“Oh, that’s expensive! All you’re doing is burning the pictures to a CD”
You’d be surprised how often I hear this. Clients nowadays seem to assume that digital files are included in all photo shoot packages. I believe this is solely the fault of amateur and hobbyist photographers, I do not know ANY PROFESSIONAL photographer that give digital files away included with packages, or very very cheaply.
It has become the norm to see £40 shoot and burn, but this is because amateurs do not have to make a living from what they’re doing. They have a day job. They believe they are beating the professionals at their own game, being cheap & getting the clients. Probably not realising that what they’re doing is not only losing them money, but irreparably damaging the industry they love so.
Would you be happy if someone with basic knowledge of your industry came into your place of work and offered to do your job for a fraction of the cost?. . . you’d be out of a job. By giving your money to an amateur you are taking my business away from me, the experienced professional & my contemporaries.
Ok, so almost everyone that has a computer will have some form of photo editing software on it, most popular being Adobe Photoshop. This is one of the major reasons why I am so against giving digital files to clients, they will ‘tinker’ with (Photoshop) my images. Especially with the popularity of such phone apps as Instagram, editing photos in just 1 click. That client will then turn the image I have worked hours on into something that I did not intend it to be; possibly losing my photographic style, even the original quality. When you upload that edited image to Facebook & tell all your friends where you got it done – how do you know you’re not now damaging my business? As what your friends are seeing is not what I gave you. A Photographer’s learned skill, individual style, knowledge and time spent on your set of images should also be considered.
To combat this, I offer both colour and black&white versions of all purchased digital images for my clients, as well as any specific amendments that they wish.
You may see an hour spent taking the photos – but in actual fact that photographer will probably spend on average 8 – 16 hours just on your set of images. This is mainly due to editing of your images; this is not just ‘Photoshopping’ them, it includes uploading, backing up, sifting through & picking out the best images, individually colour correcting, cropping, airbrushing, re-naming and backing up the edited images, this all before I’ve even uploaded them for you to view. So that 30 minute or hour long photo shoot has turned into 2 full day’s work. This time scale comes from preparation time, including checking equipment of setting up the studio, time spent photographing the client, uploading time, backing up original files, editing, uploading to online album, sorting through and checking orders and print quality, as well as any additional time required for ordering, client liaisons and shipment.
“But photography’s free! Taking digital photos doesn’t cost anything!”
Oh boy, how wrong you are! Let’s just do a little maths – That 30 minute shoot, £40 shoot and burn yes? If I worked 6 days a week, 3 shoots a week, every week – I’d be making a grand total of £6240…… Hmm, that’s not quite right now is it? What do you make a year? Let’s say £20,000? That’s already £130 for your shoot – Oh, but wait. I haven’t included my overheads! I have a studio with rent and rates, and a website and a phone, insurance, those cameras, lenses, lighting equipment, sample products and background papers didn’t just buy themselves. . . . . . And, don’t I deserve a week off, maybe even two? (Well…That’s now working out as a minimum of £350 for just your small 30 minute shoot)
Giving away digital files also brings up the question; who owns the image!? The photographer took it, so initially full copyright is with them (or that studio). But giving you the high resolution file, does the customer now own that file, enabling them to do whatever they wish with it. Even sell it for profit? Let’s go back to basics, you browse photographers by their previous portfolio work, check out their photographic style, how they work. Well….if they’re giving away all the digital files, legally they can’t advertise with those images because you now own them. So what are they expected to advertise with?
I do sell my digital files, as there is a strong trend at the moment for this & I’m not prepared to completely deny my customers, but I feel I do price my images accordingly. I offer Full Usage Rights with my high resolution images which, long story short, means that I still own the copyright to the image so you cannot sell it on, however you do get a high resolution file which you can then print, store, reproduce, upload to Facebook but I still have the rights to advertise with it – everyone gets what they want!
For any beginner photographers out there, my advice is Do Not Shoot and Burn….or if you do, make sure you price it correctly.