Digitial vs Print – the big debate!

As a baby photographer one of the first questions I get asked regularly when a potential client enquires about a newborn or baby photo session is ‘How much is it for digital files on a disk?’  When I tell them the cost it often scares them away as in the digital age there are an abundance of photographers who charge very little for a photo session plus all the images on a disk.

My question is this… Why do you want digital?

From my own research it seems to me most people want digital because it can often be the cheapest option and it takes away the need to make a decision between which of their baby photos they want to buy.

Yes having all of the baby photos from your photography session is great but one day you will need to decide which ones you print to go on the wall or in an album…. or will you?  How many of you reading this have had a photo session and received a disk and the disk is sat in a drawer?  Do you know that disk storage is on its way out?  In fact many new computers don’t even have disk drives! So what are you going to do when you go to print them and there is no way to get them off the disk, or even worse the disk is corrupt and unusable?  Disks aren’t infallible and don’t last forever.  USB is now the best option… but then come 5, 10 years down the line will there be some new technology that replaces USB?

Don’t get me wrong disk/USB is a great way to have all the images!  I bought the disk option from my wedding and 2 photo sessions of my kids.  However 1 of the sessions is still on the disk… where Im not sure, Im not even sure if it will still work if I put it in my computer!  My wedding and the other photo session though I printed out all of the images to put in a box to keep safe and I got my favourites printed huge for around the house.  Again the disks are sitting in a drawer some place but at least this time I know they are all printed and safe, not at the mercy of unreliable media and technological change.  In the end too I think I spent more between the disks and printing myself than I would have buying what I really wanted to buy from the photographers!

Ultimately I think when people go for a baby or family photoshoot their main intention is to get something beautiful for their walls and I know from my own experience my families that do buy for their wall have lots more satisfaction from their purchase than those buying the digital files.  The smiles on their faces when I unveil their beautiful images ready to put right up on their walls makes my day every time!

You may ask ‘well why do you offer digital files?’  Well in this day and age I would be silly not to!  However I price them high, higher than my wall products.  Why would you buy digital files if for almost £200 less you could get a large image printed and framed ready for your wall, a couple of desk frames and a bunch of prints?  I can guarantee those products, held in your hands will make you happier than a wee USB that you have to plug into your computer to look at!  Also if you do buy the USB and go to print it… do you go to a professional lab? or Asda, Boots etc?  Don’t get me wrong these places are great for printing out your day to day snaps but why pay all this money to get a professional to create your images, working tirelessly to make sure the colours are perfect and the image is the best it can be to then take it to a grocery store printer where the printers aren’t specially calibrated and the prints match nothing like what they are meant to look like! Here is a blog post from the fabulous ‘Paint the Moon’ where you can see how wildly consumer print labs can vary.

I do understand the importance of digital though so that is why I include it in my pricing, and some of my collections actually include a USB of all the images.  Also every purchased image can be given as a web ready watermarked image to share in email and on social media.  However for me digital should be an add on or an extra, not the main product.  Maybe I am a bit precious about how my work ends up but the signals my families give me all weigh heavily in the direction of beautiful printed and ready to use rather than digital which makes me so happy!

I hope this all doesn’t come across as too much of a rant, I have tried to be balanced as I do see the benefit in both but when I sit and have a cup of tea in my studio looking at all the beautiful wall art I just cant help but wonder why would anyone opt for digital when you can take home something so beautiful and ready to put on your wall… or why have a usb when you could have a beautiful album to flick through anytime.

Just food for thought…