I have debated about selling digital files right from day one of starting my business. Up until now I have only sold prints and products. To be honest, I am still struggling with my decision and not sure whether it is the right one or not. But for now, I am going with it.
My struggle stems from wanting my clients to have the best products and prints they can from our photography session together. I spend hours after a session editing the photos and getting them ready for print. I then have them printed at a professional lab, whose printers are calibrated and whose colour profiles I use when editing to ensure that what comes back is exactly as I intended it to be. They use high quality paper and their products (canvases, mounts) are of a standard that I would be proud to have on display in my home. When I sell a digital file, I lose all that control (yes, I am a control freak 😉 ).
I have had test prints done at a couple of ‘local’ stores and the results are disastrous and embarrassing! This is the scene/conversation that goes through my head:
Joe purchases digital files following our photography session and has a large print made to hang on his lounge-room wall. He uses the local department store, who also offer an in-store photo lab. The print comes back and the skin tones are yellow and the grass is neon green. His mate visits.
Joe: “Hey, we had some professional photos taken the other week”
Mate: “Cool, how did they come up”
Joe: “Great, got one blown up, have a look”
His mate looks at the photo and thinks to himself ‘Oh dear, why are they so yellow and why is Joe half chopped off on the end?
Mate: “Wow, where did you get those done”
Joe: “Moments by Min Photography took them”
His mate makes a mental note NEVER to use Moments by Min Photography if that is the quality of work she produces!
One way that I can hopefully reduce the risk of this, even just a little, is that I will provide clients with a 6×4 reference print of each digital file they purchase. That way they can see what their print/product ‘should’ look like.
Of course, you can still order all your prints/products direct from me to ensure a high quality article!
PRINTING RIGHTS v COPYRIGHT
Yes, there is a big difference! When you purchases digital images from Moments by Min Photography, you are purchasing PRINTING rights. This simply means that you can take your disc wherever you wish and print off as many copies and at whatever size you desire. However, you must print the images as they were presented on the disc because you do not have the copyright to those images. You must not change them! It is illegal for you to edit or alter those images in any way (other than cropping for different print sizes). I created those images and I am the owner of those images.
The reason photographers do not release or sell copyright is to protect our work. If someone alters or re-edits my images, it is no longer my work, and may very well be something I have no desire to take credit for. My style is fairly consistent and I in no way false advertise. What you see on my website and Facebook page is what you will get as my client – if that is not the style of shooting and editing you are after, then perhaps we are not the right fit as photographer/client. If you hire me, trust me to make beautiful images for you without you having to alter them.
I am lucky to have so many wonderful clients and the business that I do, but it is very important to me as a photographer to ensure my work is protected, credit is given where it is due, and the integrity of my work stays true.