observed by Diane » photo journal for those who enjoy vignettes of an ordinary life

Digital Files — Free or Close to it!

Quality is not an act, it is a habit.” ~Aristotle.

I’m finally getting some breathing room though I do have one more wedding planned for this month and a couple other photo sessions planned. I’ll be sending out my monthly newsletter within a week but wanted to share a few tidbits anyway. The newsletter will have more information and a few tips included as well, so don’t forget to sign up if you aren’t yet receiving my monthly newsletter.

The main topic I want to address is digital files. This year is the first I’ve offered digital files with portrait sessions, although it really has been a reluctant offering. I’ve been rethinking how I will offer digital files from now on and it’s important to understand my thought process.

As everyone is well aware, there is a plethora of amateur photographers who offer their services at cut rates and advertise that they give (and believe me it is giving) all the digital files from your photo session. {Does your hairdresser give you free product or services at half or less? Does your mechanic do a major overhaul for the cost of breakfast?} Every professional photographer cringes at that for a number of reasons. For one thing it totally devalues a photographer who runs a legitimate business, with all the expenses that any business encounters. It devalues all other photographers when the public thinks that is the norm (providing all the digital files for their own use). For decades upon decades, photographers only way to cover their expenses and make a living is to sell their products — the prints from that photo session. Nothing has changed in that regard. The fee for the session covers the photographer’s time and talent only, as it should be. I’ve written posts in the past explaining, just as other photographers have, all the behind-the-scenes time and work that goes into running a photography business. The amateurs are not running a business but are looking for an ego boost and pocket change. Like other professionals, I put a lot of time and effort in to my business. I spend money, not just on running and maintaining my business but in annual professional development so that I grow and improve. I do all of this so that I am providing my clients with the best work possible. I’ve done considerable research locating a professional press lab to competently and reliably provide me with the highest quality prints, press products, and other photographic albums & books that I can be proud to present to my clients. In addition to all the other photographic and office expenses, it includes things like professional photo packaging, personalized boutique cd cases (in the case of digital images), designer fees, and more. The problem with selling digital images is that the general public does not realize the difference between what they receive from an amateur shoot-n-burn photographer and a professional who is running an actual business. It does not matter that, like many professional photographers, I run a part time business. I’m trying to do this right, for my clients and for myself.

{PS: If you are looking for a shoot-n-burn amateur, they are easily located advertising in places like Kijiji and Craigslist. They also almost never pay for a professional website or blog ( it’s one of the free ones, of course).

The other reason legitimate photographers do not like selling digital images, besides the fact we are losing potential revenue to run our business, is because we value our art. Some people, knowingly or not, like to tamper with our art (despite receiving a document outlining that this is forbidden) or they get prints done at the cheapest box store available. The end result does not reflect the true quality in our art. It is for that reason, more than anything else I am making an immediate change in how I offer digital files. Only my commercial clients will continue to receive digital files as we have been successfully doing in the past two years.

Effective immediately, there will be only two ways to purchase digital prints with portrait sessions. One way will be an all-inclusive digital package that will be appropriately priced (well above all my other packages in price) but will also contain a 5×7 of every digital image so the client may see how they should reproduce (if I were to finish them). The only other way of purchasing any digital files will be on product orders over $800 and digital files can be ordered per file, again at an appropriately priced level. Digital files will no longer be available with wedding packages (but these packages do include all the physical prints plus a selection of small images for posting on social media). My focus has been and continues to be providing my clients with quality print products and that will not change. Custom designed albums & books, quality dry mounted portraits, and prints will continue to be offered and beautifully presented with you and your family as art.

For anyone familiar with the shoot-n-burn amateur rates, this will likely have many people taking in a big deep breath. I’m not doing this as an ego boost; I’m doing this as a business to share my art for clients to be proud of. I want people to have beautiful portraits, albums, books, and other artwork for their walls and coffee tables. The end product is very important to me because I value my work and my artistry and because I value my clients trust in me. So, if it’s quality and beautiful artwork from your images that you value, we’re going to continue to do very well together. Thank you for your understanding.

I have recently spent a considerable amount of money adding to my samples, on design fees, and on creating essential branding materials for my business. I also spend as much time as possible practicing and experimenting to continually develop my skills, along with all other legitimate business owners. I have plans to continue adding to my equipment over the winter months so that come spring, the sustained & significant investment I have made will be ready to hit the road running in making you and your family  — pets too — look the best!

Although the year is not yet over, I’m beginning to wind down and am looking forward to more of the colourful fall sessions (the leaves won’t be colourful for long!) before taking a break leading up to Christmas. Thank you to each and every one of you who has put your trust in me to capture some special moments of you this year. Every time I come home from a photo session, I tell my husband how much I love what I do. You genuinely make my days special — thank you.

~ Diane

Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives.” ~ William A. Foster

~ ~ ~
This post and all photos and text that appear on this site are Copyright © Diane Schuller – All Rights Reserved. It is illegal to copy any part of this without the express written permission of Diane Schuller. You are more than welcome to link to this page [ http://www.dianeschuller.com/2010/09/15/digital-files-free-or-close-to-it/ ] using the title above for linking to this page. Thank you for your respect of my copyright.

Tweet thisFollow me on TwitterPin thisshare on Facebook
don - September 16, 2010 - 9:56 am

A thoughtful and clear presentation of your policies and your reasoning behind the changes you are making. I feel amateurs should refrain from any shooting request by friends that will undercut a professional photographer. That means no weddings, no family or school portraits, etc. People occasionally suggest that I could make money by using my pictures to make postcards or calendars and selling them. Nothing is for sale. I shoot pictures for my own enjoyment alone. All the best, Diane, as you move forward with your business.

Life with Kaishon - September 19, 2010 - 1:27 pm

Really great post that made me think. Thank you for this : )
I am so glad I saw the link at Pro Studio Supply so I could come and visit Diane.
Love, Becky with a free blog : )

Barbara Yasuhara - September 25, 2010 - 2:15 pm

Diane thank you so much this post. It symbolizes what I feel IS a very important factor in the business of photography.

I too struggled with this, but decided last year NOT to include digital files with my packages. If a client chooses not to contract me for their event simply because of this, I am better off. I do not want anyone to hire me for my package or what they can get, I want them to hire me because they love and respect my work as an artist, and trust that I will deliver artistic and beautiful memories.

Thanks again! LOVE your site!