My biggest shock from clients is the pricing for digital files. Some seem to get it and some are like COME AGAIN?!?!?!?!?! well, us photographers get it but you're probably having a hard time wrapping your heads around why am I paying $1500 for one digital file?! It doesn't cost anything at all to just dropbox a digital image to me?!
You feel because its not an actual print that it should not cost that much right?! Well you are not alone feeling this way. Im sure a lot of my clients have though this to themselves at one point. Well I'm here to explain to you why digitals are priced higher and why us photographers who really care about what you end up cherishing cringe when you want them.
WHY DO WE CRINGE WHEN ASKED FOR DIGITALS?
First off, let me tell you this: We get it! You want the digitals to feel that they are safe and secure; you want the digitals just to have them or because you plan to make fun calendars, xmas cards and maybe even an album for half the cost then what we charge you. You're probably nodding your head but wait, let me stop you right there... Its ok, no judging, but how many of you still have those digitals in your desk drawer from 2 years ago of the kids? Who has actually been happy with those albums you took WAY to long trying to design yourself? Did you not almost throw your computer through the wall trying to download that annoying software in order to make that album?! Oh and forget trying to put those photos in an order that they all flow nicely together, that along is enough to drive you insane! You think to yourself "Self, I am not cut out for this" 2 hours later... "Maybe I should've left this up to my photographer" Then you receive 50 emails a week because you had to make an account with them to create your album or calendar. When you finally receive your products they look okay but not professional. The colours are off and oops you totally cropped off your husbands head! Then you realise it wasn't really that cheap considering the time you put into it and the actual cost, those annoying emails and at the end of the day it does not look professional!
So let me tell you why us photographers cringe when we are asked do you sell digitals. Why even go to a professional to take your professional photos? Your photographer will professionally edit your images to perfection and then have them printed at a unprofessional lab? Yes, I have heard it all, "Well, I had mine printed at "xxxx" and they were ok. OKAY" No, no no said any photographer ever! OKAY is not acceptable to us! Let me ask you something, how many times are you really going to print that same photo? So you're sending them out to a family maybe inside a card and you want to print 25 photos. What good is it if the colours are off and now that photo you're sending to your loved ones looks ok and sometimes awful. It is really hard getting people to realise that quality is far more important then quantity. I can tell you that I quickly printed up some photos at a local News agency for convenience (for my sons school project that he told me about 2 days before it was due) and OH MY WORD! TERRIBLE! I left dumbfounded not because of her photos turning horrendous, but because of the countless digitals I have sold in the past to my clients! I felt guilty for even allowing this to happen! I put my hear and soul into every session and to see how it could possibly turn out put a big knot in my stomach.
It is heart wrenching to know that after we have put so much effort into making your portraits out of this world that they can potentially be ruined just by where they are printed.
SO WHY ARE DIGITALS SO EXPENSIVE?
Digitals are priced to encourage clients to buy professional rings through me instead. So much time and effort has gone into calibrating my prints with my labs to ensure that colours, contrast, brightness and longevity of the product are flawless and top notch. When you take a CD to any other lab, none of that will be accurate and I cannot guarantee that photo will be in great shape to pass on to your children or the colours will remotely resemble the original file. Can you get that guarantee at your online store or local photo lab?
When a digital file is sold, we all lose something. You lose quality and we lose the opportunity to hand over amazing and professional products to you. Once digitals are purchased, we realise you will more then likely not be purchasing anything else from us. I promise you that I care what your photos look like once they are finally printed and lots of other photographers feel the same way about digitals. We do not slap on a big sticker price because in all reality they aren't that expensive. The problem is you don't realise what you are getting from a professional print lab in comparison to other printing places that are available to the general public, the poor quality you will be getting if you even ever print them.
So next time you contact a full service photographer we want you to keep these things in mind!
1. The possibility of your CD sitting in your desk makes us photographers very, very sad.
2. We all lose when you purchase digitals. You loose quality and we lose the joy of handing over quality professional prints.
3. Its not just ONE digital file you are purchasing it takes hours of meticulous editing and high end retouching each image!
4. Because you're buying the whole cow.
5. Because we care about handing over products that all art work is backed by an archival value of 100 years from our vendors. This means that in 100 years the colours and quality will still impress you and warm your heart like it did the first time you hung it on your wall.
Words by llphotography