Digitals vs. Physical Prints and Albums | Atlanta Wedding Photographer
I've done it all. From my first year of shooting weddings until now I've had various options available to my wedding clients for how they receive their final photographs. When I first started I included the "disc of images". The digital files that are ever so popular. I realize we live in a digital society and I realize that as a bride you feel your priority is to receive all your digital files (I did too) but today I want to share with you what I've learned over the past several years. 100 weddings (and counting) later this is what I've found and why I'm "swimming upstream" to do things differently.
Just over a year ago and countless conversations later I realized couples who had been married less than 5 years (like myself) all had something in common. Most of us had received a disc of our wedding pictures and like myself, few (less than 1%) of us had done anything with them.
We received it and placed it somewhere safe. We assumed we'd have all this free time after we were married because we wouldn't be planning a wedding but life didn't slow down so our best intentions of making beautiful prints, selecting pictures to create canvases out of or even "scrapbooking" our own wedding remained as intentions. Years later, with the exception of the disc, we had nothing to show for the investment we'd made in our wedding photography.
We had wedding pictures we may have loved or were disappointed by but either way we'd done nothing with them. Our wedding stories simply sat on a disc or in a folder on our computers and hadn't been seen or thought of since.
It was then I thought to myself, "Is this the best I can do for my clients?". Is this truly putting them first or a way to disguise better serving myself?
I realized they (my couples) were making a significant investment in their photography and having nothing to show for it after the wedding but a flimsy disc or thumb drive.
The resounding answer was "It's serving me more than them." (It's easier and more profitable for me to give them a disc of images but it isn't "generational proof".)
So it was then I decided to take a stand and do things differently. I realize it's not what brides believe they need or want. While 98% of other photographers include the digital images, I don't.
I know I lose bookings and weddings left and right simply because I'm not including the digital files BUT from my experience if you're going to look back on your wedding memories in 10 or 20 years, a disc of images and digital files aren't the end all be all. Prints never become obsolete. Albums are something that will last for decades and each time you lift the cover and turn the pages it will bring you back to that special day and those most treasured memories.
Not only can the disc be damaged, lost, stolen, or misplaced but in 30 years from now will those digital files even be readable? When you go back and look at pictures from decades past it's always either prints or photo albums.
I compare our "digital files" to the slides our grandparents once had and enjoyed seeing via projection. In their day projecting these images was "a big deal". Looking back it was quite trendy as this type of media, projection and viewing of imagery didn't last.
A box of slides today has slightly more value as you can hold those up to the light and see what the image was. If a digital file is lost or damaged there's nothing you can do to see any piece of it. It's simply gone forever.
Trends and technology will come and go. Discs became a "mainstream" item that was popular but that lasted less than 10 years before it was replaced with digital downloads and thumb drives. There are many computers today that don't even have a disc drive anymore (mine included). Though it seems .jpgs and digitals will be around forever chances are likely that in 5, 10 or even 15 years from now, we'll be onto using something else and all these digital files that we enjoy now will either be long forgotten or lost forever.
My grandfather loves to get out the old pictures and tell stories of our ancestors past. These stories are brought to life and names are placed with faces by the tangible photographs that have lasted and spanned over decades of time.
Tangible evidence of their lives filled with love stories, weddings, childhood memories and relationships. Stories still being told and brought to life in the form of photographic prints.
In my heart I sincerely want to do what's best for my couples. You can poll any of the brides and grooms I've worked with and they'll tell you I go above and beyond to exceed all their expectations. This was the biggest driving factor in why I no longer simply offer to come and shoot your wedding and then burn or copy those images to a cd/flash drive for you.
Honestly- I'd make significantly more money doing this but at the end of the day I don't feel it's giving the best service, option or end product to my couples.
At the end of the day I truly believe handing you a disc of images or giving you access to digitally download them is a short term gain. Yes, of course, I do provide you with options to also receive all your digital files and photographs. No- I don't hold them hostage and refuse to ever have them.
Years from now I see and truly believe that my couples will be the "lucky ones" and the ones living with "no regrets".
Because when all their friends have a limited number of their wedding pictures scattered throughout their home or have lost their discs, flash drives and had computers and backup drives crash resulting in a total loss- they'll still have their wedding pictures. My hope is while their friends are lamenting about how they never did anything with their wedding pictures, my couples will smile with confidence knowing they have a beautiful, heirloom album they've already enjoyed countless times. It's then their favorite wedding memories and this beautiful album will become absolutely priceless.
Over the years I may miss out on making more profits due to lost bookings, weddings, and wages (simply due to cost of providing these handmade, quality, heirloom pieces of art) but knowing these albums will be enjoyed and these wedding stories will be told for decades to come, brings a smile to my face and joy to my heart knowing I'm doing the right thing.