One of the major fallouts from the digital revolution has been the desire of the professional photographer’s client to have the files from the session. For many studios this has created quite a quandary.
As a studio considers how best to address this there are four areas you should consider. They are profitability, image integrity, studio reputation and position in market, and the goals of the studio.
The first factor in making a decision on offering the image files to the client is from a financial standpoint. Purely as a business decision you have to look at the bottom line. The question becomes at what price you offer the image files to maintain the profits necessary to achieve your financial goals. This can be done a couple of ways.
You may offer to sell the image files as an incentive to a minimum purchase requirement or as part of a package. Either way the total dollar amount of the required sale should meet your minimum sale requirement to maintain profitability. You cannot however offer the image files without the needed minimum order, to do so is unprofitable.
Some studios have gone to a larger upfront fee or minimum order and then sell duplicate prints at lower prices to combat the price issue.
Next consider how your original image files may be manipulated. If the file is utilized in ways which deteriorate the overall image quality or alters the image in a way which it was not intended. The impact is the concern of work being out there which may not be to your standards or be used in products which you do not offer.
You also need to consider the quality of reprints made from the image files and whether they are a reflection of the quality you can produce. Having your name associated with poor quality reprints can be detrimental to your reputation.
Where do you want to be positioned in your market? If you are trying to be known as a high-end more exclusive studio then you may be more interested in maintaining the image files for your client. If you are going to maintain the image files you need a system in place to protect those files for your client. Otherwise you may want to simply shoot the job and turn the image files over to the client and let them get their own reprints.
Neither is necessarily wrong but it is important you understand your strategy and how you are presenting your products to your customer. Remember your decision should be a reflection of your overall business goals.
New technologies will continue to offer challenges for your business. However the way in which you make decisions for your business does not need to change. As long as you focus on the overall goals and vision for your business and utilize them in making decisions it will be easier to keep your business on a successful path.