Prints or CD’s?

Prints or CD’s?

I know, this topic has been beat to death already but here is my take on it and a good read for both sides.

The idea of purchasing CD’s may sound attractive to many, maybe because of price or maybe because you think ‘haha I have the high resolution files, I can do whatever I want and save some money’ but what are you really saving? After your photo session shouldn’t you be saving memories?

It’s nice to save a few bucks here and there but think first and do the math before you jump into a lower priced option. You may not be saving as much as you think and always remember, ‘you get what you pay for’.

So many young photographers today are offering CD’s with a print release, but is it the right way to go? In the film era it was unheard of to release a negative, so why the high resolution files, they are the photographers negatives?

I believe these photographers offer CD’s for several reasons.

1. Everyone else is doing it, or so they think.

Guess again, most amateurs started this practice to entice their clients, most professionals do not give CD’s for print, some do sell them at a high price or with another option, like print purchases.

2. It’s easier.

Sure, it’s easier but if you want to be taken seriously as a professional, hard work is what gets you noticed.

3. They hope to get more customers with their low price and throwing in the kitchen sink sounds like a good deal.

At first, maybe, but most people looking for a bargain will only continue to pay bargain prices. Once you raise your prices the bargain shoppers will not be back.

4. They don’t know any better.

I have found many amateur photographers have no clue what goes on in the professional world. Education is a must before jumping into any business.

So why is this so bad? Here are a few reasons off the top of my head.

1. If a client does their own printing at a lab of their choice, would they know good quality when they see it? Most clients do not understand color balance, nor do they truly understand which paper works best for which image/edit.

This is bad because: Let’s say a client has some printing done at the local drugstore. Photography trained individuals are NOT running those machines and the images may come out with a heavy green cast with heavy blacks, making the images look like a muddy mess. The client hangs them on their wall and a visitor comments on the images and the client gives them their photographers card, (yay a referral) but wait. The visitor leaves, laughs and rips up the card. And they say word of mouth will sell you, it could but it could break you too.

2. Does the photographer know whether someone re-edited the images, without the photographers consent?

This is bad because: The client just purchased their first copy of Photoshop Elements and wanted to try out some neat effects on the image. Need I say more? Again, word of mouth.

3. Will the customer honor the actual print release or will they use the images for other things?

This is bad because: If they do, this could land your client in court for copyright infringement, but are you willing and able to sue? How many clients understand copyright laws? How many amateurs really understand copyright laws? Protect your own business or you will lose it.

4. Will the client ever get the images printed at all?

This is bad because: I know, you are thinking, why do I care? Ever hear of word of mouth? People do not just listen to words, they want to see the goods. What images? The ones sitting on a buried CD someplace or a hard drive that is about to crash? A good photographer is trained to see color balance, tonal values and overall good quality, they also know how to choose the best medium for the job. Good quality speaks loudly about one’s own business ethics. Wouldn’t a high praise, word of mouth, be better then some laughing and ridicule in the background? Believe it or not ridicule travels faster and further then anything else.

If it weren’t for old images, I would have no clue what my relatives in Hungary looked like. To date I have reconditioned many of the images and they now hang in my home’s hallway gallery. I cherish those images every day. Even back in the early 1900’s people knew the value of a good image, so what happened? Technology fry the brain? Yes, technology is awesome but do you really think 200 years form now those CD’s or your hard drive will survive? Nope, they sure won’t. If the CD’s did not get scratched or broken, the files will be corrupt within about 10 years or so.

Think about that for a minute, 10 years. I can think back to 10 years, I can remember the faces of my family, so why do I need the images now? My great grandchildren will never know what I look like without the prints I produce today and neither will yours. A good lab will produce prints that will last about 200 years. Check your drug store prints in about 50 or less years, let me know how they held up.

The end result is this, if you love your family, save your money for a good professional photographer and purchase some prints for a memory that will last a lifetime or two. When you leave this earth (and we all will) leave your legacy behind, allow your children to cherish those memories for many generations to come.

Would you prefer your visitors see this?