Selling the Disk!

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by carolinastudios, Jun 14, 2009.

  1. I am curious to see what other pro photogs think about selling the digtal negatives after a wedding, i.e. selling the disk? I HATE selling the disk but I find that a lot of brides request it so my disk is VERY expensive. I just hate the thought of my work getting printed at a very low end printer.
    What do you think?
  2. I feel the same way about it and have seen many threads in the past on other message boards about the topic. I will readily agree with everything bad about selling the disk (bad printing, no retouch, massive distribution online, de-value of our work, etc...). However, I think that this is an idea who's time has come. We now have an entire generation of brides who don't know what it means to buy film and pick up their pictures from the drugstore. For a 22-year old bride, photography is something you view on their computer and share with friends. This will not change. There are still plenty of people who refuse to offer the disk but eventually they will fall away as a new generation of photographers take over who never print pictures. I don't like it but I can't stop it so I might as well accept it.
  3. I give the disc with every single one of my packages, even the lowest end ones. It's what the brides want and expect these days. As far as massive distribution of my work, I see that as a plus. It's gained me referrals up the ying yang. Just one bride putting my work on her Facebook garnered three new weddings.
  4. Betty wrote - "It's what the brides want and expect these days." They ask me too, I know they want them. We don't care! Actually we do care, because we don't want the couple making prints at 1 hour photo places. The result are usually poor at best. I've heard this several hundred times that the brides will hire others that will give them everything. Actually we haven't lost a client yet this year. We've booked every wedding so far. We go into detail why we don't let our work out and I guess the brides feel ok with it. For example if you tell the bride her prints are archival archival, won't fade after 1 year or 2 they don't mind spending the money for quality work. That seems to be the key - quality work.
  5. You can have something in your contract that says that your work must be printed at a professional lab. I list all the places in town available to the B&G.
    *My heart dies a little bit each time when I see someone picking up their wedding photos at Costco*
  6. I offer the disc as part of the package. i am finding that the B&G love to have the control over who prints the pictures, after they have chosen the initial thirty i offer as part of their package. For those pictures i use my preffered printer. They also love to put the pictures up on facebook and flickr like the previous writer i have booked weddings from a market place i would not have normally had access to its a no brainer good solid leads for nothing (relatively speaking)
    I feel as if some of the printers are losing out but you can still get high end printing at a reasonable cost when printers realise there is a drop in the volume of wedding printing they will adjust accordingly. in the past my after sales profits from reprints on any wedding have not reached the cost of what i charge for the disc and i price the disc according to what file sizes the client requires, so you facillitate menu pricing on your disc enableing you to upsell and retain maximum profit, instead of it slipping away
  7. "I HATE selling the disk but I find that a lot of brides request it so my disk is VERY expensive. I just hate the thought of my work getting printed at a very low end printer." -Gillian

    Life's too short....let go of the HATE, don't worry be happy! Just educate your brides and point them to good quality printers. Also, raise the price of the disk to the point where selling it becomes enjoyable. Easy peasy..........
  8. Why don't you explain these concerns to your client, then, if she still wants the disk you can sell it to her after revising your contract.
  9. I don't sell the disk: I give it to my brides. It's my business model. I take the photos, and provide 'em on a disk. I do not seem to be alone. Every bride I've worked with has asked for this and nobody acted as if they thought it was an odd request. In short, I think it's right that this is where the wedding business is going, at least for the majority of clients.
    You could add a clause to your license saying they can't use a budget printer - but that clause would be very difficult to write sensibly and in any case, it would be pointless. You can't control what the clients do with the images once you give them the images. I do provide a fairly detailed (but clearly written) end-user license right on the disk. I'm pretty sure nobody ever reads it. I told them when we negotiated in the first place that I will retain the copyright but they will be able to use the images pretty much any way they want, and I suspect that's all they remember or care about.
    Remember, it's not just printing that matters. Many brides (and their families) will be viewing photos on bad and/or uncalibrated computer displays or television screens.
    The sad truth is, I'm not sure that the brides I'm dealing with are all that concerned about the esthetic quality of the photos. They'd like the photos to be fantastic, of course. But I have just about come to the conclusion that brides would rather see unprocessed photos quickly than to wait weeks for fully and beautifully processed photos. I'm not sure they can really tell the difference.
  10. I will just reiterate some of the ideas above...
    We give away the retouched final product on DVD's as part of every package we offer. I barely print my own photos, why would I expect that brides and their families would want to do the same. Times have changed. It's 2009 not 1989. We view most of our photos on our PC...that is where you edit them right? That is where they live right? Our marketing strategy is heavily web based. We are tied with twitter, facebook, our blog, and our website. Our customer base is of generation tech. They want to be able to post their images on their own social networking site and show them off to ALL of their friends. Which simply means you can't print them off and run them around to show everyone. They want to do it via the web which transcends land, water, and time. I can view my friends recent wedding photos at 2 in the morning when I am typically awake suffering from "got stuff to do and not enough time to do it" syndrome. But if they only had prints, I couldn't run over to their house at 2 in the morning and view said photos.
    I understand some of the concerns about prints at "bad" printers, but ultimetly you are delivering on what the market is asking for. The market is trending towards edgier modern photography and away from traditional portrait photography. Young brides want thier photos to look like they were pulled from a magazine, not pulled off grandma's wall. The market is trending towards online delivery of photos even. We are on the verge of delivering all digital negatives via the web and not on disc at all.
    While I understand that it is your work and you created it and all the fun was their day. Let them have it if they want it. They pay enough to have us their and capture the images, I won't make them pay to print the photo of Grandpa up out of his wheelchair dancing for the first time in 20 years or the picture of long lost relatives from Italy that were just recently found. The day has so much meaning for the people involved and as we run our business's we tend to lose site of that. Some of us do...we refuse to. The moments of the day and the pictures of them are about the emotions and the memories. They all belong to the bride and the groom.
  11. We INCLUDE a high-res disc of fully edited images with every package. I don't think it's right to keep something that important to someone's life away from them, for their own security. We include in the cost of the package what we would charge for the disc. I suggest you simply add that cost of the disc in your packages and start charging that amount.
    Not only do you get happier, more confident and secure clients but you sell the disc with every package. And, in my opinion it's simply the right thing to do.
  12. David, include is a much better term for what we do as well...we don't give them away, but they are part of the packages so they are included not given away.
  13. The way I figure it people don't naturally want to have bad images. The only reason they end up with poor images from self-printing is lack of awareness.
    What we do is supply images that will look as close to perfect as possible. They're all colour managed and correctly profiled, and targeted at sRGB to accommodate most mini-labs. We do a couple of test prints at local mini-labs to check color correctness.
    Then we supply the disk with an inlay card that explains how to get good prints made, and we give a checklist of things for clients to to ask when printing, such as only to accept prints made on Fuji or Noritsu equipment, to ask that the operator turn off colour adjustments, and have everything printed on crystal archive paper. We also enclose a few prints we've made ourselves that they can use as proofs.
    We also sell fine-art enlargements (usually silver prints or C types on fibre) and we make it very clear that prints done on the high street are not going to look like anything like that. People often come back for them even when they have their disk.
    In my opinion, supplying images on disk can be a good thing. If done with some care and management of expectations it need not compromise your work. The major benefit is that by charging for the disk you can remove the overhead of supplying small prints and gain a substantial increase on the bottom line.
  14. Life's too short....let go of the HATE, don't worry be happy! Just educate your brides and point them to good quality printers. Also, raise the price of the disk to the point where selling it becomes enjoyable. Easy peasy..........
    I agree with David, educating your bride and groom by pointing them in a good direction for prints is key. I always caution them against places like Walmart or Walgreens, who tend to deliver oversaturated prints.
    I point them to MPIX or Ritz, who offer better quality at a decent price. I find people like the ability to share the pictures online, not so much the printing ability. This is why I give the disc with the package. The more they show the pics online the better it is for me.
  15. I think you will be surprised at the number of people who do not even print the images, save for a handful given to parents, grandparents, etc.
  16. I think you'd be even more surprised at how few people ever actually see poorly printed images, ask "who was the photographer" and then decide not to hire you because of the poorly printed image. I think it's astronomically low. The subtleties we stress and strain over often don't even occur to many wedding clients. After all, these are often the same folks who can't hear the difference between a poorly encoded MP3 and a CD, who don't understand why a photo might have a bokeh'd background, and couldn't tell the difference between a pharmacy print and a lab print. Maybe I'm overgeneralizing, or underestimating our clients, but many clients just are not that discriminating.
    And, if you're providing color-corrected and finalized images, the chances of them getting the colors screwed up go way down. As Nadine says, most images don't get printed, and many are used/viewed online. I do ask them to provide a link back to me if they use them on Facebook or other sites.
  17. "I just hate the thought of my work getting printed at a very low end printer."
    I would guarantee that it is anyway. $99.00 scanners and $49.00 inkjets. You're fooling yourself if you think the average John and Jane are not cranking out copies for family and/or posting scans. I'm with Steve Nuzman. It's not 1989. Times change and businesses must adjust. Would you rather have bad scans which print and display horribly, or inkjets / photos being displayed on poorly calibrated monitors from originals floating around?
    I was married in 1993, my wedding was shot on film. I NEVER look at them. I don't even know where the album is. If I had digital prints, I would see them more often when browsing Picassa, AND OTHERS WOULD SEE THEM TOO.
  18. Now I'm not a professional, and in Europe the market for wedding pictures seems a bit more "tame" than in the US, but some recurring points always strike me as being weird reasons to not give your customer what they eventually will want in this day and age (the digital photos):
    1. The bad prints. Sure the pro labs do better, but if it's really really bad, the couple will notice, and think "hmmm, weird, they look good on the PC and the prints the photographer gave". Why would they immediately think that your skills as photographer are the problem? Give your customers (and their intellegence) some credit, and point them to the better affordable printers as a token of good service.
    2. Uncalibrated monitors and TV - if you're delivering sRGB profiled pictures, they will look reasonable on most consumer devices. That's what sRGB is good at. When I calibrated my screen for the first time properly, I was amazed at the difference and yet also amazed how little implication it had on most of my pictures. They improved, but they were not way off before. And I'm quite sure this is the norm, having seen several low-end monitors before and after calibration.
    Finally, a really good picture works no matter what, even when colours are less than optimal. There is always a market for quality work.
  19. Hand out that disc. I would give them images at reduced resolution. Nothing greater then 1600x1200. They can have 4x5 mades that will look ok to them. Let them post them everywhere.
  20. Howdy!
    Nicole said:
    *My heart dies a little bit each time when I see someone picking up their wedding photos at Costco*
    Costco actually does really good work, provided you profile their printer yourself (which I have done), print on Fuji Crystal Archive Lustre, and override their automatic color correction, which is easily done.
    What Costco does NOT do is adjust your color and contrast, retouch, and provide that extra level of service that a pro provides. Therefore, although I occasionally print at Costco with excellent results (it's not my main provider), I hang onto the digital images for two years, to encourage customers to order prints. It's the best of both worlds.
  21. Thanks. I like all the responses. I know, Hate is strong :) but I know that even with education brides will still go and print where they want. My reputation is very important to me and I don't believe I have ever lost a client due to the fact that my disk is expensive. Some care some don't. I think if i lived in a market that had higher wedding collection prices then I might consider including the disk with the package. But i'm not going out for 6 hours for a wedding with the disk for $1000.
    I saw the Belly's to Babies tour with Sandy Puc a few months back and a single image of hers is $800 on disk and you can't print anything bigger than a 5x7 on it! I know that she has earned the right to do this because she is AWESOME but I see her point. The industry is going that way but it doesn't mean we have to go with the flow. I think I can have some sort of control.
  22. Oh, forgot to say. I started including a low res disk with collections b/c of facebook, myspace, etc. and it's been a huge hit. plus it gets my work out there without having to give them the negatives. Goes well for my reprint business :)
  23. You can have something in your contract that says that your work must be printed at a professional lab. I list all the places in town available to the B&G.​
    How on earth would you be able to enforce that? What are you gonna do, get a warrant and search the home? I don't think so.
  24. If you give out some low-res files you can bet they'll be doing some printing. Whether the disk is given, or included with a package, or sold ale's still a product that is sold.
  25. Tru David. And you can bet I will sell it for a price. I guess it's just hard because I got into this business because I am a photographer first and a business person second, that's why my husband is a business person first it helps with balance b/c I wouldn't make any money if I did it my way :) My art and the way it is presented to the world is one of the most important things to me and I believe selling the disk devalues what we do as artists. I know it's the way the world goes but I guess I've always gone against the grain.
    Thank you all. You all have wonderful opinions and it gives me something to think about :)
  26. We included a DVD with the Raw {and if they have paid for the editing } a final corrected- large jpeg ....a pro lab 4X6 for matching ~ can also be included --just up to the B&G what they can afford.
  27. This is a business, and if you don't give the customers the product they want, they'll find someone who will. In 2009 people want to use their pictures online. And it's not enough to offer a web resolution disk because then they feel they're getting a crappy quality substitute for the real product.
    And as far as quality between pro labs and costco. That really doesn't matter to the average person. I can show someone a picture taken with my D90, and even point out how razor sharp the detail is, the way you can see every strand of hair, the detail in the shadows, etc. And they'll stand there and tell me they don't see the difference from a $100 subcompact point and shoot. This kind of person won't care if the print comes from mpix or walmart. And for better or for worse, that's the customer.
  28. "And as far as quality between pro labs and costco. That really doesn't matter to the average person. I can show someone a picture taken with my D90, and even point out how razor sharp the detail is, the way you can see every strand of hair, the detail in the shadows, etc. And they'll stand there and tell me they don't see the difference from a $100 subcompact point and shoot. This kind of person won't care if the print comes from mpix or walmart. And for better or for worse, that's the customer"
    Sell the images up front ---- in our market there is no post sales. If you used to average $4-500 in profit selling enlargements .......add that to your package price and hand over the DVD.
    Offer unedited files > if they are too cheap < We tell them, when they can afford the CS work > send the disk back ~~~ and we will do our magic. They usually pay the extra $ at that point. ;-) We offer a discount :: if we can just deliver RAWs to the client .
    As we have mentioned :: we sell the card right from the camera. The new world of consumers are trying every angle to save we accommodate. But, we also shoot manual flash/camera and very little real PJ ~~ so the images are not really in need of major CS editing. Whatever works -- to stay in business after 30 years.​
  29. This is my final thought on I sometimes say too much anyone who doesn't offer up digital negatives.....
    If you aren't willing to give up the digital negatives because you want to hold on to your work for reprints or other reasons or you don't want them to be printed on "poor" printers, you need check your ego. Do you really feel that your work is bigger than their day, their memories, their emotions? That your work is bigger than that one defining moment in their lives? Do you think that the emotions are different in a slightly less than perfect shade of white? I know that my photos are not bigger than that. What is in the photos and what it represents is MUCH bigger and because of that I want each and everyone of our couples to take all the photos and have them forever. To print, view, and do as they like. Let them relive every moment of that day through ALL the photos via the media they desire. Not through the prints that you want them to print through you.
    This is my opinion and some will disagree and possible even get angry for me attacking their egos.....that is fine. The internet has given us this great gift of discussion boards.
  30. My thoughts are this.... charge enough for your services to shoot and edit the images, do your best to capture the best quality images you can. Provide the client with only the good stuff, don't give them the ones that no one would want. Provide the option of printing with you if you like. Give them instructions on how to choose a good lab for prints if you provide a disc. I also like to resize for the web, so they have a version that is already prepared for online social networking sites like facebook or myspace, etc. Cater to the needs and desires of your clients and you will be a hero in their eyes.
  31. Sheri, you've summed up my methods exactly.
  32. Thank you Seri, I agree for the most part. I cater very much to my clients needs as much as I can. And I don't think "checking my ego" has anything to do with it. I think that even though we are in a digital age as ARTISTS we should not have to completely give into the public just because that's what they think want. I don't belive picaso would have sold his incomplete pieces just because someone wanted them. I do not belive that I am not giving them their memories or moments. I give them a proof book and archival CD with web ready prints so they are getting everything just not EVERYTHING. And if you don't belive that your photo's are bigger than that then you aren't catering to the clients that I am. They very much know what shade of white they are looking at.
  33. Up to now, I've been in the 'hold back the images' camp, but I think I've changed my mind having read everyone's comments.
    There are, however, a few practical and specific questions that I'd appreciate your help on:
    1 - What Color Space would you use when when converting your images from RAW to Jpeg? I use Lightroom. My camera (D200) is set to Adobe RGB (is this the best choice?).
    2 - What size do you reckon is the best to put on the DVD? The original and be done with it, or a choice?
    3 - Do you also include B&W versions?
    4 - Do you have any chargeable options for different combinations of size/treatment on a DVD?
    Hope you can share your experience.
  34. John,
    1. sRGB is more widely used. Adobe RGB gives you more, but not all printers are there yet.
    2. We put the original res image on the DVD.
    3. Through our editing we create some black and white as well as other effects. These are all then exported at the same time and that is what goes on the DVD. So we may only end up with 2,000 original shots, but after edits have 2,200 from different variations of presets in LR.
    4. No, everything goes out original res with the edits. We are open to working with clients after the fact if they want additional edits done as part of the original cost.
    Hope that helps. I am more than willing to share if you have any other questions.
  35. Our wedding today --the B&G take the cards at the end of the session ------SO its the future in budget weddings ~~ a step beyond selling the DVD . If they are not skilled in the RAW process ..they can always hire someone in their area or return the files to me. We shoot with a L jpeg and RAW. It is your creative image you are selling.....
    With a market of destination weddings ..we have to be economically creative ...we started handing over film, from the camera, back in the 90's's whatever works for your clients' budget.
  36. Hopefully I can add my two-penneth-worth to this awesome debate. Over and above the "proof" shots, I provide the couple with a DVD presentation disk complete with background music (their specific songs) and fade-in and out etc.... a musical slideshow if you will. I have found that I sell more of the disks than reprints as the couple invariably have family and friends overseas who could not be at the wedding but can now feel part of it.
    Obviously the shots are all edited and sequential to the event....... Reprints are still my baby and whilst the disk can be copied, the photo's cannot be extracted.....anyway it works for me.
  37. Yes, I tend to agree that most pro wedding photographers are giving the bridal client a CD in the current era of the best images the photographer feels worthy of his/her skill and the best shots that will please the client. Obviously due to poor ighting, posing conditions, some images are tossed anyway. But I would possibly throw in a recommendation of several labs that do quality printing for wedding work, rather than the local drugstore or grandma's 5 year old ink jet printer that hasn't been maintained with proper cleaning and dried up, flaky inks. Just a thought

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