to the list of things to discuss’.

    It’s pure arrogance on DJ’s part, by thinking that PASS is perfect (in it’s relative infancy) and could not benefit via feedback from photographers. It’s his business, he has no obligation to listen to feedback, but in doing so he’s alienating a lot of potential customers and further tarnishing his reputation.

    This isn’t about the product, it’s about the practices surrounding said product.

  82. wspboston says:

    For all of you coming to DJ’s rescue, open your damn eyes. He is instigating non-stop, indirectly bashing on ‘Shoot to sell’ photographers.

    • Bhanson says:

      Agreed!! I sold plenty on a sales based website without any extra work. With Pass there is not even a possibility of additional profit.

  83. ingrid says:

    So I had to look at Pass to see what it actually is… Now I’m wondering why it had to be an app on my computer when these things can be done completely online, like Pixieset.

    Should I be worried it installed anything extra on my computer that I don’t know about?

  84. Matt Heath says:

    Very well said, couldnt agree more!! He is is an arrogant……

  85. Thank you for publicly taking a stand and inspiring us to do the same. It’s about time we all (us wedding photographers) had a serious conversation about what it’s going to take to keep our industry thriving so that we can not only continue to provide quality work to our clients but also make an honest living as photographers.

  86. Gary says:

    Totally agree, they are duping photographer to gain their own clients. I got kicked from the PASS group for suggesting this. Hopefully there will be no legs in this.

  87. Pingback: I Declare War on David Jay (And His Self-Serving PASS System)

  88. Cynthia says:

    Hey John, I love your work and your blog, but I want to bring up a different point.

    1. Many photographers sell CD’s to clients with “all” the files for the client to print at his/her favorite lab. I see PASS as a step up from this process. Instead of uploading the files to a CD, the photographer CHARGES the client appropriately for his/her time and sends a link to the files. The client can then can review the files and select the ones he/she wants and purchase for print. Benefit to the photographer no need to purchase CD’s and spend all that time in preparation. AND the prints – that carry with it your reputation – are coming from a professional lab – not Walgreens and believe me that is a step up.

    2. It would be wonderful if everyone who wanted beautiful images of their family
    were independently wealthy – or even just had a little discretionary cash to spend $100 on a beautifully prepared 8x 10 printed at a professional lab – it may be news to you, but there are many family who CANNOT afford this luxury and they don’t drive Mercedes Benz. Personally I am not a fan of the generic Babies or US, JC Penny or Target – photo studios where you can purchase the same exact pose of your kid or your family 10 straight years and document the fact that your kid really did get older but you cannot tell anything about the changes in his/her personality. Custom photography is the place to document this happening.

    Working with these families is a real “give back” opportunity for me. I keep My prices low so they can afford to have these beautiful images – but they do not expect to get any thing “for free” I charge for my work BEFORE Uploading 5 or 6 images to PASS for them to select their favorite and file and then print – It is close to perfect. Many families just select their favorite and ask me to print and frame for them – that costs them a bit more but they are never pressured to buy the PACKAGE – I am only going to do one for them and it will not be 4×6 or 5×7 – they can have high quality prints for the other images they want ordering through PASS – with no skin off my nose.

    3. Small events – birthday parties, corporate receptions, conferences where I am
    paid to shoot the event and provide either press release files or a small number
    of prints to the organizer – PASS works here too– all those files that would never see the light of day – can be purchased – I just add in my PASS cost when I bill the client, the client then sends a link to the guests – and voila prints – I don’t need to send a CD to anyone, guests get to relive the event and purchase images of themselves – I have already made my profit up front.

    The PASS system is not for Custom Family Photography, Maternity or Newborn work or High End Weddings – BUT……. There is a place for this service, and I don’t think it damages my reputation or diminishes sales for the high end work we do.

  89. Matt says:

    You sound like a child complaining “it’s not fair”. You’re going to declare war on another business? Really? Pathetic.

  90. Kris says:

    Can I say as a “bride” from a photographer using Pass, it is the WORST and most un-user friendly website I think I have encountered. Would not recommend this to anyone!

  91. Darren Scala says:

    I’ve been in business over a decade and shooting 35mm for over 35 years. My fees for wedding packages start at $6,500 and go to $17,500. I use PhotoShelter to sell my digital files and custom studio prints, which I make myself on amazing Epson 3880 and R2000 printers and Ultra Premium Glossy/Luster, Velvet Fine Art and Exhibition Fiber media. I will not use photo labs since they can’t compete (not even close) with the quality and beauty the Epson printers and papers offer, plus the freedom of making a print look exactly how I want is very valuable to me – I have my NEC PA302W-BK-SV monitors calibrated weekly and they show what the Epson printers will print exactly. The trick to doing well in this business, in my opinion, is to FORGET about the low-end of the market and let the weekend-warriors/want-to-be professional spray-and-pray shutterbugs cater to it. The trick is to focus like a laser on the mid-range and/or high-end markets, and for several reasons. First and foremost, those markets are far more pleasent to work for since they’re a more sophisticated client. They don’t expect the world for $4. They have champagne tastes on champagne budgets. They know quality comes at a price and they’re more than happy to pay for true quality, in fact they expect it. If any photographer considers this David Jay guy’s Pass proofing/sales website a threat to their business, then I’m sorry to say your business was doomed for failure in the first place. If a proofing site selling prints for $1 is a threat to your business, GET OUT OF THAT BUSINESS STAT! One of the beauties of creating art is people pay for YOUR ART when they like it. No lame proofing/print sales system will hurt your business if your art is appealing to enough people, period. All this being said, the little bit I know about David Jay has put me off of him, but I’m sure he’s a nice guy. All the very best to all fellow photographers…Darren Scala

  92. Pat Harris says:

    I’m glad I read your article. I signed up for PASS, but couldn’t find any information on prices or ANY details whatsoever, so I’ve never used it. Decided to Google, because it looks hinky, and voila, your article. $1 a print? Does this guy like to eat? This is crap, and it’s not for photogs who don’t like to sell. Use Instaproofs. You can still mark up prices, but never have to “sell” anything to a client if you don’t like. And they take 15%, which is a lot better than giving you 50 cents. And if you make enough that 15% is too much, use Photocart. Hopefully people will just ignore PASS. I don’t remember how I heard of it, but there are way too many better options.

  93. john truth says:

    David Jay is one of the biggest douchebags in the industry…and has been for years.

    1)He sucked the tits of Gary Fong & Kubota, then came out with his PS actions set.
    2)He hosted his workshops at his house for a tax write off.
    3)Then he went all cult leader, motivational speaking on a bus tour, (and continues a creepy obsession with his former client Jasmine Starr)
    4)Then he copied “blue-templates” websites success by selling his own templates
    5)Now he is moving to prints/publishing, and once again ripping off Fongs Picassa model.
    6)Next i’m guessing he will use the platform to sell your images as stock photography.

    BOTTOM LINE….this guy steals all his ideas, then produces half ass products before moving on to the next gold rush.

    He uses gods name to convince people he is trustworthy & positive….then he sells them his garbage.

    He feeds on weak minded noobs seeking positive feedback. If you fall all over yourself and believe what this slimeball is preaching, you should take a step back and read between the lines. If you still can’t see through his bullshit then I have a bride to sell you in NYC very cheap.

    Someone needs to beat that dairy whipped haircut, fake ass punk into the ground…

    BTW…I don’t even sell prints…I just shoot weddings for $2300 (6hrs) and give all the full resolution images to the couples on a drive with copyrights. Yea, i’m leaving money on the table, but i’m also listening to what my customers want, not to mention I hate organizing print orders….not worth it for $20 a print…damn sure not worth is for .50 cents a print.

  94. Daiv Russell says:

    Unfortunately, though today might not be that day, I’m fairly sure that photography will go through the same progressive disintermediation that has befallen all industries:

    – Stocks are no longer exclusively purchased through stock brokers, but now you can pay $10 a trade or less at many places. You can still get advice from an investment planner for a fee or on commission, if you want.
    – Travel is no longer exclusively purchased through travel agents, but now many airlines even refuse to commission travel agents when they DO sell a vacation package using their airline.
    – Musicians now sell MP3’s directly to their audiences cultivated using social media such as YouTube, instead of relying upon publishers to distribute physical media and fund tours. Audiophiles can now purchase the song they like just like they used to with 45’s in the old days members of the RIAA got greedy.
    – Movies are now progressively being made by the end distributors, NetFlix/HBO/etc., completely bypassing the Hollywood machine long in place, charging a monthly fee for complete access instead of by view, allowing distribution of a wider range of films to a wider audience.

    Today, people progressively display photos of their meaningful events as full photo albums in digital photo frames or on Facebook, rather than as physical photobooks on their coffee table or framed portraits on the mantelpiece. Perhaps the days of charging by print will end completely, as predicted by David Jay. Regardless, as in all other services, people have a choice, and those with different priorities will make a purchasing decision based upon how well a given service or product integrates with their lifestyle and consumption patterns. If you’re competing on price, you’ve already lost, regardless of the industry. People are changing their lifestyles. Successful businesses align with a target lifestyle and market directly to that niche.

    These are merely observations of the way that technology and increased connectivity has changed how people work with services and media, in general. It’s not a judgment or a “sky is falling” prediction, merely an observation, just as one might observe global warming or cancer rates. From there, you can argue global warming is a farce or something to contend with, at your discretion.

    If you ignore these emerging trends completely, your service model may go the way of Blockbuster, who firmly believed their long-held business model would hold indefinitely. If you find a way to hop on an emerging wave, your service model might flourish like Netflix, as you watch others complain about how the new model is drastically unfair. We can all interlock arms and unify in Luddite demonstration against the tyranny and oppression of technology and how it’s ruining the artform, but this, in itself, will not change the tide. No one can predict the future with absolute precision. Place your bets on black or red. It’s obviously your call as an individual.

  95. Ted Nichol says:

    david jay is an a– clown. Period. Akin to a used care salesman with the toothy effeminate grin. Legend in his own mind–does the crispy christian schitck to entice naive and guillable. A 1st class sales fake joker who sells to the sheeple masses. Taking pics of himself on first class, duping sheeple into sales tactics, tells sheeple what they want to hear. A shyster. caveat serious emptor

  96. Latest Update from PASS … and it’s a HUGE announcement that is getting RAVE reviews from the commune…

    You Can Raise Your Prices!!! It’s a revolution in thinking!!! Never before in the history of photography has there been such an extraordinary announcement from David Jay!!!

  97. Joe Barnet says:

    I can’t believe the legs on this puppy John… This must be a record for longest living blog thread. It comes alive every time there is a new development… Now it seems that PASS is going to “allow” photographers to set a price for their work, how magnanimous of it’s creator! I guess the Kool Aid is not so easy to sell as it once was… Thanks in part to you John!
    Keep up the good work!

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