I hear this question all the time. Do I give the high res images when I sell a session? Wow, I can’t even imagine this is going on so much these days, and so many arguments over it. If you shot film, would you give away your negatives? You’d be crazy if you did. So why would one consider giving away their high res files?
Three reasons from what I can see.
1. They are only in it for the money
2. They do not value their work
3. They are amateurs
There is nothing wrong with selling your high res images but for how much? Ask yourself this question, “How much would I make in print sales if I didn’t give my high res images away”? Whatever your answer is, it’s still not enough, now double it. Why? Because people do come back and order more later on, figure this into the mix. A photographer makes their money mostly in print sales, giving away the high res images on cd is like cutting one’s own throat when it comes to business. This was the norm years ago and still holds true today. I think many of today’s photographers are either lazy, don’t know photo shop well enough and think their SOOC (straight out of camera) images are good enough (haha guess again) or just don’t stop to think how they could be undercutting themselves.
Amateurs who start out doing this horrid practice are only hurting themselves later on, as they improve and want to expand. Everyone will now expect a free high res cd/dvd. The majority will be getting themselves stuck in a deep mud hole.
There is nothing wrong if you give out a free ‘web ready’ cd/dvd so they can share on Facebook or wherever online, it’s free advertisement for you. As long as you have your watermark on each image. Include a text file stating no altering or editing of the image is allow and all watermarks must be left in tact. Be very strong about this point, if you see someone post your image without a watermark, tell them to please take it down, if they do not listen, report them on a copyright infringement act. This is your business, treat it like one.