We live in the digital world. We all work on our computers. We own smart phones. We read our books on tablets. Holding an actual print or paper product in our hands, whether it be a book, a magazine or (gasp) an actual photo album, seems to be a thing of the past. We find a cheaper and, presumably, a more reasonable solution that falls more inline with what we see in the world today. Digital images.
On pretty much every occasion I get asked if I offer digital files for purchase. While the answer to that is “yes” (once a print minimum has been purchased) I’m often surprised that most clients aren’t too sure why they want digital images. They just simply know that’s what people “do”. When I ask why they want to purchase digital files, my clients usually respond with a question.
“To share to Facebook??”
“To save for future use??”
As a photographer, and a business owner, it’s my job is to educate my clients about the pros and cons of every decision that they make with me. Below I highlight why folks think they want digital files, what they think they will use those files for and why it’s not always the best option.
1) Social Media
Sure, I get it. You want to share those images online to your friends and family via social media. So, you just spent hundreds of dollars on an amazing photo session to purchase only digital files to share on social media?
OK. I don’t get it.
While I understand that you want to share your gorgeousness on social media (I want you to share it, too ;), did you know that most photographers (including myself) offer alternate means of sharing your images via social media? How about a mobile phone app? Or, a beautiful slideshow? So much more bang for the buck! Most of these items I give you once you reach a specific print minimum. And, if you purchase the image in print, I give you the low res social media file of that image. How about that??
2) To Save Them Forever and Ever…
OMG! You want to save all of your images on that beautiful USB that I gave you to be sure that you can cherish them forever and ever? That’s so sweet!
While I get it, I ask you this? Can you still view that film reel that grandpa made over 30+ years ago of your 6th birthday (obviously dating myself here)? I didn’t think so. In order for you to see that film, you either have to dig out that old projector or you have to bring it into a service to get it transferred to a CD (in our case, a VHS…then a CD). My point is, you will have your PRINT forever. You may hide it away in the attic, but when you stumble upon it, you will have it there in your hands to look at and to cherish.
Technology changes, prints will always be classic and available.
3) Purchase Prints via a Third Party
I’m going to be honest here. I’ve never once had a client ask for digital files so they can print at a high volume, low quality printer (think Target or Walmart). Most people that book a high school session fully intend to buy prints. However, the practice is going strong.
My thoughts are this. If you have spent a considerable amount of time, money and prep for your high quality boutique photography experience, why in the heck would you want to print at a low quality printer? My guess is, this is what you’re used to and it’s all that you know. If you are looking for a high quality print, it’s better to purchase that from your photographer (you won’t be sorry). We take the guesswork out of your decision. To be honest, I’m always surprised when my clients tell me how beautiful my products are. Are we so used to low quality photography that we’ve never seen a high quality product? I suspect “yes”.
4) I Scrapbook
I’ve got nothin’. Digital images for you it is!
The digital file debate in the photo industry is a HUGE one. Some photographers think it’s killing the industry. I’m not too sure where I stand, but let me be clear, I am NOT against selling digital files. I DO sell them. At many sales sessions folks will end up purchasing a few of their favorites with their print package. It’s fine. It’s the world we live in. I just want folks to understand that it’s not the BE ALL END ALL solution to the conclusion of your photography experience.
A different way to think about an all digital package is this:
You’re on your own. You’re on your own. You’re on your own.
If you are unsatisfied with your prints, you’re on your own. I for one DO NOT guarantee any print that is not ordered through me. In most cases, not all cases, once a photographer hands you that CD, you’re done.
Bottom line. You do what works for you. All I ask is that you take a moment to determine what you really want from your session. If you really ONLY want a CD/USB will all of your digital images then I say GO FOR IT!
***Please note that there are some kick a$$ high end photographers out there that only offer digital packages. However, they will cost you. Most high end photographers only allow you to print your own images via services that they have set up and WILL guarantee their images. Most of these individuals will also offer high end prints, but only if a client asks for it.***