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Worcester Alliance of Photographers - AKA: WAP Message Board › Opinions/Advice re: Wedding Photos and selling digital files

Opinions/Advice re: Wedding Photos and selling digital files

Beth E.
user 42055752
Worcester, MA
Post #: 6
Hi all.. I was VERY MIA at last year's meetings and have resolved to be better in 2014...

I'm hoping to get general opinions and advice regarding selling a disc of wedding images to a bride. Since this isn't my day job, I don't normally shoot weddings but I recently shot a small wedding (50-60 guest) on the cheap for a friend of a friend. (i know, first mistake!)

Included in my price was a proof album with 200 edited prints of my choosing. There are somewhere around 380 images total (all edited and some b/w and other artistic edits and filters) that I have uploaded to my website where she and her family can purchase any prints they'd like in addition to the proof album.

Today i received a request for a disc with digital copies of the photos. If I agreed to do this, I would obviously have to charge extra for it. I tend to feel like selling the images ensures that there will be no reprint or enlargement orders and therefore no downstream profit. Additionally, I would lose control of the quality of the prints. Because of this, I tend to shy away from selling the images or offering a disc as part of a package.

I did some looking around on blogs and forums, and have seen a range of prices from $250-$700.
I hate saying no to people and have a hard time charging people for my work since it's not my day job but I know that I should. I would welcome any guidance or advice that any of you lovely folks would be willing to share.
:0)
thanks!
beth

Donna D.
DonnaFaith
Worcester, MA
Post #: 587
Hi Beth,
You are right in the middle of what every photographer starting out struggles with.

I'm not a "real" photographer...
What are others charging....
Do I give up my reprint orders and give away my photos....

Here is the honest truth as far as I see it.

What you did for them has extreme value. Its there WEDDING! You took the photos - you are a REAL photographer. How much time have you spent on this project? Are you even making min wage???

Ok, so I'll stop with the excessive use of question marks and exclamation points. I don't want you to think I am yelling at you. I just want you to understand how important this is. You need to believe in yourself first. Please.

Good.

Now, we can talk. If your uneasy about giving up the photos because you'll lose reprint orders. Give them the files at low res- unprintable - just viewable on screen with your watermark on them. Charge them a reasonable rate for this. that 200-750 you spoke of. Explain that if they want to make prints they need to purchase them through your site.

If these clients/friends of yours walked into a store and wanted to buy a video, would they bargin the price down with the guy behind the counter? Will a plumber come to your home and do work and then later let you not pay for the work and let you continue to benefit from what he did for years to come? You are a service - granted a creative one- but still a service. Folks need to see it the same way they see other services out there. Why they don't is our fault. We don't tell them we are... Be clear up front with what things cost. Be very clear. Do not be afraid of talking about money with anyone you are providing a service for. Up front contracts are the ONLY way to go. Think about it- you always know what your paying for when in a restaurant. You get a menu to make choices from. Descriptions of what they offer and how much it costs. No question when the bill comes...

Do the same thing.

Want me to go on- I can... Take care of you and this industry. What we do has a lot of VALUE. Respect it. Respect yourself. Ok I may be done now. Sorry if I was harsh- if we were chatting I would be very gentle and speak in warm oozy tones... I swear.
Jeff B.
VisionsbyBaker
Worcester, MA
Post #: 70
Hello Beth,

Sorry for the late reply. Everything that Donna said... Ditto. It doesn't matter if photography is not your full time job. Consider what you make for overtime at your other job. You're pulling overtime if you're working in photography in addition to your primary job. A standard wedding requires about 40 hours. That's 3 to 4 times as many hours as you spend behind the camera on the day of the wedding. So if you are not charging at least your weekly gross pay, you are cheating yourself. Oh, and that's just commission, it does not include any products.

Anyway, on to your specific question... I too hate to say no. Once you find a policy you feel good about, just stick to it. It took some time to really settle on it, but my solution feels easy to me. I do not sell paper. I create images. I simply do not care if those images are reproduced on paper, canvas, wood or rocks. I sell digital files for the same price as a standard print. When I'm asked if I sell digital files, I simply say, "yes of course, what size would you like?" Most commercial printers can produce "decent" images from files sized to only 100 pixels per inch. If they want a file that can be printed to 8x10, I format it to 800x1000 pixels and sell it for the same price as an 8x10 gift print. A 4x6 proof is 400x600 pixels. I will also offer branded Facebook files at no additional charge with every printed product purchased.

I hope this helps.
Take care,
Jeff
Beth E.
user 42055752
Worcester, MA
Post #: 7
Donna and Jeff, thanks so much for the replies. And I didn't think you were yelling!!!! :)

I have easily spent 50+ hours on this project, including time spent at the event itself, travel and editing time. part of that is because Nik Effects was being super tempermental but if it was functioning fine I would have spent a solid 40 hrs (I edit every photo that isn't deleted) to some extent.
So I probably barely made min wage. :) So this is why I am frustrated that, however innocent and polite the quesion, people ask for the files.
Thanks for the reassurance that while this may not be my full time gig, its still legit to call myself a photographer. (I am a photographer at heart and a project manager by trade!)
I've asked what they were looking for a disc for, and the reply was so they can have them, and so they can print them. I let her know that I don't give the images away, but that we could work something out for low res if she just wants them to 'have' or higher res if she is looking to print, but at a higher fee. I'll go from there. A price list/packages are definitely in order and is now my goal for this year. (among other things business related)
Jeff
I like the mindset of selling images... i jsut worry that they'll take it to walgreens and end up with horrible green prints on fingerprinty glossy paper. :) But you have a very valid point and the idea of charging for a file what you would charge for a print is good.
Thanks again for the encouragement. I respect you both and so this is invaluable advice to have.
See you soon at the meet ups.
Beth!!!! <--- the explanation marks are for you Donna.
Marla Z.
user 13356288
Worcester, MA
Post #: 35
Beth -
When all photography was film, photographers NEVER give up their negatives to the client? So, why should we be expected and asked to give up our negatives (digital) now?
That's how I look at it!
Best -
Marla Z
Jeff B.
VisionsbyBaker
Worcester, MA
Post #: 71
Hi Marla,
Many of us have been fighting the idea of selling files. Especially those of us who use or have used film. However, it is a new world. A digital world. Digital files are a product that the consumer expects. We are not going to change that. It is our job to provide what the consumer wants, at a price that makes sense. There will be a time when the framed 30x40 family portrait on the living room wall will be a framed digital screen with rotating still images and video...
Melissa B.
MissyBorgeson
Worcester, MA
Post #: 13
I think it's all been said, but I will add that when my own wedding photographer sold his business, and then THAT owner closed it later, you can bet I tracked him down, waved a few hundred dollars at him and he gladly sold me all the negatives to our 1996 ceremony and reception. How lucky to have every single file? They are worth gold to me as many have since passed and we have some great memories preserved. Of course we also bought a proof album with prints and a whole bridal and parent albums, the huge one (80 sides or something that ridiculous!)
My point is that the images are worth money.
Value your time and your art!
Best,
Melissa
Beth E.
user 42055752
Worcester, MA
Post #: 8
Marla - that is how I have always felt as well.

Beth -
When all photography was film, photographers NEVER give up their negatives to the client? So, why should we be expected and asked to give up our negatives (digital) now?
That's how I look at it!
Best -
Marla Z

Beth E.
user 42055752
Worcester, MA
Post #: 9
Melissa- how lucky that you were able to find them! :) I would have bought the crazy big album too.. :)
Jeff- you are right, the way people view and display photos is changing, and quickly. I'm just need to figure out how to adjust my 'mindset' with it, as well as determine how to still make some profits and control quality.
thanks again to everyone - there is absolutly a common theme in all of your responses and that ensures me that I"m on the right track with how the general photographer population thinks & operates and that's all i needed to know! :)
see you all at the next meet up.
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