That Question About Digitals

That Question About Digitals


“Are digitals included?”

Isn’t the photo above cute? That’s your disc of digitals you purchased from a “professional” hanging on the wall. You know… where beautiful, hand-picked professional prints should be. When it comes to personal portrait services, is that really the polished product you sought out? I’ve come to a few conclusions as to why this is becoming a daily asked question for myself, and I think discussing these will help ease some anxiety for clients seeking out a quality professional product and at a fair cost. Spoiler alert – it’s usually due to an uneducated client (no, not an uneducated person, but someone who is unfamiliar with what is possible from a professional photography service). More importantly, a little bit of information can go a long way in helping clients get the perfect product they will fall in love with, and that is always the ultimate goal.

As a full service professional photography business, I don’t believe in offering half of a job well done. Going through great lengths in taking amazing photographs only toss you a disc, kick you out the door, and hope everything pans out for ya… well, that just doesn’t seem like a professional photography service. To equate this back to film days, it’d be like tossing you the roll of film out of the camera and expecting you to know exactly what to do to achieve that awesome looking print you want on your living room wall. The medium has changed from film to digital, but the process in which to attain superior print products has not changed. There is a lot to do and decide after the photo shoot is done!

A quick disclaimer here: we are talking about the every day, average person looking for personal portraiture – not marketing, commercial, or other forms of promotional/distribution purposes. There are many many reasons for and uses of photographic media, which are coupled with pricing and terms of use for very specific purposes, and personal portraits should not be confused as the such. When I refer to “personal” clients, I am talking specifically about clients who want photography created of them, for them, to be enjoyed personally and with friends and family. This is a quick list of thoughts on the subject, I’m sure it will evolve over time.

Why Personal Portrait Clients Really Want Professional Products

  • Professional photography services do not stop after “the button is clicked,” or even after edits are completed on a computer. It’s the job of a photographer to know how to deliver dazzlingly prints that make you all giddy inside. We have a myriad of sample images from our handpicked professional print house, along with a range of additional options for your photo product needs. Clients often leave our consults happily surprised at what is possible for printing from today’s top rated print shops, presented with options they didn’t know were available to them. In other words, they know coming to their shoot that they are going to end up with an awesome product. It’s guaranteed.
  • Making photo selects, determining sizes and print materials, and even framing decisions are harder than most would imagine. The worse thing that can happen is a client ordering the wrong thing. Our job during print selection is to help figure out what fits/looks best and make this a pleasant experience rather than an exhausting nightmare. We even have software which can take a photo of your living room and we can virtually hang your favorite pictures on the wall that are to-scale, so you know if you are ordering the right size for that specific presentation. Again, my job as a professional in the field of photography is to provide you with an enjoyable experience – from beginning to end, not to give my clients a headache because I left them hanging, assuming they can perform the end part of my job with the same quality result.
  • Photos are presented on a 70″ HD screen, meaning clients can see images at true size, or even see a selection of prints side by side, and not having to squint at a computer screen.
  • Pro prints houses are handpicked and use the very best materials, ensuring your products retain their jaw-dropping detail and color for years and years, so you never have to worry about prints degrading, fading or color shifting over time.
  • Clients leave photo presentations excited to get their hands on the final product and confident in knowing exactly how they’ll turn out and look hanging at home.
  • Custom design services are included, in the event clients want a custom collage, invite or book designed.
  • Satisfaction is guaranteed. We receive and review products to ensure they are perfect. Clients are offered an opportunity to review photos at time of pickup to ensure they are happy with the product.
  • It’s very important to point out that clients often call not knowing why they are asking for digitals, coming in to the conversation with a predetermined, uneducated idea of what they want to get for a certain price. In the case of wanting digitals – without knowing it, they are pretty much asking us to grant them the ability to create a very unsatisfactory product that they will not be nearly as happy with in the end, all in the efforts to save a couple dollars. If we did so, we just failed at our job. It’d be like buying a Ferrari only to ask us to put a cheap engine in it. Our job is to provide a full service professional, quality, educated, caring service, and sometimes that starts with saying “no,” and showing you a product that exceeds your expectations – all at a very fair cost.
  • We truly care that your experience with us goes full circle, and you get the superior experience you deserve, from complimentary consult to photo pickup. The words our clients usually say during print pickup is usually, “they look better than I expected,” with a large smile.

We encourage you to come on in to our studio and take a gander at our amazing print samples so you can see what your next photography experience should be like. Unfortunately, to fully explain some of the issues in current photography business trends, we do have to point out the low points and some of the bad business practices which have misled many clients in asking for the wrong end product from their photographers. For those who would like to continue to read up on the discussion, here is what some of you may have experienced in the past.

Misguided Reasons For Personal Portrait Clients Wanting Digitals

  • Inexperienced and/or lazy photographers offer digitals because it’s quick, easy, and/or cheap. To put it bluntly, they either don’t care they are delivering half of a product to personal portrait clients, or they have not taken the time to put together solid processes to deliver a quality print product. They may have no idea how much of the journey is left in order to create amazing looking print products (or how hard it may be for the clients to even choose proper selects and print mediums). This is how the “era” of offering digitals has presented itself, through unpolished, unprofessional photographers going against their own instincts, all in the name of delivering a cheaper product. Often times it is because they simply haven’t taken the time themselves to experience what a full-service experience and product is like, so they themselves are completely missing the train.
  • Clients are soon convinced that this is the best route, “best bang for the buck,” but… they really don’t know why, they just heard it was a good deal or they “get more,” so that’s what they come asking for.
  • Remember – this is what clients are convinced they want (digitals), but in reality it’s not what they really want. That should be a photographer’s job to help them with that, show them real, hold-em-in-your-hand examples. But if you are just handed a disc, you don’t know any better.
  • The delusional photographer industry has spawned equally delusional clientele, offering-up and lusting after digitals in the name of “cutting cost,” yet they usually haven’t thought the process through and/or have never had a full service professional experience and product. This leaves so many clients with a mediocre experience and out in the dark.
  • If I’m really concerned about the end results, I’m not going to pretend I can do a better job than the guy I hired to do… that…very job. Did you snatch the needle out of your last surgeon’s hand after they performed an operation on you and go, “thanks doc, I got it from here, I’ll save some money on this operation bill and sew myself up.” We know how that’s going to end. Are you laughing? Why? You just asked me do to the same thing.
  • Clients may want digitals to share online. Remember these photos are for you, people. Facebook will swallow your photos, shared with the world, be “liked” and digested in 30 seconds flat, and the rest of the world will move on, leaving only you to appreciate your photos, which… you’ll want hanging on your wall. Digital – great for instant sharing, not too hot for presentation nor appreciation. “Want to see my professional photos?! Let me pull out my phone and show you them in their 4-inch glory!” Classy…
  • Clients seeking digitals have never experienced a comparison between a cheap department store print and a professional print house product that has been carefully perfected, it’s an eye-opening experience.
  • You can take digitals to the department store for crazy cheap…. for crazy poor quality, hit-and-miss prints. Oh yeah… and that minimum-wage employee behind the desk who just processed your photos while simultaneously making another Facebook status update really cares how your prints turnout.
  • You came to a professional for a reason, you want quality photos, but let’s not forget the end product will be the PRINTS.
  • Many digital determined clients who succeed in getting handed a CD don’t bother to print any photos, and if they do, it’s usually not nearly the end product they were seeking.
  • Most importantly – This isn’t Staples, photographers do not sell paper, they sell custom artwork (of you), let’s not get too worked up on the material it is applied to and at what cost you can get low quality prints for. You are buying all of the experience, knowledge, and effort that it took to make that image, not the paper it is on. You called that photographer for a reason, because of what they can put on that paper which you’ll cherish forever.