Sorry guys, I'm going over to the dark side

Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by misol, Sep 29, 2009.

  1. misol

    misol TPF Noob!

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    Well I have had it. Lately I have been doing alot of shoots. I only do a couple shoots a week tops because I am a full time mom and dont have any desire to be a full time photographer at this point. Once the kids are in school, then i will expand. But this is working out well for me. What isnt?

    Sales.

    Why?
    Well it isnt my work, its my accessibility to my work. I put up smug mug galleries for people to view and place orders. I make them small, watermarked and protected, but leave them large enough to be able to see well. Well people are loving what I do. They are sending links to their gallery to grandma and grandpa and all the aunts and uncles. The clients rave over my work and send me plenty of referrals. They look at the photos online 1000s of time! But then they dont buy or buy only a small amount.

    I have come to the conclusion that it is so easy to look at and show these pics to people, why buy them? By the time they are ready to order, they are maybe even a little tired of them. They dont need to buy several for grandma because she has already seen them 40 times so they get maybe one for her. They dont need to buy files for their facebook (I offer the service) because they can just link it.

    It is so annoying!

    So I have decided after the new year I am going to be charging a base price for my work. They will get the CD and I will get money. I figure, yeah, I am losing some potential big profits and some quality control. But I am also getting rid of some very big headaches. I will be able to charge what I think I should be paid for the amount of work I am doing and take out that guesswork and save money on printing and time from having to meet with the client again to go through the prints. I am also going to also offer the standard sitting fee plus buying the photos directly from me. But I am going to give them a small tiny proofing sheet and push the one price deal as my primary service.

    But I think that giving files is pretty much the wave of the future anyways. its like how the music industry had to adjust after Napster. I am just adjusting.

    I wanted to get feedback. I know some people are going to have strong negative feelings on this and I don't mind hearing them in a respectful way. But I would also like to hear from people to do this already and some successes and pitfalls if you would like to share.

    Thanks!
     
  2. Foques

    Foques TPF Noob!

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    you can do what I do.

    I tell my customer that the gallery is going to be on my site for 2 months. After that, it is going to be removed from the wide accessibility, and only way to obtain shots would be to request a DVD from me.
     
  3. jnm

    jnm TPF Noob!

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    we paid our wedding photographer extra for the CD and full rights and left the transaction at that. his prices on pictage are like $7 each, smug mug and flickr are a fraction of that. we quickly got our money back on the rights with cheaper prints.

    so i agree, with digital media being so prevalent and easy to pass around i wouldnt think you could rely on making money from prints.
     
  4. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    You made a *huge* step in the right direction by realizing exactly what is killing your sales,and by realizing that you need to be payed for shooting, right up front. The web and photo sharing/photo stealing/photo e-mailing has made prints much less a necessity than it was back in the day. You need to get payed money for photographic services...no checky, no shootey...

    Once you let the images "out" of your studio, the excitement, the need, the desire for the images floats away. Uploading images so people can have a free look at them kills print sales. People today are happy with 320-pixel wide images of many subjects...sad but true.
     
  5. misol

    misol TPF Noob!

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    Wow I expected alot more opposition. I know from day 1 I have read that the collective profession was against the selling of files. Well I am glad it wasn't worth a tongue lashing :)

    I think overall it will be a positive thing.
     
  6. Christie Photo

    Christie Photo No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Hold on there, lil cowboy. It hasn't been a day since you first posted this.

    I too have wrestled with this. I gotta tell ya, you hit a nerve when you said, "But I am also getting rid of some very big headaches." It would be nice. But I fear there we're just trading for other headaches.

    I've recently decided to do it somewhat like you're thinking. I intend to increase my session fees give me a decent hourly rate. Then, I will reduce my print prices, BUT.... I will charge a file prep fee for EACH image printed. I'm thinking it will be somewhere around $40 and will include critical color balance, general retouching (blemishes, smile lines, etc.), cropping and the like.

    Of course, this will be my portrait pricing. I have to settle on what I'll do with candid wedding work.

    -Pete
     
  7. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    It's funny, but "going over to the dark side" usually means a Canon user who has decided to go over to the Nikon side--you know, where the big lenses are all black (for the most part,except for the special order gray ones)...

    This is a new era in photography and imaging. Consider that today, customers, most customers in fact, have a home "lab and darkroom"; computer, image manipulation capability via Photoshop Elements or Picassa, a scanner or digital camera capable of close-up copying, and an inkjet printer that has an image reproduction capability that rivals a good enlarger and a fantastic enlarging lens. Customers, or their kids or grandkids, nephews or nieces,friends---customers can easily make quality prints at home. Or at Walgreens, RiteAid, Target, Safeway, Kroger's,etc.

    It has become very difficult to cling to the ability to control the printed image,and there are no longer any original negatives; the photographer can easily sell the image files and still have originals,which never get lost, scratched, or mutilated in shipping or printing. Many shooters have been forced to consider adopting a new mode of doing business, faced with the reality that customer image printing and image copying is here to stay. Selling the image files makes sense as long as you get payed on the front end of the transaction, and you take old-school costs and shift them to new
    costs, like digital archiving fee, or disk preparation and mastering fees,and image retouching and color balancing fees,etc.
     
  8. rufus5150

    rufus5150 TPF Noob!

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    True, but the level and rapidity of the vitriol on this forum concerning some hot-button can sometimes qualify as legendary. :)
     
  9. ann

    ann No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    several wedding photographers in my location started doing this years ago. I don't think it was based on the print aspect, but on storage of all those files and for how long.

    Folks just need to do what makes sense in their environment.
     
  10. Christie Photo

    Christie Photo No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I suppose that's often true. In fact, it may be the smallest unit of measuring time known to man.
     
  11. 954gooner

    954gooner TPF Noob!

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    That's what my wedding photographer did. We paid him to shoot the wedding, give us an album and prints for our parents, and then a DVD with the corrected images and rights.
     
  12. SpeedTrap

    SpeedTrap TPF Noob!

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    I have a very different position on this. I could never give up my print sales; it makes way too much money. I do not consider myself over priced or under priced for my market, but I could never give away the CD. After they have purchased prints and waited 1 year I will sell it to them for $700

    I do not think the problem is people stealing as much as we are letting them.
    My proofs are all water marked and protected. Sure if someone really wanted one they could get it but I also make sure they have limited time to do so. The more time you give to someone the more time they will take.

    Many of my portrait sessions never make it on my proofing system because I have the client over for a viewing and order selection. We sit down go through them and then order right there, once the order is complete I will send them some low res files to share, but typically they will order prints for them and Grandma and Grandpa as well as others, so no lost sales.

    You have to have a clientele that has an appreciation for prints. Many people just think that they can print anywhere and get pro results; it is up to us a photographer to show them why our products are better in quality and overall value.

    Every year I get one image straight out of camera with minor correction printed at all the consumer labs and then I re-touch one and have it printed at my lab. I show this to all my customers and they can see the difference between the quality and value of products we offer.

    I think a little education for a customer goes a long way and many will become life long clients because what you show and teach them helps to gain their trust.
     

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