Prints vs. DVD Images

Discussion in 'The Professional Gallery' started by rp1600, Sep 8, 2006.

  1. rp1600

    rp1600 TPF Noob!

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    Prints vs. DVD Images

    This is more or less a “business” question and not a photo critique or comment post, so forgive if I’m in the wrong forum. It also may be a bit lengthy so I apologize for that.

    In the past we made our money on reprints, enlargements, etc. We were able to get buy without charging excessively for the shoot itself, because we were almost guaranteed reprint orders from bride, or mothers, or bridal party members or friends. This was before the advent of digital cameras, photoshop, scanners and quick print booths at the local Walgreens or Wal-Mart.

    With today’s technology, it’s far to easy for the “customer” to scan the proofs you provide and print them on consumer photo printers and/or at the likes of the Walgreens and Wal-Marts; therefore cutting us out of the bread and butter – REPRINTS – of our business.

    It’s been some years since I’ve actively pursued wedding photography but in the last year I’ve shot a half dozen weddings mainly for friends or friends of friends and noticed that reprints, enlargement, etc. orders are very slow, if at all, coming in.

    I shoot both digital and film and had always provided a proof book – 160 or so 4 x 7 prints organized in a nice album. Everyone loves them and talks about having this one or that one enlarged, but the orders don’t really come. Is Wal-Mart getting my business? Probably so.

    I have decided to get back into wedding / portrait photography on a more serious basis and have talked to several photographer friends of mine and others online, and from what I gather many are moving toward providing the “customer” with all images, in hi-resolution, on DVD, and allowing all reprint rights to the customer. This eliminates all reprint orders and allows the customer to do as they please, short of selling the images (photogs maintain that right). As a result of this release of the hi-res images, the photographers I’ve spoken with are able to charge the client more without all the post-shoot follow-ups, i.e. reprints, additional albums, etc., unless of course the client asks for it.

    I’m curious to know how those of you wedding photographers are approaching this.

    Still providing print and albums? Or hi-res images on DVD? Both? What’s the markup difference? For example. A wedding shoot with 160 images bound in album for $800, compared to wedding shoot with 160 hi-resolution images burned to DVD, allowing clien to do as he / she please.

    Hope I’ve been clear in my question and that this post hasn't been too lengthy.
     
  2. Soocom1

    Soocom1 TPF Noob!

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    One point here from both sides of that counter.
    Personally if you are upset over the 'Wal Mart' printing factor, set photos on the DVD with a copy write notice not only on the label of the DVD but also on the pictures themselves. (Hence the watermark programs.)
    As a person who has worked in a lab, I can tell you that many photographers know and understand this point, and many times will allow only a CD or DVD as a write only out with the word 'Proof' ghosted over them. The sad part is that DVDs and CDs are just like the old Silver prints... They wont last forever, and with the change in technology, guess what.

    As for High res DVDs, my take on that is simple. Yea you can charge more, but I would also take extra measures to make the pics tamper resistant. One trick is to layover the image a clear layer that a person cannot see, password protect the image, and cut off the right click abilities of the mouse when viewing. This is why also i put a rider on my DVDs and CDs that state that if the proofs are not returned in a timely manner, (say 14 days) that the person will then owe me the cost of each image as if it were a 4x6 print @ $15.00 a pop. (a wedding with say 300 total prints is: 300 x 15 = $4500.00) No not every image will be used, but with a rider on the contract like that, you get the DVD back. How you want to handle all this is your affair, but thats my two cents worth.
     
  3. astrostu

    astrostu Guest

    I think it all depends upon what your business model is and how much you want repeat customers or good words to spread about you by word-of-mouth. Case in point:

    A friend of mine got married last month. I had offered to do the photography as a wedding present, but instead they made me a groomsman and just had me do their engagement pictures. They went with a professional photographer and bought a $1000 package. The guy shot digitally and on film, and he took a video of the ceremony. In addition, the photographer who had done the bride's parents' wedding over 20 years ago who was a friend of the family, shot the candid photographs (film) at the reception for free. I also had my camera out (except when groomsmen were being photographed or during the ceremony) and I took over 500 photos that day.

    The results of the three of us: My photos of the formal before-wedding shots weren't great because the lighting in the church was horrible, the pro was taking the center of the aisle, and I didn't have a good flash (only the one on the camera). The candid guy's photos turned out very well, and he gave the couple digital copies as well as prints of all of the pictures he took (6 rolls of film). The professional, 3 weeks later, sent the couple a DVD with the pictures and a contact sheet. They also get 40 "free" prints with their package. The contact sheet was printed on normal printer paper, and the pictures were about 1" tall. The images on the DVD had been reduced to such low quality that you could barely tell what was being imaged, and much less which of the three shots of the same think you like more.

    As a consequence, the shots I took were put on a website I made and sent out to everyone involved in the wedding, and then forwarded on to all their friends, and I'm still getting comments like, "those are great," or, "you need to come do my wedding!" The couple probably will not order any additional prints beyond their 40, though their families may. However, because of the quality of the candids vs. the cost and subsequent suckiness of the proofs from the professional, the bride's parents are planning on asking the candid guy to do their other two daughters' weddings.

    Basically, the point of me reciting that long tale, is to effectively say that you need to consider customer good will when you decide how much to give the family when doing wedding photographer. For the amazing prices that many professional wedding photographers charge, I honestly don't understand how they can justify not giving the couple high-resolution digital copies of the photographs. It's the couple's happy day, and the wedding industry is just feeding off of that joy and gouging them with high costs. (sorry for the rant ...)
     
  4. morydd

    morydd TPF Noob!

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    I'm not a professional (I'm barely willing to call myself a photographer at this point :) ). That said, my experience with our wedding was that the photographer (who shot only film at the time), told us, when we first met him, "I'm a photagrapher, not a print lab or an archiver." His policy was we were paying him to take the pictures, after he developed and printed what was included in our package, they were ours to do with as we pleased. We got the negatives, the proofs were standard 4x6 prints in a nice album and were in no way marked. He told us that we were more than welcome to bring the negatives back to him if we wanted additional prints and he would use his professional lab, or we could take them to Walgreen's if that made us happier. That was one (of several) of the reasons we hired him. He also said "I don't pay an electrician to come change my light bulbs." That kind of stuck with me.
     
  5. astrostu

    astrostu Guest

    morydd -- How much did he charge for that?
     
  6. morydd

    morydd TPF Noob!

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    The price was not significantly different than other local wedding photographers. On the otherhand, he only did weddings if he liked the people and didn't do many of them at that. He paid his bills doing fraternity and sorority dance pictures. Don't remember any specific numbers as my wife did all the financial stuff at the time (4 years ago).
     
  7. JIP

    JIP No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I think the format should depend on the price. It's a new world out there when it comes to weddings in the past the model was low initial cost and hope for reprint sales. I think now you have alot more flexibility when it comes to wedding photography. The few weddings I have done outside of my employers (shooting medium format film weddings for 6 years) before I went digital I always felt I got burned because of limited reprint sales now, I can front load all the costs and give the couple a DVD or CD and be done with it and I personally love that. Also, with a model like that there is no worries about copyright infringement I have worked for many years at a photo lab and had to fight off people every day who come in and say "oh c'mon whose gonna know if you copy a few of these the photographer wants too much for reprints".
     
  8. ksmattfish

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

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    Me too. I have no interest in policing my clients; I just think it's just too easy to copy photos these days, and if I thought they were swiping prints when I didn't want them too, it would really stress me out. I shoot digital, and give them the edited files on CD/DVD, along with a set of 4"x6" prints from a lab I recommend. The prints are so if they take the files to Wallymart, and get crappy prints, they know it's their lab choice, and not me. They can make as many reprints, enlargements, and albums as they want for themselves, friends, and family, as long as it's personal use only. I retain all copyrights, and if the images are to be used in a commercial or public manner that's a different deal altogether.

    When I sell prints, albums, etc... I want to offer something the client can't get elsewhere. If the client is interested I'll shoot BW medium format film at their wedding, but only if they plan on ordering hand printed, gelatin silver prints from me. No lab anywhere near me offers that. I don't mind if they make their own albums, but if they order albums from me I design each page, edit and add effects, and what they get is significantly different than the files I provided for reprints. When I get a decent ink jet printer I'd like to start offering selected fine art prints from their wedding. These would start with the same files they have, but I'd do more extensive editing and manipulation, print on paper types not normally available at labs, etc...
     
  9. Shooting Stars

    Shooting Stars TPF Noob!

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    I have found that when I am hired to shoot a portrait the couple or family want me for the entire experience.

    I do the shoot and present them with a album and On-Line Viewing of the session. I have rarely if ever had a problem with them taking the 4x6 proofs and scanning them & trying to make enlargements or reprints. If they have the I guess that the payback is that get what they got.

    If someone is going to hire you they want the whole package. They want a photographer to pose them, foof & fluff them, say the things we say: "hold it, turn, chin up" maybe even "work it, make love to the camera":biggrin:

    Then the wonderful process of choosing prints and sizes. Sitting with them or talking by phone & listening to them tells how much this session meant to them & "how beautiful their kids are & how did my hips get like that!"

    People love prints in albums. I feel very cold handing out a CD of images. It's a throwback to having to suffer through someones slide show of their vacation. It's the 21st, now we say "hey kids gather round the computer and look at our family portraits!" I have gotten more refferal work from a mom showing the Proof Album to someone at work, the store or even on the plane on the way home from the shoot.

    If we present ourselves as professionals and offer our services with an air of accoplishment then our clients will feel honored & special in that they have the opportunity to work with us and that we are applying our talents to something they are going to display in their homes.
     
  10. ksmattfish

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

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    I totally agree with you that people love prints, but they also love getting that CD/DVD with the files. :) I've recieved many thanks for turning over the files, even from folks I don't know (grandmas, bridemaids, sisters, etc...), and no one has ever mentioned that it caused them to suffer. ;)
     
  11. rp1600

    rp1600 TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for all the feedback in this thread.

    I guess my primary question, from a business standpoint, are you charging the customer more if you deliver the high res images to them on CD, even if you also provide an album of 4 x 6 prints.

    I come from the era of film only where our money was made on enlargements and reprints. Don't we lose this if we provide the hi-res images, and if that's the case, how do we compensate for that loss in revenue, other than increase our rates?

    HOpe I'm clear on this. Thanks.
     
  12. Christie Photo

    Christie Photo No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Like you, I'm from the film generation. I too wonder just where I'm gonna go with this question. SO FAR, I've not delivered files suitable for printing to my portrait/wedding customers. I know I'll have to deal with this... and soon.

    The only time I've encountered this is with a couple of business portraits. In the past, we provided a print suitable for reproduction. Now, digital files are requested. I'm not sure yet what I'll ultimately do. On these two occasions, I did increase my price.

    So far, I don't feel compelled or obligated to provide my portrait customers with high res files. Maybe I'm in denial. I've conviced myself so far that I would be doing my customer a dis-service since printing is not a simple as they suspect.

    I know some of the older studios in my area have decided to deal with this by increasing session fees... substantially. Most of my business is product/commercial work, so I've be able to put off a decission so far.
     

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