Things you need to consider carefully before you give away your images on disc
Images and words By Gemma Carr
Not so long ago to be a photographer meant that you had to invest in an expensive camera AND load that camera with film. Nowadays, with digital format, a photographer can do away with the expense of film and shoot to his or her heart’s content without the worry about the cost of film.
Whilst there are countless benefits to shooting digital – hence why we are all here now in this digital environment – there are also some new “pickles” to deal with.
The main “pickle” (I like that word) that I want to address today is that of releasing your digital negatives on disc Vs supply your clients with prints.
Giving your images away on disc is what’s known in the industry as “Shoot & Burn”, effectively reducing the handling of print orders and giving the client access to all the images contained on the disc. This can seem like a great idea to save you time and it’s always very appealing to the client, lets face it, who wouldn’t want their images on disc? However, if not negotiated right, passing along a disc of images can lead to passing along of print profits, print quality control and the potential misrepresentation of you as a photographer.
For example, have you noticed the variation of print and paper qualities between the labs you use? Chances are your clients, with disc in hand will find the most convenient and cost effective method of printing, rather than sourcing the best quality print option. By giving away images only on a disc, you never know if or how they will be printed and presented. Is this something you are comfortable with?
After all, it’s your reputation and future business that’s at stake if the print option they choose isn’t up to your won exact standards.
And what’s significant about a high quality printed photograph is also what sets is apart form an electronic image. As a photographer, the images you create are shared in many forms via email, facebook, slideshows etc. With so many electronic photo sharing options available, it’s easy to over look the importance of the printed image. Looking at an image on a screen is fantastic, but there’s nothing quite like the personal, tactile feeling of holding a print in your hand, turning the pages of an album, bringing a print closer to see the details. Even the scent of the photo paper can transport you. This is the power of the printed photograph and it would be so sad to overlook this significance.
The main risks of only supplying digital negatives on disc:
- Loss of quality control
- Loss of potential income (in print sales)
- People will come to expect it of you
The benefits of retaining the digital negatives:
- 100% quality control of prints, you know how your prints are being displayed (which should lead to more work).
- Clients return back to you time and again for prints, keeping you fresh in their minds.
- Ensures clients spend a set amount for your services.
- Maintains your value as a photographer and your skills.
The reality is that nowadays, clients will demand a disc or take their business elsewhere. There surely must be a compromise?
The good news, yes there is!
Here are some methods many professional photographers use:
Printed Proofs – provide your clients with a physical set of proofs to select their favorites from.
Minimum Spend – Release images on disc ONLY when clients meet a certain spend threshold. This could be bundles with a print or album package. This is a very effective way to bundle your print/disc combo. (I use this sales tool)
Low Resolution Disc – Provide proofs on a disc in LOW RESOLUTION only, this way the selected shots will still be printed by you, to your quality standards.
Online Gallery – this will allow your clients to view and share their photos on a computer, which is always handy. Yet to actually obtain any prints, clients will need to order via the online gallery. This also alleviates the expense of printing proofs.
Watermark – protect your digital files with a copyright watermark, again clients will need to come back to you for prints.
So as we all try to find our best practices for this digital life, I hope that along with the gazillion files on your hard drives, you also have some favorite shots printed out and framed, stuck to the fridge and lining your office walls.
I hope your clients have your images proudly displayed on their walls, printed and presented to your exact quality standards, with some watermarked images on their facebook as well.
Let’s leave the pickles for tasty sandwiches.
How about you? Have you got any suggestions or ideas to share on this topic?
Gemma Carr is a Freelance Photographer from Melbourne. See more from her at her site GemmaCarr.com.au. Follow her on Twitter at @GemTweetAlot. This post was previously published in the members area of ACMP.
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