Pet Photographers Worldwide

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Digital dilemmas

Red shoes and purple flowers by Julianna Koh, twoguineapigs pet photography, sydney portrait photographer specialising in pets.

Recently a few potential clients have been asking me for (printable) digital files of photos rather than prints. How much are they, is the first question (usually).

When I tell them, that’s when I hear the sound - a great big “thump” or a “gasp” as they recover from collapsing to the floor in a faint of bill-shock!

Some people it seems don’t expect digital files to come with a price. Maybe it’s because facebook (and the Internet in general), with its all-sharing approach to online pictures - makes digital files feel like they should be, if not free, damn inexpensive at any rate.

Well here’s the thing.

Digital files are like negatives of films. Owning a negative is like owning an open license to produce versions of that picture forever - in fact digital files are sold with a license of use for this very reason - (depending on your contract). As a photographer it’s a big thing to give this up - and that is reflected in the price tag.

Digital files don’t just grow on trees. There's a lot of labour involved in taking professional shots at an organised session. Following this is post production processing - including processing to help the still later printing phase (yes, I do test print my digital files - it’s a policy of twoguineapigs to release only quality work). All these things have a cost, I am afraid.

Not only that, I run the risk of people manipulating, cropping, texturising my work inconsiderately - which can affect my reputation as a creator (not that you, dear reader, would ever do that I know!) :P.

It seems these days that as soon as an artist's work is digitised it suddenly becomes in danger of being made "free". The music world has certainly learned that lesson. This assumes, I guess, that artists don’t actually need money to live - which would be fine by me if there was a law saying that, since all artistic work should be free, then artists should not have to pay for groceries, rent, electricity, professional camera equipment or anything else. Not happening!

So, as my next enquirer gets a heart attack when I tell them the price of my digital files, I really hope they stay conscious long enough for me to read out this blog post to them really quickly. Then maybe they will get it.

Take it easy people!

1 comment:

  1. This is such a tricky subject for photographers! A lot of wedding photographers have the same issue too. I can remember our wedding photoraphers deal was you paid for the work on the day, the album, any extra copies and then after 3 years you get the digital files on a disk.

    I think the main thing we need to realise as consumers is the main cost of photography is not the physical product, but the images themselves so of course the digital files are going to be the most expensive.

    Great post!


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