Are you a digital only photographer or do you sell printed products too?
We’ve got the lowdown on why you should be selling both, how it can benefit both you and your client and the best way to go about it.
Living in a digital age
It's true that we are living in a digital age and have been for some time now. The first digital camera was invented in 1975 by Steven Sasson of Eastman Kodak and the first camera phone was released in 2000. Since then, the rapid advancements in technology have meant that practically everyone has a very decent camera in their pockets by way of their smartphone. They're getting better and better all the time too and there are more and more photos being taken year on year. In fact, there were 1.2 trillion digital photos taken in 2017 and this is growing by 9% year on year.
The digital trap
So yes, more and more people are taking more and more photos, but they’re almost throwaway moments – proof that you were there, with them, or did that. In other words, they’re not special. As a photographer, it’s up to you to elevate your brand and sell your artistic flair and technical expertise for those special moments in people’s lives. You are an image maker and an artist so don’t get lost in the sea of “faux-tographers” and become a culprit of selling digital files for half nothing. There is value in what you do and it doesn’t matter if it’s a digital file or a physical print that you sell at the end of the process - the same amount of work and effort has gone into creating that image so NEVER undersell it’s value. Just because it isn’t tangible doesn’t mean it isn’t valuable.
The Digital Resistance
Digitals have been a contentious issue for many years now in the world of professional photography. Many have openly embraced it and have tailored their business offerings around it. Others have resisted them with fervent ardour while some have just buried their nose behind the lens and pretended it wasn't happening. Perhaps they were hoping they'd just go away? Who knows! But the real truth is, they're not going anywhere. So, what does that mean for you as a photographer? Well, to put it simply: Resistance is FUTILE (my inner nerd has been revealed! 🤣)
The perception of value
Well, we know that people want digitals and expect digitals. I’ve heard of many a client walking away because the photographer has told them they “don’t do digitals”. But if you’re running a business, you’ve got to listen to what your clients want. I’m not saying you always have to give them EXACTLY what they want but it should be a very very rare occasion that would require and outright “NO”.
The problem that has arisen around digitals is their perceived value. There is a perception among people that digitals are less valuable because there is nothing tangible. There is no visible “cost”. However, as we’ve said previously, photography is a service industry. What you’re actually charging for is your expertise, your artistic and technical talent in taking a high quality photo and the experience you are giving your clients. The same amount of time and effort goes into taking and editing those photos regardless of whether its a digital file or a physical print and that is what you should ultimately be charging for.
Digital photos have become so commonplace that people tend to attach very little value to them. After all, how many photos does the average person have on their smartphone? But that doesn’t mean they don’t want them. What it means is that they're basically just a given in the minds of today's marketing generations. They expect a digital file and they have an almost obsessive need to share them on social media at a moments notice.
It’s also a peace of mind thing. Photos can get lost or damaged and once gone they are gone forever. A digital copy feels like a safety blanket so if something happens to their photo, the memory isn’t lost for good. That’s why people want digital files. It’s nothing personal! But it does mean that educating your client is key. You need to show them the value and beauty of a printed product but to also satisfy their needs by combining that print with the digital copy. That way, they have the best of both worlds and everybody wins!
What does that mean for you as a photographer?
People want digital files so you should be giving them what they want. If you decide that you’re happy to continue offering digital only packages, you can still deliver them in a truly beautiful way. You don't have to resort to emailing a dropbox link. There's nothing sexy about that! Presentation is important - it's part of your brand after all. Our USB presentation products have been designed to impress. They're beautiful, they're branded, they're special and they’re tangible, and your clients will appreciate the value of that.
Ok, I get it. Digitals are good. Why would I bother with prints then?
Here’s where it gets really interesting. It has been proven that as humans, we feel a deeper connection to a printed product versus an image shown to us on screen. When we feel, touch and interact with a print, emotions are evoked and memories are revived. Without prints, families risk losing memories and events will be forgotten. That’s what makes photography so special - you’re capturing a moment in time and preserving a piece of history. It’s your job to make sure your clients never forget and you can do that by giving them something in print that they can treasure forever. It's also about creating a legacy product that can be passed down through the generations. It's a little bit of history. People value a tangible product FAR more than a digital file and that’s where you can really make your money.
Sell it in print
The truth of the matter is, people love to see their images in print. The moment they pick up that photo and hold it in their hands there is an instant connection. They won’t want to put it down or leave it behind. This is why a print viewing process works so well for portrait photographers in particular.
Wedding photographers tend to sell their packages upfront but that doesn't mean a print viewing won't work for your wedding clients. Once again, it's about creating that special experience. Imagine inviting the couple back when they've returned from their honeymoon, greeting them with a drink and sitting them down to watch a beautiful slideshow or video of their special day. Then present them with a box of beautiful matted prints and let them save their online gallery to their phones. Leaving on the day with a beautiful set of prints with the digitals included and an gallery for sharing in their back pocket is the pinnacle of satisfying their need for instant gratification. I guarantee it will knock their socks off and you'll be the talk of the town. Creating a really special experience for your clients is so important because word travels fast.
If you want to learn more about a print viewing and the psychology behind why it's so effective, you can download our free e-book here
The best of both worlds
The most successful photographers are in tune with what their clients want. They always sell in print but for every print their client purchases, they also include a high resolution digital file of that image. That’s why we’ve designed our folio boxes – so you can give your client the best of both worlds in one neat and very beautiful package. You can still sell for the wall too so it's not like you have to replace one with the other. It's about maximising your sales opportunity.
What about online galleries? Surely a USB is good enough?
If you’re a clever photographer you’ll give your client both and here’s why:
Why are referrals so important?
Referrals are vital for any business. In fact, good referrals are the fastest way to grow your business. 65% of new business comes from referrals and referral marketing programs are among the least expensive marketing strategies. Did you know that people who were referred by a friend are 4 times more likely to buy? Not only that but they also spend on average 13.2% more than regular customers. You can’t and shouldn’t ignore the opportunity for referrals ... drive them in and watch your business grow!
People want digitals and we can't ignore that but what we're saying is you can use it to your advantage. It doesn't mean you have to become a "shoot and burn" photographer. In fact, you don't even have to offer digital only packages if you don't want to.
Instead, explain to your client that for every image they buy in print, you will include a high resolution digital file of that image. This creates value in the mind of your client. They see value in a beautiful tangible product and they also have the "safety blanket" of knowing that they'll get the digital file too for sharing and safe keeping.
So, don't think you have to choose between digitals or prints. Do both! Your client will thank you for it and you're much more likely to have a successful and sustainable photography business.