Why Print Sales Matter

My recent post “I Declare War on David Jay” has taken off way beyond anything I expected. I’m grateful for all the supporting comments but also thankful for all the opposing voices as well. A healthy, professional discussion benefits us all.

Lest you think that I’m just a bitter old schooler who hates change, I’m going to get into the specifics of why I think PASS Prints is a bad idea.

Let’s look at some numbers; let’s say you’re a wedding photographer who charges $2,000 for coverage only. If you’re like most photographers, your profit margin from that wedding, factoring the time/expense of post-production editing is about 70%. Here what the numbers look like:

Coverage Only Price $2,000
Profit Margin 70%
Total Gross Profit $1,400

Now let’s look at the numbers from selling an 8×10 print at $25.

Sales Price $25
Cost 2
Margin 1,250%
Profit $23

$23 in Gross Profit for a print isn’t a huge amount of money, but let’s see what happens if we scale that number upwards. Let’s say we book 30 weddings and, on average, sell 3 8×10’s. (Keep in mind this is an average, you might sell six to one customer and none to another.)

Here’s the Gross Profit calculated for selling 3 prints per wedding:

Number 8×10’s Sold 3
Total Sale $75.00
COS $6.00
Gross Profit $69

Now let’s multiply out the Gross Profit from 8×10’s over our 30 booked weddings:

Number of Weddings 30
Gross Profit from 8×10 Sales $2,070

Given that our Gross Profit from a Coverage Only wedding is $1,400, earning an extra $2,070 from selling 3 8×10’s per each wedding is like shooting an extra 1.3 weddings per year – but without doing any of the work!

Now let’s factor in the cost of the pass system for 30 weddings:

PASS Price Per Wedding $29
Number of Weddings 30
Total Cost $870

Based on the numbers above, if you use PASS Prints, you’re potentially losing $2,070 in sales plus you’re spending $870 per year to use the service. That’s a loss of $2,940 per year which translates to the profit for more than two whole weddings per year. That means that the PASS photographer must shoot two more weddings than a similarly priced non-PASS photographer just to earn the same amount of money.

Now, I’ll grant you that competing services such as Zenfolio, Smugmug etc do cost money – but they’re a third of the cost or less.

“But Our Clients Love It!”
Finally, I’ll address a point that seems to be made over and over. That being that “Clients love it!” First, let me share some wisdom I carry around with me from days working for companies like Copy 4 Less NY; Just because clients love PASS doesn’t mean that they won’t love another service. Secondly, of course clients love free stuff. They’d love it if we shot their wedding for free. Does that mean it’s a good idea for your business?

Of course not.

In this debate, people have brought up iTunes/Napster etc. These technologies are great for the consumer, terrible for the artist. Unfortunately for musicians, they had no choice when it came to downloadable music. Insofar as PASS is concerned, we do have a choice. We don’t have to support businesses and technologies that negatively impact our bottom line.

John Mireles

About johnmireles

Photographer, writer, thinker, climber, outrigger canoeist, bad guitar player and even worse singer.
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42 Responses to Why Print Sales Matter

  1. Pingback: I Declare War on David Jay (and his Self-Serving PASS System) | The Photographer's Business Coach

  2. AP says:

    This is where as an industry we need to change. Charging $2000 is ridiculous! If you are going to utilize PASS, the offset the “loss” by increasing your coverage cost. That’s were there is a difference in business models: With PASS, there is a focus on Pre-Sales vs. Post-Sale.

    • Then less savvy clients will walk right PAST you to a lower priced option without you ever being aware of the sales op.

    • johnmireles says:

      That’s a false choice however. You don’t need to choose between pre-sale and post-sale. Charge as much as you can upfront and then charge as much as you can on the back-end. The two are not mutually exclusive.

      The things that takes the most amount of work are booking the wedding, shooting the wedding and editing the wedding. So, for us to be successful as businesspeople, it behooves us to maximize our profit from each and every wedding so that we can do less of the labor intensive work and focus on other important things like marketing and just enjoying life.

      The reality for far too many photographers is that they’re working nonstop at shooting and editing. Their solution to getting ahead is to shoot more weddings. Unfortunately for them, that just piles on the work – without the profitability. It’s stressful and unrewarding. Is selling a few 8×10’s going to fix that? Probably not. But every little bit does help. More than that, the key is to properly structure your business so you’re valuing your work and selling it in a way that allows you to thrive for many years to come.

  3. Brilliant. I have avoided PASS and will continue to do so. Other services offer me the ability to set my prices and offer much the same service as PASS. It just doesn’t make sense to pay for giving away your product.

    • jpt610 says:

      That is why there is different products out there because we don’t all conduct business the same way. It’s ok if you don’t use PASS just don’t bash others that do use it.

  4. Jess says:

    Thanks for the numbers break-down! I was wanting exactly that 🙂

  5. Field says:

    Exactly… It is a different mindset. By the time I get to sell my prints, all of my work is already done. Therefore I charge my clients for the work I will do, wedding coverage, time editing, opportunity cost, any equipment cost (usually minimal), cost of wear and tear of equipment, and any product costs the client selected pre-wedding. That is what I charge, and then if they want a beautiful canvas or two, and some additional prints, they are reasonably priced, I make money on them based on additional costs.

    Not wrong, just different.

  6. Devon Murphy says:

    I could be wrong John, but I believe on the PASS system you get credits for each print you sell that offsets the 29.00 per event. Also….these are only 8×12 and below prints…affectionately called “gift prints” because most Photographers don’t even want to sell them. The real profit margins and true service to your clients are selling heirloom albums and large canvas wall prints isn’t it??

  7. Paul says:

    This is kind of misleading. Your assuming that a photographer using PASS is also charging $2,000 and giving them access to download and print everything via PASS. We average double that for each wedding without having to convince someone that they should spend $25 on something they can get at Walmart for $1. Sure there are differences in quality to the print, but not enough to justify such a large markup. Price yourself correct on the front end. It’s just a different strategy and yes you can sustain life by using it (YES IT’S TRUE!…*gasp*)

    You’re declaring “war” is kind of silly. You say “A healthy, professional discussion benefits us all.”, there isn’t an ounce of professionalism in your headline “I Declare War on David Jay (and his Self-Serving PASS System)”

    What a joke.

    • I shoot and share, offer the finest products on the planet(shameless plug http://www.hhboogie.com) and even when my clients images aren’t held hostage I get paid. Larger checks than the numbers that were posted here. And my clients don’t hate me for it knowing they bought something cheap, expensively. I agree Paul. I see the validity in the argument that is being made here but it’s a bit more complicated than it’s being presented.

      • It’s interesting to hear how all of these successful are “killing the industry”. These successful photographers aren’t killing the industry, they are jumping off a sinking ship. Stop looking at the people in the lifeboats and pay attention to the iceburg i say.

  8. Paul Russell says:

    Using your math pushing print sales

    30 weddings making $1,400= $42,000 profit
    3 8×10 @ $23 each times 30 weddings: $2,070 profit
    Add those together and you’d PROFITED $44,070

    Using PASS instead of prints:

    Charging $3,000 per wedding – 30% expenses: $2,100 profit
    PASSing Pictures for one wedding: $29
    30 Weddings worth of profit: $63,000
    Subtract $870 worth of evil PASS: $62,130

    Pretty impressive… an extra $18k using PASS and charging more on the front end. The customers are happy, you’re happy. Now to sell something they really will value on the backend and make even more.


    • johnmireles says:

      How does PASS allow anyone to charge an extra $1,000 per wedding? No client is going to pay 30% more for wedding photography just because the photographer uses PASS. The client doesn’t know nor care about whether you use Pictage, Zenfolio, Smugmug, PASS or something you cooked up in your kitchen. If any photographer can charge $1,000 more their work, they should. There’s nothing with anything I’ve said nor advocated that would suggest that photographers should charge anything less than the full amount that they can. The correct comparison is between your $3,000 photographer who sells peanuts using PASS verses one who does the numbers that I shared. The guy (or gal) who does some consistent level of back-end sales is always going to win over the photographer who doesn’t.

      Which leads me to my main point: Just because you adopt a front-end business model (which I personally do and generally advocate for as well), that doesn’t mean that you can’t also make money on the back-end too. Capitalizing on the back-end is just another way for clients to receive work that they love and for you to generate a profit – without much extra expense. You’ve already done the hard work of booking the wedding, shooting it and editing it. Why not profit from your labor? For however much you charge on the front-end, you can always charge more on the back-end.

      Finally, if you choose to not take advantage of a ready revenue stream that costs you next to nothing, that’s your prerogative. But it makes no sense to use a system that doesn’t even give you the option. It actually seems silly to me. Why wouldn’t PASS not allow its photographers the option of charging what they want? That’s an easy thing to add. It could help photographers generate more revenue. Why not?

      The only answer that makes sense to me is that because PASS charges a flat rate per print, they only make money through higher volume of sales. If you the photographer can raise your prices on prints, then you’ll sell less of them. The less you sell, the less David Jay makes. So what you have is a situation where the interests of the photographer are not aligned with the owner of PASS, David Jay. Guess who wins?

      I would shut my mouth and take back my David Jay jihad if he were just to change this one thing: Allow photographers to set their own pricing on PASS.

      • Paul Russell says:

        I never said PASS allows me to charge that much up front. The fact that they are GETTING their pictures digitally and that I allow them to print wherever they want (including PASS) justifies the value up front. It’s not PASS that’s so special, it’s getting them what they want and what helps me pay bills.

        I don’t have a problem with David Jay making money as long as he’s helping me make mine…which he is.

      • Josh M says:

        This says it all right here. For a PASS user to not see this for what it is, is crazy. Even if you love using PASS you have to admit the truth to this statement.

        johnmireles says:
        August 12, 2013 at 4:53 pm

        “The only answer that makes sense to me is that because PASS charges a flat rate per print, they only make money through higher volume of sales. If you the photographer can raise your prices on prints, then you’ll sell less of them. The less you sell, the less David Jay makes. So what you have is a situation where the interests of the photographer are not aligned with the owner of PASS, David Jay. Guess who wins?”

  9. Paul Russell says:


    Not to mention a lot more folks see your work than if it’s hanging by their bathroom door or stuck on a USB drive.

    • wspboston says:

      I hope you realize that a good portion of those ‘views’ are actually just search engines constantly indexing them and PASS’s servers constantly pinging them back and forth.

      It’s a very cool feature, but very misleading. Just another shiny object to distract from it’s shortcomings.

      • David Medina says:

        And honestly, that matters because of… And you know that because?

        I love when people assume things just to justify their hate toward things.

        Yes, that map is not fully accurate and they know it and they tell you too. But you learn to discern what is real and what it is not.

        People that uses Pass don’t do it because of that map. They use it because of the benefits they get from it. If you do not get it or want to get it, that is ok. We do. We use it and get benefit from it. And guess what? My business is doing really good.

        But to say that it is destroying the industry is foolish and very short sighted. The industry is changing, like it or not. Either you change with it or, guess what? You will stay behind and be out of business. Is that simple.

        And that is not to say that Pass is perfect or is the tool for everyone. It could be that in 1 or 2 years things change and someone will comes with a better hammer. Guess what? That is the real world. It is called what the market asks. Either adapt or go the way of the dinosaurs.

      • David Medina says:

        I would love for you to expand on Pass Shortcomings. Please do. And you will see that it just comes to your business model and that it not the right tool for you and not that Pass is “bad”. It is just a tool. Either it works for you or it doesn’t. And like I said, Pass is far from perfect. No system is.

        It is a matter of determining if it is the right tool or not for you. Period. But if it is not, just because it does not work for you, you or anyone else don’t have the right to say that everyone that choose to use is a fool or that the tool is “evil”.

        But the argument that I am leaving money on the table, well, is not accurate because IF you are NOT selling prints in the first place, guess what? there is nothing to leave at the table.

        It is a matter of priorities and how you choose to serve your clients. If you think 4×6, 5×7 and 8×10 from a wedding is your thing and you make big money from it, good for you. Pass has no effect on your business.

        And is disrespectful to assume that just because someone choose to use Pass don’t know what we are doing. Like anything in the business, some may and most don’t.

      • wspboston says:

        David – Not sure why such hostility, I was simply pointing out that the map feature in PASS really should be taken with a grain of salt.

        It’s funny how you and others come on here telling us to stop ‘bashing’ as you say on PASS, when we’re not directly criticizing the product for what it is, but instead how it’s sold.

        You asked for a list of shortcomings:

        1. Fixed Print Prices
        2. Hardheaded management not open to suggestions
        3. Requires a desktop application (is it still 1995?)
        4. Relatively expensive, compared to similar solutions.
        5. Only one choice of Print Lab
        6. No legitimate free/affordable option for people to disable downloading
        7. Not nearly as intuitive as it’s sold
        8. Requires clients to enter email address to download anything (a lot of people are still weary of just giving their email away)

        List of reasons for this article:

        1. David Jay is constantly instigating, basically saying what you just told me: ‘Either you change with it or, guess what? You will stay behind and be out of business. Is that simple.’ He’s trained you and all of the other followers very well.

        2. You want to get your panties in a bunch when people take shots at PASS and DJ, yet you think nothing of it when you straight up say those of us who don’t ‘adapt’ to PASS will go out of business.

        3. There are so many other solutions out there that do a much better job at sharing and printing images, for a lower fee. I recently started using http://www.pixieset.com, a much better solution, in my opinion. PASS is no longer unique.

        4. Whether you want to come to terms with it or not, DJ knows what he’s doing, he preaches that he’s helping photographers, while he’s actually just convinced you all to line his pockets. Sure, a good number of you will succeed, but you would have succeeded without PASS, PASS is not the catalyst that led to your success. Sadly for every 1 PASS photographer that is in business today, 99 of them will have failed.

        5. David Jay is not a photographer, hasn’t been for 5 years, and it’s debatable whether he was a very good one in his day; David Jay is an entrepreneur, a software salesman, and egoist. He should stick to selling software and not telling photographers how to run a successful business. He is far form the authority on the industry.

        6. Sadly, a lot of photographers don’t have a lot of business experience, so they are easily fooled into contributing most, if not all of their success to DJ and PASS; his plan is working. Those of us that have been in the industry for a long time and/or have business experience/education, can see through the smoke and mirrors and realize that he’s just making a buck, at any cost.

        I really don’t expect you or any other DJ supporter to understand any of the above, you’ll preach about how it’s my business model that makes me hate PASS; again, DJ has trained you all very well. He’s building an army of workers, so he can continue to live his posh life on the backs of others.

        Hopefully it’s worth it…

      • David Medina says:

        Exactly what I told you. Different business model.

        When you examine any solution what you look at is if it fits your business model. If it does not, it does not mean that is bad or has short comming, it only means that is bad for YOUR business. The problem I have with these series of article and most opinions is that they are really motivated by hate for the guy and what he represent. The FStopper article says it great so I won’t say it again.

        These articles are not objective and John Mireles has never been objective, balanced nor nice when it comes to David Jay. That is his right, of course, but I think he does a real disservice to the industry with this articles.


        1. Not a shortcoming if you do not care about selling gift prints sizes from wedding. Although it would be nicer the ability to set your own prices. If you sell a lot of this prints, then Pass is NOT for you. That is not a shortcoming but a characteristic of the solution that either work for you or it does not.

        2. That is not true. What you call hardheadedness I call sticking to one’s vision. Each business has a vision and if it wants to keep it distinctiveness it need to stick to its vision. Do you run your business based on every suggestion your clients or colleagues tell you? I hope not. You most likely listen to everyone and adapt that which may fit in your vision. Like I said, if you want to make a better mouse trap go ahead. But it better be different enough to be your mouse trap.

        3. I am not sure where you are getting your information, but wrong again. The only thing remotely “dektop” that pass uses is a loader. (Smugmug uses a cloud loader and it sucks big time). By the way, the client does not need a desktop application… that is so old Pass. The new Pass 2013 uses your browser. It does not even need a iphone app anymore.

        But since when desktop apps are “bad” and “cloud” solution “good”? I really find this funny. You are complaining how disruptive is Pass model it to your business but for you it is ok if the cloud model disrupt the desktop model… You know why? Because it works for you and your business model.
        But do you use Photoshop? InDesign?, Lightroom? Aperture? Capture One? All great desktop apps and we would not have any other way.

        4. Not a shortcoming, but Yes, it is not cheap, but neither are my wedding album. It all depends if the tool works for you or not. If it does, and bring benefits, is worth it. Otherwise it is not. Again, it is back to your business model.

        5. And? What’s wrong with WHCC? Pictage has only one choice too. That is not a shortcoming, but a feature. And again, Pass users don’t care that much about selling gift prints from weddings. The only things that is doing is taking out of your hand the printing and fulfilment of 4×6, 5×7 and 8×10. What ‘s the big deal if it is only one lab for those three small sizes, specially if it is one of the best labs in the market? Don’t get it. So how is that a shortcoming for us?

        6. lol. How is that a shortcoming? Please… How do you respond to your prospective clients when they tell you you are too expensive or not flexible for them? You tell them (nicely of course) it is your business and you run it the way it is profitable for you. Let’s be real, please, and not hypocritical now.

        If they gave you a free Pass for 30 days with all the benefits of the paid option, would you ever pay for the paid option? Of course not. You are in business to cover your cost and and make a profit. So they too.

        Those $29 are a cost that you include in your prices. I do not lose money, I make money.

        7. lol Are you serious? It is very intuitively unless you are a old granny that has never used a computer. If you can use facebook or Pinterest you can use Pass. Everything has some sort of learning curve. Pass happens to be a very easy one.

        8. ARE YOU DAMN SERIOUs???? Come on, if they are your client you already have their email address. So why they would be afraid to enter their email address to something you are providing to see their photos? And who do you want to load your images if not your clients? Come on, lets be serious now.

        I have been in business since 2005. 99% of my clients are out of state. I have always used some sort of online proofing system and all require the visitor to see the images. That is MY requirement too. I want to make sure those who want to see the photos are legit.

        About every system out there: Pictage, Collage.net, Smugmug, zenfolio, etc, etc, etc. require or recommend requiring to use email to login.

        And by the way, Pass visitors can login using facebook. It is only to be able to download… and again, who is going to be able to download their photos if not YOUR clients?

        So I don’t get it, how are this shortcomings? At best are things that do not match your own list of requirements. This only means that Pass is not for you. But for us, none are shortcomings.

        Now lets look at your list of reasons that in your mind justify John’s Mireles article.

        Hey, John can write whatever he wants. It is his blog and his opinion. I respect his right to do so and even if I wholeheartedly disagree with him and think he is dead wrong, I think he is a great guy and photographer. I have a lot of respect for him. Are we clear on that?

        1. That is not just DJ or me, it is about any business guru out there. It is a fact of having a business in 21st century. Those who do not differentiate or adjust to the reality of the market will see their business die. What is bad with that? I think is a good advice that I totally listen to because I want to succeed. It is up to you how much to change and how fast.

        I would never change the essence of whom I am or what I do, but methods need to change. Just look at business history and see what happened to all those companies that refuse to change? Most of them no longer exist.

        And, bottom line, DJ is just one voice out there, he is not perfect at all and has many flaws. Choose the good and ignore the bad, take what works for you and forget the rest.

        2. Not sure if I completely understood this point so forgive me if a miss the mark in my comment. DJ is selling a product that he obviously believe in and created to make a profit. Don’t you promote your business? I am sure you do.

        Plus, at the core, it is not Pass but a way of thinking that he underscore Pass. Focus on service and not on selling 4×6, 5×7 and 8×10. Pass and it’s way of thinking respond to a perceived reality and it it one of many offerings to deal with that perception and, of course, to make money. Or, isn’t that the reason you went into business to begin with? to make money?

        3. I am sure there are. You have the freedom to choose which one work best for you. hasn’t that been my point all along? Choose what work best for you and let us choose what work best for us?

        4. I am not going to get into this one because I am not qualified to see what is in DJ’s heart. You may be, but I am not. You are now not questioning his product or how good or bad is, but questioning his integrity and character. And you are doing just because you do not agree with him.

        I have been observing the guy over the years. We have not always seen eye to eye and have had some big disagreement, heated ones. He is not perfect and make mistakes. Guess what, I do too. So do you too.

        DJ, like me and you, is a entrepreneur. Like any good entrepreneur, he saw what he thought was a need in the industry. So he created a product. He now is selling that product and exhorting what he think are the virtues of the product and why he thing is good for photographers. He is doing with passion as any good marketer. It is up to you to decide if the features of the product is for you or not.

        But why get into character assassination just because he is doing what every businessman and company in america is doing: promoting his product as the best? I do it in my business and I am sure you do too.

        And that is precisely why I took issue with what Mireles wrote and I write now. To me that is the real danger of al of this. Disagree with the product, say why you think is bad or good, but leave the personal attacks out of the discourse.

        5. Yes, DJ is no longer a photographer. Again, you are getting into character assassination here and I will not take time to go into this. But business is business and I think he, running two very successful software company, can share with me any advice he has and I will listen. I will grab the good and ignore what i don’t agree with.

        And alas… if DJ is not qualified anymore to give advice on business to photographer because he is not a photographer, then what qualified John Mireles to be a Business couch to photographer when he no longer does weddings either? (at least based on what he wrote a year or so ago in DWF). Guess what? his 20 years of experience in business. Period. So, how is DJ different? Doesn’t he runs a successful business?

        6. Finally we agree. Your success is not based on any tool or system you use. You are not successful because you use Nikon or canon, but because you are a good photographer, are a good business person and use the right tools for your business. Pass is just another tool. It either work for you or it does not. But Pass will not bring the industry down.

        Finally, I can say the same generalization as you did ” I cannot expect any of your DJ haters to understand…” But come on, that is so lame. We are here to establish a dialog for the betterment of the industry and our business, aren’t we?

        But what is most sad is that just because I didn’t agree with you, in your opinion, it has to be that DJ brainwashed me. Buddy, that is an insult to me (no that you care, of course).

        I run a very successful wedding and portrait studio in a very difficult market. I do it without any help from you. How dare you question my intellectual integrity? My business knowledge or success? Who the hell do you think you are? You are arrogant, prideful and disrespectful.

        At least people that uses Pass are always trying to help and encourage each others along the difficult business road. If that is the result of DJ’s brainwashing, hey, I am all for that. Instead you focus in attacking and putting people down. Now you tell who is the better of the two?

  10. Mikey Smith says:

    If your business model and projected profits are based around the sale of 3 over priced 8x10s you and whoever takes your advice wont be in business long enough to read this post. The fact is for those of us who shoot and share none of the points you make are valid and align with the way any of us do business. Not once do we say we don’t offer/sell quality products to our clients. we simply are not dependent upon them to make our living. PASS offers our clients friends and family the ability to easily purchase quality prints at an affordable price so lets rework your example with the way it really works:
    30 weddings at $2000.00 gross profit- $1400
    album and canvas sales moderately- $500 per wedding
    PASS prints sales to friends and family-$150 per wedding
    total of $61500

    My point is you can structure numbers to make any point you want. The awesome thing about running a business is there are a million ways to do it and turn a profit. As long as your structured right regardless of the model you feel is best, you can make it work. to wage “war” is just silly and only looking to increase traffic in order to sell your products to photographers no different than what DJ does. I feel sorry for those who are duped into a coaching situation with you.

    • Dee says:

      ” … to wage “war” is just silly”

      Let’s not forget that part of the way that PASS is sold is by claiming that using PASS is somehow more moral and right than marking up prints for profit. That photographers who mark up prints are somehow ripping their clients off. Never mind that PASS is making millions for its creator, and the people under attack are the ones who don’t buy into it.

      I also see an assumption that all clients are somehow the same, and want the same things. There are regional, cultural, generational and personality differences to take into account. Not everyone likes to order online. Not everyone wants to share their personal information and photos online. Some people want more than a loose print; they want full service, art prints and museum-level framing (the kind that even most pro labs don’t or can’t offer). You know, services that take a lot of time beyond the actual wedding or portrait session, or initial edit.

      And many photographers, the same ones who are being charged with ripping their clients off, believe that they are selling more than a piece of paper. A colleague of mine photographs weddings using medium and large format film. She also sells fine art pieces to collectors. The conversation about PASS and the “shoot and share” method isn’t really relevant to her business. She may scan a few images, but her clients go to her because they want platinum prints. Platinum prints are expensive, but the value of those prints is also based on her art. If they were printed on standard lustre paper, they would be still worth more than $1.

      So to say that the days of “overpriced” (there goes that negative language again) prints are over, presumes a level of knowledge about the future that I doubt any person can have, much less someone who isn’t a working photographer dealing with clients firsthand. Claiming that someone else’s products are overpriced indicates a certain level of arrogance. It’s also a way of putting others’ businesses down and elevating oneself. And dismissing the level of expertise that goes into making prints of a certain quality (there are still master printers out there, working with b/w film and experimental processes, as well as others who are very knowledgeable about digital printing and art papers)…well, it shows a certain level of ignorance, or a lack of respect for a process that can be an art unto itself.

      I agree that one can run a business any way he/she chooses, and if PASS works for someone, great. I believe that it can absolutely work for some. But there’s no need to sell it by criticizing those who choose a different way. And it’s not clear why people talk about it as if it’s the only option for digital galleries with downloading and ordering capabilities.

  11. doug says:

    Don’t forget uncle sam, 1,400 profit is 700 for uncle sam

  12. David Medina says:

    I am sorry to say that you are so off the mark. I will tell you why.

    In paper the numbers may sounds great but you are ignoring or missing lots of variables. In my opinion you are working under premises that are no longer valid.

    Print sales via online services have drop substantially for most photographers to the point that it is no longer a viable business model. And that is where you err, you are thinking so, well, 1990s.

    I have tried self hosting an my sales were abysmal. I moved to Pictage hoping that sales improved and they did but not selling 8×10 but 4×6. Then I moved to Smugmug and sales where about the same, rarely an 8×10 mostly 4×6.

    The fact is – and this is a FACT – online print sales for gift sizes prints (4×6, 5×7 and 8×10) are dying slowly but surely. Just think about it…

    The first thing you have to consider what is what you have online? Proof quality files. Some out of the camera and some with slight refinement from Lightroom. So you in fact are selling proofs quality print…

    Second fact… most of the images from a wedding are what I call “professional snapshots”. The photographer is under situation which he has no control (ceremony and reception) and the result is equal to what most amateur would get using a good DSLR. Our only advantage on those situations is opportunity and experience on what t expect.

    Who are the people from a wedding that could be potential clients for prints?

    1. Your clients… the Bride and groom… your #1 clients from the wedding but wait, they get the disc with high res files and can buy gift sizes at Costco. This client may purchase from you a large print, if it is finished and can be consider art.

    2. Parents of the bride and groom as well as immediate family. Does may have “some” interest in those prints but most are just happy with an 4×6 or 5×7 or maybe an 8×10. But if I have to pay $25 for an 8×10 and I can borrow the file from my daughter and by the same 8×10 for $2 at Cotsco, guess what? you just lost the sale. They too may buy a large print IF it is a real finished print and “art” from the images of the bride and groom, but not from anything else.

    You are better off concentrating in trying to sell them a parent album or a large print through your studio. And Pass or any online service does not hurt you at all.

    3. lastly, guest and friends. Guess what. No sales here either. They got what they want using their iphones or cameras.

    So John, you are ignoring the realities of the market.

    Pass is not for every business model. If you have high online print you be crazy to change to Pass. It would be a very poor decision.

    But from many of us that have discover that meager online print sales are not worth my time and effort, we choose to use Pass because it works great for our business models. I take objection at how disrespectful you are toward us by insinuating that using Pass is like being in a cult.

    Pass IS a GOOD model for those who know that online print sales of small prints is a waste of time. We are looking and paying for a better user experience, marketing potential and an elegant way to deliver files to our clients quickly and convenient. I now also have the benefit to recoup some small print sales by making proof prints affordable.

    Different solutions for different business models and needs.

    Now my studio is free to concentrate in those things that really make us money, like booking weddings, giving our client great customer service and experience, album and large print sales of finished images.

    Using Pass was and is a business decision for me based in reality and not numbers on a paper in a vacuum. It is based in reality. In real life scenarios and not empty philosophical diatribe or personal hates. And in business we have to adapt to changing times. Those who do not are destine to become obsolete and out of business.

  13. David Medina says:

    By the way, your numbers are wrong. You are comparing apples with oranges. You left out of your imaginary print sale the cost of online gallery and sales. There is a cot associated with that.

    For example, if you use Smugmug it will cost you $300 per year plus 15% or each sale.
    If you use Pictage it will cost you $348 a year (for the cheaper) + 20% of each sales from the top (before the cost).

    And if you self-fulfill you need to consider the cost of the shopping cart, hosting, domain cost and the work involved to fulfill the sale.

    I don’t mind if someone reject an option because it does not work for them but that does not justify saying that is evil or that the owner of the solution wants to destroy the industry. That is not fair.

    Do you really want to help? Then have an open discussion with your “enemy” on video and each can say what they think “their way” work best. That way we can judge ourselves what work best for us.

  14. Chi says:

    I love this write up. Why would PASS not allow us to set our own prices? Its like PASS is taking money out of our pockets.

    • David Medina says:

      Then, Chi, Pas is not for you. But while that is your right is not justification for what have been said here.

      The write gets too many things wrong and shows complete ignorance of Pass. It ignore fundamental realities and live in the 1990s when print sales thrived. Not any more.

      See my previous comment and you will see the reasoning behind. But basically, those who enjoy using Pass don’t care about non existing 4×6, 5×7 or 8×10 sales but about other things. Can’t we have the freedom to choose as you have not to choose it without been called names for ot? Thanks.

      If you sell a lot of those pesky 4×6 or 5×7 or 8×10 from your weddings, good for you. More power to you. Then Pass is not for you. But for many of us it is a great solution. And you or anyone have the right to question our decision.

      • Eric says:

        David Medina = David Jay under a different name. Same canned answers, same bashing of non-Passers or anyone who questions the faith, along with insults of overcharging and price gouging.

        Truthfully I only use pass for the free events when I go out and shoot where I don’t give a damn about prints and care less if the subjects use them for personal use. I still own the copyright and will defend them in court when some moron decides to use them commercially without first asking me. I will not pay for pass, nor will I offer it to my clients. And it’s mostly because DJ is a dick and insulting. Furthermore as I told his bots on FaceBook from the PassPage, do not contact me, any contact will be reported to the police as harassment, simply because of how they word themselves.

  15. David Medina says:

    And here lies the beauty of free enterprise… competition.

    If you invent a mouse trap, there is always someone who think he can make it better. And the difference between those who are happy complaining that the mouse trap is bad and the visionary, is that they do something about it.

    Pass is such “bad idea” that there others companies offering their versions of Pass. This is just the latest: https://www.getdigitized.net

    They have their business model based in what they think can be attractive and their vision dictate.

    Now Pass has competition and they need to innovate more and stay a step ahead. The nature of our economy.

    Love our free market!!!

    • wspboston says:

      Are you that blind, or is this the argument you’re sticking with because it’s the only one that holds any water?

      How many times have we said that the product itself isn’t bad, it’s fine, and we’re glad that others are taking note and developing similar solutions. It’s all about delivery and perception, we are hoping they do it right.

      David Jay is dividing the industry so to continue to gain exposure for PASS (any press is good press) and line his pockets. The others developing similar solutions are NOT pitting photographers against one another to try and generate revenue.

      But if you insist on continuing to argue that our main beef is with the actual product, you’re words are simply taking up space. When you decide to have an actual discussion around how DJ is marketing his product, and in the process dividing the industry, then we’ll have a discussion at the adult table.

  16. Melinda (aka Minnie) says:

    PASS is being marketed to those who don’t know any better. The thousands and thousands of people who want so desperately to believe it’s easy to be a professional photographer. There is a huge and steady money making market there as we all know. If you think otherwise, you are just fooling yourself. David Jay isnt stupid, he knows a good thing when he sees it. First “The Stystem” was used to launch the product. (I’m sure we already know how that played out, so I won’t go there)
    David Jay tells togs that they don’t need to worry about collecting sales tax if they use PASS to deliver their images. Whew! What a confusing load off my mind!
    When asked about licensing, taxes, insurance, contracts etc he says “there is no need to worry about all that when starting out”. Yay! I only have to worry about when… When? Hmmmmmm guess I don’t need to worry about it.
    He posts a video talking about how people don’t learn well from critque/critisism and learn better by positive reinforcement.
    He implies and sells that it is a bad business move to sell prints and products at mark up.
    He answers any and all questions with what he believes the tog wants to hear, and treats questions that are difficult to answer with ease, or if they are answered it will debunk his sales pitch, with blocking and banning.
    Why does he continue to market this way, even when his own users are questioning it? Why? Because he’s not after our business, he’s after the thousands and thousands of new togs that will continuously keep cropping up that haven’t yet figured out how hard it is to both become a professional, and to become successful at it. There’s really no need to even debate this. He’s not even after our money. He’s after the people who aspire to be, and don’t have a good understanding of what they and what they do is worth.
    As a newbee I was horrified and very disgruntled to find out about color management and all that was involved with making a print. I thought it would just be like my point and shoot days. Seriously, I didnt know what at all was involved. imagine my surprize the first time i ordered prints. color managing and finding finishers…I call it my “six months of hell”. lol. David Jay says “don’t worry about that. Your clients don’t want prints and if they do they can do it themselves”. Whew! Huge relief!! Not only do I not need to worry about the quaility of the end product, but I won’t have to sell it either. I’m very introverted and that part of running a business really intemidated me.
    I DID ask him though if their prints didnt come out right if it could fall back on me, or if it becomes the printer’s responsibility? He didn’t answer but other PASSers answered with “these days images are always delivered digitally and it’s left to the client to print where they choose.” Whew!
    Ok so I only need to worry about my files looking good for sharing on the web! Easy! I can do that. He also tells me I’m already “good enough” as soon as people are willing to pay me. Well hot damn! I already had offers before I opened the box!
    Try to look at his marketing, his statuses, and videos with new aspiring eyes, BAM! Hook line and sinker! It’s exsactly what us newbees want to hear, especially the ones that aren’t and arent ever going to be dependent on their photography income to completely pay their bills. We can fight/hash this out all we want. Successful photographer, with an established business? He needs YOU to promote it, and will do what it takes to make that happen, but other than that… All he needs are the droves of newcomers with stars in their eyes and very little knowledge to make his business work for him. I know I wouldn’t want to be a part of perpetuating fauxtographers and fauxtography businesses (and i mean that in the sense of pretending and believing they are in business even without making more than part time income, and lacking in what they need to ever be full time, not just their skill level) and make them my target, but there is lots of money to be made doing just that. All I know is my correspondences with David Jay, and his way of marketing, made/make me as a newbee feel like a victim, and if I hadn’t had a level head and REAL photographers in my life I could have fell for his garbage very easily, willingly, and very happily. I might even be on this very blog posting a comment about how wonderful I think David jay and PASS are.

    • wspboston says:


      It’s interesting to see the previously established/successful togs coming to DJ’s defense and boasting about their success. Guess what? Your success has nothing to do with DJ or PASS, it has to do with you.

      But like you said, DJ is using these successful togs to manipulate noobs into thinking they can be just as successful. Either the successful ones don’t see how he’s using them, or they don’t give a shit and are too caught up in being one of his ‘rockstar’ cases.

      I’ve honestly never seen so many professionals attributing their success to a pretty simple piece of software…

      • David Medina says:

        What is REALLY interesting to see is how some photographers want to attribute the demise of the industry to one single individual with one product or that one product.

        Pass is a TOOL as just a camera is a tool. They are tools that can help us in our success. You choose the ones that work for you. That you cannot see the value of Pass for your business or how it could be instrumental in the success of some does not mean that they are diluted or blind or are a fool.

        That is what I find extremely offensive how you and others have decided that because others do not think like you do or are excited by things you either do not understand or care for are characterized as fool by you and others. It is offensive how you and others pass judgments over someone’s intentions without even knowing the person. That is extremely disrespectful and attitudes like yours, not them or DJ or Pass, are the real danger to this industry.

        You can agree or disagree about Pass and it’s usefulness but STOP insulting people that just don’t agree with you.

      • wspboston says:

        I find it extremely offensive the amount of successful people in this industry who are oblivious to DJ’s underlying agenda. You keep preaching and crying that we are attacking the product, but we really aren’t, the product is fine (yeah, just fine, not spectacular, not industry changing, but ‘fine’).

        What’s NOT fine, is the way he goes about marketing the product, fully engaging in character assassination towards any tog who still sells prints for a sizable profit. It amazes me that you can’t see how he instigates every single time, he can’t simply say that PASS is a great tool for X, Y, and Z; nope, he feels the need to talk about ‘the other’ kind of photographers who feel the need to ‘mark up’ product to make a living. He’s using broad character assassination to try and line his own pockets, and it’s working.

        So before you get back up on your soap box and tell us how great DJ is, why don’t you do some thinking and ask yourself why he feels the need to constantly talk about and criticize those of us who choose to continue to sell product at a high margin.

        There are plenty of other tools out there just like PASS, but do you know why photographers aren’t coming out in hordes to criticize them? Do you know? Oh, it’s because they aren’t trying to divide the industry by creating sides.

        I’ll insult anyone I choose to, on the grounds of immoral business practices.

  17. David Medina says:

    Melinda, this is really laughable and very unfair:

    “PASS is being marketed to those who don’t know any better. The thousands and thousands of people who want so desperately to believe it’s easy to be a professional photographer”‘

    YOU ARE WRONG!!! You are the one that does not know what you are talking about.

    Have you bother to actually READ the marketing? Have you? Because I do not see that anywhere in their marketing. It is obviously that your opinion is based in what you feel about DJ as a person and NOT of an understanding of the tool.

    Pass is marketed as a way to do away with using discs as a delivery method of files, give your client a better user experience seeing and sharing their wedding photos and to use it as a social marketing tool.

    As a marketing tool it has a the potential to generate viral marketing with your photos. It is not Pass what sells but your photos and you. Pass is just a tool.

    It is a simple as that.

    • wspboston says:

      And DJ is very clear that Shoot & Share is where the industry is going, leaving those who continue to choose to sell in the dust. Keep looking through those rose-colored glasses, though, it’ll help you continue to deliver his christ-like image to the hordes.

  18. Michael says:

    As with photography so with all business. Your bill when you leave the restaurant does not reflect the cost of the food. If I order two extra eggs from Denny’s it does not cost them 2.50 to dispense two more mediocre eggs. I went to a car auction for dealerships a few years back and a 2010 Corvette (with everything) and 10,000 miles or less went for $10,000 (I was driving the corvette) There are 3 things to take away from the Corvette example: 1. you can bet that the cost to manufacture a corvette is cheaper than you think, 2. I am completely sure that that car was sold by the dealer for at least $70,000 3. Price does not reflect cost.

    The purpose of business is staying above the red-line(Cost of doing business), and profit (money you make over the break even line) makes it that much sweeter. Every ounce of skill and artistry one possesses, is going into the creation of the image, if you are passionate about what you do, and as one grows in skill their product goes from being inferior(a product which a consumer will leave behind once their income increases) to superior, a product of high quality which a consumer continues to purchase even after their income increases.

    In the movie “Larry Crowne” the dean of the school said, All you need to do to succeed is take microeconomics and public speaking(paraphrase). In economics we learn about incentive(what benefits will this action bring to my person). Business is a balance between taking care of ourselves and our clients, we offer a service and are also creators, what we create is unique therefore it is marketable which means, we can charge a higher price by method of differentiation. We have the incentive to find the place in the market where both producer and consumer are happy, I am happy to produce these images at this price and my client is happy because they were willing to pay more than I am charging, if they are not happy they are not in my market segment.

    When trying to discern a person’s actions it is helpful to see what incentive they have to maintain their “heading” as it were. If DJ makes more money the more people join his system, he has incentive to get more people to join his system. If DJ makes more money the more prints are ordered, then DJ has incentive to encourage more prints. If DJ makes more money per print than the photographers in his system, DJ has incentive to encourage photographers that it is in their best interest to use his system, and to direct their attention away from what they could make on their own. Therein lies the rub.

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