So… if you read my last post about Prints vs Digitals then you know that I am sharing some thoughts, ideas and suggestions on this subject over the next few weeks. This time I am going to attempt to answer the questions of cost…. why digital files are more expensive and why printing through your photographer is more expensive than simply printing at local or non local printers.
First- why are digital files more expensive to purchase than prints? After all, it doesn’t cost the photographer any money to send me the file but it does cost to print it. The standard answer to that questions is value. The digital file is the photographers highest value product. That is because once the rights to the image are granted (in whatever capacity that may be) that image can be reproduced as many times and for as many people as the person with the rights to the image desires (this is not for commercial photography, that is a whole different ball game that I am not addressing, this is for family photography and the personal use of it). Now, some photographers put restrictions on sizes and different things in their releases but in all honesty, for the most part there is no good way to keep track of this (unless we raid your homes :)) so we can assume it will be printed and shared in whatever way the client desires. That makes the digital file the photographers most valuable product. And to address the fact that it doesn’t cost anything to the photographer to sell the digital files, well, yes it does. I personally pay a monthly fee to a service that will allow me to send large files over the internet as most average email servers will not allow this. AND there is a cost for the CD and/or thumb drive that the files may be put on depending on the collection that is purchased. AND it takes quite a bit of time to prep the files, upload them or burn them.
On the second question… why are prints so much less to print at a local printer (ie; Sams Club, CVS, etc…) than from the photographer? Well, again there are several reasons. First of all, in most cases the paper that the prints are printed on from those chain printing companies is not quite a nice of quality. Any of you that have received prints from your photographer vs prints from those type printers will should notice a difference. The professional labs that are often used with a professional photographers usually offer great service and will call if coloring looks off or cropping or there are any other issues with the files that are sent for print. They also have professional color labs that calibrate for accurate color (as long as the file that is being sent to them is good also). All that makes it more for the photographer to print as well. That is not to say that you can not get great looking prints, canvases or other items at chain store printers but there is a risk they may not look as good as what might come from your photographer. Also- it takes the photographer time (again, an expense to the client) to prep, size, upload, package and ship the prints to you. For example, when you order an 8×10 print from TGP that file is cropped to the proper size that you are ordering it in (that doesn’t happen at CVS), checked for coloring, and then care is taken to upload it to the printer, receive and check it from the printer so that you are receiving the highest quality print. Make sense?
So- I went to a long time clients home for a session not long ago and saw these canvases hanging in her home. She had these printed at Walgreens (I think)! Now, the quality of the canvas is not quite as good as what she would have received from TGP but honestly- they look great! I was shocked when she told me she had them printed there and happy for her! AND REALLY happy to see TGP art work hanging up (yes hanging up…. not just sitting on the computer!:)) in her home. Even though the are a little holiday looking! LOL! No worries… she has many other TGP prints hanging around and on shelves. Here is a picture of her holiday canvases printed at at a chain store.
I will say, she is lucky that they printed correctly. Canvas can be tricky as they wrap around the sides. All that must be accounted for when printing. When I print canvases for a client, I actually start from the original file, re edit and then crop and scale to the size the client wants measuring carefully not to wrap any important parts around the side of the canvas.
So- do you have any TGP artwork hanging in your home or are you guilty of storing all those amazing digital files on your computer (hang head in shame LOL!)? I would love to see it and may even feature it on a coming up blog post! Take a picture of it and email it to me at [email protected] Maybe you will inspire some of us guilty of storing our digital files instead of printing them to actually print and hang!!! 🙂