Managing a business as a professional photographer is about a lot more than showing up with camera in hand. It involves operations with many moving parts, projects in different stages of completion, plus attempting to stay on top of branding and marketing. In addition to the actual photos, photographers must worry about the entire client experience — delivering photos, printing or proofing, and other administrative tasks.
Colin Breece and Robert Swarthout met at Berry College in Rome, Georgia and, after a series of jobs post-graduation, reconnected in Atlanta. After Swarthout’s wife experienced logistics challenges in dealing with wedding photography, the pair realized they could bring their marketing, sales and technology expertise into the industry and help photographers streamline their work tasks.
“Once we started looking into it, we realized that there were a lot of design and usability problems within the solutions available, and they all took a monthly or annual fee separately. These solutions would take 10-20 percent of the sales on top of that as their business model,” says Breece.
“It’s a really fragmented space.”
Breece and Swarthout set out to build an online hub for photographers to run successful, sustainable businesses. ShootProof provides a one-stop-shop solution to take a client transaction from contract to delivery.
Photographers can manage leads, scheduling, outgoing and completed contracts and payment installments. They can share invoices and galleries, and provide clients a hub for printing and other deliverables. They even provide a payment facilitator through a partnership with Wells Fargo, at a lower rate than other payment merchants.
“We’re not only a gallery solution with e-commerce, but we’re like a big Dropbox as well for them to deliver files to their clients in addition to selling,” says Breece.
Breece shares that while knowing the industry was essential to building their product, being a non-photographer allowed the team to keep an open mind in terms of adding features from a business and technology standpoint. For example, they’ve set up a phone number for customer issues since day one, as well as a marketplace to buy standard contracts and releases.
ShootProof operates under a tiered subscription model. Unlike many of its competitors, the software does not take a percentage of photographers’ sales conducted through the platform. Additional revenue comes from their 20,000+ song licensing integration and custom branding and mobile apps.
The Atlanta-based startup currently serves over 45,000 wedding and portrait photographers from 38 countries in 18 different languages.
The team raised a strategic investment from Providence Equity Partners this past December. While the terms of the deal were not disclosed, Breece shares that they’re using the influx of capital to accelerate their growth further.
“The plan is to continue to enhance our product through extending e-commerce and growing our technology with our users. We’ll be using the funding to make strategic acquisitions to serve our vision and our customers better,” says Breece.
ShootProof currently has 44 employees with the majority headquartered in Atlanta and has plans to grow further internationally in the next year.