Author Topic: Digital Only...  (Read 2428 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Todd Muskopf

  • Authenticated Members
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6866
    • View Profile
    • http://www.muskopf.org
Digital Only...
« on: May 04, 2017, 03:44:45 PM »
The digital only question persists.

I include 4x6" digital files with a book or album package, but I don't do digital only. However, I continually get people asking about it.

I'm torn between just telling them no and coming up with an answer like "$200 for the first one, $500 for five, $1000 for 20." I actually think that might be too cheap.

 I really don't think there's any point to this, because I'm guessing that when they ask for digital only, they think it's going to be cheaper, when in my mind, it should be more valuable. What are your thoughts?

Offline Darren Cassese

  • Authenticated Members
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7206
    • View Profile
    • http://www.fotoglyphics.com
Re: Digital Only...
« Reply #1 on: May 04, 2017, 07:19:31 PM »
I believe in providing what people want and people want digital files.

I personally wouldn't hire anyone who wouldn't sell me digital only.

Perhaps you could simply price it somewhere in the mid-range of your average sales? Win-win for both you and consumer.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Think happy thoughts.  Think happy thoughts.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Baltimore, Maryland Wedding and Portrait Photographer

Offline Jeff Behm

  • Authenticated Members
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 12306
    • View Profile
    • http://www.behmphoto.com
Re: Digital Only...
« Reply #2 on: May 04, 2017, 08:25:47 PM »
I agree, Todd, that they think they're going to be cheaper.  What if you had two options?  I find prints at my normal price with that image's digital file included works. But if they want digital only, I think you're right in line with what I hear is normal here. 

Offline Todd Muskopf

  • Authenticated Members
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6866
    • View Profile
    • http://www.muskopf.org
Re: Digital Only...
« Reply #3 on: May 04, 2017, 09:28:33 PM »
I believe in providing what people want and people want digital files.

I personally wouldn't hire anyone who wouldn't sell me digital only.

Perhaps you could simply price it somewhere in the mid-range of your average sales? Win-win for both you and consumer.

I actually think "selling the negatives" is worth more than "selling 8x10 prints".  Can you argue with that?

What I'm really concerned with is losing control of my images, because at the end of the day, that's all we have.  If we give away "the negatives" then if we ever do become well known and famous, then those people will be printing our work as well.

Remember, I come from a fine art background.  If Picasso sold the lithograph PLATE instead of the paper print of the lithograph, the person buying the plate would have the money.

Offline Nanette Reid

  • Authenticated Members
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 710
    • View Profile
    • nanette reid | architectural & interior photographer
Re: Digital Only...
« Reply #4 on: May 05, 2017, 12:01:37 AM »
I don't shoot retail so not sure how this is handled by others - I *never* give up the RAWs to my clients, they get TIFs (Hi-Res) and JPGs (Low-Res).

Perhaps you could do similar?
  • Digital for prints up to 6x4"?
  • Digital for prints up to 8x10"?
  • Digital for prints 11x14" upwards?
Tier pricing that works for you - slightly less than your print packages but not so hi/low that it hurts you?

I might be waaaay off base with this, as I said not an area I work in, just my 2c worth. :)

Offline Darren Cassese

  • Authenticated Members
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7206
    • View Profile
    • http://www.fotoglyphics.com
Re: Digital Only...
« Reply #5 on: May 05, 2017, 05:50:47 AM »
Perhaps I misunderstood. I don't ever sell the digital "negative".

Just an edited "copy".

That comes with many options you can price.

You can do FB/Web version, 4x6, 8x10, etc. You can price accordingly. You choice as to sell higher than a print. I don't disagree that a digital 4x6 should be priced higher than a 4x6 print. That's why I suggested a package price in your middle sales range. Someone who wants digital only isn't interested in a pricey print package. Will they pay more for all the digital files? History tells me they won't, but you know your client base better than I do.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Think happy thoughts.  Think happy thoughts.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Baltimore, Maryland Wedding and Portrait Photographer

Offline Jeff Behm

  • Authenticated Members
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 12306
    • View Profile
    • http://www.behmphoto.com
Re: Digital Only...
« Reply #6 on: May 05, 2017, 09:53:27 AM »
The bulk of my work since digital is commercial, just like Nanette.  So, much of my thinking is now divorced from the fine arts mind-set you mention.  But when I shot film for retail work and in my early days of digital, I thought the same as you, Todd.  No way did they get negatives, digital or otherwise. 

My suggestion to tie a print purchase to its digital file would never start with an 8x10, certainly not as an inclusion.  Included files would be reserved for prints 20x24 and up (maybe 16x20, YMMV) or albums, and the included file would be a JPEG, 1200 pixels, max, long side, maybe less.  Basically, FB post size.  I'd also sign the digital file.  Not watermark it with my big commercial watermark logo, but sign it, like I used to with prints, using a blend of white India Ink with just enough black added to make it light gray.  I'd then use a nib pen and sign it for real.  These days, that impulse might lead to my purchase of something like https://photologo.co to give me a stylish signature again, only applicable to both prints and digital deliveries for retail sales. (by the way, the jrbehm retail logo below is in Zapfino)

As for delivering digital files, I do.  90% of my work is commercial, and 90% of commercial clients are happy with hi rez JPEGs, 3000 to 5400 pixels long side; for those who desire TIFFs, no problem.  Many clients buy hi rez and lo rez JPEGs of each selection for ease of email. 
« Last Edit: May 05, 2017, 10:13:00 AM by Jeff Behm »

Offline Todd Muskopf

  • Authenticated Members
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6866
    • View Profile
    • http://www.muskopf.org
Re: Digital Only...
« Reply #7 on: May 08, 2017, 10:03:47 AM »

My suggestion to tie a print purchase to its digital file would never start with an 8x10, certainly not as an inclusion.  Included files would be reserved for prints 20x24 and up (maybe 16x20, YMMV) or albums, and the included file would be a JPEG, 1200 pixels, max, long side, maybe less.  Basically, FB post size.  I'd also sign the digital file.  Not watermark it with my big commercial watermark logo, but sign it, like I used to with prints, using a blend of white India Ink with just enough black added to make it light gray.  I'd then use a nib pen and sign it for real. 


What I do now is provide 4"x6" @225 dpi files with the books and albums.  Big enough to print 4x6's, wallets, use for digital photo frames, etc.  I've seen people printing 5x7s from these and they're better than I'd like.


Offline Todd Muskopf

  • Authenticated Members
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6866
    • View Profile
    • http://www.muskopf.org
Re: Digital Only...
« Reply #8 on: May 08, 2017, 10:05:09 AM »
I'm thinking of making it a perk.  As in, "spend $1200 and I'll upgrade your digital files to full resolution."


Offline Jeff Behm

  • Authenticated Members
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 12306
    • View Profile
    • http://www.behmphoto.com
Re: Digital Only...
« Reply #9 on: May 08, 2017, 03:31:00 PM »
I would be cautious not to tie the file size perk to the purchase amount blatantly.  Instead, with wording like "Our premier package, XXXX includes a high resolution digital file of that image, fully retouched and suitable for additional gift sized prints for family and friends." or words to that effect.  Within that Package XXXX would be lets say, a 20x24, plus an 11x14 (for Significant Other) and 1 or 2 8x10 for Mom or whoever.  The cost of the digital file and lost sales of smaller prints could be factored in, too.  Compensate by making them canvas prints for finest presentation with a great sales pitch, and put all that into a price with "Savings to you of...." when purchased a la carte.  Have 1) a low package, a 16x20 or less with no file, 2) a middle package with at least a 16x20 one file and 3) a big package with 2 or 3 images, prints from each plus the files (eg. 20x24 and two companion 11x14 from the additional shots). 

when not the including full rez files, I'd suggest 1200 pixels long side.  Probably the best print from that is going to be a 4x6.  If that's too much, make it 1000 or 900 pixels, with higher resolution files priced in steps according to expected use. 

 

Offline Todd Muskopf

  • Authenticated Members
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6866
    • View Profile
    • http://www.muskopf.org
Re: Digital Only...
« Reply #10 on: May 10, 2017, 08:37:21 PM »
Screw it.

If I don't want to give away the full res files, I don't have to.

The end.

Offline Jeff Behm

  • Authenticated Members
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 12306
    • View Profile
    • http://www.behmphoto.com
Re: Digital Only...
« Reply #11 on: May 11, 2017, 08:15:37 AM »
Where is the old  +1 when we need it?

Offline Darren Cassese

  • Authenticated Members
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7206
    • View Profile
    • http://www.fotoglyphics.com
Re: Digital Only...
« Reply #12 on: May 11, 2017, 01:48:25 PM »
Nobody "needs" a full res version of this product. I think you are more than fine to sell scaled digital files.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Think happy thoughts.  Think happy thoughts.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Baltimore, Maryland Wedding and Portrait Photographer

Offline Nanette Reid

  • Authenticated Members
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 710
    • View Profile
    • nanette reid | architectural & interior photographer
Re: Digital Only...
« Reply #13 on: May 12, 2017, 01:08:35 AM »
Where is the old  +1 when we need it?

Can I +1 that too? ;)

Offline Todd Muskopf

  • Authenticated Members
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6866
    • View Profile
    • http://www.muskopf.org
Re: Digital Only...
« Reply #14 on: May 12, 2017, 07:36:16 AM »
Group hug... ;)

Offline Joe Federer

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 10175
    • View Profile
    • http://www.federerphotography.com
Re: Digital Only...
« Reply #15 on: May 27, 2017, 08:18:14 PM »
I'll be the guy that breaks up the group hug.   (for the sake of discussion, of course...hah!)

Todd, as good as you are (and I believe you are fantastic), I would never hire you if I couldn't get the digitals.  It would absolutely 100% disqualify you from getting my money.

I don't want the digital files "as a cheaper way to get prints".  The digital files, themselves, have value to me.  That is the final, end product, I want.  The digital file is not a means to an end - it IS an end, in-and-of itself.

That said, simply charge whatever you feel they are worth*.  If you want to change 3k for a single digital... fine.  But you should have it for sale; not doing so is a huge mistake, imho.



*how much to charge, or how, is a completely different topic.  Personally, I'd include the digital file and simply increase my session price to reflect the added value... however, my business model and experience is very different from yours and I don't think that'd be the best option for you.   I'd probably price it at whatever your cost for a 16x24 canvas would be... and I'd include it with any print larger than 20x30 or something.


Offline Darren Cassese

  • Authenticated Members
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7206
    • View Profile
    • http://www.fotoglyphics.com
Re: Digital Only...
« Reply #16 on: May 28, 2017, 10:48:00 AM »
I agree 100% with Joe and that is how I shop as well.

Simply price the digital according to where you want your sales to be. It should be that simple and then you're not weeding out good clients.

I think the days of re-ordering prints from photographers are relatively dead and therefore any sales model that attempts to repeat the days of old are doomed. So price accordingly and if all they want is one digital file that can produce a single 16x24 then sell it to them!
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Think happy thoughts.  Think happy thoughts.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Baltimore, Maryland Wedding and Portrait Photographer

Offline Houston George

  • Resident Cheapskate
  • Authenticated Members
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1141
    • View Profile
    • http://www.houstons-photography.com
Re: Digital Only...
« Reply #17 on: May 28, 2017, 07:19:45 PM »
While I agree the digital files almost have to be made available in these times, charging too much (in the customers opinion) may put you at odds with clients as much as not selling them at all. The majority of people don't recognize the value of digital files to the artist just like they think print prices are absurd because it's just a two dollar piece of paper. After all, they want the digital files because they want to save money. Pricing the files on an equal plane with expected print sales is just asking for trouble, fair or not.

I thinking Todd's idea of not selling at all might be the least bumpy road to take. 
Houston

Offline Joe Federer

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 10175
    • View Profile
    • http://www.federerphotography.com
Re: Digital Only...
« Reply #18 on: May 28, 2017, 11:49:11 PM »
After all, they want the digital files because they want to save money.

I think this is an extremely faulty assertion.

(I've said this before on this site)

If I could get a dozen 4x6's, a few 5x7s and a few 8x10s, three canvas 16x24's, and a 20x30 .... for the same price as I could get a digital file.   I'd very very likely pick the digital file.  I  (standing in for what my clients tell me that want AND what I've SEEN my clients do) want to email images around, I want to put them on online galleries that I share with family and friends from around the world, I want to put them in family albums (that contain a hundred shots -- the 'pro' stuff being only one page of a 20 page album), I want to use them in birthday slideshows, I want to drop them on instagram and facebook, I want backups and images that don't degrade with time, I want to put it as my digital resume cover photo, etc, etc, etc.

The digital file is not a cheaper way to create prints.  The file, AS A FILE, has value.


Further, making your money on prints is (imho) not a good long term solution.  You aren't providing a lot of value in the creation of the print. Your value comes in the creation of the image.  Charge accordingly for that and don't worry about holding the image ransom or concerning yourself with the delivery mechanism.

I've sold this way for almost a decade -- and once you explain to someone where you add value and why things cost what they do, people are very receptive.   I'm NOT saying Todd should do this -- he clearly doesn't believe in it, and it's hard to sell something you don't really believe in -- but I think it's worth investigating having a price for your digital files.  (I should also note I think there is a certain 'cachet' in not ever releasing anything digital and sticking to the "I only sell finished art"* line)



*note, I believe the file IS finished art... but I understand others disagree and that it CAN be a selling point.  For example, I only do high-end albums...  I rarely sell them because they are so expensive, but I think it helps sell my service as a 'no compromises' service when I tell them "sorry, I only do these amazing albums and won't do something lesser"

Offline Duck

  • Authenticated Members
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 262
  • Freelance commercial photographer and instructor
    • View Profile
    • Unitas Photography
Re: Digital Only...
« Reply #19 on: May 29, 2017, 01:26:02 AM »
A short while back I attended a workshop hosted by my local ASMP chapter, "Pricing Your Work in Today’s Market". The presenter, past ASMP president and current marketing consultant Judy Herrmann, touched on a lot of points I was already familiar with and experiencing with my own clients. One of the points she stressed is that the current culture of multimedia, multi-social and multi-level marketing has blurred the lines of traditional images sales. The old standards of licensing are being challenged and more and more companies and individuals are seeking exclusive, royalty free image licensing simply because there are just too many outlets to keep track of. Specifically internet useage as by its intrinsic nature makes it applicable to a 'global' license, which no one in a small business will ever pay.

The reality is that with the popularity of social media sites, the proliferation of cellphone cameras and the instant gratification mentality we have to adjust to the demands of the client. Yes, it's a juggling act and yes, it can be very frustrating but the alternative is loss of business. I think the retail market has suffered the most by the current trends and technology and I personally don't envy the work you guys have to do to make ends meet. The one thing that I am seeing that really makes a big difference is selling a personalized service rather than just selling a product. The photographers that create an 'experience' for their customers seem to do better than others. What I have noticed about these guys is that they place more emphasis on getting their client involved and as an active participant, a collaborator, and not so much as a client.

I know a boudoir photographer that had partnered with a spa to create a 'package' deal starting of with a makeover and culminating in a sexy shoot. A portrait photographer out in Port Angeles, WA insists on doing face to face sit down sales with his clients once the 'proofs' are ready. This ensures his clients get a chance to see, feel and compare the differences in sizes and finishes of an actual print. This tangible reinforcement has allowed him to be able to upsell his work because he closes the gab between perception of what a printed piece may be and the reality of what it's like to hold one in your hands.

The takeaway in all this, as I see it, is that you need to connect with your customers and identify what their needs are and be able to deliver that to them. More importantly, though, is that you need to identify where they perceive the value to be and where they don't and price yourself according to those perceptions. So if they see you as a valuable asset to 'create' a professional image but see little value in the digital file, then you need to agree with them in your pricing. Service fees will be a little higher while the cost of the digital files will be less.

One other thing that Judy mentioned that I found interesting and can see the reasons behind it is this. She said that more and more people are looking for a bottom line cost rather than a pricing breakdown. In this case she was referring to commercial clients  but I'm sure the same can apply to the retail market as well. I'm sure you've done a cost of doing business analysis. Base your pricing on that and add a percentage for profit and maneuverability and at that point who cares about the files. You've made your money.

Just my two bits.
« Last Edit: May 29, 2017, 01:29:37 AM by Duck »
My name is Charles Unitas but friends call me Duck

"If you didn't learn something new today, you wasted a day."

Offline Darren Cassese

  • Authenticated Members
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7206
    • View Profile
    • http://www.fotoglyphics.com
Re: Digital Only...
« Reply #20 on: May 29, 2017, 08:15:25 PM »
A key question I'd have if I were selling Todd's product is how often these clients want large prints on the wall?

My boudoir clients love little albums and sometimes make a 4x6 book for themselves but not one wants large prints. Vanity usually doesn't extend to one's wall and is often a private affair. So it would seem futile to sell print packages over digital in those circumstances. This is why so many Boudoir photographers price digital delivery similar to old school print packages or 1-5 images for $xxx and 5-10 for $xxx and unlimited for $xxx or whatever.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Think happy thoughts.  Think happy thoughts.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Baltimore, Maryland Wedding and Portrait Photographer

Offline Jeff Behm

  • Authenticated Members
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 12306
    • View Profile
    • http://www.behmphoto.com
Re: Digital Only...
« Reply #21 on: May 29, 2017, 09:11:22 PM »
In response to Todd's query, I like Darren's comment about albums as the best possible avenue, since the photos might be misconstrued as overreaching vanity if hung on the well. The same images in a discrete and high quality album become an artistic rendition with the potential for greater acceptance by clients. Wall prints can still be offered of course, but I'd make my first offering include some sort of album. If purchased, I'd include the digital files as part of the buy.

Expanding to additional things to consider, Duck's recap of Judy Herrmann's presentation reflects more of how I think of my commercial work these days. 

Offline Joe Federer

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 10175
    • View Profile
    • http://www.federerphotography.com
Re: Digital Only...
« Reply #22 on: May 30, 2017, 10:13:23 AM »
She said that more and more people are looking for a bottom line cost rather than a pricing breakdown.

This is something I've noticed a lot in the past 5 years.   My clients used to start by asking how much per hour, where are our pricelists, etc...  and now they just want to know the 'all-in' cost and their eyes almost glaze over when I go over the package (price) details.

Offline Houston George

  • Resident Cheapskate
  • Authenticated Members
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1141
    • View Profile
    • http://www.houstons-photography.com
Re: Digital Only...
« Reply #23 on: May 30, 2017, 08:04:44 PM »

The digital file is not a cheaper way to create prints.  The file, AS A FILE, has value.

Obviously the file has value beyond prints, and yes, many people want the file because they can then order prints, canvases, and metals for less than photographer prices. My only point was that the majority of clients (maybe not yours) expect a digital file to cost less than what an array of print products would cost. 
Houston

Offline Duck

  • Authenticated Members
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 262
  • Freelance commercial photographer and instructor
    • View Profile
    • Unitas Photography
Re: Digital Only...
« Reply #24 on: May 30, 2017, 10:06:09 PM »
Obviously the file has value beyond prints, and yes, many people want the file because they can then order prints, canvases, and metals for less than photographer prices. My only point was that the majority of clients (maybe not yours) expect a digital file to cost less than what an array of print products would cost.
I touched on this in my post earlier.

If you have identified this (digital files cost less) as a problem a likely solution is to flip your pricing so that more is paid for the service and less for the product rather than trying to insist the product has the value and have clients balk at that.

With that pricing model it can also give you leverage by allowing you to give 'discounts' if a client buys into profitable product purchases. Meaning, if a client ends up wanting to buy large prints, canvases or even the newer metal or acrylic prints, you can offer a 'discount' off your service fee. Which in reality wouldn't be a discount but more of a 'shift' from the service side to the retail side.

Hope I explained that right... but then again, just my two bits.
My name is Charles Unitas but friends call me Duck

"If you didn't learn something new today, you wasted a day."