Debate around supplying Hi-Res Digital copies of Images

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by douwg, Oct 19, 2009.

  1. Hi all,
    First post on the forum. I have been reading the posts on the site for the last couple of days. Some really valuable information to be found here - it is so nice that people are willing to share!
    Anyway... My wife is actually the tog - I am the gaffer and technical advisor in our team. :) She has a partner who is the second photographer on all of the shoots she gets and vice versa if he gets the shoot. They have been shooting professionally for about a year now.
    So... there is a debate raging between the three of us - we have decided after many iterations of wedding packages that we will not ever supply only digital images on CD in a package - the customer must take prints, an album etc. in order to gain access to the digital copies. ie. what is ordered as prints or in the album they get as digital copies.
    Now the question is... should we in fact be giving the customer the digital copies or should they come to us for prints whenever they need them? The argument obviously is that this maintains quality in the prints and prevents them from printing the images on a home inkjet etc. but at the same time could become a bit of a logistical nightmare to manage.
    The market in SA currently dictates that the customer gets the digital copies on CD so this is the general expectation. But we don't just want to follow the crowds - we want to have a sustainable business.
    Any guidance on this subject would be much appreciated so what are your opinions on this subject?
    Regards
    Douw
    Johannesburg, SA
     
  2. I would ask myself this question: if the general expectation in your area is to give the clients the files on CD, what do you stand to gain by not offering it?
     
  3. Not giving the disks will likely result in very little business. I fought for a long time not to give the cd (for the same reasons you have stated). Bookings were very hard and I am certain I was marked of the list of possibilities many times as soon as I told brides they wouldn't get the cd. Once I started offering the cds, this changed.
    Determine the minimum amount of money you realistically expect to make off of reprints and then add that amount into the photography coverage. Also use an online posting service to market the photos to guests. You will still get print sales as the bride and groom are highly unlikely to want the job of taking print orders and making and shipping free prints for everyone at the wedding. In fact that is how I market the online posting to my brides: "You don't have to worry about family and friends hounding you for pictures - they can order whatever they want easily online!"
     
  4. That reply has got me thinking - I smell something burning :)
    Seriously though... By not offering it we may loose business, but on the other hand we may be able to control the quality of our prints out there as well as being able to make some margin on the prints.
    The question was raised because we absolutely felt that there was no value in just providing a CD with the edited images and only a couple of prints.
    So would you agree that we have it right now by insisting on the customer ordering prints/album in order to gain access to the digital copies of the images?
    Cheers
     
  5. Ie. for if they order 100 prints (various sizes obviously) they will get those 100 images on CD as well.
    Thanks for the replies so far - looking forward to some more insight into this.
     
  6. The structure we are now looking at is as follows:
    Photography Fee + editing = x. This is our baseline charge to photograph your wedding. Then you basically build your own package from there-on by selecting the number of prints, what album etc etc. you want. However you cannot get the images on CD on their own - we only supply the images digitally that you have printed.
    Does this sound like a sound strategy?
     
  7. I don't shoot weddings, but I keep up on it thru a couple of friends of mine that do shoot weddings...not to mention postings here on photo net. You are fighting the trend of the future. The world is moving away from hard copies and rapidly progressing into digital media. Newspapers are failing, half the "kids" never print any of the pictures they take, etc. It's all looked at digitally for some people. I personally, and I'm 58 years old, haven't read a newspaper in years. Get all my news off the web.
    I understand your desire to control the quality of the print, should they ever actually print them. Of which I doubt half of them will. They'll email jpgs to friends and family, post them on flickr, make "slide" shows out of them to look at on their HDTVs, etc. You ARE going to lose business if you at least don't offer these digital only services.
    Charge more for the weddings up front if you want to cover the profit from print sales. And then offer print purchasers a discount or something. But don't negate the digital only customers. They are the ones who are setting the norm for the future. Cater to it.
     
  8. Douw, ultimately, it doesn't matter if anybody here agrees with you. It's your business. And there's really no right and wrong. There's just "works for my target demographic" or "doesn't" work, need to revise business plan".
    From a consumer standpoint, I think that only getting access to the files AFTER purchasing the exact same prints sounds like a photographer making more money by "holding images hostage". As for quality, I printed some of my wedding photos on my little HP printer and while they're not what I would consider lab quality, they still look pretty neat up on my walls. Therefore, as a photographer, I'm not concerned with the print results; if I've done my job right, it really doesn't matter if they take them to Walmart to have them printed or print them at home.
    I do exactly what Jessica does, clients get the CD and the files go online, they get the link and can send it along to family and friends. I also found from tracking my sales that while most couples like the idea of having all the files on CD, they still order through the gallery as it's just so much easier for them.
    Also, what do you mean by "editing fee" - you mean re-touch work as in removing a double-chin or basic white balance/level/crop adjustments? If it's the former, by all means, charge for that but the latter is just something that's part of the package for me.
     
  9. I'm not familiar with business models in South Africa and I doubt that most of the people are here on the forum either. I would suggest that you join the local professional photographers association and/or network with local pros to get more information before making any changes. Pricing structures/policies can become rather complicated and also contribute to the studio's image and reputation locally. Here in the States, most photographers that shoot the wedding and provide the DVD files to the B/G are referred to as "Churn & Burn" studios.....very few believe it's a term of endearment.
     
  10. Douw:
    I don't give full resolution pictures.
    They're part of all but my lowest package, though. :) Most people want them. I can't say that I blame them. If my wife and I were getting married now, I'd want high-res pics on a disc, too.
    My strategy is to charge enough up front to make up for the loss of revenue from making the prints, and then include them in an appropriately priced package. Most of my clients want albums. Every so often, I have somebody that doesn't want an album, but does want the disc. So I add that into the lowest package for an appropriate upgrade fee.
    Like David said, most of us here won't be familiar with the practice in South Africa. The theory should be the same, though. Charge less up front and make money in prints or charge more up front and don't make print profits.
    Eric
     
  11. Around here digital negatives are pretty much the norm any more. Like others have said, you need to make sure you're making your money up front. Print sales are a nice bonus, but not expected.
     
  12. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Good question, KD.

    I look at "the question" from a different angle, in two parts:

    > if the general expectation in your area is to give the clients the files on CD, then obviously your clients must stand to gain "XXXXX" by you not selling / supplying a CD of files - we agree?

    > can you sell "XXXXX" ?

    That is my question

    It is very important to know exactly what business one is in.

    WW
     
  13. I will have to sit and digest some of the very informative answers given here...
    Eric, you said you don't give hi-res images - so could it work then for us to supply 1024x768 JPG on disc - ie the best they can do is to print jumbo's themselves? Ie. if they want enlargements etc they will have to come to us? Am I understanding you correctly?
    To some of the other responses - it just feels so clinical and without soul to give the couple only a CD after the event - we fear that it gets put in the cupboard and forgotten after a year unlike prints in an album that get looked at least once in a while - doesn't the saying that a photograph is not a photograph until it's printed hold true? We feel that the true value of what we did on the day can only really be appreciated once the images are printed and framed or put into an album.
    To summarize - do you guys and girls think it could work for us to supply 1024x768 (92dpi) JPG's on CD by default on our entry level package and have a web gallery of the images where people can then order standard prints and various enlargements? This entry level package would obviously start at x amount of images with the highest consisting of y amount of images.
    Jessica and Katrin, thanks for your input - has definitely given me some other ideas. I really like the option of offering family and friends the option of ordering prints directly from us instead of the bride worrying about that.
    Furthermore...
    ie. the equation now looks like this: Photographers Fee + Editing (amount of images) = X
    Also bear in mind that we are thinking of covering the weddings for up to a max of 8 hours irrespective of the package chosen then. Ie depending on the package chosen - our editing time will be less or more affecting the package price.
    Then after the couple deciding on the base package we sell them an album and other merchandise.
    I'd appreciate some input to this last reply :) I am probably pushing my luck now.
    Regards
     
  14. To summarize - do you guys and girls think it could work for us to supply 1024x768 (92dpi) JPG's on CD​
    People will basically print any image resolution at the size they want. Most punters will have no hesitation in enlarging 1024x768 to A3 and beyond, if what they want is an A3 size print and all they have is 1024x768. If you really are worried about the quality of the prints, sending undersized jpegs is about the worst thing you could do.
     
  15. "Then after the couple deciding on the base package we sell them an album and other merchandise.
    I'd appreciate some input to this last reply :) I am probably pushing my luck now....."


    I don't think you're pushing your luck, I think you're attempting to over-simplify your question and looking for easy answers: http://www.sonopp.com/Perspectives/Devaluing/Devaluing.htm
     
  16. Given that most all of the people who commented don't know the market in your area, I would add that perhaps you should just try it. Then you'll find out, and the answer will be quick, since you will either make money or not. If the latter, you will have to do something else.
     
  17. Photography and printing no longer go hand in hand. If you can book one event per week, then your fee should be for 1 week of work, and you should put 32 hours into the preparation of the photos in addition to the 8 hours at the event. Your "package" should include that time plus the expense of providing proofs to the customer for all the work you've done. Plain and simple. You can't get too wrapped up in the "potential" value of work not performed, such as future prints that are made by a lab, and not by your own hands. Just include a CD of all the same stuff you provided with the proofs, and be done. However, providing just a CD and no proofs to justify your work just isn't professional.
     
  18. I give a CD of all the images, in a resolution which will allow them to make as many 4x6 or 5x7 or even 8x10s as they like before they start seeing degradation in the image quality. And I tell them that up front. Most brides want the disc because they want to save money on what you charge for prints. So, I'd rather give the bride the disc and get the business of the shoot itself (I do NOT include prints in my packages) and then let them come to me for specialty items, but not bother me for the little stuff like individual 4x6 prints of 50 or so pictures. It's just not worth it, in my humble opinion.
     
  19. In the last 6 months of shooting I have not done a single print. I shoot semi professional with a Canon 5D Mark II. I am making all my money directly from the photoshoot. At the end of the day I give them a disk with all of their photos. If the select photos which they wanted edited I will edit a few for free and more at a cost. I give them their edited photos back on DVD which they general go print at Walgreens or Costco. My files are of such high quality it doesn't really matter where they get their prints its still going to be nice images.
    Alternately, I have been planning to create a distribution channel through MPIX.com, snapfish, etc. I have created a custom print ordering website through my local print shop. This works great cause all I have to do is upload my photos to the site let them know the URL and site code and they go order what they want. The company does all the printing and mailing of the photos and I am out of the picture until I collect my check from the web site once a month.
     
  20. Probably selling them the CD instead of giving it way is better business model! :)
    Once the high res images are released; you client may never buy any prints from you. i
     
  21. I would create some packaged alternatives. With copies and without copies.With CD, without CD... Etc... One of those models will work for most people.
    Best,
    Diego.
     
  22. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    “ . . . do you guys and girls think it could work for us to supply 1024x768 (92dpi) JPG's on CD by default on our entry level package and have a web gallery of the images where people can then order standard prints and various enlargements? . . . Then after the couple deciding on the base package we sell them an album and other merchandise.”
    I got my “customer hat” on . . .
    “Gee Thanks . . . I like your work and you can photograph my Wedding, please.
    I’ll take the base package with no frills no extras no album and no prints sales.
    Please supply me the CD of all the images at the resolution you indicated and I will keep you at the Wedding for the 8 hours coverage.
    I expect (as implied), all the images on the CD will be of your highest quality – what I mean is you have done that “digital retouching” stuff you photogs talk about

    ***
    “it just feels so clinical and without soul to give the couple only a CD after the event - we fear that it gets put in the cupboard and forgotten after a year unlike prints in an album that get looked at least once in a while - doesn't the saying that a photograph is not a photograph until it's printed hold true?”


    Don’t know about the saying – I ask again – can you sell that emotion? Are you in the business of selling emotion and feelings?
    I agree with David Schilling - you are attempting to over simplify this matter and moreover you are seeking a solution from the wrong end . . . you are looking at the question from the “what answer will I choose”, point of view.
    I write again and underscore it: you have to know exactly what business you are in – you MUST define that first.
    At the moment you are tossing around a range of end user “products” and you have not yet defined your business.
    WW
     
  23. For me, it depends on what the customer wants (they are always right). It also depends on what you want from your business. For some, the business is an art form and each image is an extension of themselves and that is how they want to be seen. For others, it is a way to make money doing something they enjoy (or maybe not). For me a it is a little bit of both, but pragmatically, digital files on a disk have an extremely low cost, high profit potential. No costs of paper, printing or time to generate the prints. Most of my clients want digital files. I provide them with a complete 'informed consent' document and if they continue to insist, then I adjust my price accordingly, and give them the files and a license to use them for their personal use. I also do digital touch ups and provide those to them as well. If they want prints or albums, I do that as well. I try to stay flexible and focused on the people paying the bills!!
     
  24. "Not giving the disks will likely result in very little business."

    Our 2 studios shot over 100 weddings so far this year and we've done this now for several years. We don't give out hi res CD's - ever. I believe quality work and good marketing and networking is the key to success. If sales suddenly drop I'm sure giving out CD's will be an option.

    I'm sure this depends on your location, so my advice isn't for everyone. You have to do whatever it takes to survive.
     
  25. Let me speak as a client, a customer... I'm an amateur photographer and a recent father of the bride (i.e. I paid the bills). I also, at bride's request, made the deal with the photographer.
    Believe me, I wanted the original RAW full-res files. I wanted them because: Bride and I might use them in a variety of creative projects in the future... I want to be able to work them a bit in photoshop, not totally trust the photographer... I've learned how to keep images organized on digital media, so I'll be able to find the files years from now; would I trust that the photographer would still be around? Finally, as a buyer, I'm just not willing to have the situation where the only prints I'll ever get are the ones I order today. It's her wedding! Who knows what prints or other display uses we'll want years from now?
    We made this deal explicitly with the photographer, up front. He wanted to sell a package including albums; we bought it. I wanted original camera raw flies plus his edits, both for 200 selected images; he accepted this. We got unlimited rights to use the images in the future. He has rights to use as well; he put the images up on a site for guests and family to buy prints and maybe screen-res files; that's fine. He can use the images in his portfolio and maybe publish. Also fine. It's all in the contract.
    If the full-res files weren't available to us, I would have wanted a different photographer.
    I did similarly when I bought portraits from a pro. I made the deal up front: a shooting fee, buy a couple of enlargements, and buy the full-res files with his edits for the images I chose. I wouldn't deal with a photographer who wouldn't work this way. It's 2009, not to 50's!
     
  26. I wanted original camera raw flies​
    Richard, it's good that you found a photographer who you were happy with, but I suspect many would have balked at this; half the job of photography is turn turn the raw files into the finished product.
    If the full-res files weren't available to us, I would have wanted a different photographer.​
    Understood. Had it been me you were talking to I would have suggested that too.
    I want to be able to work them a bit in photoshop, not totally trust the photographer...​
    Again, I think that would have been a total deal-breaker for me. Why hire someone if you don't trust them and want to re-do their work?
     
  27. Then again, there are photographers who turn over RAW files if asked. I do. I make sure the recipients know what to do with them, though. I've shot weddings for other photographers and for people who are well versed in Photoshop (art directors or other creatives). Point is, if you (the photographer) don't want to turn over RAW files--don't. If you don't object, then do. There are clients for both.
     
  28. Alec, I did have the pro do post. I did trust the pro. I also wanted to be able to do my own edits, maybe now or maybe ten years from now for some new medium.
    I think what made this work is I bought a package the pro wanted to sell (shooting, selection, editing, albums, an enlargement). In addition, I asked the pro to sell me what I wanted to buy (original files, his edits at full-res., my unlimited right to use).
    I certainly believe the photographer makes their own choices, and the buyer make their own choices. I am suggesting that some buyers want things today that weren't part of the traditional package 20 years ago.
     
  29. I just had a nice lady call me about scanning services. Her son got married and she purchased over 800.00 in prints from a local photographer. She wanted me to scan them so she can archive them and email them around to all her friend an families. I contacted the photographer and he was happy to release the prints so I scanned about 140 pictures for her. My thoughts are when they want the digital foot print, it's not always about going mad printing everything. Rarely they print the entire DVD I give them. I think giving (allowing them to buy it) their CD is great. I also make lots of money from the CD sales. First thing in my work flow is to take about 80 to 100 pictures that look great, clean them up quickly and as soon as possible (after honeymoon) I get with them to show a quick slide show. I then ask them if they would like to try the latest trend by allowing me to duplicate the entire slide show so they can mail them out to ALL their guests along with the thank you cards! Normally I sell 25 to 50 CDs at 5.00 a piece. I have sold 200 of them too! Also holding on to the CD also forces you to keep them on file for years. You can modify your contract to state; if you buy a DVD with full rez pictures, I will make you 2 copies so you can archive them. Good luck v/r Buffdr
     
  30. To some of the other responses - it just feels so clinical and without soul to give the couple only a CD after the event - we fear that it gets put in the cupboard and forgotten after a year unlike prints in an album that get looked at least once in a while - doesn't the saying that a photograph is not a photograph until it's printed hold true? We feel that the true value of what we did on the day can only really be appreciated once the images are printed and framed or put into an album.​
    I have to say that I've looked at my wedding album exactly once after reviewing it when we got it, and that was two weeks ago (we were married in 2001).
    If I had digital files, they would have been looked at much more and still usable(they were shot on film and the studio is out of business).
     
  31. 20 years professionally shooting this year. The benefit of experience tells me that you must give 100% to your work all the time, and an additional % above and beyond that for future possibilities, and for your own personal perfection add another % to that because you should always have to squeeze yourself a little on every job, to challenge yourself. Ultimately the client benefits but ultimately its your complete benefit.
    Give your clients the highest quality images you can, and give them the highest quality presentation to follow, and on top of that, give them their ability to cut you free and have their own prints made in the future, you charge an extra % for that privilege, and if you get it breathe a sigh of relief that you dont have to eat the crumbs from their table for the rest of your professional career.
    Believe me its the very best way to do it.
     
  32. If you put pictures on a CD they should only be screen resolution at an appropriate dpi.
    Never give them hi res files - it would be like giving away your negatives (or copies of perhaps), which would be professional suicide (subject to the price of course!)
     
  33. Sort of noting David's note above about looking at pictures and hi res or not digital files. A lot of technology today allows a modestly computer savvy person to move digital files from their computer to a HD TV and display them as a slide show with music to their tastes, etc. In my home, with nearly weekly occasion, someone turns on the television, starts up Apple TV and plays a slideshow of pictures very several years ago or actually slides shows that I have put together of events in the family.
    I have books, albums and boxes of prints, all with about an inch of dust on them.
     
  34. We wouldn't have hired you for our wedding!
    We paid a flat fee for the 8 hour session with 2 photographers, image editing and delivery of all images in high res format (in this case 12-15 megapixel TIFFs). As described above the photographers offered all photo's on a self service website - they recieved orders for hundreds of prints (we bought about 50 ourself; our favorites and for gifts). We also ordered albums through the photographers.
    All in all our total bill was thousands of dollars for an 8 hour 2 photographer day, 50 prints, 1 large and 4 small albums and a copy of all the images (on DVD actually).
     
  35. @ Christian Sager, After looking at all the responses and discussing between ourselves our new model will be exactly as you described.
    We now have a base fee that includes a CD/DVD with hi-res images. We will then allow the customer to purchase all of the other items they wish at their own discretion.
    THANKS AGAIN TO ALL WHO CONTRIBUTED!
     

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