So, do I just get a CD of images?

This post is long over due. I get this question a lot, “So, do I just get a CD of images?”, and when I hear it, my heart hurts. This is a loaded question, way more loaded than any client or potential client probably intends it to be. It’s loaded because it’s personal and because I’ve had potential clients argue about it and say hurtful things. It always makes me sad.

In short, the answer is kinda, but not really, and there are a lot of reasons why, which I will explain below. There are ways to get a CD, but there’s a lot of reasons why we don’t just give one over, and never full sized images, and here’s why…

The Why
One of my favorite parts about what I do, other than the photography portion, is getting to know my clients. Often times my clients become good friends, and when they call to have me design a card, we end up chatting for a good 30 minutes about life and the funny things our kids are doing these days. It’s because we spend time together, planning sessions, during the session, and during ordering and later when they call for the next big life event. I get to know their children over the years. I get to watch them grow. My clients become family to me. I truly feel if I just handed over a CD after a session this would never happen, it would be a disservice to my clients. We’d never get to collaborate on how to print the images, or on Christmas card layout ideas or senior photo books. I never want to be a portrait studio that is based on volume. My desire is to be your friend, to get to know your family and to be here to create art and celebrate chapters in life with you.

That said, we are not creating this art together so it can sit on a disc for all eternity. We are creating this beautiful artwork, capturing your family in this time, so it can be seen and shared. This is why we do ordering sessions in your home. I want to see your walls, your decor and help come up with creative ways to print, display and cherish your photos.

You may say “no, that’s not me, I’ll definitely have them printed”. We all go into it with good intentions. Photographer friends have shot my daughter and my family, beautiful images, and as a photographer they have trusted me with the digital images. Are they printed and hanging in my home? No. Because we forget and the disc gets set aside and we get busy and this does not do their art justice. To those photographer friends, I apologize.

There’s also a technical aspect to our policy on not giving away or selling digital images. My computers are calibrated to the printers we use, meaning the color I see on my screen is as close as it can possibly be to the color it will be when it’s printed. Different printers are calibrated different ways so the image won’t print as I intended at any other printer except the one my computer is calibrated to. It’s why sculptors use the same foundries over and over, it’s why painters use the same brand of paint and brushes. It’s creative and quality control and as an artist I’m not willing to let this go just yet.

Thirdly, technology changes, remember floppy discs? Remember VHS? Who has home movies on VHS or High8 with no way to play them? I do. The idea that 15 years down the road we will all still have CD and DVD readers in our computers is kind of silly. We just purchased a new laptop and there’s no CD or DVD drive. So if you’re like me and you get busy and you don’t print the photos, there may be a time where you just can’t because the technology is extinct. But prints, high quality prints like the ones we offer (when kept properly) stand the test of time. Lots of us have old black and white images of our families that were handed down to us by grandparents. These images are family heirlooms and a part of me really hopes the images I capture of your family will be as well.

The Compromise
I’m also not willing to stubbornly sit here and say no. I am well aware that we live in a digital age where photos are shared online. This is why we always share a few images from your session on our Facebook page with our logo on them (this is for both for your protection and our own). We’re always willing to share additional photos you’ve purchased (in prints, a book, cards, jewelry, whatever) on our Facebook page after your ordering session. We even offer to create a free custom Facebook cover photo for you. We LOVE when you share our work. It gives me warm fuzzies all over. It’s also how we get new clients since our business is 99% referral based. We even have a referral rewards program to thank clients who send friends and family our way.

I also know some people just want a disc, even though we keep your photos forever and you can always order more years later. As a photographer I get this. This is why, once a $250 print order has been made, we offer a keepsake disc for purchase which allows you to archive your images. These discs are not full size images (remember that bit about creative and quality control as well as correct color printing above). They are images suitable for printing as a 4×6 or 5×7 for scrapbooking or just to remember or to use as the background on your home computer without our watermark on them. The prices are below:

4×6 size – (ten images) $250    (fifteen images) $375    (twenty images) $500

5×7 size – (ten images) $300    (fifteen images) $450   (twenty images) $600

Years ago, before digital, it was rare that a photographer ever sold his film negatives. If he did they were pricy. Giving away or selling digital images is like a chef giving away his recipes. There’s value there, and trust.

The End
I hope this very long and photoless post helps to clear up my reasoning behind our policies. If you have any questions about anything please do not hesitate to contact me. I’m always willing to work with my clients’ needs and vision.

We’ve entertained the idea of just swallowing that whole bit about creative and quality control, raising the session fee and giving a disc with the session. However when I asked my current clients what they thought they said don’t do it. And when they said that I breathed a breath of relief, not because of the quality control or the creative control but because seeing my work printed is seeing it completed. Seeing my clients’ faces when they receive their prints, or cards, or jewelry, or books or whatever product we come up with is the most gratifying thing an artist could ask for. Developing relationships is equally as important to me as capturing that perfect photo. It makes me smile and it makes me know that what I’m doing, this art, is good and right.

As always, thanks for reading.

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  1. Tiffany Byrd August 20, 2014 at 1:16 pm #

    THIS is why I continue to come back to you. Because you arent only our family photographer, you are our family friend! I used to be one of those people that just wanted the CD, but like you I now have a stack of scratched CD’s and no pictures. In fact the only pictures I have framed and hanging in my house are the ones that you and I meticulously spent hours reviewing and deciding which one looked best. Your services and friendship are invalueable. The prints are the highest quality Ive ever seen and the fact that I can contact you at any time to order more is perhaps the best part! This is a great blog though and If you don mind- id like to share…I get a lot of questions for referrals on our pics and this would be great to send to!

    • Chris August 27, 2014 at 8:00 pm #

      Please feel free to share! Tiffany you melt my heart with your sweet comments. Much love to you and your family. I’m so happy we met through my art process. :)