I get asked a lot about digital files. We live in a digital age, and so I understand why you’re asking about this.
I have a lot of clients ask about digital files, and I find it interesting to ask “why” when it comes up. I’d encourage you to think about that for a moment, too, while you read through my thoughts, below.
I have found that most of the time, a client asks for digital files for one of a couple of reasons:
Everything today is digital, so they assume they get digital files.
Someone told them they should get digital files but aren’t sure why.
They want to be able to share their images online with friends and family.
They want to be able to make more affordable copies of prints.
You hired me as your photographer to document a special moment in your life. You hired me to create an heirloom for you. If you wanted something more disposable, you could have easily taken photos with your phone. But, you decided that this particular story deserved to be told. You decided that these moments deserved to be documented differently. You connected with my style, my perspective through my lens and you wanted to have this time of your life documented by me.
I am so grateful for that.
For me, it is truly an honor to be invited into your life and be a part of something so meaningful for you.
Finishing your heirlooms, whether they be prints or books is very much a part of my creative process. Your photographic experience doesn’t end with the creation of jpg file on my computer. I want to fulfill my promise to you and create a finished piece for you. I consider it a disservice to hand over digital files and move on to the next client. Your memories matter to me.
If you only get the digital files, I know one of two things will happen.
You’ll either put the USB key in a drawer and forget about it, which would be so sad. Think about it. All the work you put into your session. All the money you paid for your session. The impact you hoped these images would make. All that would be lost because you got too busy and forgot about the digital files in a drawer.
(By the way, almost all clients who get digital files end up doing this with their files - their images end up never seeing the light of day.)
The second thing that might happen if you get digital files is that you’ll try and get prints done yourself. At least this way the images will see make it to print, but it still isn’t ideal. Why? There are three reasons.
The first reason that printing your images yourself isn’t ideal is because the quality of your prints from a consumer lab will be sub-par. The technology, printer calibration, paper and inks used at consumer labs are great for cellphone snaps and amateur prints, but they are not conducive to making high-quality prints from professionally created and crafted imagery. They often apply an auto-correct and end up not coming out as intended. When I make your prints from my professional lab, I calibrate your images and carefully craft them for the specific machine they’re being printed on. I can only do that because I know the printer it’s going to. Through a relationship with my lab (and lots of trial and error), I understand the printer’s nuances, how it outputs color, how it interprets various density levels, and so on. I cannot do that level of fine-tuning and perfecting for the myriad of consumer labs out there.
The second reason that printing your images yourself isn’t ideal is because your prints may not last. Consumer labs are not using proper archival processes. Their products are not guaranteed to stand the test of time. That’s a real tragedy for you, wouldn’t you say? Think about it - I’m sure you have a print from your grandparents that you treasure, right? It’s what - 30? 40? 50 years old? And it still looks as good today as the day it was printed, am I right? Consumer labs will not give you prints with that kind of longevity. The professional lab where I make my prints guarantees them for over life. In fact, your prints are guaranteed for over 150 years. This is great for you because it means your grandchildren and your grandchildren’s grandchildren will be able to enjoy your family’s heirlooms. That’s what I want to be able to create for you.
The third reason that printing your images yourself isn’t ideal is because your prints may not be finished the way we envisioned, together. The most important reason that I offer you a full-service experience by finishing prints for you is because we can collaborate to make sure your finished pieces are exactly what you envisioned. Hanging your portraits on the wall is the conclusion to my creative process. I don’t consider you a satisfied client until your photos are displayed, proudly, on the walls of your home. I like to ensure your images are correctly printed, are presented appropriately and that you’re completely satisfied with where they are displayed in your home for years to come. The only way I can do this is to control that finished product for you. Plus - your prints are a reflection of me and my artistic vision. After all, that’s what you hired me for! So I want to make sure that I fulfill my promise to you!
Sure, some photographers will offer a shoot-and-burn; they’ll take your photos, put them to a USB stick and hand them over. This is a high-volume approach to photography, though. To me, it feels too much like an assembly line and in my opinion, that is not giving a professional service. That’s not what being a professional photographer means to me.
I am here to be your guide and hold your hand through the process. It’s not about churning through as many clients and sessions as possible. I believe in giving you the very best product and service from start to finish. The only way I can do that is to make sure I stay in control of the finished product.
All that being said, I understand that we live in a digital world. That’s why I offer a social media-sized digital file with every print you order. This way, you get the best of both worlds. You get a high quality finished product and a digital file to share online.
You may be happy to know that I offer a discount on duplicate prints, too. You pay the full price on the first print, but then you get a discount on every other print of that same image. I put all the time, energy, calibration and editing on the first image. Every other print of that image is a duplicate, and I don’t have to redo that work, so you save!
I hope this helps to explain my approach. I hope you can see why I operate a full-service studio. I hope you can see my passion in giving you the best possible experience (and finished product) possible.
I believe we’re the most photographed generation, yet we enjoy those photographs the least; just think about how many photos you have on your phone right now. That’s why I do what I do; because some moments deserve to be bookmarked. Some images deserve to break free of the digital noise and find their way into our lives so we can enjoy them every day. That’s why my clients hire me.
I’d love the images we create together to be enjoyed the way you intended in your home. And that’s why I’m excited to collaborate with you to create heirlooms, not just digital files.