Photography Prints vs. Disc. The Real Story.

A fantastic post from the Pink Ladies that I feel needs to be shared. So many sites push the idea of a disc when really, its not always in the couple’s best interest. 🙂 Read on!
 No disc, no deal! Album schmalbum! By The Pink Ladies

We wanted to share with you a great post by one of our East Tennessee vendors, Pink Pro Tara of Dixie Pixel Photography:

By Pink Pro Tara of Dixie Pixel Photography

DISCLAIMER: I know this post will ruffle a few feathers with brides to be.  But please, read with an open mind, and just hear me out.  It’s something that I need to address. PLEASE, your opinion is welcome.  Let your voice be heard in the comment section!

When I started shooting wedding photography, all of my brides and grooms purchased prints and albums.  It was pretty rad.

In 2007, I began getting my first inquiries for discs, which I didn’t offer at the time.  It was a new concept to me, to just “give” the photos away, a concept that I wasn’t comfortable with.  But, I wasn’t booking any weddings.  So, like the majority of photographers, I gave up the battle and I began to sell the disc.  I instantly started booking weddings again.

In 2008, I sold the disc to well over 75% of my brides and grooms.  I sold maybe 3 or 4 albums that year.  I was well on my way to the disc revolution.

Recently, I ran into 2 brides from 2009.  We’ll call them bride A and bride B.  Both bride A and bride B purchased nothing but a disc and my time in their wedding package (also known as a “shoot’n’burn” package).  I really thought bride A’s wedding was unique so I made a sample album from her wedding.  Once she saw the sample album, she confessed to me that she had not yet made a single print from the disc (may I remind you, a disc for which she paid $1500).   Bride B was torn between purchasing the disc or an album, but ended up deciding on the disc in her package.  She also confessed to me that she hadn’t printed a single image from her disc, and was still interested in purchasing an album.

Not too long ago I conducted an anonymous survey from brides married in 2009.   100 brides were surveyed, most from the East Tennessee area.  An overwhelming (but not surprising) 97% said they would not hire a photographer if the photographer did not sell a disc of the images.  Ironically, 70% of those brides had not yet made ANY prints from the disc, nor had they made an album.  I should remind you that these brides had been married for 9 months or longer.

So what the heck are the brides doing with the disc?

The overwhelming majority had said that they only thing they had done with the images was post them to social networking sites.

Ouch.

This is kind of a knife through the heart of a wedding photographer.  Well, I can’t speak for everyone, but it is for me.  I lose sleep over every wedding.  The anxiety I feel before every wedding can’t be described because I know I cannot make a single mistake, for if I do, I won’t be forgiven.  I go 6 or 7 hours without going to the bathroom because I don’t want to miss anything.  I wear ugly shoes and put up with drunk people.  I hold heavy equipment to my face for hours.  I sit at a computer for weeks, editing and editing and editing.  And once I’m done editing, I edit again.  And again.  All for my blood, sweat and tears to remain forever on a 30 cent disc collecting dust in a desk drawer.

I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining, I really really really love what I do.  Really.  I’m smiling for the majority of those long hours at my computer.  But come on!  For the fruits of my labor to remain as magnetic digital data for eternity is just a heart breaking reality I don’t really want to accept.  And really?  Y’all would pay thousands of dollars for just a nice facebook profile photo?  Tsk. Tsk.

And I’m not just shaking my finger at you (and I hold nothing against bride A and bride b, I still love them both madly!).  I’m guilty too.

I was married in 2006.  All I have is a disc and some negatives of my wedding after I had friends from college photograph my wedding.  I thought, I’ll make the prints myself.  I’ll make my own album.  I’m NOT paying someone else to do it when I can save so much money and do it myself.

It took me two years to hang a photo from my wedding on my wall.  I still don’t have a wedding album.  I hate myself.

But times have changed for dixie pixel.  I now include an album with every package.  I include a medium resolution disc too, as well as print credit.  Why?  Because I KNOW that my brides and grooms will have their photos in print.  Photos they can hold.  Photos they can touch. Photos they don’t have to log in to see . . .

Meg Wohlford, an architect from Clarksville, Tn, was married in July of 2009.  She said, “ . . . It’s too easy to put off making your own album I guess.  It’s overwhelming to do it yourself.  I’m jealous of your (dixie pixel) brides who have prints/albums so quickly.  I’ve only made a few small prints. I definitely regret signing myself up to do all my own printing/albums.  It’s not the way to go.”

So before you decide to book that “shoot’n’burn” package, ask yourself if you really NEED hundreds of high resolution images on a disc?  Do you plan on hanging 500 or more 30×40 prints in your house?  And if it’s the price tag on the prints that the photographers sell that turns you off, ask yourself this:  What is the image worth to you? That beautiful iconic image from your wedding that your grandchildren will someday look at with nostalgia in their hearts and longing in their eyes (you know, that feeling you get when you look at that sepia toned image from your grandparents’ wedding?).  Is it worth $1.00 from a drug store lab?  I didn’t think so.

Wedding photos are heirlooms, and should be treated as such.  Thank you for reading.

Happy Planning!

Visit us at A Music City Event or call 615.727.3903

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4 Comments Add yours

  1. Tami says:

    Wow – great post! Some really wonderful points were made & I really have never thought about that side of things. Whoa – totally correct, most brides do zero with the disc other than add it to Facebook…

    I’m so glad that I was able to buy the disc and a pretty insane awesome album from our Photogs – I’m not sure I would have made my own with only the disc. I had plans to make one for our parents… 9 months later – that hasn’t happened!

    Great post – I hope future brides really think this over!

  2. It just pains me that clients will purchase a disc of their wedding day images and let them sit on a disc. I know that life catches up to newlyweds after the wedding. There may not be time or the money just isnt in the budget to print these timeless images but why commission an artist to document the happiest, most important day in your life if you arent going to display the art on your walls or in an album?

    In these days of digital photography, I am afraid that amazing images are constantly captured but never see the true media they are intended to be enjoyed on. Have your parents or grandparents taken out an album or shoe box full of photographs that are 40-50 years old? Do you remember how amazed you were to be seeing these images for the first time and how incredible they were? What are you going to show your kids or grandkids? Will anyone even know where the “disc” is?

  3. Amber V says:

    While I agree with the blood, sweat and tears we as photographers shed over our couples’ images, I’d like to play devil’s advocate for a minute. I would rather my most affordable package include just a disc of high-res images. For a bride who really values photography but doesn’t have the budget for an album and all the bells and whistles, I think it is a great option. I would much rather see a bride invest in QUALITY images over a so-so photographer that includes an album. What is the point in an album full of images that suck?

    Of course, I am speaking from my experience as a bride here. I was fortunate enough to hire a photographer who was amazing and did sell me the disc of images. I realize that based on your research I’m in the minority but the first thing I did when I got my disc was order 4 copies of every image. I then went on to make multiple albums out of them and am in the process 4 1/2 years later of designing yet another album of my images.

    I guess what I am trying to say here is yes, if you want to service only the high end bride who can afford to buy a package with an album, print credit, and low-res disc then great. I’m happy for you. I will continue happily serving the bride who loves photography and sees the quality in my work but doesn’t have the budget to afford my album-including packages.

  4. All great points. To be upfront, we offer both albums and discs, and in 2010 all but one of our brides got albums (that one got the disc). My husband, Chris, and I have talked about this a lot. Most recently, my Granny died and Chris and I were at her home going through old letters and photos. How many of our children, grandchildren, or great grandchildren will ever be able to do that from our lives? I mean, who knows what technology will be around by then, but there’s nothing I treasure now from my Granny more than the old letters and photos. Chris and I have vowed to not only take more photos of us, and have others help us document important times in our life together, but to have prints, albums, and wall art to treasure from it.

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