Safelight: An Easy Way to Proof and Sell Your Photography Directly to Clients


Designer and web developer Ryan Taylor has developed a nifty piece of online software for photographers that he hopes to get funded through Kickstarter by the end of this month. Dubbed Safelight, the software would offer an online selling and proofing solution for those photographers who want to integrate an interactive store into their online portfolio.

From the get-go, Safelight would allow photographers to easily create and maintain three types of galleries for their clients to browse: purchasing galleries, limited purchasing galleries, and proofing galleries.


The purchasing and limited purchasing galleries are fairly self-explanatory. Using Safelight, the photographer would log into the admin area to create and upload previews of photos, which the client could then order on their end.

The photographer has control over the sizes offered, their designated prices, and, in the case of limited purchasing galleries, how many total prints are available. The client is only a few clicks away from selecting all of the photos they want to order (you can even make digital prints available if you wish) and sending that order to you.


The third (and most requested) type of gallery — the one that actually spawned the idea for Safelight — is the proofing gallery. Here, photographers and clients can engage in a virtual dialog about the requested prints, so that clients can get exactly the proof they want.

As the photog, you can continue to upload different proofs until your client approves (and purchases) the final on his or her end.


For now, the Kickstarter hasn’t picked up much steam; with 26 days left it’s only 8 backers and £381 of £38,000 in. But if you’re interested in backing the project or learning more about it, head over to the funding page and see what it’s all about.

At this point you can pick up Hobbyist (5 max galleries), Professional (15 max galleries) or Studio (unlimited galleries) licences for £50, £100 and £250 (approximately $75, $150, and $375), respectively — all with an estimated delivery date of September 2013. But in the future, Taylor hopes to add much more functionality to Safelight, including the ability to create galleries for and sell your Instagram snaps.

Safelight [Kickstarter]

  • agour

    £38,000?!?! Really? Now I’m no web developer… but I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t cost that much to create that site… It’s not exactly super-high tech.

    Infact, I bet for £250 I could pay someone in china to recreate the exact thing, and embed it on my own site.

    It’s a good idea, but I don’t think kickstarter is the best way to launch it. Nor do I think the price is justified for what is basically a glorified gallery.

  • Bruce Horn

    Well, I have created some web sites in the past and yes, you could create a site made of static html pages for about $500 but what you are looking at here is substantially more complicated than that and would not really be creating the web site itself but the underlying technology to support it. I imagine that would include a robust database system for storing the photos, comments, etc. as well as way of dynamically previewing the different sizes and formats of the photos ordered. It does not seem unreasonable to me that it would cost $60K to create such technology. Many companies have spend hundreds of thousands or millions creating such systems in the past. As an amateur photographer I don’t have a need for this but I would think if I were a pro it might be very attractive, assuming that it works well. I think that is the key though, it would need to be reliable, smooth and easy to use.

  • agour

    Couldn’t something like that be built around a CMS like wordpress? I mean you already have all the comment features, databasing, etc etc built in. You’d need some custom stuff to bring it altogether nicely though?

  • carnagex2000

    So its like a Zenfolio or Smugmug site, but at a higher price ?

  • Bruce Horn

    You could potentially do it with WordPress or some other CMS or build it from scratch with SQL and PHP but you would need some heavy-duty custom plug-ins to manage all the photo gallery stuff smoothly. With anything like this, the devil is in the details. If you can make it seamless so the clients can navigate through the albums and do everything they want with them without really being aware of the tool that is enabling them to do that, then you have got something. But as soon as they start being aware of this and get frustrated with any part of the way it works, the photographers will start to lose clients and they in turn will drop the platform.

  • Ryan Taylor

    Bruce, thanks for your replies. You’re absolutely right in what you’re saying. There’s a lot that goes on under the hood to make a simple looking system look simple. :-)

  • Addison Geary

    I’m pretty sure a chunk of that funding will go to marketing and advertising.

  • Ryan Taylor

    No. Safelight is a user experience focused printing and proofing tool that you can hook into your existing professional website, or even just use on it’s own. We’re prioritising print ordering process and proofing communication facilities over thinks like website themes and other features that ultimately lead to photographers having websites that all look the same, just with the logo, navigation bar, primary image and background colour being different.

    Myself and the team of photographers I’m working with all feel that a photographers portfolio site should reflect their style and personality which that cannot be achieved with themes like those provided by services like Zenfolio and Smugmug.

  • E-mount

    Those sites let you write your own HTML, so you can make it look like whatever you want.

  • Bruce Horn

    I think one of the key differentiators for this product could be if it had either a graphical user interface for designing the website that this lives within ala SquareSpace, or the ability to easily integrate it into such a site. But, as I said before, I think the most important aspect would be the ability for a photographer’s clients to interact with this tool easily enough that they are not really aware of the tool itself, just the photos and the communication that is going on around them. And it does sound, from what is said above, that this is the direction the design work is moving.

  • Ryan Taylor

    Yes. We’re focusing on a great user experience for the client, but also the photographer on the admin side of the system. Everything you do with Safelight will be really intuitive. Our plans include providing plugins for popular CMS’s like WordPress, SquareSpace, ExperssionEngine etc so Safelight becomes and extension of your website. In it’s simplest implementation though, you’d simply link to it’s URL from your site.

    So, you have your site, Safelight installed at and you add a “Client Area” link in your primary nav to move between the two.

    We want Safelight to be flexible so you can use it with your existing systems and it can just slot into your workflow.

  • Bruce Horn

    Thanks Edwin,

    I was hoping that a pro who had been down this road would chime in. What you say here confirms my suspicion that this product would be very useful to a working photographer.

    I think there may be many pros without your web skills or who would just rather let someone else do the heavy lifting so they can spend more time on photography.

    I think if I were a pro I would go with SquareSpace and Safelight as that seems like the simplest solution, especially now that SquareSpace has integrated e-commerce tools and my WordPress skills are fairly minimal.

  • Ryan Taylor

    Thanks for sharing your experience here Edwin. It’s a tale we hear quite often I’m afraid and one the main reasons we’re wanting to to build Safelight.

    We have plans to provide plugins to integrate Safelight in popular CMSes like WordPress and Squarespace as well.

  • Ryan Taylor

    We’re now running a SPECIAL LIMITED OFFER on our Safelight Kickstarter page. Pledge at the £50 tier and get an unrestricted copy of Safelight plus you access to the private beta limited to Kickstarter backers only. You also receive a pack of 6x postcards created by Rick Nunn.

  • mclaren777

    I’m primarily interested in the revision tabs and image-specific comment fields. I haven’t found anything that offers both of those features without also having a bunch of stuff I don’t want.

    In fact, there’s almost nothing I don’t love about the proofing tools. I would like the overall look of Safelight to improve, but the proofing features are exactly what I’m looking for.