Ah, the digital file or the digital negative. In the digital world we live in digital files are a necessary component in any photography session BUT is it all you should be thinking of? Is there something else about a portrait session that might benefit you or your family other than just the digital files?
Overwhelmingly in general, trillions of images are snapped on mobile devices as well as in photography sessions. Those images will soon become invisible and forgotten especially if your only request for a photo session is the digital files. Why you might ask? They are on a drive or on the icloud and they can still be found on my phone, I will get around to printing them someday. Research has shown this to be untrue. Those who are provided with only digital files rarely ever print the images they receive. A printed version of an image becomes tangible, it becomes something real. You can physically hold a portrait or a picture and it becomes a memory that can't be forgotten. When an image you have captured is on display in your home, for example, it becomes a part of your everyday life. You can see and reflect on the image and what it means to you daily.
Here are some common misconceptions regarding digital files:
Aren't digital files the more economical and the cheapest option? A prospective client might believe that the digital file is the cheapest option to purchase. Perhaps due to not knowing what actually goes into creating an image or a digital file it might seems like "just a download to a gallery or to a USB drive". Nothing could be further from the truth. A digital file is NOT the cheapest option, in fact, it can be the most expensive option due to the fact that you have the capability to print digital files you receive well over hundreds of times. Overall, what a photographer charges is based on all aspects of what it costs to create an image and still remain operational as a business. Creating an image for a client begins with the initial planning stages prior to the session even taking place, the actual capture during the session, the culling and editing to ensure the images look just right and preparing those images for a client's viewing. Dependent on the type of photographer you hire and the service that they provide they may or may not include digital files in their session fee. Never assume that digital files are included unless stated.
Won't it be cheaper if I print the images from my session myself? Yes and no. Yes, absolutely a consumer lab is definitely cheaper BUT with the cost being so much less the quality that you can expect will also be less. Something as important as a wall portrait should be printed with a professional lab so that you will receive a product that is made to last! As consumer labs use cheaper inks and materials to produce less expensive products they are cheaper initially but not so in the long run. If your product(s) are printed poorly or begin to fall apart or begin to fade after a short period of time after purchasing them you will have wasted money buying a useless product(s) to initially save a buck. Buying professional quality products will of course cost you more money initially but they are built and constructed to last you a lifetime of enjoyment and are therefore well worth the investment!
Shouldn't I be asking for digital files if I want to share them with my friends and family on social media? Sure, and as a photographers we get it! We understand that clients are excited to share their images on social media and we know that sharing is important BUT it should never be the only reason why you book with a photographer! Priceless pieces of wall art or an album you can view and reflect upon is so vital not only to remember the significant moments in your life but show those you love how much you value them!
I like the ability to handle printing my images on my own someday When the Professional Photographers of America (PPA) polled those who received only the digital files with a photographer they found that overwhelmingly those photography clients had never taken the time to print any images from their session even years after the session took place. They were still sitting in a drawer on a USB drive or still saved to their computer. This created the print movement #existinprint because the PPA became concerned that this generation is going to be the first generation to become non existent. Meaning that this current generation will have no physical documentation or historical photographs to mark their existance today. Allowing a photographer to create gorgeous heirlooms is not only important for those in your family to last for generations to come but also to mark your presence in this world!
Ultimately digital files shouldn't be the first question you ask when searching for a photographer. In your search for a photographer you want a photographer you can trust, who will take good care of you and provide images consistent with what you see on their website. Not every photographer photographs the same way, each photographer has their own style in the way that they capture, in the way that they edit. Some photographers require that clients have professional hair and makeup for their session to create a more polished look, some have a more natural everyday style look to their images and don't stress with having a client being pampered with hair and makeup. There are many variables that determine which photographer will best for you! I always, always say NEVER judge and base which photographer to hire on how much they charge alone! Please do not make this mistake! It might be one you end up regretting later on! Not every photographer runs their business in the same way and typically the cheaper the photographer that you come across, the more unexperienced or new to the industry they might be. You never want to jeopardize a major moment in your life by selecting the wrong photographer because they were the cheapest and you thought you could save a bit of money and thought "they would be good enough." Hiring a photographer is truly not just a click of a camera, so much more goes into creating a successful portrait session. Don't be fooled into believing that just anyone with a camera can produce great results for you.
We have a few other blogs that focus on selecting the right photographer on our website. If you are currently in the market for a photographer
see our blog section on our webpage and take a moment to review them. These blogs could really help assist you in making the best choice for you. We hope this blog has helped in shedding some light on just asking for the digital files and we hope that you will consider more than just the digital files for your photography session.