We are in a new era of photography….the digital and social media era. One of the many joys I had growing up was looking through old family photographs. In some ways it inspired me to be the photographer I am today. It seems on a weekly basis (probably more often than that) I hear about if I continue to have a product based business I am going to fail.
But I refuse to change that I am a product based company or FAIL. Why? Because I believe (although sharing images through social media is awesome) prints are more valuable to me and my clients.
I will be the first to admit that I love sharing photographs through digital media, after all I’ve had Instagram since it’s inception way back in October of 2010 (yep my first photo is the week of its initial release). I’ve told many other photographers that 90% of my clients purchase products, even though they are not included in my base package and digital files are available. The reality is I price my digital files at the same price of my smallest book, yet my mid size book is my best seller…way more so than just digital files by themselves. While the majority of my clients buy both the digital files and prints/albums less than 1% of my clients buy digital files without a print or album purchase. On the contrary I have had some client purchase prints without digital files. I can tell you I am not taking this from a small sample of clients…in the last 2 years alone I’ve shot over 150 Boudoir sessions.
I’ve had many photographers ask me or tell me I should just include the digital files in with my packages. To me this is no different from including prints or books in my packages. What I find is that many photographers don’t consider digital files a product, and of course don’t charge appropriately when including digital files. Because so many photographers have made this mistake our clients now don’t understand that digital files are indeed a product. I have no problem with photographers including digital files as long as they set a monetary value for that product.
But back to the value of prints and books…ask yourself this question honestly. If your home was on fire, what would be the first thing you would grab if you needed to leave immediately? I am betting the majority of people would say photographs. When I present my clients with the choice to get a beautiful book with photographs or digital files, they choose the book. Are my clients different from anyone else’s? Probably not…but I have educated them to understand the value of getting a book or print.
So why are prints so important? Social media and sharing is all about what’s happening now. How many of you without looking can tell me what the first image was you posted on facebook….or even what images you posted six month ago? Even wedding photos, unless it’s a main profile image, get forgotten in a short period of time. Why do photographers want clients to post images on social media…pure and simple, so they can get more clients. It has nothing to do with what their client really wants (which of course, clients want to share, but that’s not the photographer’s motivation for wanting them to share).
When an image is printed it becomes part of lasting history. Once we are gone (death & taxes… the only sure thing in life) there will be no one to pass on or keep up our Facebook status. Our great great grandchildren will possibly never see our wedding photos (or sexy photos!)…which is funny because I can honestly say I have seen both my mothers & grandmother’s sexy photos because they are printed. If you disappeared tomorrow…what photographs would your relatives see of you in 100 years?
Polaroids…one of my favorite types of prints!