With the fastest DSLR cameras supporting shutter speeds of 1/8000th of a second, speed is an important factor for many photographers – especially when it comes to getting clients to approve their images so you can get on with editing and finalizing them and moving on to the next project.

In that 1/8000th of a second it takes the shutter to open and close, light can travel 23 miles. Imagine if our clients could move that quickly! But sadly, for many of us, this is the pinch point of any project, and is the dreaded bottleneck that can hold us back from taking on more clients and turning photoshoots around more quickly.

Of course, there are those occasional clients who seem to approve photos before flash has finished dimming, but these are reasonably unusual. In my experience I’ve seen a whole spectrum of delays with some clients moving quickly and others moving at a pace so slow that it might be quicker to paint their pictures.

With a toothpick.

The aim of this article is to help you to improve your client approval process as a photographer, and this advice is drawn from years of experience, countless client interactions, and a key observation of the way in which photography business practices have evolved over the years.

But the focus is not exclusively on simply speeding up the approval process; we’re looking to refine and improve a process that not only makes better use of our time, but also helps to support the client’s decision-making journey, resulting in them being more satisfied, as well as speedier. 

Understanding the Causes of Delays

The culprit behind most client approval delays tends to lie in one of three issues: unclear expectations, communication gaps, and technical hiccups.

I imagine that you can picture this situation fairly easily, probably from much experience. You’ve poured your heart into a shoot, but the feedback loop turns into a game of Chinese whispers, where the original message becomes lost in translation. This misunderstanding usually stems from not having set crystal clear expectations right from the start. Or perhaps you did try to provide detailed expectations, but they became buried in an avalanche of emails.

Of course there’s also the technical issue, where your lovingly crafted emails find their way into the Bermuda Triangle of the spam folder, never to be seen again. Or it may be that your review platform is so complicated and user-unfriendly that clients become hopelessly lost in a labyrinth of menus and options.

These issues aren’t just likely to cause you a delay – they can help to erode trust, and negatively impact the relationships you’ve taken so much time and trouble to build up. Recognizing these pitfalls and problems is the first step in understanding how best to deal with them. By addressing these problems and challenges head on you can create a smoother path to approval, keeping your projects flowing and your client relationships positive.

Strategies to Improve Approval Times

Clear Communication from the Start

Strong, robust buildings begin with solid foundations, and the cornerstone of speeding up the client approval process lies in getting things right at the very start. It is imperative that you communicate clearly with your clients about both the expectations and timelines right from the start, as this can make a huge amount of difference.

This communication is not just about deadlines though, but about creating a mutual understanding of what the goals of the project are, and how both parties envisage the final results.

If you wish, you can use comprehensive briefs and even mood boards to help ensure that your personal and professional vision is in complete alignment with that of your clients. This initial groundwork will become a reference point for both you as a photographer and your client throughout the rest of the project, reducing the risk of any misunderstanding and creating a clear roadmap for the whole project.

Leveraging Technology for Efficiency

There is no doubt that modern technological solutions are able to significantly streamline the approval process, and if you have a WordPress website then you’re in luck!

Our own WordPress plugin, picu, is a tool that we designed and developed – as photographers ourselves – to simplify and streamline the entire approval process.

picu was built on the principle of efficiency, including features designed specifically to tackle the most common bottlenecks in the client approval process. picu allows you to upload your proof photographs to a fully customizable gallery that can be shared with your client either with a link shared via email or other communications platform, or automatically by the plugin itself.

Clients are then able to see all of their proofs on the screen, using any device they choose, such as a desktop computer, tablet, or even mobile phone. The galleries are fast loading, beautifully designed, and allow clients to click on any image to view it in a full-size lightbox. 

If a client wants to choose a particular photograph, then all they need to do is click the checkbox. If they want to leave you comments or requests then they can easily add notes to any image. Once they have finished making their selection they simply need to click the submit button and you will automatically be notified that they have made their selection – no need for any back-and-forth emails or messages.

picu also makes it incredibly easy for you to view the client’s selection and notes directly within the plugin page itself – on your own WordPress website.

Sharing proofs in this way becomes a breeze, and because client feedback is centralized within the platform, revision tracking is significantly simplified. Of course it also makes you as a photographer seem even more professional, as there is no need for the client to have to visit third party websites such as Dropbox or Google Drive to view their photographs, as everything is available through your own website.

Streamlining Revisions and Feedback

One of the major parts of managing client approvals efficiently is the handling of revisions and feedback. It is crucial to organize your feedback rounds in order to minimize the amount of back and forth communication that becomes necessary.

To achieve this, try to encourage your clients to be as specific as they possibly can when providing their feedback, as well as trying to make sure that the feedback is actionable. By using the picu plugin, clients have the opportunity to provide notes for each individual photograph. When clients are provided with access to their gallery, it may be helpful to encourage them to use this feedback method, and to provide you with as much specific information as they may feel necessary.

Taking this approach will help to minimize the risk of any confusion, and help you to create revisions that are much more likely to meet with the client’s expectations on the very next round.

Educating Clients on the Approval Process

As professional photographers it’s very easy to forget that clients don’t understand all aspects of the workflow or approval process, and of course there’s no reason why they should.

We strongly advocate educating clients on the approval process well in advance. If clients can understand their role, and the importance of providing timely approvals, then there is a much greater chance that they will be motivated to not only engage more promptly with the approval process, but also to do it with more thought to the eventual outcomes.

Consider providing your clients with a very quick guide or tutorial on how to use picu for their approvals. This certainly won’t take long since the plugin has been designed to be extremely user friendly and intuitive. But simply taking the time to guide them through the process of using picu will help clients to feel as though they have a much more active role in the overall workflow, which will in turn help to ensure approvals are smoother and quicker.

Best Practices for Maintaining a Smooth Approval Process

Here is our recommended checklist for making sure that your client approval processes are smooth, effective, and efficient.

Regular Check-ins With Clients

  • Schedule Consistent Updates: Make sure that you create a routine or schedule for providing updates to clients to ensure they are kept informed. These updates can either be weekly or at key milestones.
  • Personalize Communication: Be prepared to tailor the communication style to each individual client’s preference. For some clients it may be brief emails, whilst others may prefer phone calls or video chats.
  • Encourage Open Dialogue: Use regular check-ins as an opportunity for clients to express any concerns they may have, and to ask you any questions. This is important for making sure you foster a collaborative relationship which will help the entire process run more smoothly.

Automated Reminders

  • Use picu for Automation: Our picu plugin for WordPress now includes an automated reminder feature, which you can use to send clients notifications about any pending approvals or upcoming deadlines. This can work but particularly well if you have established right at the start how the approval process will work and what the deadlines or schedule is likely to be.
  • Incorporate Clear Calls-to-Action: Whenever you send a reminder, whether automatically through picu or manually, make sure you include a clear call To Action every time. It is imperative to direct clients exactly where and how to provide their feedback or approval, how to add notes, and what deadlines or milestones are approaching.

Additional Strategies

  • Set Clear Deadlines: If you have set deadlines for feedback and approvals (something we strongly recommend), make sure that these are realistic and agreed upon by both parties right from the start.
  • Provide Easy-to-Use Tools: With the abundance of accessible tools and technology these days, it makes sense to use these for both the client’s benefit and to help speed up your own workflow. Using user-friendly tools such as picu you can make the approval process as simple and straightforward as possible for the client.
  • Offer Constructive Feedback Guides: When asking clients to provide constructive feedback it can be helpful to offer examples of what this might look like. By giving clients guidelines or examples you can help them understand what is required from them, and ensure that the feedback you do receive is something you can actually make use of.
  • Implement a Version Control System: As you work through revision and editing rounds it is highly valuable and very much recommended to keep a careful track of versions and revisions full stop this makes it much easier for both you and the client to refer to the past work and the feedback.


The client approval process is clearly a vital part of any photography studio’s workflow, but it can be a very painful bottleneck that can stifle the growth of a business.

By understanding the typical causes of these delays and putting into play strategies such as those we’ve outlined above you can not only improve the process from your point of view, but also from the clients.

Using clear communication, solutions such as the picu photo proofing plugin for WordPress, and helping to educate clients on the approval process, you can create a pleasant and positive experience for both parties. This in turn will help to create a positive relationship that is much more likely to result in positive referrals, reviews, and recommendations.

If you have ever felt the client approval process is holding back your photography business from the level of efficiency it needs to work at, then test out the picu WordPress plugin today.

Packed full of features designed to streamline communication, organize feedback, and automate reminders, picu is a powerful tool in your photography business toolkit.

Download the picu proofing plugin today and take the first step towards a more efficient approval process and see for yourself the difference it can make in both your client relationships and project timelines.

Feedback? Questions? Send us an email.