I've been asked by many photographers if I give my clients a DVD of all the images at high resolution. The answer is: I don't GIVE it to them but I do let them BUY IT. For $1,000.

Every professional photographer has a different philosophy on offering the digital negatives. Here's mine. We live in the age of digital photography. While the photographer should retain the copyright to use their own artwork as they see fit, the reality is that brides and grooms also want access to the images. If I were a bride, I know I would. So as photographers, I believe it's good business practice and just makes good sense to offer the product that is in high demand.

I've heard fear in the voices of many photographers when they talk about letting the images go outside of their control. They are afraid that others will mess with their art or have their images printed on low-quality paper at Walgreens. If we offer the DVD, this is a possibility. I've had a bride take one of her wedding images and use interesting Photoshop actions on it and then post it on her Facebook profile. I do cringe a bit, but she's happy and does it really end up hurting me? I don't think so. The damage that may be done by people taking liberty with my images or printing them on low-quality paper is outweighed by the advantages of pleasing the client and the powers for good that come with the internet and the digital age. I've chosen to embrace these powers--the more my images are out there, the more marketing I get. I'm not afraid of my images being spread out, passed along and used apart from my control--the more they are, the more people know about me.

While I do offer the DVD to my clients as an available product, I also believe it is extremely valuable. Clients get all 600-800 of their fully-edited high resolution images on the disc and can print as many prints as they'd like from it. When I sell the DVD of all the images, I figure I'm probably not going to have as many print sales as I would if the client didn't purchase the DVD. That's why I've chosen such a high price point on my DVD--it's extremely valuable to the client and it must replace what I would hope to earn through print sales. Even with the high price point, though, 90% of my clients still include the DVD in their package.

Some photographers don't sell the DVD up front but let the client have it after their album has been created and shipped. They mostly do this in hopes that the client won't be able to wait to get prints made and will end up buying the majority of their prints through the photographer. Giving the DVD at this late date then, mostly serves archive purposes. If this works well for other photographers--that's great! I've chosen to set a high price on the DVD and offer it immediately after the images are edited and put online. Clients are willing to pay for it and I'm happy with forfeiting print sales profits because of the price-point of the DVD. I do however, try to educate my clients on lab settings and print quality in order to dissuade them from printing my images at Walgreens or on their ink jet printers. They are already paying so much for quality photography; they really shouldn't print professional images with low-quality materials.

Every photographer is different and many of you may disagree with me, but this is the philosophy I've chosen to embrace with digital negatives. Comments, questions or snide remarks are welcome below!
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