digital photo cd..do u provide them free of charge?

Discussion in 'Digital Discussion & Q&A' started by aliciaantoinette, Jan 31, 2007.

  1. aliciaantoinette

    aliciaantoinette TPF Noob!

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    I'm just getting started in Portriature photography and I'm faced w/the issue of providing too much or not enough...
    Some of the competition in my area provides a complementary photo cd of all images taken during a session, this is how I have proceeded to this point. Of course I offer print packages, etc as well as an online proofing album on my site. Now i am dealing w/a customer who only wants the cd to get ther own prints, susposedly a "family member" is going to order prints through me. Now I know that I can set the resolution of images on the cd to only 72 dpi therefore the client can only print small images.
    Any suggestions/comments/advice?

    thanks!
     
  2. mysteryscribe

    mysteryscribe TPF Noob!

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    you need to know it isnt just the dpi it is the total pxl count you have to worry about.
     
  3. Big Mike

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

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    Welcome to the forum.

    This is an issue that many photographers are trying to figure out.

    It is illegal for a client to print the photos unless you give them permission...of course, many people don't know that...or they don't care. If a client wants the digital images to make their own prints...then you should charge them enough for it...to make up for lost print sales.

    As you already have on-line proofing...there really is no need to give the clients a CD/DVD (unless they don't have a computer...just a DVD player).

    One problem with giving clients the digital files...is that you have no control over the final output. They make take your great images and print them on toilet paper...then tell everyone they know that your photos don't look good.

    If you do give a CD for proofing...make sure they are very small files (less than 400 pixels)...and/or put a watermark on them. In this day and age, you need to protect yourself against people who don't think it's wrong to just steal your images. A lot of people assume that with digital...all we do is click the shutter and then load the images onto a CD for them. We need to remind them that more than selling the images...we are selling time and expertise. Some photographers just front load the price...$500 sitting fee and the images are free...rather than $200 sitting fee and $300 for the files or prints etc.
     
  4. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    Have you already taken the photos? If not, and you don't want to release the files, don't take the business. If you have shot the photos already, what does your contract say? I'd stick with that. If you do decide to release the files, don't give them away, charge for them.

    Both for weddings and portraits (non-commercial) I include a CD/DVD with the edited, ready to be printed, high resolution files in the package (not everything I shot, just the one's I want them to see). The contract says that I retain full copyright, and have permission to do whatever I want with the photos (mainly advertising myself, but I could sell them), and the client gets unlimited reprint rights for personal and private use. I encourage them to copy the CD/DVD, and send one to all of their family and friends. Some photogs think I'm crazy, but here's why I do it.

    How do I police my clients? Scanners and printers and other copying technology are laying about all over the place. Even if they can't find a photo lab that won't happily reprint anything the customer brings in, or a self serve kiosk, they'll just do it themselves. And I'll never know. They'll be passing around crappy copies of copies of copies of my photos, because they don't want to pay $5 for a 4x6, or $20 for an 8x10 for gramma; she can't see all that good anyway. I worked in a full service lab for 4 years. Every single day we turned away a dozen people trying to reprint copyrighted photos. I know they got hooked up at the next place they went, or found a self service kiosk.

    Even if I did find out it was going on, what can I do? Hire an expensive lawyer? The movie and music industry have thousands of the best lawyers working on this problem, and they haven't solved it yet. Occasionally pro photographer organizations go after a business that provides the reprint services, and then a notice about copyrighted materials gets hung on the self serve kiosk, which stops nothing. I have a hard time seeing myself trying to litigate a client, or their grandmother, and I can't see how it would do anything but hurt my business reputation. The general public doesn't understand copyright; they're too busy trying to figure out how to fill their new Ipod with free songs. They'd just think I was a hardass.

    It would drive me to an early grave worrying about getting ripped off. It's better for me just to say it's okay to do what I suspect they're going to do anyway, and consider it in my pricing. Not all of them would copy the photos, but more than just a few will.

    I do use a more typical business model with commercial clients, charging them based upon usage, or charging an outrageous price for copyright. I can police commercial clients more effectively, they are usually somewhat more aware of copyright restrictions, and it's worth more. If I were to sue a commercial client I might actually get my money.

    There may be new technology on the horizon that may help. They are starting to implant cheap transmitting devices in things. I could see getting the client proofs made on paper that has this, and signals copying devices that the photo is copyrighted. Then again, since I truely believe the self serve kiosk business is making huge profits from allowing the thwarting of copyright, who knows if they would cooperate voluntarily.

    I'd still probably sell my clients the files. The old business model was hatched in the days when the photographer or the studio did all the work from pose to print. They offered a somewhat unique product that couldn't be duplicated exactly elsewhere. All the labs and services I use will take the general public as clients these days. I get a small discount for having a professional account, but they will print, or make albums, or whatever for whoever. When I worked in the lab, we did a lot of biz for the local pro photogs. They'd get an 8x10 from us for $6, and sell it to the client for $40. $34 ain't bad for a trip to the lab, more power to them. I don't really want to run errands for the client. Just dealing with reprint orders from friends and family is tedious enough. If I wanted to sell albums, I'd open a scrapbooking and framing store. The mark-up on that stuff is huge!

    If a client wants to be photographed on BW film, and have me make hand printed gelatin silver prints, I charge per print for that. It's a process they can't find in a lab or studio around here. It goes from pose to print in my hands. When I get a big, fancy Epson printer, and figure it out, I'd like to sell large prints on nice papers, possibly with more editing/retouching than the files I gave them. I would try to make it something different than they could get at the lab, so they would want to purchase prints from me.

    I often hear/read the point about clients getting crappy reprints done at crappy labs, and blaming the photographer. I give my clients a set of 4x6 prints made at a good lab from the CD/DVD, and explain to them that they can go to crappy labs if they want, but here's what it looks like from a good lab. I refer them to good labs and services, and point out that in many cases the prices are only pennies more than the department store econo labs. I've never had a single complaint, and actually many of my clients have made wonderful albums that I often get the credit for.

    What I hope happens is that the client, and their friends and family make a lot of good reprints, show them around, and talk me up. I'm getting a lot of referal business, so I think it's working. Referal business is the best, because it lowers my advertising budget. I slashed my advertising expenses this year (well, shifted it to gear :) ), because I'm already getting plenty of business through word of mouth and my website.

    I also give the files because there were already a lot of photogs doing it when I started advertising as a professional. People know it's out there, and they know it's a huge value. Many of my wedding and portrait clients have expressed that they consider it one of the most important considerations in hiring a photographer after how the portfolio looks. I can't blame them. To make selling a fairly typical, high quality wedding album worth it for me I'd have to charge $800+. I couldn't have afforded an $800 album from my wedding. I direct my clients towards the resources to make their own, and it still costs them $400+. Families who said that in the past they've only done a single portrait session a year, are doing 2 or 3 each year with me.

    I know the folks who sell per print say that those of us who release the files are ruining it for everyone. What can I say? If someone wants to create an actual functioning pro photog's union, and come up with standards that we all work under, I'd happily pay my dues, and follow the rules. Until then everyone has to choose their own business model based on what works for them.

    I live in a small, midwestern college town. There are the local pros, and a constantly renewing supply of student and semi-pro photogs to compete with. Many of my clients are new college graduates, or struggling middle class folks. With all the other expenses of the wedding, they'll be lucky if they can afford to have prints made after the honeymoon even being able to do it for cheap. I feel I'm making plenty of money for the service I'm providing. I'm proud that they enjoy my work, and think it's a good value.

    That's where I'm at. Everyone else has to decide for themselves. I'll admit that I'm not much of a business person, but I get to do what I love to do. That has it's own pitfalls, but overall it's very cool. I always hated those rock ballads about how tough it was being a rock star. I'm not going to be rich or famous, but I'm making a living. It allows me more time to work on my own projects, and be with my kids than my previous job did. Now I get to rationalize new gear to my wife as a tax deduction.
     
  5. Big Mike

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

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    Great post Matt.
     
  6. aliciaantoinette

    aliciaantoinette TPF Noob!

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    Thanks alot for the feedback Big Mike & Matt!
    I'll have to marinate on it a bit longer to decide which option works out best! :scratch:
     
  7. EBphotography

    EBphotography TPF Junkie!

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    Thats an excellent guide Matt, enjoyed reading it! We should sticky that somewhere or turn it into article format.
     
  8. resevordg

    resevordg TPF Noob!

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    So, How much does everyone charge to give out the real files on a CD along with a letter stating that the client has the rights to print the images?
    Lets say I'm doing a sitting for a family $250. Then instead of buying prints they just want the files.
    +It seems that most print runs are 100-300 bucks (with exception of course.)
    +Giving out the CD and not printing is less work for me.;)
    +Since it is less work for me and more for the client should the CD cost less than buying photos?

    My gut tells me I should charge about $150 or so. Does this seem right?
     
  9. Peanuts

    Peanuts TPF Noob!

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    Should it cost less? No. It should cost more. Giving CDs with full res files is lost income technically for you - the reason prints are so expesnive is because taht is where the time and talent for the post production is factored in (in addition to your overhead costs)

    How long are you editing images from a single session? Three hours? Let's say you charge that time out at about $50 (not unreasonable when you think about the work you have put in to learning the methods to do good PP work) Then there is the cost of the CD (minimal, but you want to make extra) so $10. How about paying back for all the gear? Top it up with at least $30. Then there is delivery time/postage.

    Most photographers for a session will sell a CD for $600<.
     
  10. resevordg

    resevordg TPF Noob!

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    So you sell your photo CDs for 600 bucks on top of the sitting fee?
     
  11. FrimpyEIBW

    FrimpyEIBW TPF Noob!

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    I'll generally sell a photo CD for around $200, on top of a sitting fee, and I burn it for them right there on the spot. But, I stress to them that if they go that route, it is as the pictures come straight off the camera. Any touch up or photoshopping I do will be extra, and I will only do that as prints. Most times, they choose a package instead.
     
  12. resevordg

    resevordg TPF Noob!

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    What your saying seems to be right in line with my thoughts on the matter.:thumbup: Thanks for the help.

    I normally only sell packages but once and a while I get some one who just wants to do it themselves.
     

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