Delivering Digital Files vs. Selling Prints

Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by Cinka, Sep 21, 2009.

  1. Cinka

    Cinka TPF Noob!

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    I'm trying to figure out how to sell prints and deliver final images to the client. Here's how I currently work:

    1. Photoshoot
    2. Same or next day, client proofs unedited images.
    3. I ask them to pick 5 they want me to photoshop - as part of the photo session.

    Now what? Should I give them the 5 edited photos and the remaining x-amount of unedited photos to do with as they wish? I tend to end up with a good deal of "good" or "useable" shots from any given session. Sometimes I think I give my clients too many photos. I also currently do not use any licensing contracts.

    Questions:

    1. How many photos do you deliver to the client? Range.
    2. Are they all edited or unedited? It's so time consuming to Photoshop more than 5 images.
    3. How do you sell prints if you're delivering digital files? Is it one or the other?
    4. What if a client doesn't want prints? When do you determine this? At the photoshoot? After they've seen proofs?
    5. If you burn images to a disc, should you get the client to sign a licensing agreement?
    6. How do you deliver discs? Mail? In person?

    Hope you guys can help. I feel like I've come to a cross road. I don't want to give away the whole farm and I want to start making real money.

    Sorry this is a ton of questions.
     
  2. FrankLamont

    FrankLamont TPF Noob!

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    I do my processing before proofing.
     
  3. Flash Harry

    Flash Harry TPF Noob!

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    I sell photographs, no files, this is the reason pro photography and photographers earnings nosedived since digital as everyone with a digi camera is now a pro and gives away CD's of files, the only ones who have files on CD from my clients are personal friends, everyone else pays. H
     
  4. Cinka

    Cinka TPF Noob!

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    @FriedChicken, how many images would you say you deliver for proofing? What's your range?

    @Flash Harry How you do approach the situation when people expect to receive a free CD with the digital images?
     
  5. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I don't let clients see unedited files, I try not to let them see the out takes (non-keepers) either.

    After a shoot, I will choose which files to keep and which to edit. I usually make a couple passes though them. First time through, I will take out the ones that are obviously useless and delete them. Then I go through and choose the best one and give them a flag or rating...something to separate them from the rest. I'll often have a few shots of each pose, so there might be a lot of going back and forth, choosing the best one.

    I then edit the best shots. The number will vary depending on the type of shoot, but for a typical one hour family shoot, I like to end up with 20-30 shots.
    Lately, I've been doing less in-depth retouching than I used to. I mainly stay in Lightroom and don't go into Photoshop unless I have to. Part of this is that my lighting skills are better than they used to be and part of it is that I'm realizing that sometimes it's not worth the effort to spend hours retouching photos that might not ever get printed larger than 5x7.

    As for selling prints vs files. I've been selling files on disc and some prints but I'm moving more toward selling more prints. The key to this is raising the price for the files (or just not offering them at all, but I still do).
    When I do sell the files on disc, I'm basically selling the rights for them to make prints/copies....basically the copyright (I still retain ownership of the images). I also include a letter outlining the rights they have, which they often need to have prints made at a photo lab etc.

    Usually, once you sell the files, they will not buy prints from you. (why would they?)
    I also ofter upgraded products like Canvas prints, plaque mounting and custom albums, which they may not be able to get at their local lab.
    I have a price for the files...so if they don't want to buy prints, they have to buy the files (if they want to get anything). I usually let them know this sometime, usually the first time I talk to them...but they will be able to see it when they visit my site for proofing.
    I use Photocart for proofing/print sales etc. I create a gallery for them on Photocart, which is right on my website. From there, they can view the images and buy prints directly.
    I usually deliver them in person, but I don't have a problem putting them in the mail either. Since a disc is usually a fairly unimpressive thing...I try to jazz it up buy creating a custom label and putting that on. I will be getting a Lightscribe burner some time, as I think that's a classier option. I have been putting them into a DVD style case with a custom label but lately I've been using these nice leather bound CD cases.
     
  6. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    The same way a car salesman would deal with a client who expects a free car... :scratch: :er: :lmao:

    Actually, one way to deal with this is to be creative with your pricing. If you want to offer 'free' CD of image...then build the price into your initial sitting fee.
     
  7. Cinka

    Cinka TPF Noob!

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    Thanks Mike! You're the best! You always give such detailed info. So helpful.

    I really need to step up my game, the "nice person" part of me ends up giving away too much and I need to stop. I need to raise my standards.
     
  8. misol

    misol TPF Noob!

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    Right now I do it alot like the other replies. I never let them see unedited pics, even out of my camera while shooting. It takes away the magic :)

    I usually edit 20 or so. Sometimes more if I just had a stellar shoot. Or if I am not totally sure what the client might like.

    Right now I am selling prints. But I am torn about selling the CD. Part of me thinks I should just price myself and give them the CD. That way I know how much I am making, I dont have to wait for orders, there is no sales involved, no packages to price. If I can figure out the average people spend, I might be able to come up to a price that is worth it for me. And I really feel it is the direction photography will go in. But then there is the issue with degrading your work by home editing and printing improperly. So I am really torn. For now, while I am in start up, I am going to keep selling prints. I do have a per-file charge if they want to buy them but those sales rarely happen. Why bother when they can by a 4x6 and scan it?
     
  9. FrankLamont

    FrankLamont TPF Noob!

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    That's right.

    Pick out technically flawed ones, or the ones you have so many of.

    Then just edit. If you want, you can do basic edits and tell the client that it will be worked on more, or something like that.

    Even if prints or files... make sure you have a contract.

    Either way, you are only giving them certain usage rights, not the copyright or the ownership. You retain the two latter things.
     
  10. Flash Harry

    Flash Harry TPF Noob!

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    They don't, I tell them from the outset they are paying for the shoot, PP, and with wedding packages Albums and their assembly, no rights to files, they belong to me, its called copyright. I do give out proof cd's with resized files, if they want to print a 3 x 2@72ppi with copyright across then they are most welcome. H
     
  11. astrostu

    astrostu I shoot for the stars

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    The biggest point I can emphasize here, based on what caught my attention is this: Why would you ever send someone unedited versions? To me, that's like a chef who's assembled some ingredients, is part-way through making a few different dishes, and asks someone to choose THEN what they want for dinner. It's not a finished product.

    More importantly, it's not a fair representation of what you can really do, and it could leave them wondering why they should pay you at all for photos that aren't that good (yet).
     
  12. goodkarma

    goodkarma TPF Noob!

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    Yeah I agree with this, I have clients (especially other pro photographers tsk tsk) ask me for un edited files in order to try to lower the package price. My answer is always a firm NO it is not my policy to distribute un edited work.

    I have a very unique business model due to the fact that I live on Maui and my clients are 99% tourists. I have a rather high sitting fee and then only offer digi files as they are not around for me to sell prints to afterward. I use Pictage so they can purchase pro prints if they would like ( and often do surprisingly). I actually edit about 100 photos per shoot in LR and then about 5 in photoshop (my favs). They get to choose the images included in their package via their proofing site and then have the option to purchase more images (which they routinely do). When you are offering the finished product they get emotionally attached to them and don't want to let any of them go.

    It is a lot of work, but I am ALWAYS busy and have hundreds and hundreds of satisfied clients.
     

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