Whether you are a business or a personal photography consumer you deserve to understand why and what you are purchasing. Although there is a difference between business photography and personal, there really is not a lot of difference behind why digital images come at a premium.
The idea for this article came to me when I was chatting with my coaching group about price points and there was little understanding for photography pricing. I went on to research this topic and there were very few informative articles and posts that offer reasoning for the client. There was a lot of explanation for photographers in general on how to price and why we should charge, but nothing for the consumer as a whole.
I am going to speak to the value of digital imagery because I don’t do a lot of product sales in my business. I enjoy creating albums and large scale products for my clients, but I leave it up to my clients to pick and chose at their leisure what they want to mount and hang on their walls.
Here is a breakdown for digital images:
Digital images actually cost us (as photographers) more – I won’t list out all the overhead ongoing and fixed that goes into our business, however what you should know is that the storage and the software to develop your images is associated with substantial cost. In your contracts you likely see the storage of your images addressed and this is why we might limit the length of time we store your photos and what size(s) they are stored in.
Because we are providing you a digital product you likely will not order a physical product from us and you will never need to purchase a copy of the image, especially if it is being provided at full resolution. A full resolution photo can be blown up and printed or you can control the digital sizing and resizing, making it smaller for websites and social media. You pretty much have all the control and therefore have no need to go back to your photographer for a “copy” as you would with film/print images.
Licensing – Personal or Business – The moment we release the digital image to you we are automatically releasing the license to you which allows you to use the image without paying us any other royalties (unless otherwise outlined in your contract). Therefore our price upfront for the file has to include the fact that we need to be paid for the use, and multiple uses of the file from now on.
Businesses – It is actually equal or greater value to you as a business owner. Think about where you are posting all of the images for marketing purposes, from your email signature to social media and media packages (print or not). Quality imagery is invaluable to a business, they depict your brand and style to the world, they are your first impression to potential clients, they are the visual representation of your services and/or products.
Printing – I will not pretend to give you exact breakdowns (or to be a math wiz lol) as every photographer is going to have a different cost associated with their products and services, therefore it doesn’t seem fair for me to offer hard numbers to you. But if you compare the cost of a digital image with that of an 8X10 physical print you can break the cost down of each individual print, taking into account labor, the actual printing from the lab, paper quality, shipping cost, packaging and packing materials and any mounting that you have selected, there ends up being a significant cost per print.
When you see a photographer offering sessions at $250 or lower price points, you should understand that this is the fee for the sitting only. The way they make their money is when you purchase albums, large wall mounts or if you want the digital files, those come at a significant cost and will likely be equal to a photographer who delivers digital files with their sessions. The difference here is that you have the control over how much you spend and when you spend it. If you do not want or need the digital files or want to use them in the future, then this is a more appropriate service for you.
Every client and every photographer is different, so it is important to understand what you are paying for based on what your individual needs are. I know many photographers who would never consider delivering just digital files and I admire how they do this! It is just a different way to run your business, personally I am not a sales person and don’t feel like that would suit me or my client well.
Hopefully this creates a better understanding of the the cost verses the value of your digital images. The amount of time a photographer has with you face to face during a session is a very small part of the entire process and workflow we put into servicing you. If you have any other questions please feel free to reach out!