Have you ever found yourself listening to your client explaining what they want, and you realize that they’re thinking about your work in the wrong way? They may think that you’re going to deliver some great images that are small enough to share on their social channels and get maximum attention—and, of course, you can do that. But they could be forgetting about the need for a permanent record of this momentous event in their lives that they can revisit for years to come.
Since the invention of photography, the art of printing images has been central to what we do as photographers. It’s no exaggeration to say that there are printed pictures that have changed the course of history, art, and culture.
But the role of the printed image has diminished greatly in the last decade, both in the physical world and in the consciousness of people who have grown up thinking about photography in strictly digital and social terms. As a photographer, one of your jobs is to remind them of the value of photo albums, framed pictures, and physical mementos of the most important events in their lives.
If all goes well, you’ll probably end up delivering both formats to your clients.
In an earlier PPA blog post titled The Case for Prints, there is a very relevant turn of phrase: ”As a photographer, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is helping clients see the value in printing some of these gems, helping them see how printing can create family treasures that can last lifetimes.”
We need to fight for the printed image and make sure clients understand its value.
There is nothing quite like having photographs in a printed form, that people can share and discuss at a family gathering. Those are the moments that memories are made of.
If you only opt for an online folder of digital images, you miss out on:
On top of all of that, you should make your clients realize that digital images are vulnerable. Cloud storage can be hacked, hard-drives corrupted, passwords lost over time, and memories lost forever.
Delivering beautifully printed images is an insurance policy against the dangers of digital. We’re not saying that there is no place for a digital image—quite the contrary. Offer a blend of both services that ticks all the boxes.
We’ll get into all the various options in a second, but there are a few golden rules. Firstly, under no circumstances should you email your clients their images one by one. It’s very unprofessional, and it clogs up their email, scatters the results, and diminishes the value of your work. While it may feel easy to do, it ends up taking away from the quality of your service.
The other golden rule is to name your files appropriately. As a customer, there are few things more irritating than receiving a file titled DCS_46821, for example. Come up with a simple naming protocol for the work that you do and apply it evenly across your choices.
Increasingly, most photographers offer web galleries for their clients to view the work. Galleries are easier to set up than ever before, and clients usually understand how to use them. These galleries can be password protected or open to the public. Either way, they offer a quick and easy method for you to get your photos in front of the people who are paying for them.
There are many options for delivering your work in digital format.
At the end of the day, you’ll likely end up using a hybrid model of some print and some digital to deliver your work.
You want to offer your clients options. Chances are the best work from the shoot will probably end up being framed or selected for a tasteful photo album that’s on display for everyone to see. The second-tier shots will likely live in an online gallery or on social media channels where they can be easily accessed and shared among friends and family. Finally, you may consider a zipped folder delivered via FTP where all the images from the shoot can serve as a record of the events and where the client can go back from time to time to relive the full experience all over again.