Why don’t photographers sell all the files?
These days it is not infrequent for a client to ask the photographer about buying all the files from a session. Sometimes they say, “You are just going to throw them away, so why not give them to me?” Why do photographers say no to this request?
First, most photographers shoot in a file format called RAW. It is the digital equivalent to a film negative. A RAW file is able to pick up a greater range of lights and shadows than a jpg image. It also captures color better. The problem is that if you looked at it before it is processed, it would look quite dull, just like a negative didn’t represent what the final file would look like. These files must be processed to some extent and saved as a jpg before they can even be printed. Clearly, no photographer would want to give away images that do not represent their work. Second, you need special programs to read RAW files, unlike jpg.
Before, dull and dark so the whites on the nose don’t lose details
After, with proper editing and a new background
You don’t really want to see some of what photographers catch on a photograph. Whether it is pictures of yourself or of your dog, sometimes the images are just not pretty. I might accidentally catch you blinking or starting to say something, and even gorgeous people look awkward in these situations. The same thing happens with animals. They bark, sneeze, suddenly move, etc, and get caught looking a bit crazy. That is why photographers cull images before doing anything else to them. We take the time to get rid of the awkward shots or near duplicates first. Then we look for the best expressions and poses. Only after we have gone through that time consuming task do we begin processing. Why would we want to give you photos that make you uncomfortable and don’t represent our best work?
I was taking action shots of this pup running and he changed directions awkwardly.
I pride myself on adding some artistic touches to an edit. I will take some things out, change colors a bit, add or subtract light, change contrast, etc. A recent photo of a cat that I posted on my Facebook page was very peachy yellow to start because the photo was taken in a basement with no natural light and peachy yellow walls. It took me a lot of work to get that color out of the cat and to supply an attractive and interesting background. I wouldn’t want anyone to see the before image: it does not reflect who I am as a photographer or artist. Therefore, I will not sell or give away unedited images. I am not simply documenting a period of time but creating art and memories.
Artistic editing brought out the sunrays and golden color of the evening.
But how about the edited images that are not bought?
So some will say why not sell cheap or give away the images you already edited that were not bought? Aren’t you just going to throw them away?
First, clients do not always buy my personal favorite images. I can still keep them and use these images for my portfolio. Second, giving away any images cheapens the value of all images. Why would anyone buy a number of images if they know they can get a bunch for free or cheap? This is a job and photographers need to make a living, including paying taxes, paying for equipment, paying for insurance and investing in retirement funds, etc. Like any other business, to succeed they must make a profit, and that doesn’t come with giving things away. Third, would you expect a grocery store to give you all the tomatoes just because you bought a few, even if some will likely go bad before they can be sold and are therefore wasted? No. Giving away what a business needs to sell is not a good business practice.
So why do these questions come up?
There are currently many people who buy a entry level digital camera, set it on auto, take pictures in jpg, and practically give away a large number of images. To that I say you get what you pay for. Furthermore, when someone supports those photographers, most of the time they are supporting an illegal business which is not paying back into the economy with sales tax and income tax. Some people don’t care about these things, but my clients do. Thank you for supporting a legal business with high standards.
To know more about why I prefer print to digitals, click here: https://stephaniesabourinphotography.com/2019/07/20/9-reasons-i-prefer-prints-to-digitals/