Switching from Digital Files to Prints

Ever since I’ve been a professional photographer, I have given my client digital files, and that was the main thing they received for their packages. Well, I am highly considering changing my packages and the way I do business. After years of toiling away in front of a computer and reading about the benefits of selling prints, I might be switching from digital files to prints.

I guess the first thing to look at is my past experiences with digital files. Truthfully, I don’t know why I chose to offer digital files instead of prints when I first started. I believe it was just by chance. Our wedding photographers gave us a disc with the digital files, so that’s kind of what I thought I should do. At that point, I didn’t have much experience with prints, and I definitely didn’t want to be a pushy salesman, so I was ok with digitals. Now, though, I’m starting to have my doubts.

Switching from Digital Files to Prints: Benefits of Digitals

When people argue for digital files, they usually say some of the same things. I know for me, I loved the idea of having the digital files from my wedding. I had all these plans for the files. I wanted to do a bunch of prints, put stuff on line, and who knows what else. Another benefit is that you aren’t limited on the photos you get. Most photographers that do digital files give a ton of files. I know I give out anywhere from 600-1000 files; that’s a ton. The argue they want to be able to see all the moments of the day, and 1000 files covers about everything. The last common argument is that having the digital files will protect your memories forever. Prints can be damaged or fade, and then you would be without your photos. Digital files can be copied and stored. This all sounds good, but it’s not as great as it sounds.

Switching from Digital Files to Prints: Negative of Digitals

So, what did I end up doing with all those digital files? Truthfully, not much. We printed one large canvas, about 6 other photos, made a cheap photo album, and put them online somewhere. Honestly, I never look at the digital files anymore. They are somewhere, but they’re just sitting there. The album was cheap, so we don’t want it out and about because it would fall apart and we don’t want people to see our cheapness. As for protecting your memories, digital files can easily be destroyed. Hard drives fail and DVDs get scratched. As a photographer, I end up deleting files later because I don’t want them taking up space. If I knew someone might want another print or if I only had to save like 10 photos, I would keep those weddings around.

Switching from Digital Files to Prints: Prints?

Like I said earlier, in the end, we personally did more with prints than with digital files. I see the giant canvas print every day, but all those digital files just sit around collecting digital dust. I’ve also talked to several customers who say they were planning on getting their own prints, but they never get around to it. If I was pushing prints, they would for sure have those prints on the wall and get more out of their photos. The same thing is true with albums. If I start selling more albums, my clients will have something of quality to leave out on a table to share with friends, and in it, they would have a good 100 photos from their wedding, which is probably better than having 1000 ok photos.

Pricing is another big issue with prints. For a photographer to be successful, they have to make the prints relatively expensive. It’s called markup and it’s what every business does. This kind of freaks clients out because they are use to Walmart prices for prints. Well, we aren’t offering Walmart quality prints or their service (or lack of). The good thing for price for clients is that they are in charge of how much they spend. One client might spend $500 while another might spend only $200. For the photographer, this really opens the door to make more money. When you set a price for a session and give the digital files, you are limiting yourself. You will only be making that set price. With prints, they can buy an unlimited amount, and often when they see those awesome photos, they will spend more than they planned.

One of my biggest pushes for switching to prints would be saving myself time. Going through and editing 1000 photos takes a ton of time, even if it’s just a basic edit. With prints, you really don’t do much editing before hand. You pick out the best photos and edit those and show the rest. Then, when they make their selection, you can edit those files only. That’s really what I want. I want to spend less time with my eyes glued to a screen.

As of now, I haven’t fully committed to the idea. I have a bridal show coming up at the end of the month, and I’m tempted to make change for the show. My only concern is that I’m not completely prepared. I’d like to do some more research and preparation before switching from digital files to prints. If anyone out there has any experience or opinions on the subject, I’d love to hear it.

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