There has been a lot of controversy over the past few years among professional photographers as to whether to sell digital image files or prints. A digital photo isn’t just a bunch of pixels. It’s the photographers creation, vision and art. We plan it, We capture it, and edit it, until it looks exactly the way we want it. We would be reluctant to show an unfinished proof to a customer, just as a chef would be loathe to serve a half-cooked meal to a diner.
I have stood firmly on my stance to NOT sell the digital files for many reasons that may not be as obvious to my clients. So here are a few;
1. Printing. Where will my clients get prints made? A good lab, or a horrible cheap one? A good home printer, or an even more horrible cheap one? There is a HUGE difference in printers and labs. Walgreens is NOT the place to have your images printed.
2. Size. Will they choose a print size that’s appropriate to the file size and quality? If you try to print an 16×20 out of a 4×6, you will loose tons of resolution and the print will look pixelated and blurry.
3. Cropping. If your chosen print size requires cropping (eg 8×10) will they honor your composition? Will they even bother to check the cropping before pressing “print”? If you print an 8×10 out of a file sized at a 4×6, someones head is GOING to get cut off!
4. Sharpening. Will the sharpening you applied to the file be appropriate to their chosen print method and size? Again, this can make an image look fuzzy or too pixelated.
5. Uncle Joe. This is the worst one. It mightn’t be Uncle Joe, of course, it might be cousin Joe, or buddy Joe, or Aunt Josephine. Somebody with an uncalibrated screen, a dodgy copy of Photoshop, and an enthusiasm to “fix” your images for your customer before they print them. Be very afraid of Uncle Joe.
6. Will your grandchildren be upset with you? Please refer to an earlier blog here.
Any of the above factors could result in your photo hanging on your customer’s wall looking ghastly. When that happens, the photographer may lose referrals due to the poor quality of the print.
Is it all worth it? I’m not sure. BUT, my clients are begging for it! So I have thought long and hard as to HOW to make this beneficial for both my clients and myself.
As a trial for the remainder of 2012, here is what I can up with for Family & Children sessions (high school seniors excluded)
- 10 Images on disc $450
- 20 images on disc $650
- ALL images on disc $750
- individual image $ 90
- Images are mid res with copyright release to print up to 11×14
- My preference is that you print through MPix.com -NOT a pro lab, but better quality than WalMart.