Digital Files vs. Prints

Some photographers sell professional prints to their clients; some photographers include digital files with the session fee; and some photographers do a little of both. There’s no one right or wrong way to run a business…. only the way that’s right for you. 

why it matters

Many clients come to me, not knowing what they want from a photography session. All they know is that they want beautiful photos (and when you work with me, you know you won’t be disappointed!)

When I ask, “How do you plan to enjoy these pictures?” I hear a lot of “hmm. I don’t know.” Given a few moments to think, many clients reply “I guess I’ll share them online” – which is a valid response! We live in a digital world and the benefit of that is showing photos to family & friends we only see on social media.

But I ask that my clients also think about their photos long-term. Photos we see online are interesting for a day or two, and then forgotten. But a photo of the people we love should be enjoyed every day, and it should be bigger than a 5-inch screen. This is why we hang photos on our walls, or place them in a frame or in an album.


What happens when you get “all the digitals” from a session

The current practice of many digital photographers today is to shoot a photo session and just give all the digital image files to the client, either on a flash drive or through an online download. I believe that giving clients a huge number of digital files is actually doing them a disservice.

Getting “all the digitals from your session” may not be what you expect it to be.

  • You will have to sort through dozens or hundreds of photos to find the ones you like. Have you ever felt paralyzed with indecision because you have too many options? Imagine picking out the right shade of blue from the paint samples at the hardware store.
  • You will have to print all your portraits on your own. This means finding a quality print lab, resizing and cropping the images correctly, choosing the medium to have your images printed on (paper, metal, canvas, etc.), and navigating the online ordering process.
  • You will have to set aside a full afternoon or evening to design any special products you want to create. If you want an album, or a photo collage, or custom cards for holidays or announcements, you will need both the knowledge of design software AND the time to gather all your photos and create it.
  • You will have to be your own quality-control. If you are dissatisfied with your prints, it’s up to you to contact the lab, send it back, reorder the print, and hope that the next order looks better. Or, if you decide you don’t want to mess with it, you will just be out the money you spent on it.
  • You will need to contact all your family members, if they want prints too. You’ll have to ask them which photos they want copies of, and what size, and then once the photos are delivered, you’ll have to mail the prints to them in a special photo mailer. 

 By contrast, the services I provide includes:

  • Guided selection of your image proofs. I offer my professional opinion when you need help deciding between all your favorites.
  • Sample products so you can see and feel every item and choose the medium and finish that you love the most.
  • 10+ years experience working with professional photo labs. I have an extensive understanding of crop ratios, photo resolution sizes, and photo enhancement.
  • Design samples of how your images will be beautifully displayed. Whether you are dreaming of a wall collage of various photos, or a keepsake album to look back at in 20 years, I will mock-up a design for you with my photo software.
  • A 100% happiness guarantee. If you don’t like your product for any reason, just let me know and I will reorder it or refund your money. I want you to love your photos and be proud to show them off.
  • Ordering sessions for anyone who wants to purchase products. I have both in-person appointments in my studio or online appointments via Zoom.
  • Free delivery to any address in the United States, no matter how large or how heavy the package may be.
  • As a special bonus, I also offer free installation* in your home for wall art, so you don’t have to even lift a finger to enjoy your photos hanging on the wall.

So, Can I Get all the Digitals?

The short answer is, YES! You may choose to purchase a full set of digital files after viewing your proof images. Digital files are valuable for my clients and here’s why: they are a way to SHARE ONLINE these photos with friends near and far; they allow for UNLIMITED PRINTING of the images for personal use; and they provide a SAFE STORAGE of the printed images, in case of any future damage to your printed products.


Hmm…that seems really expensive…

You’ll see that I am not the cheapest photographer you’re going to find, and that’s on purpose. I provide my clients with VIP service and gorgeous professional products, so that a year from now they aren’t finding a flash drive in a desk drawer, saying, “Oh, yeah, I never printed anything from that photo session….” Would it be easier to just give every client a flash drive of digital files, and say, “Good Luck!”? Yes, yes it would. But I’m not interested in doing the least amount of work possible. Instead, it is my desire to treat every client with the kind of service that I would hope to receive. 

Over the years, I have found that sometimes… the cheapest option is cheap for a reason. My business is thriving because my clients know that a portrait session with me is more than just some quick photos… they value the experience of working with someone they can trust to be knowledgeable and treat them with respect and care.

*available to clients in select areas of the United States.