Would Picasso have given out a disk?

Discussion in 'Business of Photography' started by achristensen, May 8, 2009.

  1. I assume this has been discussed a gazillion times on here but I need convincing. I recently posted a thread about copyright and got a lot of responses concerning giving disks versus selling prints. Tell me why I should or should not offer a disk.
  2. Tell me why I should or should not offer a disk.
    Because your intended customers do or don't find value in it, and the competition in the market you're serving does or doesn't do it, and you can or can't find a way to build the loss of future print sales into what you charge for your labor and skill. If you can't convince customers that the value is in having you do the photography in the first place, then it will be harder to hit them with an appropriate price that happens to include delivery of print-worthy files on disk.

    As for Picasso... he wasn't usually doing event photography or portrait sessions with hundreds of images, so I'm not sure that wondering about him would help much.
  3. Considering that Picasso used to make art dealers wait for him for hours, even days, before seeing them, no doubt he would not have given out a disc. However he was out for revenge against an art establishment that makes it so hard for young unknowns. What is best for your business, revenge or good PR?
  4. Amy,
    My guess is that you're not comfortable with selling or giving your clients a disc. Is it because you see it as a loss of income from print sales? Or is it because you want control of the finished images?
    Either way, you need to come up with a scenario so that you and your clients are happy. Although you'll never please everyone and can't market to everyone, there are many ways for you and your clients to be happy.
    If it's the overall sale that you're concerned with, then use the disc as a "carrot". You can put a high value on it and then deduct a percentage of additional print & albums sales against it. Or you could offer the disc in your larger packages. This way the client gets the files and you've made a larger sale.
    If it's about control of image quality, then offer a deep discount on prints from the files that your customer has purchased from you. You'll get some additional income and your work will be properly showcased.
    There's always a way to take any scenario and turn it around into a profit center. One of the best things you can do is run some of these ideas past your "non-photographer" friends. Their opinions are more objective than those from other photographers because they think like consumers, NOT like photographers....-Aimee
  5. As a photographer, I understand the desire to have artistic control over a finished product. I'm an amateur (and probably not a very good one), no money is involved, and I'm still possessive of my photos. Although I post them online, doing so bothers me because I lose control over them. So even if money isn't part of the equation, I know why you wouldn't want to offer a disk.
    However, as a parent, I will never again use a professional photographer who won't let me pay a fair price for the images on disk. You see, what might be creative expression and art to the photographer is family history to me. And I want to be able to preserve it for my kids and their kids.
    One way that I can do that is by having digital copies of the images. All of my own photos are archived in three places- at home on a second computer, on a portable hard drive at my parents house, and on Mozy.com. I know not everyone is this obsessed with backup, but I value my family memories. Fires happen. My uncle lost his house to a flood, and family memories got swept down the river with it. No possession I have is more valuable to me than my family photos. And, short of the collapse of civilization itself, mine are safe. If a photographer won't let me buy copies on disk, I can't ensure this will be the case. I could scan them, of course, but having the source file is so much better, and, in the 21st century, I don't see any reason why I shouldn't have it.
    I know not everyone who wants the photos on disk for this reason- the ability to put them up on Shutterfly and make mugs, t-shirts, and whatnot is why many (probably most) people want them. And, truth be told, I also like to make my own prints, it's cool to have my daughter's school photo as part of my screen saver at work, and its nice to be able to project photos as a slide show on our HDTV. But my biggest reason for wanting photos on disk is having perfect, original copies that I can back up- that's actually what I like most about digital, whether I took the photos myself or had a professional take them.
  6. Picasso would likely have sold a disk at a pretty price, and then repudiated all the work on the disk as forgeries in order to drive up the value of the Picassos still in his possession.
    Amy, I think Mark makes a very cogent argument. What you need to do (if you care to hear my opinion) is to work towards satisfying your customers' wants while maintaining some control over your images. I don't have a good suggestion since you know your customer base, but if viewing on computer or television screen is a likely end product for these, you might consider creating (make a template for all this so you can do it quickly and easily and painlessly) a scaled-down or lower resolution version of the images. While it's true that may cut into your profit selling prints, if what you supply will give them a 4x6 and not much else, you'd probably be well served and have happy clients too.
    I understand you don't want to give up your 'originals' but there must be an opportunity for you here someplace. You just have to find it!
  7. Images on a thumb drive is now the new form of physical media ownership. It happens everywhere in all aspects of media.
    You didn't specify what images your selling.
    For my landscape and fine art, I sell rights or prints. When I print, it's on expensive fine art, done by myself personally. It's unique. However, for portraits, etc. I charge for my time and services, and give them images on disk.
  8. Picasso was a painter, He could hardly have given out a disc with original work on, and I also don’t think it was his business to sell prints.
    If you shoot film you are not giving away the original, and if you shoot digital are you going to give a disk of raw files? No
    If I buy an original Picasso I can urinate all over it if I want, and I probably would,. So what? I have sold paintings before and I don’t care where they are now, all that stuff is for people with an over developed idea since of what is there’s.
    Were you not influenced by others? And perhaps more to the point do you pay them?
    Nobody really owns anything, they just claim they do, and there is no logic to it. You just pointed a camera at something you don’t own, with a body you don’t own, with some idea of self that is nothing more than a fantasy.
    IMO It’s all just societies nonsense. If someone wants a CD give it to them. If someone wants to print t shirts from that image so what? You still sold it didn’t you?
    I would be happy to see my images on a t shirt. And happy someone was making money from it. It’s not seriously going to do me any harm, probably the opposite.
    Greed, greed, greed
    Makes me sick
  9. Hi Amy,
    There is no absolute need to offer your client a disc of images. It can actually be a selling point to be able to tell clients that you feel it is important for you to control the aesthetics of their prints so that a high standard will be maintained, so long as you are actually particularly adept at fine printmaking. Most wedding photographers these days probably are handing over discs to their clients, just as most are also shooting digital. Many of them are, let's face it, hacks (as in one who cranks out work quickly at the expense of quality). Some, on the other hand, still shoot medium format film, and those who do it really well treat it as a niché market and often command a significant premium. Likewise, you can target the top of the market, maintain a high grade of aesthetics of your work, and leverage your copyrights to maximize profit as well.
    That said, you need to consider whether the quality of your work (or at least your salesmanship) really does rise above the crowd, or if it is only on par with everyone else with a DSLR who has hung out their shingle as a photographer.

    Best of luck,
    Justin Black
  10. My opinion:
    - Make the disk a somewhat more expensive package option
    - In order to maintain an element of quality control, go into partnership with your local lab and include some form of promotional offer with the disk for the customer to have prints made. (you send business their way, they do high quality work, you get some contra from the lab in return?). Include the same picture processed at wal mart and from the lab for them to comapre.
    - The two most salient points I read through this was 1) families want high quality digital files as a memory, and 2) would you rather be photographing or digging through archived files and making reprints?
    - To make the copyright cops happy, you can put copyright information all over the disc/files, but target commercial (not personal) use. Something consumer-focused, like: "These images are copyright Acme Photography, and may be printed for personal use only. They may not be used commercially in any way without the expressed writtem consent of Acme Photography"? That way, when some senior becomes a famous movie star, you still have recourse....
    I'm the farthest thing from a lawyer, but I think that asking Mom not to re-print a picture of Junior is an exercise in futility.
  11. Tell me why I should or should not offer a disk.

    Your posts show that you mixing emotions with business. That's a natuaral thing to do when one uses their creative art as a business. Its not a bad thing, afterall running such a business as some sort of emotionaless robot would be detrimental. You do need to recognize when emotion is governing business and vice versa however.
    In these posts you are raising issues, arising from your business, such as feeling violated and holding Picasso as a measure of business decision making. If your concern about your business is about the business, then you should choose the model which is best for the business. The marketplace will determine which approach will be best for you, providing disks or not and the adjustments either approach will take. There is much discussion on photo.net covering this and a search of the issue will yield plenty of results. If your emotional reaction to events like you describe are too much for you to take, then you may draw the line where you feel secure. Will the line affect the business? Of course. It may be a marginal difference all the way to ruinous. The market in your area determine this. Your approach and presentation to your potential clients on this and other issues are factors in that marketplace. Other factors, of course, are beyond you control.
    This response is not going to say whether you should provide disks or not as you are the one in the best position to determine that. To make a sound decision, you will need to reconcile your emotional responses as shown here with the cold logic of economics and find the proper balance for you.
  12. it


    Anyone doing finished art pieces is obviously not going to give up a disk.
    But for me and my business model it works fine. I charge a decent fee for the session, give up the files and walk away. I like it, my clients like it.
  13. For people selling disks what format are the images, JPG or TIFF? I would assume people are not providing RAW files. :)
  14. As for Picasso I can't come close to answering...
    Do you do your own printing or send the jobs out to someone who does excellent work? Either way, you can make sure that every person that wants to buy a disc for their own 'walmart' printing sees the difference in quality between what you can provide and what the kiosks provide. Most people who paid standard rates for photgraphy services are not going to tighten up the purse strings when it comes time to have a long lasting hard copy, providing the original photos were done well.
    Another option is to flag some images from the shoot (most likely your best work & most salable) and have them offered as 'Print Only' options. Make this clear in the beginning that you offer images in digital formats, except for a select few of your choosing. Don't be Draconian about it, just make it clear that you like to retain the quality control for final output of your best work. As an artist this is a right one shouldn't have to explain.
    When you offer a disk it is not a bad idea to have folders of differing resolutions, i.e. one folder at email friendly sizes, one for uploading to facebook & myspace type sites, and another that is print ready, with possible print size folder within that one. Sure this will take a little bit of work, but with PS Actions it will be as easy as sending an email. Another thing this gives you control over is what you place your watermark on. Make sure it is very unobtrusive, but having your name and website on the bottom edge of the myspace/facebook & email ready images will probably help soothe issues with copyright after the disc leaves your hands. Of course, don't watermark the print-ready files.
    Good luck & happy business...
  15. I say give the disk. Figure out how much you would charge for a disk a la carte and just include that in the cost of your packages. Be in the business to sell images and tell stories, not selling prints.
  16. Okay, all. I have spent a lot of time thinking about this and considering all angles. I am not in this business to make money, however it is a nice perk. Therefore, my prices are not exorbitantly high compared with other photographers in my area who charge upwards of $20 for one 5x7. I do really enjoy the post-processing experience almost as much as the shooting, and making something look really, really beautiful (in terms of the final print) is really fulfilling for me. However, I realize there is a limit to what I should and can do on this end and that if I chose, I can give this license over to the client which I think, for a fee, I could do. I have considered offering a disc of 30-40 of their favorite images in the most expensive package, or a la carte. I know I need to figure out a number that works in my model what would also be saleable in my area. Thanks for your responses, food for thought.
  17. Give them printing rights, but never give away your copyright.
  18. How about a low-res disk that is good for facebook, digital frames, etc. but won't make good prints. Is that a good compromise (because I'm considering it) ?

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