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Why I Give People ALL the Jpegs

Why I give everyone unwatermarked jpegs: I want them to realize how hard I work.

There is a swing in the photography market regarding digital images. Clients, younger clients, want the jpegs. They just want all the photos. Some even want the RAW original files. (How do they know!?)

I give my clients the selected jpegs. Just good enough for a sharp Facebook post. Other options are a la carte.

Access to photography has grown a lot from baby boomer weddings to the millennial and generation X weddings happening now. I think the most heard reasons to not include all the jpegs in a basic package actually make photographers hurt themselves rather than help.

  1. Photographers can make more money holding the files. They can control when and how you get to own the images. If they have you come into a studio to look at proofs (remember those?) and the photographer says “your package included 50 images” but they took over 800… well you probably are going to like and pay for more than 50 images.
    But let’s talk about those proofs. My mother has my senior portrait proofs framed in our living room. They sent them to her for free so why not keep them? Who cares if the watermark is across my face, it covers a zit. I bring this up to say that people have been trying to get around paying photographers for images way before the digital revolution. By giving the digital images, I save money on printing proofs that will either a) be discarded or b) used as the real photographs that I am not getting a return of investment on.
    *For those reading this saying “Well I can can show them digital proofs (jpegs) online and only send them a select amount they pay for.” Ever heard of a screen shot? If people want to get out of paying for images, they find a way. Just like paying taxes.

  2. Album curation stays with the photographer, therefore they keep a percent of the album sales. There are countless sites dedicated to DIY album and wedding books, as well as printing wall pieces. If you have the jpegs, you don’t need the photographer to coordinate designing and printing the physical work. But do you want to? Let’s say the album is 50 pages. That is probably at least 100 images, depending on the spreads (design of the page which determines how many pictures are placed on it). You have to comb through your 800 photos to pick 75-100, decide where they go in sequence, write out captions, pick a cover, and then ship the extras to your parents who WILL want a copy of your album. So this actually might be better left to someone with experience and dedicated staff that can spend the 5 hours to make it perfect. Then again, if I can be making money taking photos rather than pulling my hair out over an album design, I am okay if you upload the files to a photo book site. Either way someone is stressing. Do I want to stress out creating an album or spend that time at a shoot?

  3. Photographers don’t get credited when people post the jpegs online. Well, that is unfortunate and happens all the time. I don't think photographers get credited when clients buy and post the jpegs either. This is a problem of educating your client on your contracts and just general online edicate. Part of your discussion when you deliver the images should be “now, I know you can't wait to show these off on Facebook, so can you do me a solid and include my name in the caption?” That's it. If you are great at customer service and have built a relationship with your client, they will want to give you credit and a few will sing your praises on and off line.

  4. It can be confusing as to who owns the rights to the images. Again, same with giving credit, this is about how you educate your clients. It will say in your contract who owns the images and list the uses your client is permitted. (If you are not using contracts, please use them.) Contracts will vary for different types of photography, I work mainly with event clients, so I am not running into people who know how to sell images as stock photography or who even want that. I spell out that their images will go on my website, blog and social media pages. I state that I own the rights and that they have a limited license to post on their social media accounts and print and the images for private use. If they do not sign my contract which includes the model release and limited license agreement, then they do own the images. It's not me, it's the law. (But please I am not a lawyer, check with your state and local government for all regulations that pertain to you.)

  5. Sometimes it feels like the photographer’s work is undervalued. Because you are just giving out images? Let's rethink this. Jpegs are not “free.” I know people think they are, and they certainly cost less than a physical print, but the photographers who think they are giving away jpegs for free do not value their own work, so how can the client? Language is powerful. If your marketing says “plus all digital images are FREE with every wedding package” you are devaluing yourself, not the client. I am not advocating free work. I work hard and value my time and energy. I save money and time when I deliver jpegs rather than hard copies. Yet I still offer consultations that include talking about the value of an album, why you should want to print the photos and send them to relatives, and how I can do it for you and it will be 10x better than doing it yourself. Sometimes, they want it. Other times, they don't. That's fine. I have already told them, that my basic package, what they PAY FOR are the low res jpegs. If that is all they want, that is all they want. Everyone knows that when you take a picture, the digital file is created. It used to be a negative. Few people had means to develop and print their own negatives, they would end up paying labs anyways to print pictures so why not let the photographer deal with it? It's a different perception with digital. Clients feel like you are pulling something over on them if you hold (or hide) your jpegs. I work hard for the client to capture beautiful photos. I want them to see quality, quantity, and feel like I am taking care of them. They know, and I know that they are not free, that they are worth something.