2013 Policy Changes

As I get ready to embark on yet another brand new year, I have taken a lot of time to pause and evaluate my business. I have considered why I am in this line of work as well as what  my vision is and what I hope to achieve. What I have come to realize is that my vision for my work, my artwork, my effort is not being achieved.

As many of you know, I have been offering CD's along with my sessions since I first started taking photographs professionally. There are several reasons for this, but I will highlight the most important ones.
  • This gives my clients the best value: they can print as many photographs as they want to whenever they want.
  • My clients don't want to pay a professional lab to print photos when the lab down the street will do just as good of a job. 
  • Full resolution files are important for clients to have, even if they don't ever print them, as they want to share their files online.
What I have come to realize in the last year is that I have been fooling myself, and have done my clients a disservice.  I recently read an analogy that likened a professional photographer handing over a CD to a restaurant handing the patron a raw chicken with some seasonings.  This is of in contrast to a photographer who delivers prints as being the restaurant who brings a hot, cooked chicken to the table, ready to be eaten.  The more I spend time thinking about it, the more I know it's true.  When I deliver a service to you, my clients, I want to deliver a full service that will give you exactly what you are looking for.  What I have realized is that I have gone 80% of the way without insisting that I help take the initiative to cover the last 20%. You are paying me for a professional service. I want to offer nothing less.

The first myth listed above is that my clients WILL print their photos, at whichever lab suits them. After receiving dozens of surveys back from past clients, I must sadly admit that less than 10% of those clients who took the time to fill out my survey have printed any photos at any lab anywhere. I have clients that consist of busy professionals, parents, and students. Regardless of intention, the photos simply aren't being printed due to time constraints and 100 great reasons to procrastinate. Handing over a CD of photos to busy people, knowing that they likely won't ever get around to printing them isn't great value, in fact it's quite the opposite.

The second myth is that the "better" local labs in town actually don't produce prints that differ than the prints that come from the professional lab I have synced my website with. This Summer I put my own personal prints to the test. I needed some prints quickly for a local fair, and decided not to wait for my prints to ship, as quality wasn't terribly important for what I was going to be doing. I printed out a dozen photographs of varying size, and set them aside to be mounted. Sadly, my two year old became interested in my pile, and shifted the photos out of the envelope so that the adhesive was touching the finished photos.  A residue was left behind. Because of this, I quickly re-ordered photos from the same local lab that I often tell my clients to use if they want to print locally. I picked up my prints the next day and brought them home. To my dismay, the second set, though printed at the same lab, on the same day as the first set was at least two shades darker, and murkier as well. Out of curiosity, I took the photos to my monitor, and looked to see which set was closest to the original files. I'm sad to say that neither one was close in colour or in detail to my original print. I learned that when you cut corners, you really do have to cut, in this case, I cut quality. I don't want my clients to "cut" when they have prints made, I want the printed photos that they look at to represent my original work. The computer monitor that I edit on is calibrated to ensure a certain standard of colour correctness.  The only way I am going to get prints that accurately represent the original files is by ordering through a professional lab who also calibrates their machines regularly to ensure their prints are the best quality possible, and are a great representation of the original digital image.

The truth is that the colour and clarity of a professional print just isn't the same as what you will get from any local lab. I've had the same print taken to various labs, and the results were downright discouraging. I don't want you to settle for "average" prints when you've paid a professional to provide you with quality images. I want the images that you do print to be great. Because that is what you deserve! 

The last myth that I feel is important to discuss is the full resolution files being necessary for any other purpose other than printing.  The truth that many people aren't aware of is that the settings for a digital file to looks its' best online are different than the settings for that same file to look at its' best in print. If you take a full resolution file, and post it on facebook, the file will simply be too large for facebook to process, and so they will compress the file, changing the integrity of what the viewer sees once it is posted. The very best way to share digital images online is by posting files that are already sized appropriately for the internet, and have their settings web-ready. For every file that you order a print of, I will be happy to offer you a complimentary web-ready file to share online.

As many of my clients know, I put a lot of myself into my work. I do this so that my clients can have beautiful works of art to hang on their walls, to frame on their desk, or to send to relatives far away. This art: my photographs are a representation of your family and your love for one another. I don't want them to be left on a CD, shelved away for future use, perhaps never to be printed. Or perhaps to eventually be joined by the following year's CD as you never got around to putting current photos up, and it was time to have new ones taken.

What is my vision for my business? To provide your family with photos that you can love. I want to give your family 100% of the service that you are paying me for. I want to provide you with tangible proof of these precious moments in your life. I don't want to leave you sitting there with your raw chicken and seasonings, I want to do the job the right way, and to provide you with the very best that I can.

Starting in 2013, I will no longer be including CD's with my session fee. Prints will be available for purchase through my website, or directly from me. Included on my price sheet for 2013 will be the cost of buying a CD in addition to your prints.  I know that the #1 reason that people want digital images is so they can share them online, and I want very much to still allow you that pleasure, so I am happy to offer a web-sized watermarked image of each and every photo that you order prints of.  I want to make 2013 the year that I do all that I can to serve my clients with the very best that I have to offer. I want to only do my job fully and completely, giving you the photos that you are paying for.

Thank you all, I appreciate every one of you!

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