I received an email last week from a reader who wanted to submit an article for the Savvy blog . After reading it, I definitely thought it would be great to share here. It was written by Ashlyn Dawson, a Canadian photographer who specializes in weddings and newborns. I hope you enjoy it!
In no way is this post intended to tell you what you should or shouldn’t do. That decision, ultimately needs to be made by you. This post is simply here to outline the reasons why I personally do not give away a disc of print ready images easily.
I have always enjoyed helping clients decide what images to print. I love sending out print orders and seeing the reaction on my clients faces when they receive their final products. To me custom photography is all about the experience; from beginning to end.
There is something so special about each moment.
This year almost every single inquiry I have received started off with “ I would like the disc of my print ready images so that I can print them myself”. For a little while I had actually been considering offering digital negative packages as opposed to print packages. I had everything set up. Then I took a moment to really think about what I was doing. Here are a few things that ran through my mind:
At the end of each year I send out a survey to all my past clients, have them fill it out and sent back to me. I ask questions about their experience, what products they liked best, if there is anything I can work on etc. A few of the questions I had on my survey last year were directed to individuals who purchased a print ready disc from me. And not just individuals who commissioned me, but to those who won a free session with the disc of images, friends or family.
The two questions I had were:
How soon after your session did you decide to print your images, 1-3 months later, 3-6 months later or 6+ months later?
How many images did you print and what sizes?
To my surprise, the answers were not what I was expecting at all. Many of the individuals who purchased (or received) a print ready disc seemed very excited and ecstatic to receive it. Their excitement conveyed to me that they already had plans to print many of the images, and very quickly for that matter.
43% of people said they printed their images 6 months to a year later. 57% of people said they forgot, or lost their disc.
30% of people said they printed between 5-10 gift prints (8x10 size or smaller)
Conducting this survey made me realize that as much as people professed that they wanted the disc, their actions did not line up with the excitement they once showed. It made me wonder if people want the disc solely for the purpose of preserving their images? Having peace of mind knowing that if anything were to happen, they always have the disc of their images to fall back on?
Many other photographers I have spoken to have noticed the same thing. Clients often return with e-mails or phone calls about lost discs over a year later.
When I got married last year I immediately purchased an album when I received my wedding photos. To this day I have NO clue where the disc of our wedding images is. For the life of me, I cannot find it. I tucked it away somewhere and it’s probably lost forever. But, I have my wedding album to show. I show that off to each and every individual that walks through my door. I even take it with me on occasion when I’m meeting up with someone who didn’t get the opportunity to attend our wedding. It was the best way to preserve my images. And I’m so thankful I did it.
Did you know that CD’s will be phased out by the end of this year? USB’s are expected to follow that same route sometime over the next two years. Many large companies have already stopped making both items. Once they’re completely done with, we’ll find another way “preserve” images. In a few years, computers will be made differently to accommodate whatever new technology is set to replace CD’s and USB’s. Which leaves you to wonder; how will you be able to view your images in a few years? How will you be able to share them? Will you have the ability to print them the same way?
Technology is constantly changing, and I personally do not want to take the chance of offering my clients something that they may or may not (likely not -- remember cassette tapes, and a-tracks?) be able to continue using in a few years.
The best way to preserve your images is not on a disc, or a usb, the best way to preserve your images are printing actual photographs. Remember when you were younger, at your grandmothers house. And she showed you her wedding images, or photographs of your parents when they were children? They were perfectly preserved in an old photo album for future generations to enjoy them. That’s the same way in which you must preserve yours. We’ve been able to travel back in time and view things from over one hundred years ago through photographs, paintings, sketches etc. These artistic pieces had one thing in common; they were tangible.
If you’re going to spend the money on the luxury of custom portraiture, wouldn’t you prefer to have something that will last a lifetime? Photographs and albums that your children, and your children’s children will enjoy for years to come?
By no means am I trying to deter you from purchasing print ready discs. And to photographers; by no means am I trying to persuade you to stop offering them. I do believe they have their place. Consider my points outlined above and make your own decision.
Clients: If you choose to go the route of print ready images please, please do not wait until it’s too late to print your images. Now is the perfect time to dig up that old disc wherever it is and get those images printed! And if you choose purchase one in the future, please print your images right away. Don’t wait until it’s too late. The most awful thing that could happen is having invested in custom portraiture and having nothing or very little to show for it.
Thank you Ashlyn for the great article!