Why A Photographer May Choose Not Sell Digital Files

There are many reasons a photogapher may choose not to offer digital files or may charge what a non-photography may consider a high price for files. Let’s go over a few of these as it pertains to About You Photography.

First of all, each image I take is the intellectual property of Michelle and About You Photography INC. What does this mean? It means I own it in every aspect. And that ownership, called copyright, is protected by federal copyright laws. I NEVER give up copyright. I may, on occasion and with special packages, grant PERSONAL PRINTING AUTHORIZATIONS. What does this mean? It allows the purchasing individual to print images off of a cd for their own PERSONAL use. Those images can not be used for advertising of any form, and those digital files can not be resold by the client nor can they be given away for any reason. They can only be used for personal use by the client. Remember, if there is ever any question…the proper thing to do is to ask the photographer. Occassionally, I grant commercial licensing and those guidelines are outlined in the contract paperwork.

Another reason a photographer may choose not to offer digital files is that they loose control over the printing of the images. Professional photographers use PROFESSIONAL labs, in which their images are printed on up to date, frequently calabrated and cleaned machines, on specialized papers and finishes, sprays and textures by personell specially trained to work with those specific machines and product lines. They are highly trained for QUALITY based service. They are trained to recognize color changes and problems, resolution issues, etc. These individuals are not simply given a short training class and thrown into a production situation in a QUANITY based business. I choose to use a professional lab because I am assured of a professional product that is created by trained professionals with a trained eye for the approprite detail. I can not get the same quality or service at a one hour quanity based consumer lab. And my clients deserve the professional quality I offer them. These professional services do not cost the photographer the 20 cents a Wal-Mart lab charges a non-professional consumer for a 4X6. There is a large differance in cost for a professional photographer to get the professional results and products they offer their clients.

Another reason a photographer may not choose to offer digital files is because each image is a reflection of my work. By releasing a file, we are opening up our work to be manipulated in ways we never intended. Believe it or not, there are many very undesireable “edits” floating around out there that I, as a professional photographer, would never allow to exist. A photographer’s work represents that professional photographer and their body of work. The photographer does not want any of their images misrepresenting their work. Believe it or not, what a non-photographer may do to a professional image may not be what the professional photographer wants to represent them. What a non-professional photographer thinks is cool for a short time frame, may completely turn off other potential clients.

Another reason a photogarpher may choose not to offer digital files is because of lost income. Part of a professional photographer’s income is print sales. The 4X6’s, 5X7’s, 8X10’s ect that come after a shoot. And, by providing digital files, those sales are gone. That is a reason why, if a photographer does offer digital files, they are at a high price. It is not a matter of just handing files over. And, there is still the hours of work flow that go into each of those digital files to make them amazing end images. Professional photographers have bills and overhead to pay as well.

Most professional photographers offer proefssional services and products. Unfortunately, there are many people out there that think that by just owning a digital camera, they are now a “professional” photographer. Nothing could be further from the truth. Professional Photographers offer professional products, use professional equipment and KNOW HOW TO USE that equipment properly. Anyone can spend big money on a camera, but…can they use it properly? Can they properly light, retain, pose, capture, edit, display, and represent you, your family, your products, your everything? A professional photographer does not offer a turn and burn service…meaning shooting a bunch of random images, throwing them on a cd, then handing them over with no work flow or finishing. If that is what you are considering having done for your “professionally” taken images, you might as well hand the little point and shoot you may be carrying in your purse to the neighbor’s kid and tell them to snap away. The results will be the same.

Professional phtoography is an investment. Whether it be for your wedding, your senior pictures, your stallion promotion, your food menu, etc. Yes, professional photography is not Wal-Mart priced, because it’s not a super fast quality based service. It is a service that provides you with quality products and results. And it takes professional knowledge, education, equipment, and work ethics to achieve those end results.


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