Today I thought I would talk to you about the value of your digital files. One of the first questions I ask you when you call to organise a portrait session with me here at Model Citizen is “what do you plan to do with the images that get taken?”. Now obviously the list of answers are about as long as my arm but here are a few of the more common ones:
- Huge canvas for the walls
- An album or prints for my boyfriend
- Prints for my book
- lots of small prints for my photo album
- I want one of those funky acrylic blocks
- Chromaluxe panels
- A collage print
- social media use
But there is an answer that somewhat bugs me “I don’t know, i just want the files so i can do something with them later”. In fact if I am being brutally honest I hate this answer, I abhor this answer, I loathe it with every fibre of my being. Why, you may ask. What is so wrong with wanting the digital files.
Absolutely nothing! But here is the issue, digital files have a limited lifespan, no matter what you think they are not forever. Video cassette, A track, Floppy discs….the simple fact of the matter is that in an ever-changing and increasingly digital world those files have a limited life span and that is why I chose to talk today about the value of digital files!
What are digital files good for?
As I said earlier there is nothing wrong with wanting the digital files. But here is the thing, most of the time they go home and life happens. The majority of the time the files are lost, worst case scenario the files are destroyed best case scenario you order prints from some random online lab who only offer consumer quality prints. Files are good to have for a very limited number of reasons:
- digital photo frames
- social media and website use
- commercial use
Those three reasons right there are pretty much the only reasons I can think of that anyone would actually need digital files for. There is one other reason and that is cost. This in and of itself is a whole nother blog post so I do not want to hash out all the details here but lets just say that when you order prints and products from a fully professional (as in this is their business and full livelihood) photographer you are short-changing yourself quality wise as well as there being a high probability of you needing to spend more money to replace the files in the future or never ending up with anything on your walls.
The lifetime of a digital file
Once you have digital files and you upload them to Facebook for instance what happens to them? For about a day or so you get a huge bump in confidence right, as all of your friends and family like and comment on pics. Your favorite may become your profile pic for the forseeable future. But happens after that initial burst of life? Generally your images waste away on your hard drive doing nothing! WE’RE NOT DOING ANYTHING WITH THEM!
Longevity of the “physical” file
Files, contrary to popular belief are not forever, they can corrupt, you computer might fry, we don’t even know what digital storage will look like in 5 years as existing formats of backup cease to exist and new ones replace them. I cannot even remember when the last time I bought a cd was, I just download straight to my cellphone etc. The simple fact is we cannot guarantee the future, although there are things we can do to help make sure our files are safe I still firmly believe that if you are going to go to the trouble of having a photo shoot you should be looking at products like prints, canvasses and other mediums that will be seen!
Digital vs. products
But wait… you’re a photographer…OF COURSE you want to sell us one-off products instead of digital files, that way YOU make more money! This is a common misconception, as an artist it absolutely kills me to send only a disc/download home with a client. I spend so much time getting to know you and creating this art for you that yes of course I am slightly selfish and want my art to be seen! I want you to look at your images every day and remember what a great time you had creating them, I want you to see them and realise how amazing you are, and I want you to appreciate the effort that has gone into creating them. I want this to be special! Is buying digital files and letting them rot away the best use of your money? I don’t think so.
So here is the thing I would like you to think about when booking a session…what is it you want to do with these images you want to be taking, do you really want files that you are going to lose, forget bout or not bother to do anything with or do you want something tangible that you can enjoy for years (and years) to come?
So, I hope I have actually given you something to think about! As a final word I would just like to add that I don’t particularly have anything against digital files or indeed people who only give digital files and in fact there are times when that is all that is wanted and needed. It is not the purpose of this studio however. The purpose of this studio is to create art with you and to have that art shown in your home/office etc. When you book a shoot with us and you buy images you are more than welcome to buy digital files as well, however it is not our focus for non commercial work. I hope this has been an informative read and I would love to know what you would do with your files if you were to have a shoot! So comment below…
Hayley Walmsley is a photographer absolutely in love with her work, if you would like to see more of her work or you would like to work with her please sign up for email at the top right of the page or contact us.
Alternatively find us on Facebook where we share pictures, chat and generally have fun!
Model: Hayley Roberts
Photographer: Hayley Walmsley, Model Citizen Photography
Assisted By: Christiaan Gough
Location: Bottlelake Forest, Christchurch New Zealand