Thoughts on CD/DVD only services....

Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by GeorgiaOwl, May 27, 2008.

  1. GeorgiaOwl

    GeorgiaOwl TPF Noob!

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    Hey all. I was wondeing if the professional photographers among us could comment on the idea of offering CD/DVD only services. I found a nice website from a legit local company while looking around for photography business that might need some part time help...and I found a really nice website from a noted local photographer....and it turns out that they only offer services with CD's of customers images!?


    Is this common? Is it smart?( No printing to mess with at all) Is it tacky?

    If you can get people to buy into the fact that you are charging them ( in this studio's case) $100 for a CD of their photographs from a portrait session, that sounds like a good idea to me.


    But I was wondering how other professionals felt about this approach to running a photography business.


    tia
    owl


    [EDIT] Poking around the site a little more, apparently the higher priced packages do include actual print photographs. Still....the only downside I see of offering CD only packages is getting the consumer/client to buy into that business model. Probably a hard thing to do since commercial studios and photography in general have created a market for paper photographs for so long( obviously out of necessary fact, as before digital...well, you know..)
     
  2. PuppY_K1ck3R

    PuppY_K1ck3R TPF Noob!

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    By all means Im no proffessional just an aspiring hobbyist. I have done a couple weddings for my friends and all I really did was hand them a DVD as a final product. I had them post processed and in its actual size. Then i told them they can print these out wherever they want ie Kinkos and such. I'd rather do this than mess around with the printer. But then again, these are friends. Anyone else have input in this since i myself am curious.
     
  3. Big Mike

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

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    Selling the CD/DVD of image files is becoming more and more popular in the digital age. It does, of course, go against the 'old school' rule of never giving up your negatives/film.

    On the plus side, you can just give then the disc as a final product and you don't have to worry about or rely on print sales for your income.

    On the negative side, you loose control over the final product of your work. A client may take your great files and print them at Wal-mart or on their cheap home printer, on typewriter paper...they will look like crap and you won't even know it. They may even display those terrible looking prints and give you credit for them.

    What I've been doing, is to give them the files, along with a set of good quality 4x6 prints...and instructions to use a good lab for their prints.

    You make a good point about trying to convince the client to think of the CD as a finished product worth the price.
    Maybe you build more of the cost into the initial sitting fee.
    Either way, you should probably be selling the files for as much as you would expect to make on print sales. $100 would be pretty low for a professional, especially if that includes the sitting fee.

    When you sell the files, you are usually selling the reproduction rights, so you are allowing them to make/order their own prints (which would otherwise belong to you and only you). So you need to charge for those rights.

    Remember that what you are selling isn't necessarily the images, whether on disc or paper...but it's the service of professional photography. And with the price of that, you need to cover all your needs as a professional; education/experience, cost of equipment, cost of doing business (insurance, fees, taxes, rent, gas etc), cost of materials...not to mention a profit.

    There are many ways to present the price to the client. Some may find that one method works better in one market and not at all in another. Check out what the local competition is doing and see if it's working for them. Maybe you would need to follow them, or maybe differentiate from that.

    There is no right or wrong...just what works for you. But remember that one of the leading causes of business failure for a photographer is charging too little.
     
  4. Rhys

    Rhys TPF Noob!

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    I was in the mountains of NC a while back and there was a photographer there that shot and gave a CD/DVD rather than prints.

    Personally, I feel doing it that way is the way to go because most people want to see their images on their PC so they can email them to friends etc.

    Also... it's a lot less bother to sell a CD/DVD than to sell prints. It's also cheaper than paying for an online photo printing/hosting service for beginning photographers.
     
  5. Big Mike

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

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    Another point is that when you only sell prints...it's much easier for people to make their own copies by scanning the print. Sure, that's illegal if you don't give them the right to do that...but a lot of people won't care. If you rely on reprint sales to make money, people scanning your images is a real kick in the pants.

    When you sell the files (and the print rights) then you don't have to worry about them making illegal copies.

    But again, you need to charge enough for the files because you probably won't be getting any print sales.
     
  6. Rhys

    Rhys TPF Noob!

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    Given that it is guaranteed that people will copy prints (done it myself as I needed to improve the orientation, cropping and colour cast on my own wedding photos), it generates a lot less ill-feeling if you just give the clients the digital files.

    From the client view - they can only afford X prints and wonder why the photographer's hanging onto the files when is costs nothing to hand them over.

    From the photographer - why won't clients order more prints and if we hang onto the negatives maybe we can sell more.

    It just brings the industry into disrepute. Far better to do the basic editing and conversion to jpeg then burn to CD and maybe burn a copy of Picassa to the CD as well. That way they can edit and order prints.

    The moral - charge for the service rather than the prints unless that's what the client really wants.
     
  7. *Mike*

    *Mike* TPF Noob!

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    This has been widely discussed, and I think there are some valid points all around. Before going any further though, I think it is key to make the decision based on sound business reasoning and not on expediency.

    Yes, it can be quicker and easier to sell a disk rather than prints. Yes, it is quickly becoming expected by clients. But, neither is reason enough, by itself, to decide on this business model.

    One of the hardest things to do is create a sense of value for the client that makes them feel it is worth laying down $x for "just a disk."

    Also, unless you can sell the disk for as much, or more, than you'd sell the prints for, you're leaving money on the table.
     
  8. Rhys

    Rhys TPF Noob!

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    I would rather charge for the service and have a quick turn around on the CD/DVD.
     
  9. *Mike*

    *Mike* TPF Noob!

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    Why does it have to be either or?

    Our typical portrait session is $275 for the sitting. Our average gross on that session will be about $1600. So, unless I can charge $1300+ for a disk, I'm giving away images for less than the client is willing to pay...

    For weddings, we normally double our contract on post-wedding sales. So, on a $4200 contract, we'd gross $8k+. Then, we switched over to offering a disk with hi-res files... We had to dramatically rethink our business paradigm in order to maintain our sales numbers.

    It can be done. We still offer CDs to weddings. But, we reworked things so that our bottom dollar didn't get hurt... The point is, giving a DVD of images is quick and easy. But, it's not always a good business decision. You have to objectively decide whether it's a good move, and then make it work. At least, if you're in business to make money.

    The goal should be to bring in as much money as you can, while still leaving the client feeling that they got their money's worth. The trick is to do both...
     
  10. Big Mike

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

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    Good points Mike, thanks for the examples. I agree that there are good points on both sides and there is really no right or wrong here.

    One one hand, it's easy to just hand over a disc and be done...but then your business with the client is finished. If you are in contact with them several times with print sales and whatnot...then you build up a relationship with them and they are probably more likely to call you again or recommend you to their friends and family. After all, people who get married will tend to have kids & families that will need to be photographed.

    From what I can tell, a lot of successful photographers are selling plenty of products...even if they have sold the files to the client. Custom designed wedding albums, canvas gallery wraps etc. You can charge a lot for these because they are professionally designed and in many cases, not avaliable to the public at all.

    This summer, I'm going to give on-line ordering a try. It will be more work than just handing over a disk, but it also opens up the client base to more than just your immediate clients. Their family can also view the images on-line and order directly from you. This can be a lot of extra income for a wedding etc.

    Who knows...it might be great and it might not.
     
  11. Rhys

    Rhys TPF Noob!

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    Just because you hand over a CD/DVD doesn't mean it ends there. You could have your logo printed on the CD/DVD and could put a freebie TV slideshow on with your logo at the beginning and end.
     
  12. AprilRamone

    AprilRamone TPF Noob!

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    I offer my digital negs for sale, and I price them where I can be happy. $100 for the files from a session is NOT a happy price for me:) Closer to $1,000 or more is what I'd actually charge.
     

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