To CD or not CD?

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by shelly_bogert, May 17, 2009.

  1. Hi,
    I'm hoping for some advice. To make a long story short, I've done weddings part-time for a few years and have now decided to try and do it full time. I'm doing my 1st Bridal Show and could use some advice. One thing I'm struggling with as someone who has made the film to digital transition is whether or not to offer CD's with the packages? They seem to be a popular choice with a lot of people, but I can't help wonder if this isn't because they want to purchase a smaller package option and then print or copy photos off the CD's. My thinking is to only offer CD's if they buy the rights, and prints only for smaller packages. However, I see other photographers offering CD's with all their packages. Am I going to lose too much of a client base if I don't do this, or are these the people I should be okay with losing? Even with watermarks, and low resolution, is there anyway in the day and age of home scanners to truly protect our images?
  2. This is what I do. I offer the same photos that go into my print packages at a cost. My thinking here is most folks can use a scanner and if they have the hard copy, then it is too easy to make a digital copy. Why not make an extra few dollars and offer it as a digital back up.
    Next, I offer unedited files at a much higher cost. This cost is equal to my average online print order sales. I realize that once I give up the files, I will no long receive addition income from the couple. Therefore, I only give the CD/DVD at the final meeting, where the couple get their album, portraits, and anything else they purchased. I am not worried about my clients getting unedited work from me. I label the disk as a proof disk. I am confident that my photos will be better then Uncle Bob. If not, then I am in the wrong business.
    So, with all that said, I would fall in line with the rest of the photographers in your area and make a profit off of your digital negatives. And, yes you want the clients that ask for the disk. I am not sure if you are aware of the current economic situation in the World, however, many of us can not afford to pick and choose who are clients are. If there is a demand, then you have an obligation to fill it. Your livelihood, depends on it.
  3. The DVD and printing privileges is a product that can be included in packages and/or sold ale carte. The real question isn't if to sell it, but rather how to price it. This begs the central question of how to set your studio prices to make a profit and stay competitive.
    IMO, your answer won't be found on this forum. Although you may get some good information here & there it's difficult to separate the truly experienced from the truly well-intentioned sophomoric. You need to look at your local market and your individual business plan. Your best bet is to join a pro organization like WPPI and/or PPA and network with local photographers. Better yet, find an experienced mentor in your area.
  4. I offer 3 'levels' of CD images. My basic package comes with web-res images only (which can be viewed large on-screen but aren't of print quality). My second level up includes web-res and also 4x6 printable images. the top-of-the-range one comes with full size images plus web-res. I include web-res for them all because more often than not, the client will want to email photos across the globe to relatives and friends in various places.
  5. I agree with David that you need to look at your market and business plan. Who do you want to sell to? What are you selling? A premium product and your unique style? Or the facility for people to do whatever they want with your images afterwards, however contrary to your style that may be, and even though you will be forever associated with something you may find aesthetically abhorrent?
    Personally I don't think DVDs and printing priviledges should be sold. I used to sell them, but I don't anymore. It's far from necessary to do so to survive and I'll respectfully disagree with George, yes your images are better than Uncle Bob but they may not be after Uncle Bob has let rip on them in Photoshop, printed them on his badly calibrated home printer and stuck it on the wall in a dodgy clipframe (and yet when people ask who the photographer is it's you). I don't think there is anything wrong with being a bit precious about your work.
    For me there are more reasons not to sell DVDs of images than there are to sell them - everything from economic to reputation to lost advertising potential, but I anticipate most here will disagree :)
  6. This is where I find a pushme pullme moment Shelly.
    In my region (Washington DC), it is standard, almost expected for the brides to ask. I know 75% of my brides don't want to have to buy high res DVD's or have any restriction on printing them as they see fit.
    I look at the fact that most people's wedding photos fall into 3 categories
    1. The stuff they upload on Facebook/Myspace/Flickr etc for everyone to look at and smile about, I consider these to be throwaways, mostly reception, mostly the big group hug.
    2. the ceremony snaps, mostly of the rear ends of the bride and groom
    3. All the images that I take that are meant to end up on the wall or in the album. (okay, 4 categories)
    As most people take pictures with their cell phones, categories 1 and 2 are most common and they rarely see a reason to pay for them as they can take what they consider to be photos just as good as mine for free and to use as they see fit. People just don't think, without help, about pictures from their life being their own personal artwork. While they fill their computers with files to look at during the screen saver, they don't think to have that 16x20 from their wedding behind the TV. That is unless I can show them work that they will see as art, usually talk about how nicely I can make a 16x20 black&white that would appear more as a purple and grey image should they instead try it at their local Sams or Costco.
    Now, I can try to pare down this market by offering low resolution images or asking the bride to pay for the dvd's or I can produce work that simply can't be beat by the rank and file. Trouble is how do I educate the client to get people to purchase the work I do, and does the neighbor of the brides mother really want to drop $200 on a bunch of pictures on my clients wedding?
    So I provide the DVD and high res images with the package, I just make my package about $500 higher, I do this full time-pay all the bills with my work, I'm the only bread winner. I just haven't seen, but am very very open to anyone who may direct me on how, a significant aftermarket for event photos past the occasional 4x6-8x10. So I try to upsell my print packages, I spent to much time in a darkroom sniffing HC-110 to produce images that should be in frames, to just create work for a screen saver now. When we meet, I make a big production of prints that they can have with the print package. I talk about the quality of my labs, the variety of products I can offer, and the speed they are received.
    So my long winded answer is to build your relationship with your clients, educate them on what make your prints better-talk about your lab, show the difference-and raise your prices to offset the small sales that you may not be getting in an economy which now makes us question the wisdom of purchasing a very nice wedding photo for $10-15 that's may only be for the fridge.
  7. The wedding business has changed. I offer DVD's to my clients. What I did is add the amount of net profit I was receiving (not gross sales) to my various packages. The time I used to spend fulfilling the small ( small=size of print, qty, amount of sale) I can now use in other ways that increases my profit.
    I still receive large sized print orders, these are 11x14 and greater and I offer gallery wraps and other items that offer clients products they can't or don't want to order on their own.
  8. It all depends on your client, but I've found that as Bill said, the wedding business is changing. Gone are the days of holding pictures hostage and making brides and grooms pay ala carte. My brother had a phtoographer like this and found it unendingly frustrating. No one could get pictures without paying outrageous prices for copies.
    I offer DVDs with every package, from the smallest to the largest. I build the largest packages by including special items like magazine layout coffee table books or parent albums on high quality paper.
  9. Bill,
    When you give the DVD, do you put your watermark on them? If so, wouldn't that annoy the bride/groom?
  10. I give a disk of images to every client - a master disk in custom presentation box with a duplicate unboxed copy.
    One reason I do this is I don't actually want to be selling small prints - it's too much work and too difficult to charge for them effectively. Instead I set prices based on what I want to be making from the wedding, and then I can safely include all the images - as each and everyone has already been sold. The disk contains finished images (not proofs) that are all colour profiled and ready to print, together with a usage license that photo labs can read so the clients are not inconvenienced when they go to get printing.
    My high-end products are framed and matted fine-art prints and Queensberry albums. I have zero desire to be selling 5x7's. Album sales are not affected by giving the images. The clients who want a bespoke album will always order one - it's a different product from anything they could source themselves.
  11. Mark Anthony Kathurima [​IMG][​IMG], May 18, 2009; 06:42 a.m.
    I offer 3 'levels' of CD images.​
    The only thing you're accomplishing is having more poor quality prints of your images on display. Most of the public doesn't care about the resolution of an image. They are using your lowest res files to make prints in their home inkjet printer and putting them in an inexpensive frame in their living rooms. If you think otherwise, you're fooling yourself. I once saw a print in someone's home with "Proof" across the girl's chest. It was snagged off the internet.
    If you're going to give your customers the means to make their own prints, give them the best quality file you can....-Aimee
  12. Neil,
    I asked this to Bill already, but you said you give a disk of finished images. Do you watermark those images?
  13. Nish,
    Let's assume for a moment that we're not talking about digital files, but instead you have a furniture store. You have customers who are willing to pay you for something you have for sale. Whose business will do better; the store that offers them an unfinished table with a can of stain that they can pick up at the store, or the store that delivers a beautifully finished table to their home?
    Again, forget that we're talking about photography. Structure your prices so that your customer can have exactly what they want and you can make a profit too. Dwelling on the "possible" print sales that you may get is not where you should be focused. There is too much competition and the customers will go where they can get what they want. Offer a premium product and charge a fair price. Set your prices so that your customers want to spend more because the better value is in your more profitable packages. Think outside the box.
    Sabotaging the files with a watermark is only going to get you bad press. Providing low-res files is going to hurt your image as well. Make pretend you're the customer....-Aimee
  14. Nish - no watermarks. They're exactly the same as the ones I'd use to make prints from.
  15. I don't watermark the clients images unless it's a wedding album for them to review the pages.
  16. My son got married last Oct. The photographer that did the weeding offered numerous packages and two types of CDs - low rez & high rez. The bought the high rez package as it was importatnt to them. It wasn't cheap but they wanted to be able to make the best pictures possible themselves.
    I though the pricing was very fair. They did get a small package with it but clearly the price was driven by the high rez CD.
  17. Thanks Bill.
  18. FYI - The last time I heard, fewer than 3% of Brides who hire a "shoot & burn" photographer actually make their own album. Everyone thinks it's so easy and so much fun, but those of us who produce albums, wall portraits, digital collages and individual photographs know that it's a lot of work. I actually think that selling high-res files is a profit center and on average, I make more money selling the discs that I probably would make from additional print sales. Also, I always include an album in every level of coverage. My levels of coverage are by time and as the length of coverage increases, so does the minimum number of images in the album. My albums are what bring my future customers, not my prices...-Aimee
  19. Thanks for the advice and the laughs guys! I've got a lot of things to ponder over and big decisions to make. I'm actually trying to market to the small backyard wedding demographic. I know it doesn't bring in as much money, but I just prefer them. However, I have a range of pricing options and have never turned anyone down.
    I like George's advice. I think I will just put the same photos that were in the package on the CD, and I'll use the option of all proofs, edited as an incentive to buy the rights. Aimee, I think you're right. I thought about doing low res, but you're putting your name and reputation out want people to think the best of it, not the worst. With people posting images on their personal networking pages, selling CDs might be a good way to make some extra money, too.
  20. "It all depends on your client, but I've found that as Bill said, the wedding business is changing. Gone are the days of holding pictures hostage and making brides and grooms pay ala carte. My brother had a photographer like this and found it unendingly frustrating. No one could get pictures without paying outrageous prices for copies."

    I disagree, it does not depend on the client, it depends on the pricing structure of the studio. Whether the prices appear reasonable or outrageous is a question of perception of others, sometimes based on sound business principles and sometimes, not.
  21. I offer a dvd of all images with my target package and higher. No watermark or low resolution and all images are print ready. Since I started doing that, I rarely sell anything less than my target package. My clients are happy because they are getting their images and I am happy because I am selling the package I want.
  22. I think it depends on people in your area. I've been looking at wedding photographers, talking to other brides (friends) for referals, and I would say a good 99% of the time brides I've talked with adore the photographer who gave them their "negatives" and didn't make them buy prints. Since scrap booking is the new craze anyway. And the few who didn't get their CD have nothing but complaints.
    So...from that I would say include the CD, even if you let them buy it as an extra add on.
    But I noticed a lot of photographers I've looked at won't let you have the CD but they still seemed to be booked up. So obviously for some people its not a big deal. You can always add it in later if you don't do it right now?
    Good luck!
  23. Christina,
    It sounds like you're shopping for a wedding photographer if I understand you correctly. My advice to you (and to photographers) is to have everything in order before you contract. Adding something later is OK if the terms and price are guaranteed in your contract. Don't hire a photographer without a contract -it's for everyone's protection. Best of luck...-Aimee
  24. Oh, I meant add the option to get the CD later if he feels he is losing to much business by not having that as an option now. Try not including it for a few months, and if you get a lot of brides NOT booking because they can't have the CD...then maybe decide how to add it to your packages & for how much. You may still be very busy without having to give away the CD. :)
    ;) - Thanks Aimee, I can see where it looked like I meant after booking someone.
  25. Christina,
    Perhaps try flipping your concept around. Try what you know works first. When you're comfortable with the amount of work you have, then experiment. If photography is your sole income, gambling is probably not the place to begin....-Aimee
  26. if you're couples are asking for it then obviously you need to offer it...
    if couples won't book you without it, then obviously it needs to be included in your packages...
  27. Thanks guys! Looks like I'll be offering CD's.

Share This Page