My Views On Digital Purchase

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The Digital Negative:

This is a very touchy subject with most photographers it always has been and probably always will. In the day’s of analog or film photography the negative was the format with which we used to print from. The negative, just the same as the digital file, is a precious object to any photographer. I take a photograph and my living is based on the sale of that image. The image does not have a singular value, it could be printed at a high street supermarket for a couple of pence however this does not affect it’s true ‘value’. The time and money that has gone into training, the cost of equipment and insurance, the ‘value’ of the actual image taken of that family, child or bride.. is not always reflected in the price of the final product. Yes you can buy a print from a high street store for pence.. the image though is infinitely more valuable than a few pence.  So it is a bit of an ethereal object. The percieved value of digital files over the last few years has declined in public perception as everything has ‘gone digital’. Digital products and low cost affordable digital products have flooded the market, everybody knows what to do with a Jpeg now, the choices are wide and the costs can be very low. Iphone covers, digital frames, Facebook Banners and Profile pictures.. and so on. In the ‘old’ days of photography we were rarely asked for the negatives, as we sold the final product: the album or the frame. My father only sold large framed prints from his studio! To sell the negative or Jpeg is the same as selling any opportunity to make a reasonable sale, unless of course the negative/Jpeg has a high value, and a value high enough to cover the maximum a photographer feels they would be able to make if we sold the image in any other way. So in summary, it is a complex product to price or should photographers sell them anyway?

Should I Sell Digital Files?

Many photographers just don’t sell digital files at all, some sell them at a value that is relative to the maximum they believe they could make on the sale of that image, I have seen this being between £20 and £2000, some photographers only sell digital files … so where do I stand on selling an object that is so hard to value?

In the early days of Firetree I didn’t sell them at all, then I started adding digital purchase to my weddings and then more recently I have sold digital files as an option for my portrait bookings. I realised that this was what people wanted in the new digital world and I can understand why. We are in an amazing digital world at the moment, thousands of images are posted, shared, tweeted and taken every second. A brief internet search has thrown up the fact that ONE TRILLION photographs will be taken in 2015 and 200,000 photographs are uploaded to Facebook every MINUTE!! our methods of communication have changed through the online social network and digital file sharing has become a form of communication. Clients no longer just want a piece of artwork for their wall, they also want to communicate with it, they want to create intagram collages, make iphone covers, Facebook Timelines, they want to tweet the images, share the images and they also want to have the option to do all this in the future. An image captured today is not just wanted to put on a wall to be seen by visiting family and friends, clients  want to share images much further on social networks! To not move with this evolution I think would be a mistake. How brilliant for  marketing to have my images tweeted, discussed and shared on big social networks, and how much happier are my clients are when they leave their viewing knowing they have images that are theirs to use for whatever product they want and are not restricted to wall art.  So yes, I do now sell digital files and I like it.. but….

What I Hate!

So over the last couple of years I have been selling digital files, for wedding clients, and portrait clients however I have re-visited homes of portrait clients and have had the pleasure of photographing the children of past wedding clients and I always ask what they did with the digital files. Time and time again they are still on the USB, sitting in a drawer, not being viewed, not on the walls. I have also seen poorly printed and mounted work on clients walls, what could be a beautiful display of my work has become the complete opposite. I know how important in this digital era for clients to feel they ‘have’ the image to share and print from but it is just as important for me to both maintain a quality product from start to finish and also to encourage clients to use the images in a way they were intended… to visually enjoy.  So to my new solution!

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Digital File Collections

Everyone who attended my Bluebell Wood shoot this spring will know I have been trying out a new way of selling digital files. The concept is this: digital files so have a value, and they are not cheap, it will though cost you more if you buy them on their own.  If however you purchase collections of my products then I will gift digital files for free. This means we both get what we want, my clients can have the digital files (to sit in a drawer if they want!) but they also have good artwork to display on the wall.. which keeps me happy. When large artworks are purchased for the wall I  also gift the equivalent digital file for free. I think this is a great incentive to get artwork on the wall where it belongs but to also keep pace with the digital world we live in.

I have designed my collections with families in mind, so parents get artwork for their walls in the form of framed art prints, large canvases or box frame displays, boxes of prints are included so gifts can be distributed to family and friends. My collections are going to vary seasonally as product popularity changes.. and quite possibly my mood and taste! But I think it’s a good idea, and judging from the success of the Bluebell Wood and feedback from my clients, I am hopeful you will agree. I have great plans for digital purchase options when I open my new studio, digital products and social media sharing is part of the future of photography and finding ways to ensure it’s value is understood and finding ways to make it available for those that want it, is going to be challenging!

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If you want more information about my current collections and digital file incentives please contact me 🙂

Kyra x