selling digital files from weddings

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by gilmour_john, Mar 10, 2004.

  1. Now that I have started shooting weddings primarily in digital (10D)
    I am getting requests for the digital files. I still use medium
    format if the client requests it. Incidentally, my clients have been
    very happy with the results from the 10D.

    In the past I would never yield my negatives but I am thinking that
    it may be different now because I can sell a full resolution jpeg and
    still have the 'original'. And with a properly worded contract, I
    still have copyright ownership.

    Control over final print image quality is reduced and a revenue
    stream is lost. But what about charging a higher upfront fee and
    delivering digital files rather than prints. I would forsee that some
    basic image tweaking would still be required (assign colour space,
    colour balancing, curves, USM) to ensure some basic quality so it's
    not simply handing over a CD at the end of the wedding.

    Has anyone else given this any thought?
  2. I have thought about this and have settled(?) on a plan that works for now: My fee for the job includes the photography, a small 5x7 album, and a proof CD with 500x750 pixel edited images (not big enough to print bigger than 4x6 photo quality. The number of images varies anywhere from 75 to 300 depending on the job, and includes only images I feel are 'sellable' (the client never sees the stuff I edit out). The client can order prints after receiving the CD - that order is seperate from the initial contract. When the print order exceeds "X" number of dollars (you'll have to carefully define "X" for yourself), I'll give them a CD with the same images as the proof CD, but at full resolution (except for images I have cropped which will, of course, be smaller, but still printable).

    Did you get all that? I hope I explained it well. I don't include my prices and fees because you will define your own anyway. This system ensures that I make money on prints, AND allows the client to print their own pictures later, and I don't have to worry about handling as many re-prints later. PLUS, because I have already sold them some prints before they get printable files, I establish my print quality right off the bat and the client won't blame me for poor prints he/she does on his own later.

    It's not a perfect plan - if there are flaws they'll work themselves out. I'm open to better ideas, so if this helps, great! But if you find a better system I'd love to hear about it.
  3. I guess I'm generouse. I give full res uncompressed 8 bit tiff, 200+ shots. Every image is fully edited in C1 and then PS...delivered uncropped. Standard fare is to also give all shots in 4x6 prints. I also post on my site for family and friends previewing.
  4. "and a proof CD with 500x750 pixel edited images (not big enough to print bigger than 4x6 photo quality."

    And the wedding couple takes the CD, get a good 'glossy' 4x6-inch print made and then wander to a good Fuji Frontier machine and use the 'scanner' to make a 8x10-inch quality photo. Since they have the CD image (from you) chances are the lab person will be happy to exchange the 8x10-inch print for a sale to the newlyweds.

    Ain't digital grand?
  5. I don't shoot digital, but a client wanted a CD of all their wedding images because he wanted to play around with them on Photoshop and also produce a website of their wedding. <p>I am very picky about image quality and color because it is my reputation at stake. I don't want medicore prints of my work out there representing what I do. <p>The deal I made with these people was -- 1) I charged them extra for the CD 2) They received paper proofs with order forms 3) We all agreed that once the reprints and album were completed I would turn over the CD. The order had to be in excess of $800.
    <p>As an aside - The groom did the negotiating with me and he was one of the toughest clients I've ever dealt with.. Interestingly enough, he told me that my reason for not giving up the CD's and negatives with the proofs was the best and most understandable reason he'd heard from all of the photographers he interviewed. I tell my clients that a lab - even a pro lab can produce 10+ different results from 1 negative. I even show them an example of one print printed 10 different ways to illustrate my point. I say it is like hiring an interior decorator and picking out all the materials, furniture etc... and having them dump it at your door. As a professional, it is my responsibility to do the job from start to finished product. It is the pride and expertise that I bring to my work. Hope that helps.
  6. If I were making my entire income from weddings I probably wouldn't turn over everything
    to my clients as part of my package. I sympathize with photographers who count on
    reprints and extras to make ends meet. I also agree with Mary, in terms of protecting your
    reputation by controlling the quality of how your work is shown and reproduced.

    But I don't make my main living from weddings, and really don't want to archive someone's
    wedding images. So, I choose what lives and what goes to the trash. What's left (usually
    200+ images), I correct, burn to a DVD, and make a contact sheet for identification. I
    steer the client to a lab that does all my work and has actually written a profile for my
    images. That way, I'm pretty confident the resulting prints will be faithful to the original.

    Just to be clear, I print all the images that go into the album... which is part of my package
  7. Good to hear Marc... As to reprints/albums.. I don't include them in the package so -my reprints/albums are big business! Most orders are $800 to $2500. I have anywhere from 4 to 8 orders in house 100% of the time. It is rare that I have less than 4 orders going. So, yes, I depend on these to carry me through the winter. But if it isn't your main business... I understand. It certainly is time consuming.. I love it though.. And, surprisingly, most of my large orders come in 1 1/2 to 2 years after the wedding. In fact, I just completed an order for a Seldex Album for Mom, An image box for the grooms' mom, another image box for Dad and an 40 page album for the bride plus 60 5x7's and 30 4x6's and 6 8x10's and the bride was married just over 4 years ago!!
  8. Welcome to the digital age, indeed! One of my clients took a reduced size file that was for image selection only (in other words I didn't optimize the image). They ended up printing on their home inkjet at 8x10 and had it framed and hung on a wall! They were ok with the quality except that they found it a little dark. I was mortified when I saw it and promptly replaced it with a proper print. Another one of my clients scanned an 8x10 and printed their own pictures for thank you cards. A friend of mine (I didn't shoot their wedding) scanned the 8x10s in their package and distributed CDs to friends and family so that they could print their own copies.

    With the availability of cheap scanners and decent cheap inkjet printers I fear that we have already lost control over image quality.

    From your comments I think that either charging more upfront and delivering the full size files or getting the client to commit to a minimum order before turning them over seem to be the best options.
  9. John -- Do you have a copyright sticker on the back of each print? Also a copyright notice in the contract? It isn't a guarentee that they won't do stuff like that but it may help.
    I once had a lab from Connecticut call me. A client had carefully removed the stickers from the back of each print - but they missed one ;-) The lab promptly stopped the job and returned the prints to the client and refused to make copies. My phone number is on the sticker and the lab called me to let me know what happened.
    Of course, that doesn't stop people from scanning stuff on their own... Here is what I put in my contract. I think it scares most of my clients into doing the right thing. NOTICE OF COPYRIGHT: It is illegal to copy or reproduce these photographs elsewhere without photographer's permission and violators of this federal law will be subject to civil and criminal penalties. This includes prints made from personal home scanners. The photographer owns copyright of all images created and shall have the exclusive right to make reproductions......"

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