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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Weddings & Other Family Events Talk 
Thread started 03 Apr 2006 (Monday) 22:45
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Is this the future

POTN Landscape & Cityscape Photographer 2005
10,884 posts
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Joined Apr 2003
Location: southern Alberta, Canada
Apr 03, 2006 22:45 |  #1

I was surfing today through a number of photographers websites and was somewhat disappointed to see so many people that are doing wedding photography give away the original images on a CD. Is this the way the market is shaping up for wedding photographers. To me it just doesn't make any sense to give away the one thing that will almost guarantee you subsequent sales.

I've done my fair share of weddings in both film and digital mediums and have always made more off of the resale of additional albums and enlargements than I have off of taking the wedding itself. This is akin to just handing the client an envelope full of negatives, speaking from my film days. This would have been unheard of.

I suppose that this is the way to go if you are only interested in doing just the wedding without having to worry about all of the post processing. I do however feel that this is just lowering the bar. I'm not necessarily advocating you shouldn't do this if it works for you. I am interested in the reasoning behind this when there is so much more money to be made in the post event sales.

My life is like one big RAW file....way too much post processing needed.
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2,018 posts
Joined Feb 2005
Location: Amarillo, Texas
Apr 03, 2006 23:05 |  #2

No way man...I's lowering the bar.

Of course, it depends on what market you're going after. I know a guy here in town that will shoot for two hours at a wedding for $250 and give all the images on cd. Another studio averages (it's rumored) $8k to $10k a wedding and doesn't "give" anything out. A friend of mine is in the $3k-$7k range and will raise her rates next year and she doesn't give anything out and is busier than she wants to be.

It may be a harsh opinion of mine, but I think the whole idea of giving out your images on cd is for photogs that either don't take it serious and don't care to (which is fine, really) or loser photogs working on putting themselves out of business. Is that harsh? Lol.

Some interesting dialog about this over at as well.

(edit) - USD on those numbers, btw.

Jason - I use Canon and stuff

Senior Member
306 posts
Joined Dec 2005
Location: Buffalo, NY
Apr 03, 2006 23:07 |  #3

Well with a lot of people doing their own post processing and scrap booking and think that they can save money or are tired of the same old albums provided by the photographers. I personally build the cost of the album and the copyrights into my price so the customer get a pro album and when they print their own they see the difference in quality and still come back to me for extras.

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Joined Sep 2005
Location: New Zealand
Apr 03, 2006 23:11 |  #4

I hear what you're saying... I'm actually surprised that it is trending this way. One would think that the photog has the right to keep the files and earn a little more from subsequent orders.

Then again, it probably also depends on the contract between photog and customer. Maybe the photogs couldn't be bothered reproducing the prints...


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209 posts
Joined Feb 2006
Location: San Leon Texas (just south of Houston)
Apr 04, 2006 00:22 |  #5

So far, I have all of one wedding under my belt, and that was done for a freind, and done at a very cut rate price.

But the deal I offered him was this. 4 8x10's and 4 5x7's prints, and all other images would be reduced to 5x7 and burned to a CD so that he could print any others that he and his bride would want for an album.

The next wedding I do, if given the chance, will definately be for more money, and the only way I'll offer the CD's is if they are willing to pay the additional price, and they'll still be reduced in size. :)

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Light Bringer
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Location: Wellington, New Zealand
Apr 04, 2006 02:05 |  #6

I find this more prevalent among lower end photographers, as a drawcard to make the sale. I offer these for an additional fee, quite a reasonable fee, but still a fee.

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97 posts
Joined Aug 2005
Location: Derbyshire UK
Apr 04, 2006 02:29 as a reply to  @ tim's post |  #7

We also offer the disc for sale but on the release licence we give it states that the images are for personal use only, no manipulation or editing allowed and should any wedding suplier ask for pictures of there products, cake, dresses etc then they must be referred to us. I found last year that people would still order reprints from us and buy the disc as well, especially if they were wanting large reprints.

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Senior Member
331 posts
Joined Oct 2005
Location: Chicago, IL
Apr 04, 2006 02:43 |  #8

What I have done to compromise is give low resolution images of 100 to 150 kb and have them pay a fee for the real deal if they come back. The high resolution images are a barganing chip and is worth $

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2,005 posts
Joined Dec 2005
Location: Perth, WA, Australia
Apr 04, 2006 03:47 |  #9

Hmmm....yes i guess some photographer's offer this, if i were to give away my negatives (CD of high res photos) id be charging quite a bit for them. Usually back in the day i remember Wedding Photographers using film, giving you the proof book or contact sheets, and then you would get your enlargements - after 5yrs the B&G can then purchase the negs for $500 +

I still dont think id give away the CD of all my images...i personally think you make most of your sales off reprints anyway?


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2,012 posts
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Joined Feb 2006
Location: Grafton, MA
Apr 04, 2006 05:27 |  #10

I give a lower rez CD with the option to buy the high rez for a fee. I also offer online ordering. You know what? Giving a CD hasn't affected my print sales at all that I can see. And last year I was a budget photographer, so you'd think the couples I worked with would have printed their own. Maybe some did, but they gave the online gallery out to their friends and family who ordered thousands of dollars of prints from me. I think, when it comes down to it, couples like the idea of having a CD of the images, but once they have it, realize how much work it is filling all of the print orders for their families.

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Senior Member
263 posts
Joined Oct 2005
Location: Middlesbrough
Apr 04, 2006 06:14 |  #11

Whose wedding is it any way and if you retain the images yourself are you not just trying to squeeze more money out of clients who have probably paid big bucks for the priviledge of hiring you in the first place??

With film I wouldn't give the negatives away as they are the only source of original image information. Digital files are essentially different and old considerations do not
apply. Wedding couples are unlikely to make hugh sums of money from their own images unlike images taken for corporate clients and I find that they (the bride and Groom) still come back for reprints because of the higher quality that I can provide with both post processing and printing.

To each his (her) own


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3,039 posts
Joined Dec 2005
Location: Maryland
Apr 04, 2006 07:23 as a reply to  @ dengli's post |  #12

Well I admit I am one of THOSE that give them away. My reasons....
I am new to the business and it is a great way to get customers as I go and gain experience I will raise the prices for this.

Also.... I luckily dont have to earn a living with what I do. It makes me happy to give people the opportunity to get something they usually couldnt afford. That gives me more back than some extra money, seriously.

My main concern is the actualy "act" of photography and afterwork on the computer. I dont do my own prints, I order them out. I am not interested in selling prints and making lots of money of of it ... in the end the client will only order a few prints because they can not afford more and everything else is sitting here unused when the client could use them and would love to have them if he could afford it.

I bet many of you may disagree but I hope it gave a little bit of insight why some photographers add the proofs (external link)

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7 posts
Joined Jan 2004
Apr 04, 2006 07:44 |  #13

Is it the future? Probably. But you don't "give" them away - you price up front. Look at your sales records (you do keep records, dont' you?), determine your average print sales and build that into your pricing. Not relying on print sales can be liberating - and it is a marketing tool
Is it prevelant among low-end shooters? Yes
Is it prevelant among high-end shooters? Yes
You must be prepared to adapt!

Senior Member
545 posts
Joined Mar 2006
Location: Coralville, IA
Apr 04, 2006 08:19 as a reply to  @ tim's post |  #14

tim wrote:
I find this more prevalent among lower end photographers, as a drawcard to make the sale. I offer these for an additional fee, quite a reasonable fee, but still a fee.

I dont consider myself a low end photographer for my area at least, and I give out the CD's becasue yes it does make the sale and two Ive made my money off them already no need to continually charge people for reprints. Im comfortable with the stream of business and Im not worried about reprint money all that much...If they loose their original CD then they get charged for a second one. Then again Im trying to target a lower budget audience also for now since this is just a side job. Maybe when my wife goes full time with this gig, we'll restructure the pricing but for now it works for us.

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Senior Member
294 posts
Joined Sep 2004
Location: In the great plains of Kansas
Apr 04, 2006 08:42 as a reply to  @ rlhphotos's post |  #15

I work in the education setting (kindergarten through high school). I see so many families that can not afford a read pro so I offer myself as an alternative they can afford. I will do senior pictures and weddings with very limited budgets. I like to say that I'm not as good as the high priced pro's but I am a lot better than "Uncle Joe!" I feel it is a service to my customers and it makes me feel good as well. I do only basic editing (color correction and sharpening) and burn to CD for them to print. That gives the customer a way to budget for prints as they can be afforded. I offer more highly processed and special conversions for an additional fee. I hope this gives you some more insight into this practice.


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Is this the future
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