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  1. #1
    I spend too much of my life on TPF!
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    question regarding web resolution image files for clients

    I have been selling web resolution image files to clients or including them with their print order if they purchase a certain amount.

    My question is do you allow them to duplicate the files and share them? In my license agreement I sort of ignore this facet and have never discussed it with a client. Its a gray area for me, and I realize it is something I could never control but am not sure if I should openly endorse it.

    There is a fairly low limit to how much a consumer is willing to drop on a digital file. Much less than they are willing to pay for a print. I still make money selling prints at a nice mark up. But I fear if people are given the option between 5x7's for $12 each or a web resolution file for just $10, and they can send out that single web resolution file to thirty of their friends and family, I just took a hit. They might have purchased a few copies of that print but would only need one digital file.

    There is a shift occurring in how people want their media. So I don't know exactly what to do.

    Thanks for reading,
    Associate member of the American Society of Media Photographers

  2. #2
    I am Big, I am Mike Site Moderator
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    This is a common conundrum...and we can also add the issue of selling files for print.

    Actually, I don't think that selling only 'web resolution' images is as common as selling the full resolution images. Part of the reason is that a lot of client (the general public) may not really understand the difference between high resolution images and low resolution images. Further to that, even fewer of them understand copyright laws and what they are allowed to do. A lot of people don't see anything wrong with scanning a print that you sell them, thus giving them a digital file to share or use to make more prints.

    Another problem with giving clients 'web sized' images, is that they may still try to print them. They results probably won't be great...more like terrible, especially if they use regular printer paper and not photo paper. They might display those images, and their friends will see them and maybe ask who the photographer was. So then you are getting a negative reputation without your knowledge and though no fault of your own.

    I think that is a big reason why many photographers don't bother giving clients web sized digital files. If they are going to give the client a file, make it the best file. Then they can print it, share it etc. Of course, it's still illegal for them to print it, unless you give/sell them the right to do so...but as most of them don't understand that, it's pretty hard to enforce. And of course, if you are going to sell printable files, your print sales may go right out the window....but that is why you have to charge a lot for the files.

    Consider how much profit you would expect to make on print sales. That should be your starting point for digital files...but charging more is certainly not out of the question.
    You said that there is a fairly low limit to what a consumer will spend on a digital file...well, it's up to you to make them understand the value of it. It's not really different than charging $20 or $50 for an 8x10 print. The cost of a print is a couple bucks but our total cost to get to the point of a professional 8x10 photo is much higher, plus we have to make a profit.
    Consider also that if you are selling digital files, with the intention that the client can make prints, then you are basically selling them limited usage rights...and that is where the real value is.

    If you are going to just sell or include web sized images, you might consider putting a watermark on them. That way, they can share them all they want and you get the benefits of having your name/website spread all around. That could actually be a good marketing campaign. Further to that, consider tagging image on a site like facebook. I had a gig (it fell though before it happened), were I was going to do a shoot for only $100 and give them web sized imaged...but in return, I could watermark the images and they would tag all the images on Facebook with a link back to me. It would have meant a lot of exposure for me.

    You are absolutely correct, there is a shift in how people want their photos...and finding the right thing to do, or just want works, is going to take some thinking and maybe some experimenting.

    Another thing to add to the discussion, is custom photo products. People may prefer digital files to 4x6 prints these days, but what about a canvas gallery wrap or a flush mount custom album that is hand made in Italy?




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