Friday, April 03, 2009

Soapbox Friday -- Are We Doing Ourselves And our Clients A Disservice If We Deliver Wedding Images On A DVD?

Good Afternoon Everybody,
What a great time we had in Florida earlier this week. I thank each and every one of you personally for coming out to hear the program and I also thank everybody for your enthusiastic comments about the program here at Digital and how much you enjoyed the presentation.

I have to omit, it was a fun last few days but we are certainly tuckered out at the end of the week. We arrived home safe and sound and LaDawn and I are going to try to have an easy weekend before we head out again next week for the next leg of the tour.

So for all you guys and girls in Cleveland, Pittsburg, and Buffalo – we are heading your way!

I mentioned I was starting a new series at DPT. I’m calling it Soap Box Friday. I plan to discuss various topics, raise a few concerns, discuss a few controversial subjects that you may agree or choose not to agree with me. I hope to generate further discussion on each weekly topic via the comment section following the post. Anyway, let’s give it a go and see where it leads.

Are We Doing Ourselves And our Clients A Disservice If We Deliver Wedding Images On A DVD?

I'm going to start this discussion by saying I'm not trying not to step on anybody's toes but, I’m really trying to bring a different perspective to the topic. I heard a statistic that about 30% of the weddings photographed these days are delivered on DVDs. Yes, you know what I’m talking about - the “Shoot and Burn” photographers.

Please hear me when I say I'm not trying to disrespect the photographers who choose to deliver their images to their clients in this manner. But what I am suggesting is that there's maybe a different perspective we can take on what we deliver to our clients and how we deliver the images to our clients.

Hit The “Read More…” link below for the rest of the story.

The fact is that when a photographer delivers his or her work to a client on a DVD that most often the photographs never get printed. In fact there is a slang term for the bride who never prints her wedding photographs - she’s called an “orphan” bride.

In talking with a large studio recently, they've told me that they’ve made a business of helping the “orphan” brides create an album of their images. I’ve interviewed brides myself that have told me the same thing, and that they do not want to go down that same path. So I wonder why in my heart of hearts why anyone would choose to deliver the images on a DVD.

Don't think I'm being naïve. I understand the main reason is that the photographer can get in and out of the job quickly and make a few bucks fairly quickly, without need of any follow-up effort. But in my mind, many of us are in the wedding business for more than just the money. It’s our craft, but more importantly – it’s our art, something we can take pride in. Wait, don’t start the emails yet – hear me out.

Sure, I'm in business to make a fair profit, but I take a different perspective of what I'm trying to do for my client. When I photograph a wedding, I'm trying to capture all the nuances, excitement, joys, emotions, reactions, romance, and beauty of the day. I try to bring my creativity to bear on every wedding I photograph. I try to put my heart and my soul into my wedding photography coverages. That said, why would I ever want to deliver those images on a DVD?

I mean, you hand the client a DVD and she holds it up to the light and hopefully she can see some images in it -- of course not. Are the bride and groom going to rush home, pop the disk into their computer and view those images as excitedly as they would had they been presented an album to view – I think not. Call me “old-fashioned”, but I do know that when my clients arrive at my studio and are presented with their wedding album(s) there is always a much different reaction.

I present album out of the box, place it on the coffee table before them, and let them open to the first page. You can just see them beam with the thrill of seeing their beautiful images as they browse through their wedding album.

I think this is where a lot of us differ from the photographer delivering images on a DVD. For me the product that I deliver to my clients is more than just a simple collection of images. I strive to deliver three things to my clients --

1 -- A beautiful collection of images that represent the beauty, spontaneity, romance, excitement, an actual story of the day in images.

2 -- I strive to deliver beautifully finished and enhanced images of all the photographs that appear in the album.

3 -- And lastly, I strive to deliver a beautifully designed album as well - an album that tells the story from the first opening photograph to the turn of the last page with classic elegance, flair and a timeless quality to it..

Images + Enhancement + Design = A Beautiful Wedding Presentation

I want my albums to be a beautiful representation of what I saw in my mind’s eye and felt in my heart as I photographed the wedding for my clients on their wedding day. I think this is where I differ from a lot of photographers that just deliver the DVD to their clients. As someone once told me, it's like a pilot flying a plane into the sky but never landing it. It’s like playing a football game and never crossing the finish line.

Most of us photographers work long and hard producing beautiful images that we create for our clients. But that is only the first part of the effort for me. The rest of our efforts, as I said, reflect around making those images as beautiful as we can make them for our client, and then designing beautiful images into the most beautiful album that we possibly deliver.

I think to do anything less is a disservice, not only to ourselves as wedding photographers, but also to our clients as well. Remember, our clients are hiring us because of our talent and visual creativity. As I said earlier, to deliver wedding images on a DVD is like running all the plays in a football game but never making the touchdown. And I guess I want to say is that making the touchdown takes a little bit more time and effort and creativity and expertise than just running the plays not making the touchdown. It’s a lot more fun and exciting making touchdowns – winning the game!

I still think of those many brides out there that take delivery of a DVD and never do anything with them. Not only does the bride fail to have a wedding album made, her parents never enjoy the opportunity of having an album made either. So what I see here is kind of a double whammy. To buy into the “shoot and burn philosophy” is to buy into never making a touchdown and maybe I say it too strongly here, but it’s like never winning the game for your client!

I think the ”shoot and burn” trend is really quite sad. What's happening is we're having more and more people having fewer memories to remember in their lives. Maybe life is just moving too fast these days to make up the finished album. Maybe this is true for the photographer offering images on the DVD and also for the bride who is even too busy to take these photographs and make them into an album.

I think it must be sad to for the mothers and fathers who never get to sit down and enjoy a beautiful collection of their daughter or their son’s weddings because nobody ever got around to making the albums. How sad, I know that as a father I'm looking forward to my daughter's wedding and also looking forward having a collection of images from her wedding day.

I think there are times when life needs to slow down just a bit. We need to take pause on occasion to sit and look and enjoy at the photographic memories of our lives. One of the most important memories people have enjoyed over the years have been those memories preserved in the beautiful wedding album.

Is it just that the album is not important anymore? Is it just about price? If that's the case then I think there's some other conclusions that need to be stated too. If we don’t want to take a few minutes to browse through our wedding albums on occasion then life truly is moving too fast -- in fact it's moving so fast that were probably not enjoying it as much as we should.

Secondly if having a wedding album delivered is too expensive for the client then that says to me that even these important memories are too expensive to preserve. Maybe our lives are moving way too fast but if they are moving that fast, then I to many people are letting the better parts of it slip away.

Anyway, in my business is always about putting our best foot. It's always about delivering the most beautiful images that I can for my clients, and it's always about delivering the best presentation of those images in a most beautifully designed album presentation possible.

When I shoot a wedding I give a piece of my heart and my soul to the photographic coverage. That piece of my heart and soul is preserved in the finished wedding album – never on a DVD. My images are always going to be delivered in the most beautiful and most elegant presentation possible. Why, because my clients are worth it.

Food for thought.

Hey gang, that’s it for me today. I’m going to try to smell the roses for a day or two and I hope you get a chance to do the same. See everybody again next week from the road. Have a great weekend, -David


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. When you mentioned this in passing at the Tampa seminar, my friend and I looked at each other and smiled because this is the same argument we have been making to so many of our colleagues. My friend Krista said, "I wish David were here to hear that!" because, though he is a wonderful wedding photographer, he gives the client a full DVD of edited images and another one of all the raw images!
    We have both been shooting weddings for a while and are now going to try to work together to expand the services we offer. I'm glad we see eye-to-eye on this issue!

  3. Well as a counterpoint, when it came to my own wedding two years ago, we specifically wanted a "shoot and burn" photographer. And I even insisted on getting the RAW files so I could work on them in Aperture and PS. Frankly, as an experienced photographer, I don't think anyone is better capable of giving me the final product that I wanted. With those files, I then added in the digital photos and movies that our guests shot. This gave me many more perspectives to work with than even the best pro could hope to offer. In the end, I put together a nice gift DVD of the whole event and I designed and printed a couple of books for our parents. My wife and I are happier with this arrangement than we would have been letting a photographer create albums.

  4. David, with all due respect you have an incredibly stereotyped opinion on shoot and burn. First of all, many couples simply can't afford it. Mortgage and car payments and food etc. often take priority, particularly in these tough times. Of course if money was no object, we'd all want the best of everything. That's not reality. I'd rather have great images on a DVD than hire a lesser and cheaper photographer so I could get an album. Plus I love looking at images on a computer. I rarely print my family photos anymore. I make them into slide shows with music and I find I look at them more often than I did in the old days with albums. Also many brides would get an album that relatives out of state would never see. Todays sophisticated brides will email and post their favorites, often in a beautiful slideshow, for relatives around the world to see. When I deliver a DVD I also create a favorites folder which tells the story just like in an album. It has tremendous impact. The best example may be the website of master wedding photographer Ben Chrisman, in my opinion the best in the world. His slideshows are jaw dropping and have inspired me more than any wedding album I have ever seen. The powerful images and music together is unforgettable. I love your site and love your photography, but I think you're misguided on this subject.

  5. David,

    Let me start by saying that my wife and I had a truly awesome time at your Ft. Lauderdale Digital Wake-up Call Seminar. I understand why Scott Kelby mentions you so much in his books and why he convinced to write a book of your own!

    To anyone reading this comment, you OWE it to yourself to go to a Ziser workshop. The information, materials, and even the door prizes are truly phenomenal!

    As for shoot&burn versus albums... I have to side with the printed photos/albums. I know that there is a clientele out there that only wants digital, but most people truly enjoy tactile objects. Keep preaching for giving our clients the best. As our clients they deserve it.

  6. It wasn't until I held my first sample album in my hands that I realized how important a wedding album is. A well designed album tells a story of love and the day. It is an item that will be looked at for years and years. You just cannot match the experience of a nice album on a computer.

    If you don't want to charge the high prices for a high-end album, try looking into coffee-table books as a lower priced option in this tough economy.

    Get samples, you can't expect to sell an album or a book unless you can get them into peoples hands. I didn't sell anything but files and discs until I actually got some samples in front of people.

    I should also add that I don't think digital files should be off-limits either. I understand the advantages of the digital image. My packages include 800px sized versions of the album images so they can email them to family and post on facebook.

  7. I often ask a bride to be what is the most important thing you have bought for your wedding?
    The dress is the usual answer, its supprising how many never say the pictures, yet after the wedding when all the food has been eaten, the drink drunk, the presents ware out and are replaced, the only item left to remind you of the atmosphere of the day are the album, thats what should be of most importance, and should not be downgraded by putting it on a CD.

  8. Hi David,

    Are you against digital copies for the client period, or only when they take the place of a well designed album?

    I am considering offering both an album and DVD to our clients, since a DVD copy seems to be the standard in Nashville.


  9. David, I struggle with this myself. And I actually started by building albums. However I realized that I can't make albums for brides who have bad pictures which is why I created the photography side.

    I offer albums to all my brides and well, it just depends on many things. This is a digital age and in my discussions with brides and grooms they want their pics - all of them!

    I provide all the pics - edited and a good many of them post production done creatively.
    The DVD's covers as beautiful and they are presented in a nice wooden coffee table box. And I offer a variety of products to compliment this.

    But, many brides want to create their own albums. There are so MANY people who have photoshop or create scrapbooks and are very very talented..and they want to create an album in THEIR style. I've even been asked if they can create the album and them print with my album company (which I say no)...however, my point is that this is a different generation who have access to tools that did not exist for the average person just a few years ago.

    I feel albums are important but I have seen my brides would rather put them on sites or iphones, etc to easily share with friends and family. And I disagree..all my brides DO rush home and view their pics right away..and do print out! Infact, my brides want them on sites to easily share with their friends right away.

    And there is also the downturn of the economy. It is a challenge for everyone but I think photography is changing. I think the key is to offer products for this generation of brides.

    I think we all have a client base for what we offer. You are known in your area for your style.. as others have their niches. I think the key is to develop your niche without becoming cheap or degrading the profession..but yet keep up with the digital trends.

    That's just my 2 cents!


  10. The most often asked question I get about my products is, "Can I get the images on DVD." I would love to not offer the product but I know I would lose business. My solution has been to educate my brides on the benefit of having me print their images or make an album.

    I also believe that, as much as I dislike it, we are entering a new age of photography. Ask a teenager to show you their pictures and they won't pull out an album.... it'll be on their computer or phone or Ipod. The next generation doesn't have the same perception of how pictures should be presented and if we don't change with them we will soon find ourselves scorned like the record companies who refused to accept that Mp3's were the next wave. The digital revolution has arrived and like it or not, we have to adapt.

  11. David,
    First of all, I really enjoy reading your blog, specifically for these "business" tips.
    However, I must say that I agree with Booray here. If I didn't offer all my images on a DVD, I would never book a wedding. And since I'm just starting out, from scratch I might add, (my husband just informed me that we claimed a loss on our taxes the last 3 years in a row because of my business...but I digress) the weddings I do book are few and far between. I would undoubtedly loose the little bit of wedding business that I do get if I were to not offer this service. In addition to what Booray said about educating our brides and grooms, I've also built them into packages that include a DVD as well as an album. That way, they can have the coffee table album for when the power goes out and they want to reminisce, but they also have the digital files to create and print what they like. This has helped tremendously. Perhaps someday, I'll be in high enough demand to be able to be stingy about what I offer my clients, but for now, this is how I have to work to get clients, because the Colorado market is extremely saturated!

  12. I've been reading your blog for a while and am a tad discouraged by this post. I suppose I'm what you're calling a "shoot and burn" photographer, but as some commenters have posted, your opinion seems to be a little behind in the times. I think it's unfair to give us a hard time about a practice that is meeting the needs in the marketplace. These days people are documenting their lives digitally, and most people are aware of great resources for creating beautiful products with their images. I keep in close contact with all my couples, and they're thrilled to tell me about all the prints they have around the house from my pictures, or the great Blurb book they had made of their wedding, or how they were able to print 100 copies of a picture for a reasonable price to send with their thank you notes. I'm so happy to allow them to do that. I even help them with resources if they need it, and I upload pictures to an online album. (as a note, even though they love their online albums, I get very few orders because they know they can do it for cheaper. But, I still offer the online album as a service because they really like the ability to share the pictures with family and friends)

    My philosophy is that if they pay me to take the pictures, they should HAVE the pictures. I'm surprised that more clients aren't upset about paying for their pictures twice (once for the actual work, then another time for an inflated-price print). With the way the world is changing, I can see the industry moving more and more toward 'shoot and burn'.

    I do, however, disagree with the practice of providing clients with RAW images. I own the copyright, I give them reproduction rights only. The image and the art behind it is mine, and you give that away if you're providing your clients with the RAW files.

  13. Let me just jump in real quick and stir the pot a bit more. :)

    I don't think that clients are getting a diservice when they go "shoot and burn," However, I do think that there are photographers who misrepresent their work this way. I think that it's extremly unethical to show clients a website full of images that have been extensivly retouched as representative of what they will be getting on their CD, then hand them a CD of images that have been bulk corrected for color and white balance with no blemish correction, vignette, curves adjustment, cropping, etc. I always make it clear to my clients that while the pictures on the CD are good, they will not look like the ones on my website if you print them at Wal-Mart.

    I represent my CD's as being an archive of the wedding. I show my clients how much better a picture looks when I have retouched and printed it and explain that my increased price is certainly worth it for something that will hang on their wall for years. I position the CD as an "add-on," not the main product.

  14. Here's my take and I am not a wedding photographer (yet).

    There is no way that I will do the DVD thing even if it costs me work in the short run. I'm after long-term return work based on my photography. The last thing I need is to turn over a DVD of images to someone who doesn't understand post-processing (color correction, cropping, resizing, printing, etc.). When (not if) I handed over a DVD and they hacked up the images and showed them to others, my name ruined would be ruined.

    I think if I explain this correctly and offer VERY reasonably priced prints to clients they will understand or it is WORTH IT to me to pass them up! I currently do Senior pictures and I charge more up front then others but offer reasonably priced prints to counter-act the "I'll make my own" crowd. An 8x10 for $6 is very reasonable and there is no reason for some kid (or parent) to copy and print their own.

    I will include low-res pixs for Facebook or Myspace pages on request but with a release indicating they cannot alter the image and small watermark (advertisement!) in any way.

    If a bride wants to make her own slideshow she is more then welcome but I will send her on her way. I'm not in this to make a quick buck. This is an art to me and I prefer to handle (control) the whole package or nothing. In the end, it is my name that is attached to the final product.

  15. I can't believe everyone tiptoes around this issue. Every one calls these so called professionals shoot and burn photographers. Technically, they are industry butchers. Shortly we won't need copy right laws anymore either. The value of prints eventually will drop and no one will want to make prints or albums because the money won't be there. So we'll charge them up the ying yang for the service itself which will have to cover all the possible sales we won't be making.
    The album and prints are also a source of our advertising. When the parents of the couple or the couple themselves show the album or the prints, it's advertising for us.
    No more reprints? What percentage of your income is based on reprints?
    Quality!!! Do you really want your work to be printed at wallmart ot target. I have a tight workflow here. Monitor is calibrated, use profiles for printing on a 24 inch Epson and a 44 inch Canon printer. Still have to reprint images because I feel they can be better or I did not interpret the color or density properly on my monitor. But I guess we won't have to worry about it, our signatures won't be on the print anyway.
    Oh wait, brainstorm, I think I have the answer, why don't we just rent them our equipment and let them DO IT ALL THEMSELVES.

  16. David, here's the problem: just about every bride I talk to or that hires me wants the cd of photos and copyrights. I try to sell them on other products but many aren't interested. What do I do, force them to buy an album? I think part of the problem is the current economy, they are trying to save money any way they can. And like several stated above, if I didn't offer the cd of images, I wouldn't book very many weddings.

  17. David,
    I think that with my business that there is a happy medium. I do offer the clients the digital copy, but only on the day of the album presentation. I have found that after all is said and done with the album, the clients have already purchased all the loose prints that they are going to. Maybe on occasion they would but for the most part they don't. I don't consider myself a "Shoot and Burner" but feel that you might be a little to hard on those that do.

  18. The more I read these comments about shoot and burn photographers the more frustrated I get. Why are we afraid of offending them.
    We all burn CDs for different reasons. I burn DVD's for my commercial clients who have purchased the images for advertising purposes. But they have paid good money for that DVD and are restricted from making prints. Anything short of that is irresponsible!!!
    Giving them away to save the client money is backwards. When we shot film, it was taboo to give away the negatives. If your going to send a negative or digital file out the door it should come at a PREMIUM, not as a way for your client to walk away with the whole store for practically nothing. The only reason a client will leave your studio if you refuse to only provide a DVD is because some one else out there will. That's the problem, photographers are willing to cut throat there way thru there careers and the heck with the photography industry. I'm not saying you shouldn't offer a DVD with a manufactured slide show of the images. That's a nice add on that they should PAY FOR or rewarded with, maybe complimentary after they have earned it by way of a nice size order. And of course it should be without the right to print images.
    Poor poor brides and grooms and their parents just can't afford to pay the price. That's just hogwash, they want the money for something else. Some truly can't afford pretty much anything and for those people, if it's really about the money, they will be happy with a smaller more affordable product. I have cut my prices for people who truly can't afford to hire me. I will develop a product that is affordable for them, and doesn't compromise the quality of my work or my reputation.
    We certainly can't blame our clients though. Prints and albums are loosing there value because of this ludicrous practice of shoot and burn. people have come to expect that they can get the images on DVD's and save money because of the trend that shoot and burn photographers have started. They made this bed, and now we all have to lay in it and deal with it.
    Let me ask you this. After you have purchased a hand printed piece from the Ansel Adams Portfoliio, would you expect that a digitally scaned file should come with the purchase? Do you think you would get one at any price?
    There are plenty of affordable ways to get these images into brides and parents hands without compromising this fine craft of photography. There are very good and inexpensive fine art books that can be made for a third of the cost of a traditional wedding album. A DVD with 100 images on it should be worth at least three times as much as a 100 image wedding album just for the loss of income in making a product.
    All of us who have been around for over 30 years in this business worried about the coming of the digital age because of it's potential extinction of the professional photographer. It has made things more exciting with all we can do with the new technology. But our nightmare we were afraid of hasn't come from the technology, it has come from those who abuse it. I don't know how we escape this slippery slope, but what I do know is, my good friend Monte Zucker is rolling over in his grave as we read!!!

  19. My Bar Mitzva was in 1963. At that time, 8mm movies were the rage. That's what my parents chose as an "album". After they were finally delivered, we showed them dozens of times to people who were there as they visited our home. Everyone HAD to watch. Then, we never looked at them again.

    Ten years when my wife and I packed up Mom'm home to move her to an assisted care facility we came across the box with her and dad's wedding album and those movies. We took a few long minutes to look at the album, but just put the movies into the take-home box. They've been in the attic for a decade now. My wife and I are married 33 years; she's never seen them. (I don't even have a projector).

    I'm strongly opposed to albums that don't have pages to turn. Supplemental sales on DVDs or animated frames are fine, but if they're the sole sale, your clients will forget it and you within a few years. (That album photographer's name is still readable on the 65 year old album. Useless now, of course, but it was there as long as he was.)


  20. I am a photographer who offers the images on a DVD after they have purchased a nice album. For my studio this is the best of both worlds. I am able to deliver the best images in a way that is stunning and memorable and they get the images on a disk they may or may not use to the fullest. Most brides is meet with want to have the images to do with what they want. I have found that when I let them know that they are able to get the images on DVD we can move on and help them pick the style of album that best suits them. I show several sample albums and once they have seen them they are sold. They can hold them, turn the pages, and feel their weight. Occasionally, a mother will mention that she has an album that she has not looked at in years. I follow up asking if they know where it is and if, even though they don't look at it often, they are glad they have it. They always know exactly where it is and are always glad they have it.

  21. I've posted here on this issue before, and I agree with Bill and several other posters. I would never hand over a DVD of images to a client, because -- and here is the thing that shot and burn photographers don't seem to get -- THE IMAGES DON'T BELONG TO THE CLIENT. Or at least they shouldn't.

    If you go into a local studio to have your portraits made, do they give you a disk of images? No, and they would laugh at you should you even suggest it. Not even Walmart does that. You have to pick which ones you want them to print, and that's what you get. Why should shooting a wedding be any different?

    Shoot-and-burn such a short-sighted and lazy mentality. It shows a lack of understanding of marketing and salesmanship, and, to me, a disdain for really serving your clients. It's the easy way to make a few quick bucks.

    Every wedding photographer has their own style. That's what the client should be paying for, not the actual pictures. What is it about your interpretation of a wedding that's special and different? If that's what a client wants and are willing to pay for it, great. If not, they can find someone else.

    Look, I understand that there are people who can't afford thousands of dollars to have their wedding shot. I was one of them 20 years ago. And my wedding pictures -- plus the fact that the photographer is now out of business and we can't get reprints -- show just how little we paid. That's why I won't operate that way.

    You say that your clients want to be able to make cheap prints? Then offer to make cheap prints for them if they spend a certain amount of money with you. You say that your clients want DVD slideshows? Then offer that as a product. You say that the clients want to be able to put together their own album? Then by all means, let them -- as a premium to a regular package.

    There's always options and places for compromise. But when you give away your work, you lose that ability, and it's just not something that I'm willing to do.

  22. For me, delivering a DVD has nothing to do with price. It has to do with demand. Our demographics are likely very different, but everyone I shoot for (often young couples close to my (young) age) *always* want a DVD more than anything else. They never print any photos of any kind - they share them online, and view them in slideshows.

    Don't get me wrong, I offer prints to all my clients, and in fact in include an album in every package, and put in the price of the package, but they want the DVDs.

    I think the assumption that albums are inherently better than digital displays is where I differ. I'd rather watch a beautiful slideshow than sit down to an album, if I could only choose one. (I'd prefer both!) Slideshows can be absolutely stunning and more emotional because they speak to more senses than a photo alone. A photo is visual, a slide show is even more visual (motion & placement) bust contains an audible element. Albums on the other hand are visual (placement/layout) and tactile. The tactile sensation really does make a difference, but the audible sensation of a slide can be very powerful also.

  23. I have read a few of the comments posted here on the shoot and burn subject. I just don't have time to read them all, some are very long. So, I'm not sure if I may be repeating anything here.

    I am of the old school also. I belive a nice album is the way to go. I remember when a couple would come back within about two weeks and place an order for their album. I remember when a couple would buy a B&G album and 2 parent albums. Not a B&G album and 4 parent albums for the divoriced parents. I remember when a couple would pick up their proofs to chosse their photos, and not go home and scan them. However lets be up front and truthful about how things are going today. I know that MANY photographers in my area have the same problem as I. We collect all of the money due on the contract up front for the job. Shoot the job, deliver whatever proofing method you use. Notify them about 2 weeks after the wedding that the proofs are ready to be picked up. Three or four months later when the excitement of the wedding is over they stroll in and pick up their proofs. Most times we never see them again. The have nothing but watermarked proofs. They have paid for everything up to that point. Then they recommend us to their friends. What's going on there? That's ok, we spoke to a salesmen in a matress store and he said the same thing happens to them, people come in pay maybe $2000.00 for a matress and say they can't take it right now, can the store hold it for awhile. PS, they paid for the matress and NEVER take it. What's that all about. So, I would say in these times give them what they want, just make sure you are paid up front for it, or you will be out of business. I have not met many photographers that will talk about this problem until it is brought up. I am wondering how many of YOU out there have the problem?

  24. Our base package has two albums included in it, online viewing for out-of-town guests, and we give them a DVD with a license to print what they choose. All this is built into the cost of the package. All images they receive have been viewed and corrected as needed.

    We can't control where they get the pictures reprinted. We can't control their behavior, nor their thoughts or any of that stuff. We can't order them to use us or any other photographer. I admit that we look at our photographs as labors of love and hope that they see them the same way. Most people these days are looking for a photographer that will give them good pictures at a fair price, and most won't talk to anyone, at least in my town, unless they get the DVD. We respond to our market, and that, for the time being, is our market.

    David Ziser is a remarkable photographer and people will pay whatever necessary to book his services. I'm sure every couple would be thrilled to have him do their wedding. But they may not have the budget, so they book someone else - me maybe. And that is okay. If I can gives them beautiful pictures that they will cherish for the rest of their lives, that is all I am concerned about. Maybe soon, I'll be able to pick and choose my clients too. But until then, I am responding to my marketplace.

  25. Hi David, I think what we are seeing is not so much that photographers don't want to take the time to create albums and prints but rather it is a response to the market. This is two fold. First, it is driven by what the customers want. They want the digital negatives. Period. That is almost always the first question I get asked. Second, it is a direct reflection of the digital age in this economy. So many of us photographers do not have a fancy retail studio to invite the customer to sit down and look through their pictures at a coffee table. People want images to share in cyberspace more than they want prints or albums. Photographers want to create, but no one works for free. Hence, we give them what they want, not we want to give them.

    Just my $0.02 Paul

  26. I would also point out that many DVD-only photographers aren't your competition anyway. I deliberately market myself as being between the full-time wedding photographers and having your Aunt Sue take pictures for you. I don't do this full time -- I have a full-time job and do this because I love photography and can certainly use some extra cash.

    Most of my weddings are shot for between $250 and $500. I can't name a single full-time photographer who could afford to do that. So I'm not taking these people from you -- they wouldn't have called you anyway.

    There is a niche for what I do, and I fill it. I make no apologies or excuses. If there weren't clients who just wanted someone to take pictures for them to use as they please, I wouldn't get jobs. But I've got a busy summer ahead.

  27. I thank David Ziser for expressing his views, and I thank the commenters for expressing theirs.

    Some of us (like David) are well-enough respected that they can set limits on what they are willing to do and hold to it. Brides can accept or walk.

    But a lot of us are not so fortunate, and have to respond to market demands. Today, most brides want a DVD. And it becomes a battle - not a good position to be with a client.

    In my case, I find that most brides saying "DVD" actually want two things: JPEGs to share online, or to view on a computer, and a DVD slideshow. I offer them a DVD containing 800 pixel wide images for web viewing, and a DVD slideshow as a separate product. A DVD containing high-res edited photos is also available, but at a pretty high price. I explain to the client about the post processing necessary for the highest quality print, and show a Walmart print from a JPEG along with a print (with post processing and color correction) I make. I give them the option: either pay for all the photos, all post processed, or pick the ones you want printed from the DVD and I'll post process and print. So far, nobody has wanted the DVD with full res images.

    So it seems to me that adding products like low-res DVD, and slide show DVDs can expand your business and make a client even happier. But you need to educate the client. DVD slide shows are great for sharing with a group of friends - a book is lousy for this. But for those reflective moments, when you are curled up on the couch at night, sipping on a glass of wine - nothing beats a well done wedding album. Is the client really sure she doesn't want that?

    You guys that think the shoot-and-burn guys are destroying the business are wrong. No matter how much you dislike it, change is all around you and you can adapt, move or die. Yes, the business is changing, just like it did when all the 35mm camera showed up in the 70's. All I heard was "they are destroying the business with their cheap cameras". I was one of those 35mm guys, and the business is still here. McDonalds did not put too many fine dining restaurants out of business. But they did sink a lot of greasy spoon diners. Like it or not, you have to evaluate your business and see if your product offering matches what your clients are asking for. But keep in mind that they don't know how to ask for what they really want.

    I just want them to realize that the DVD is not going to give them any "special moments" together like an album will.

    You can try to fight the DVD, but it is like fighting the tide. Think judo, and leverage the DVD into additional products to offer. Don't assume the DVD the client wants is the same DVD you image.