Pricing: The Digital Negative Controversy
Let's begin with my thoughts on digital negatives and the products we like to carry here. Uh, digital negatives framing acrylics medal before I dig into the debate on digital negatives. Let's talk about framing not a big believer in carrying five ten frame lines in your studio. It's just framing is not very profitable. You gotta have all these corners and expertise and things like that. So especially when you go to a company like michael's and every days of fifty or seventy five percent off sale, you're gonna have a very difficult time competing on framing. So we offer too slim to slim line framing options like black espresso white just for every taste but that's all we're offering, we don't get crazy with all these custom framing options. If somebody wants that michael's the expert, let them go to michael's and get it done there. Acrylics and metal, these air monster, new product so acrylics, you know they're just a very unique product. So if you go to v by sal virtuoso that's, our co...
mpany, we make him produce these. These are amazing products that are like no other. So you're the color and vibrancy is just absolutely amazing on both acrylics and metal. And then bay photo lab we tought we've been talking about them all day. They do our print, they do our press printed books. They've got a great code here for you. Twenty percent off all metal prints on that it's an expire eight thirty one and you guys post these codes on the on the chaplain jets, so enjoy bay photos. Great sponsor. You get a great discount, you know, to get started building something. Sam lt's. All right, that being said let's have some fun talking digital negatives. So let me tell you what I do before we talk about what I believe it is. Ok on dh. Start having the argument. Digital negatives are not available in our studio to come in. Just purchase, right? So maybe that's a lie they are they're fourteen, ninety nine. So fourteen hundred ninety nine dollars if you wanted to hire me for your wedding, you could buy on the ala carte menu. Fourteen hundred ninety nine dollars you would get the digital neck, then you need to buy time, so we charge for fifty an hour, right? So four hundred fifty bucks an hour. We'll get you two photographers and digital negative, so if you wanted to hire me for a six hour event ten hour event you'd be looking at spending well north of five, six thousand dollars to have us there we'll get swat no one's going to do it right so I don't have to say no we don't offer it we do offer it is just gonna cost you an exorbitant amount of money to get me there to do it when it's all said and done and we'll look at packages later um you'll understand why just makes more sense to be in a package. So for me, a digital image is out of camera that's what it is it's a digital negative just like in the days of film and negative is a negative you didn't take that the image and going to the dark room and start dodging and burning it and then start handing those over right? So a digital negative is what comes out of your camera. You've got to get your wife balancing exposure, right? So don't make no mistake, I'm not suggesting handing over crap to my clients, I'm suggesting you master your craft, you should be able to get exposure right in camera and by right I don't mean attack on I mean, you have got to be able to be within a half a stop if you're not within a half stop or quarter of a stop with how you doing well, how are you missing your exposure by so much that's a lot to be off right again, I'm not talking about like a grab shot. I turned around and the camera wasn't set up right talking about in general, make sure you're you're where you need to be white balance, how much easier can they make it for you to figure out why? Pounds they got a pretty little picture for every white balance option there is. So figure it the hell out to me, though if I get those two things right, I'm okay giving my client a digital negative out of camera, but it has to be a pole through item, so my negatives are built in my packages. You cannot again, you can, but you are paying a premium to come in. If you want to pay me six thousand dollars to show up to your event, hand over a d a cd of images on I just show up for eight to ten hours at your event, I will turn into a shooting burner that's a profitable business, but guess what? It's never gonna happen because people are not willing to consistently pay that much money just for a cd, it just won't happen. I challenge anybody out there who's consistently making money, shooting weddings at ten grand a pop, and to me you're not consistently making money if you're shooting for weddings here. Don't even bother calling me I don't wanna hear about it that's not a real studio real studio I'm shooting thirty, forty or more weddings a year in that eight to twelve thousand dollar range. It's very difficult to hannah cd over and just do that right? Just that alone. It's very tough and so it's got to be a pull through item no shooting burning klein's. Our clients are demanding this. They want it. They don't know why they want it, right? They read it. Oprah talked about it. Martha stewart talked about it. Someone talked about it that that said they need their digital negatives. They don't know what the hell they're doing with it. They're not alan designers, they're not editors, right? But they want it and that's okay, they wanted for facebook or wherever they wanted. When we deliver it, we deliver in eighteen hundred by twelve hundred pixel image at one hundred forty four d p I jpeg format no raw files that's not gonna happen. What the hell are they doing with raw files? They don't know what they're doing. Okay, I'm not handing over full rights files. I'm not handing over three hundred d p I ease their digital negatives if they want to post it to facebook, they can post it to facebook here's an image right out of camera this is something we photographed. This is for that nineteen, sixty shoot. Like I said, go to behind the shutter dot com. You'll see you'll see more that's right out of camera that's been added at a camera, right? He's facing the wrong direction. I needed to get it right. Contouring skinny tool skin softening. I enhancement. I'm okay with what came out of camera. I'm not ashamed. That's what? It looked like out of my camera. I don't. I don't have a magical camera. This required a lot more work to get to that point. Next image. Okay, out of camera there's been nothing done to this image edited which looks better. The edit? Of course. Right. I hope everybody agrees that. Right? So boom boom contouring done enhancements don skin softening, don cleaning up shiny skin. You tell me all the people out there who was saying that you're giving away six hundred images, okay, that are fully edited and fully polished. How the hell do you plan on staying in business? Because I know how much time it takes to get that image to look that way, and you're not charging anywhere near what I'm charging. How can you afford to stay in business and do this? You cannot stay in business and do this it's impossible. Right, we start having what I call stupid talk at a certain point, right? Because we're not talking reality. Reality is, this is what came out of my camera. Reality is, this might take ten let's, just call it ten minutes and image. What if we call it five minutes an image? And now you've got six hundred images? Do the math where's this time coming from, you cannot run a successful business and do this, and you've got to get this through your head that you cannot survive. I have no a problem at all handing this picture over, as is to my client, because the next logical question is going to happen, and I'm sure the room's air going to light up here in a second. Well, aren't you afraid your clients will share this online? No, I'm not afraid at all, there's. Nothing wrong with this image, okay? Is this better? Yes, but I'm not ashamed off this image. This is what it looked like when it came out of my camera and any educator, by the way, who gets on this platform and tries to convince you that this is what it looks like out of their camera, it just flat out full of crap, this is not that there is no magical cameras, teachers have where we're like doo boo magic gold, right? This is not what it looks like it takes post production to make stuff look this way this is the nature of the industry were in now how much post production you want to do on an image is totally up to you, right? Some people don't like it they feel I'm too heavy handed in my editing style. That's totally fine find your style whatever your style it is, it is but you have to allow for the amount of time that's going to go into this you cannot do it for free and when you go off and in your negatives right, you start handing over all of this. How do you expect to stay in business? It's? Just not possible. Let the debate begin. Well, so, uh, jazmine said I saw an ad on craigslist for a wedding photographer, full wedding and digital images for three hundred wonder how long they'll last they won't there's no scenario where they can last and I've lost weddings. I don't want anyone to believe that my clients don't come in and say I want all the edited images, we have the same challenges you have, I've lost weddings to people who have come to me and said, I want all the edit images I've told them point blank, I cannot stay in business and complete transparency I cannot remain in business if I spend all this time editing every single picture and deliver to instead what makes sense is any picture you order it's for me to do this kind of work that's where it makes sense because that's incorporated into the price off a canvas or into the price of a large print right that's why we can't sell prince for four dollars and think we're going to stay in business because you're not recovering the amount of time that goes into making an image look this way which is what I consider fully polished emily who wants to know if you put a logo or similar on your digital negatives no it's a great question by the way so no logo so when I deliver this to the client I deliver it fully expecting them to go printed so if we go back to this slide eight hundred pixels by twelve hundred pixels is big enough for them to print an eight by twelve I'm totally ok if they want to print family think about the pictures we don't want to be bothered with I don't want to print eight by tens of the alter pictures from a wedding that's not what I want to do it's just not it's not profitable for me grandma wants a little five by seven for her nightstand I really want nothing to do with that stuff that's where the digital negatives are perfect now grandma's a perfectionist and wants a head swap or somebody was blinking in one picture what do you do there, by the way? So when you're calling it when you're delivering your images are you actually fixing where people are blinking in different pictures for a group shot? You're not in business you're going to go out of business, it just can't be done it's not sustainable so you know this a proper example here's a swap between two images I didn't like where he was looking away, I wanted him looking at camera just to make it a little bit more interesting I could not do that to six hundred images and then just hand that over on a cd I would on lee do this if the client was buying the same and ryder we were doing something beyond just handing it over to him, so it starts happening when you've got that shooting burn mentality. What starts happening is you start thinking about your time because eventually you're going to sit down at your computer you're weeks and weeks behind because you haven't edited all your images yet and now you can't show him to the client and you're dreading it you're dreading it and so you start making bad decisions, you start showing images you probably shouldn't show because you're not cleaning them up, yeah so a question about like the sails process with your pally edited polished images so you're not going through and doing that obviously for all of them but when you're in sales room and you want to sell these and you're going to tell them that they're fully polished how many of those do you do to try and sell them are we talking weddings or are we talking engagement or wedding so let's go through the whole thing an engagement session I would photograph let's say three to four hundred images in that range right it depends outfits locations all that stuff but they're going to see one hundred fifty to two hundred polished images that's this level of editing that's what they're going to see absolutely because I don't believe for a minute I would be able to if this were the client would be able to say ok if you really like this image here's what I'm gonna do if you decide to buy it I'm going to change you so you're looking here on now you're looking at the camera they don't have the vision for that so what I do is I'm showing them what I expected to look like and that would be signature at its right so a shot like this behind me if we could cut to the wide camera this particular shot we photographed this picture is a real client this is an image they bought they love this image that sky isn't the original sky that was a sky swap so when they came in to see it okay, they saw it with this scott the new sky in it, right? So they I'm showing them what I believe their art should look like can I do this to six hundred images where maybe the sky was blown out or something like that? Of course not I've gotta pick is the artist what I believe is right this's actually this was the sky s o this is one where you can get get the gist of my point, so I'm going to show where I'm doing a sky swap and stuff like that or ahead swap maybe on one or two images to drive the point home now they understand what can be done so let's say we're going through all their images and their all color corrected skin softened that's all images now let's say we get to one and let's say for whatever reason this is fully polished this is actually a perfect example look on the sleeve he's got the tag from the suit because he didn't want to bring this suit he got the suit just for just for the shoot, right? So we didn't we didn't take that off well there's no scenario where I'm going to go through and remove that tag on six hundred pictures or however many pictures it's showing on what I will do instead is maybe one picture removing or as we get through and said him, look, if we do something with this image, I just want you to know I'll remove that tag on any image what if you're just shooting and burning there's no fricking way you're removing that tag and now your client is actually going in printing that and making you look bad whereas I've got control of the print process for the most part if they want to print for by sixty five by sevens that's totally fine but and if they order this print that's going to go online not the digital negative the edited version that's what's going to go to their facebook page so no, I'm not worried if they have this image in digital format because you know what they're going to put look and tag and use our online is this one because I've already posted it therefore is that making sense don't let me off easy man I want to have this debate we've got plenty of questions you were you worry let's see what we want to go to next did you have one running? I'm ready, okay? Doug from new york city says ciao how often do clients come back for a product after getting the digital negatives? If rarely, why not give them the process files so they share always share your best work always the client's always order prints from us not sometimes not maybe always so they don't get the digital they get the digital negatives when they're they're ordering so they don't come in I give them the negatives and then hope they come back a month later to order prints that's not how it works our sales process after the wedding or after an engagement session they're sitting in our studio and we're showing them this fully polished final images they have their cd they understand what's on the cd they understand the cds and negative it's completely unedited this has been ah conversation with them again I don't want you to think we're baiting switching our clients where they don't know what they're getting into they absolutely no what they're getting on that cd because we have told them from the beginning and then we're showing them what we think is final signature level artwork and that should be on the campus that should be on in acrylic, et cetera et cetera just like the pictures you're seeing behind me so they don't sometimes they always get prints from us and that's very important me I want to control the final product how many on average she put in your album okay larger like for all those you get us thinking the digital images of those pictures that are in the album correct no no digital negatives or digital magnets so what's in the album I don't give them the edited images that were in the amish do not get edited images under any scenario just doesn't happen unless you wanna count facebook facebook of course whatever we put up there is edited right? We're not putting unedited images up there but that's not printable format that's seventy two dp I very small pixel ratio so that's not what they're doing it in the album no or doing with it I should say in the album a thirty page album is going to get a new image and a half to two images per page that being said are typical thirty page album is going to see anywhere from forty five to sixty five images in their and of course anything in the album is also completely edited we're not going to let a book about where you know he's got that that that that tag on his jacket that would be just irresponsible for us and it makes us look bad because anybody looking at that season we don't charge for that that's also an important point I'm not charging them extra I don't have to but if you're shooting and burning and now your clients they're going to come back they probably drive you nuts they're like well, can you remove this? Can you do this and you're like oh that's gonna be extra that's gonna be extra? Why? Because you didn't allow for that cost I'm allowing for that cost in what I'm charging for my prince, but again, if you're charging four dollars or five dollars from eight by ten, you don't have the margin fixes and then there's resistance there's, bad service center, etcetera. Beth ninety seven so you will you actually show clients on example, of an unedited versus an edited image so that they can see the benefits of your editing? No, we don't when they come in to see their image is their seeing everything fully polished thie level of detail we go to just depends on the image, but I can tell you that this would be an image that eye would show the client in this exact format so that tag would be left on his jacket it's too much work to go in and remove it, but if they order it, I absolutely will remove it there's no need to show them because they get the gist that it's what comes out of our camera that has been communicated to them right from the beginning. But you have to understand this goes back to finding the right client. The clients were coming into our studio are not looking for a cd, they're looking for what you see behind me, they're looking for a centerpiece in their home, they're looking for a beautiful album for their home and so if your if your clients are coming in just looking for the cd, you have a decision to make on if this is the client that you want to continue to go after, and if you do, I'm telling you it is just gonna be you're gonna be exhausted with being a photographer. You don't you want to be seen as an artist, it's how we all want to be seen and so on artist cannot be handed over and condensed into a cd just can't be done. The art of it all is the polished final product. I just kind of had not a moment that I kind of want to share. If you don't mind, I'll go really quickly. I think one of the issues and why we keep seeing these issues come up with digital negatives is the difference between the clients that people are dealing with on a daily basis and the clients that they really want tohave if they want to be doing this high end work, the high end client is not looking primarily to share their photos on facebook. That's correct the middle, the middle tier kind of lower end that's where they want to be sharing it, and so it's just a question of who your client and what their priorities are understanding that and being able to deliver it bingo, you're s o I'm glad I've converted you now into understanding, but that is that is the ah ha moment for all of us it's understanding that you know, I don't know if everybody remembers if you've been with us all day but earlier today I showed pictures from oh seven no eight and there was that woman holding the baby she is by definition not my client today because you know what she wass she was a scrapbook, right? Do any of you have those clients were scrap pickers she came in during our transition where are prices were going up and she said to me she goes, I'm not paying fifty bucks for an eight by ten I want to be ableto to cut it and put it in my little scrapbook and I looked her in her face and I said that's good because I don't want you cutting my artwork up although looking back at those pictures they are anything but artwork they suck but still my minds it was out of an artist and when you start thinking about who you want your clients to be, which should be professional people who have the money for fine art pieces in their home they don't have time to sit there and be playing in photo shop and all that other stuff they want a complete service think of it is the difference if we go into the automotive industry you're growing up is a kid very poor I worked with you know if the brakes went out on our car me and my dad were outside changing breaks changing exhaust systems we never could afford to take our car somewhere to get fixed we did it so we would go and we'd go to the automotive store and we would you know, change our own oil and things like that do you see a doctor or a lawyer trying to save ten dollars to go change his own oil it's not gonna happen right it's the same concept in photography it's understanding who is your client today? Our client is that professional who's looking for full service they just want to come to us here's what I want handle it and I know a lot of you are resisting because you can't move over that hump you can't move past the fact that understanding that the client you have today is not the client you want tomorrow and that's the key thing there until you can let go with that you're never gonna move past this. So what what about converting them so let's talk about like the language that you would use michael says so what if they compare and say there's another photographer whose same as you in terms of price but they all also offer the digital edited negatives like let's go into a roll plate here how you say it and I get that question that's the thing I don't want anybody believe that if we don't get that, we get that all the time. Well, because I ask him, like, who else? Who else are you looking at? I'm not afraid to ask that question. Sometimes I'm horrified at the the group of photographers that were in on mike, holy colleague, they're all over the place, they don't understand photography style if they're looking at that photographer in us, we're not the same at all, but needless to say, I asked a question, and if he gets to a point in that meeting where it's like, well, you know, now these air digital negatives, what does that mean? His clients will ask me that? What does that mean? And I tell him, he's, a completely unedited out of camera, and they're like, well, studio acts is giving us all are edited images and I say, well, define, edited, what's, edited because doesn't edit it mean different things to different people, right? Edit it could merely be color corrected, contrast and you're done that's what added? It could be, I said so define, edited and you will see a blank stare go over my over the client. Because they don't know what that means they don't they don't understand I said okay but I said that's fine I know you don't know what it means I said but obviously you're gonna have to make a decision edited to me is this and then typically I don't have a screen where I'm showing it before or after but what I say is I point to this right out point behind me because they're in my studio and I show them this is edited to me and here's what I did on this image I put in a brand new sky because on that particular day there were no clouds in the sky and I thought this would enhance it and then we really burned down this image to make it darker so that would be a little bit more dramatic this is an edited image now I don't know studio acts and I don't know everything they're offering for you but I do know that they're probably not offering this level off editing and so you need to get some clarity before you book any photographer you should probably comfortable won't understand what that means but for us when I say digital negatives its color corrected for you the contrast is right for you and it's a printable image and usually ninety percent of the time it's going to put my client at ease so that they understand the difference and educated client is good for you and andrzej uneducated client is not because they start thinking they just see the word edited on editing let's translate that I say to them if they're really editing everything and making it look like this I said how many images are they giving you well it says up to four hundred up to four hundred so your entire wedding day ten hours of coverage you only want four hundred images well here's what we're gonna give you out of ten hours of coverage you're gonna get about fifteen to seventeen hundred images so you have to understand the difference and so you've got to be confident in that and that's how we deliver it that's the that's the message we'll lose some clients there's there's no way around it im okay my client you're okay? Uh adrian far another question going to try and give you a little bit would it be wrong to offer the digital edited version of all prints that are purchased as they will be edited anyway? So the images that you do those signature and it's on giving them the digital file of the edited image I'm gonna I'm gonna just flip a coin on that right so that's up to you you got to see what's working or not for us we don't have to do it that pressure is not honest to give that edited image away but here's the challenge here's what I would worry about the minute you do that, you run the risk of your client on lee buying the prince that they want the digital file off then how do you manage that? Take it a step further do they have to buy a certain size? Print money is like water it's going to follow the path of least resistance so if I know that every print I order I get the digital image off, I'll order ten four by six is you're the least expensive product and if you're least expensive product is wallets, I'll buy ten sheets of wallets, okay? And now, according to your rules, I'm going to get all the digital images and they have circumvented your entire process, so I'm not a big fan of that, but if you are, you have to understand money's like water and they're gonna walk out of studio spending as little as possible to get all the digital files and now you just shot yourself in the foot unless if you make him small enough where they can't do anything with them but then there's more gamesmanship involved, right? So now you're now you're client's going, you're selling me something that you know, I can't do anything with right where's I'm just saying I'm not even going to sell it to you it's not an option and so you might not like my policy but you know, my policy and there's a difference there first trying to games game them into right, giving them this tiny little file that they can't do anything with anyway unless you sell it that way I'd be okay with that actually, I'd be more okay with that maybe what adrian suggesting some of it might just be lost in translation here, but I couldn't be more okay where you say and we do this that's why I say it anything you order, you get the facebook image off that you do get, but you can't do it, you can't print with it, and most ninety nine percent of our clients are okay with that because that's all they want the image for anyways to be on facebook, I think some people didn't miss that, so I think that helps clarify good perfect okay, so I know we have a lot to get through. Yes, I want to go big picture here. This is philosophy people's philosophy around money. Yeah. All right, this is a comment from snap turtle in the lounge snap it'll just talking to other loungers and they say we see ourselves and often are the middle class so we relate to clients who can't afford higher and service we buy chevys, not mercedes, so the struggle comes within ourselves to believe we are worth the mercedes amen I mean that's that's a true statement, isn't it? How do you get there it's confidence it's about seeing where you want to be that's a great that's a great analogy quite quite frankly because we all struggle with it and in total raw and honest you know, just feedback from me I struggle with that every day on my worth what we charge I don't know sometimes I wonder I mean, we've we've had weddings come through and spend twenty five thousand dollars in our studio um I worth twenty five thousand dollars to someone I am and that's what we have to come to grips with so we're worth whatever someone's willing to pay for us and you know, that is a confidence thing I wish I could say yeah, after two years in business, you'll have all that confidence and you won't it's just something that I think his artists were all a little insecure, but I want you to know that I suffer with that same insecurity to this very, very day on its just about I don't let that insecurity though paralyzed me, I think that's the difference I'm still willing to go out there, push the limits and see what I can get and we're still raising our prices to this very day so I'm gonna keep raising my prices until nobody books this anymore then I can come back off