Wednesday, November 4, 2009

FAQs: DVDs and digital images - What are you getting? - Part 1 of 2

DVDs have moved from a special request to being something standard in most wedding photography package. Although there is a range, some photographers still do not offer them, and others are including them as standard with every package. A few other options I've seen are only allowing you to have the DVD after a certain amount of time (A year is common) or only if you purchase a package which includes certain items (Such as an album or so many hours of coverage).

With photos already digital, it may seem like a no brainer for a photographer to just burn you a disk after they cull the images. Why do some charge so much more for them?

The biggest problem is that many photographers are not going to let unworked images off of their computers. Photos are what photographers base their reputations off of, so every image needs to be print ready especially when they are unsure what images you are going to print.

In the past when you ordered from printed proofs, or now when you order your images online, a photographer would have an opportunity to spend extra time on just that image. We could lighten the image, color balance it, remove a dust spot, bump up the contrast, etc. Now this extra time needs to be spent on every image, but it's still most likely not the same amount of time a photographer would spend on an image that you were going to enlarge bigger than an 8x10 (That's why we still recommend that you order from our online proofing gallery for images larger than this)

So the more images a photographer has to spend time working on the more time it is going to take. This is the time on the back end that most people don't see.

The second part of this cost comes from lost revenue. Before DVD's a large percentage of a photographer's profit came from after-wedding print sales. With DVDs, print sales have dropped drastically. There are also some photographers who don't even want to deal with print sales. This profit has to be made up somewhere for photographers to remain in business, so for many photographers it's been shifted to the cost of the DVD or the general coverage price.

Pilster Photography currently offers a tiered system for the release of digital images. We want to make sure that every image we give you is steller, but this can take a lot of time. At a typical wedding of 10+ hours we will shoot thousands and thousands of images and around 75% of those will be images we feel are of professional quality and able to be released. Many of these shots will be shots made within miliseconds of the "top images," and look similar.

We then narrow that selection down to the images that we feel best represent our style and the best images overall. These will also be the same images that you typically see on the blog or our Facebook page.

The first tier is proofs. Even our "coverage only" option allows you to see images online and gives you access to the top images with watermarks on them. In the next tiers you have the option of investing in the individually worked images, the top images (plus formal portraits and other grab portraits), or all of images that are of professional quality. With the top images and individual images we may choose to add some artistic effects if we feel that it may benefit the images. When we give out all of the images we still don't recommend making large prints with them.

Some questions you should consider asking when you are receiving digital images.
• Will I receive a DVD for my e-session? Wedding? Day After? Rehearsal? etc. - If your photographer is shooting multiple events, make sure you are clear which you will get digital images from, so you aren't surprised after the shoot when they don't release them.
• What is the average number of images I will receive on the DVD?
• Are the images proofs or ready to print? What is the largest size you recommend printing?
• Will this include every image you shot, every image of professional quality or only the top images?
• How much toning will you do to these images? Are they the raw untouched images? Some basic toning and color correction so they are ready to print?
• Are you going to touch-up the photos? - Remove zits, tummy tucks, advanced Photoshop techniques, etc?
• Will there be any artistic effects added? - B&W, sepia, selinium, etc.
• How long after the wedding/e-session before I receive my images on DVD? In an online proofing gallery? Will the images be on a blog, Facebook or available for me to download before that?

In our next post we will talk about copyrights

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