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Providing a CD to customer

I see a lot of photographers offering a CD with all of the photos they take included in the photo shoot price. I'm wondering if these are watermarked and full size with a release so the customer can print them. Is this really a good option? I'm just starting out trying to do pet photo shoots and most people think they should just get the CD but I think the files should stay in my control.


  • Kevin KrowsKevin Krows United StatesMember Posts: 1,463
    Do they still make CD's?
  • Kevin KrowsKevin Krows United StatesMember Posts: 1,463
    Kidding aside. A photographer that offers a CD of all their original images tells me two things.

    1. They are clinging to a very old delivery technology and are unwilling to learn how to use internet downloading via a host site, ftp, or cloud style service like Drop Box.

    2. Don't know what they are doing as a business person as it relates to their photography work.

    Tim, since you are "just starting out", you need to carefully measure how you position the products you offer for sale. This includes digital files. Everything you do needs to point in one direction ... your ability to be compensated for your time, talent, equipment, and profitability.

    Let's say that $150/hr is your magic number with a 3 hour minimum. $450.00 is your minimum requirement to take care of all your needs and feed your family. If someone paid you upfront for your original files (unprocessed) in exchange for the full size originals it's probably not a bad deal.

    If the client wants finished "fully processed" images, you'll need a formula to calculate that additional cost. In my case, on average, every 1 hour of location time is equal to 2 hours in post production. My "bench rate" for post production is one-half my location rate. Using our hypothetical example, I would charge another 6 hours of time at a rate of $75/hr. or an additional $450.00 for fully processed images. Customer would pay a total of $900.00.

    No doubt, digital files continue to play an increasing role in photography business and you are smart to include that option for your clients. However, just because they are electronic files and don't include paper and ink doesn't make them any less valuable. Fact is, they are more valuable because they can be used by your clients for multiple things (whatever your license says).

    Now, don't all those photographers giving all their original files away on a CD for $49.99 look pretty stupid? I'll assure you, 99.9% of them have day jobs, are not profitable, and their photography work is, at best, average.
  • Lazy photographers looking for the easiest and cheapest way to "do business"..... From a clients stand point; what's the point of hiring a "professional" photographer if all you get is a disc of digital images that you still need to print yourself? That "pro" photographer didn't do his/her job of delivering what they were hired to deliver. I'd bet that 99% of those clients NEVER print a single photo.
  • Kevin KrowsKevin Krows United StatesMember Posts: 1,463
    edited April 2015
    Not sure I agree with you entirely. (THE POINT IS) Digital images are sometimes preferred by clients as they have more value in terms of how they can be used. Social media, web sites, mobile devices, and so on. The business of photography isn't based on prints alone and in some cases...not at all.

    What professional photographers need to understand is the real value is in the capture and processing. As such, that's where the focus of their business (and profits) should be and included in the cost of goods sold regardless of what they are delivering to the client.

    I've done several "digital only" projects for clients over the years and they have been very successful for both my clients and for my business. It's really about what the client wants and being able to drive a profit at the same time.
  • Tim UeltzenTim Ueltzen Member Posts: 30
    Thank you for the feedback.
    I didn't think giving the full resolution file was a good option but I guess it can be if they pay for it.
    I do have a day job but I'm trying to start a small business to help support my passion when I get to retire and I don't want to downgrade the professional photographers making a living by offering low cost options.
  • Kevin KrowsKevin Krows United StatesMember Posts: 1,463
    Tim --- You are very wise to follow the path of those who are successful in the industry even though you haven't reach the pinnacle of full time status. Once a low baller...always a low baller. You can't change that expectation you set with your clients.

    Good luck and may the "Force of Good Business Decision Making" be with you.
  • So what do u suggest.. Im trying to stop using cds for clients but that is what they like!! is there a website other than zenfolio where I can give them a client gallery?
  • Kevin KrowsKevin Krows United StatesMember Posts: 1,463
    Drop Box ... If you use the free account and only use it to deliver images to your client you won't have to pay a nickel. Client just logs in and downloads the files directly to their computer. They can then burn their own DVD or copy files to a thumb drive.
  • Terry MercerTerry Mercer East Tennessee, USAMember Posts: 22
    Personally, I refuse to mess with CD's (or DVD's)... if the client is 'paying for it' - I'll deliver a 'coupon code' for them to download what they paid for... limited to 'digital downloads' (no prints or packages for that coupon, and limited to the amount they paid me, based on what they paid for... whether it's 25 images or 500 images).

    While I have a dropbox, and other options, if they can't pull the images they want from my site, because of technology reasons (slow internet connection, no home computer, or such) then it's THUMB DRIVE (they supply or pay for). Dropbox requires more explanation, and setup, and I don't want to spend my time explaining why it's not working, or why their files are 'missing' when they expire or I need more space to get in video or studio sound files.

    And yes, I agree with Kevin, only 'personal use' customers want prints (or ask for CD's)... most all of the commercial use clients want digital files, be it advertising, newspapers, year books, magazines, record labels, or web businesses... they could care less about 'prints' most of the time.

    And it really is a challenge to 'make a living' in photography... and keep things affordable for the average person. Having 'sponsors' (third party companies, and venues that pay for using some of the images) is the only way I've been able to avoid shooting weddings, families, and pets the last dozen years. And it's still often a struggle... and challenge... and daily effort to market, advertise, and book the next paying shoot.
  • wysokapoolkawysokapoolka Member Posts: 1
    don't deliver photos on CD! If you wanna be elegant then you must check exclusive wooden boxes at WoodyWoodClick.com :smiley:
  • chirag guptachirag gupta Member Posts: 3
    it really is a challenge to 'make a living' in photography..
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