I often get asked by clients and prospects if I will sell them the JPEG files from their shoot – some people take it as given that I will do so and are shocked when I say I won’t*. The assumption is that my refusal is purely financially driven – they think I am trying to make more money by encouraging them to buy framed products and canvases. I used to sell JPEG files when I first started out and actually my experience was that a client buying all the JPEGs from a shoot would spend roughly the same amount as one buying a printed canvas. The client buying the JPEGs might feel as if they had got a better deal – 30 or so images rather than just one. They take the CD to a high street photography shop and get some prints for framing, some prints for relatives and may be a canvas. And they are pretty happy with themselves.

So if the customer is happy, then so should I be. But in this instance, I’m not – actually I’m very unhappy. At the point that I handed over those JPEGs I lost all control over the quality of my photographs – this is a far greater concern to me than that of not being able to control how many times those images are printed. I know that a high street print in an IKEA frame does not do justice to my photography and, worse still, can actively damage my image and reputation.

I’m not just being precious and prima donna-ish here. To get great images for a client I draw on years of experience as a photographer during a shoot and then use creativity and skill to edit the photographs. And it doesn’t end there – I’ve amassed a wealth of knowledge on photographic prints, inks and substrates – which will fade within a few years and which are guaranteed to last literally a lifetime. And the printed photograph is still not the end product – the finished format in which it is presented to the client. Choosing the frame colour and style or acrylic or canvas finish – this is all done with a view to creating a fantastic final product for a the client – an image that will stop them in their tracks every time  they pass it, make them smile, will cause people to admire it and ask who the photographer was.

Printed canvas

I could make lots of analogies here – would Rembrandt have handed over a masterpiece as a rolled up canvas and left the client to frame it – I know I’m not Rembrandt – but I am an artist. Just like a chef is an artist and will go to great lengths to ensure that his food presentation is first class. And would a hair stylist send you home with wet hair to finish off styling it yourself? No, of course not, because the final presentation is everything – image, quality, customer satisfaction.

Framed print in antique brushed wood with double mount
Framed print in black wooden frame with double mount (inner black & outer white)

At first I found it hard to say “No” to JPEGs – I was worried about offending or scaring off clients in those early days. It has actually proved to have had the opposite effect – I get more referrals from clients who have proudly shown off their framed photographs and canvases and the average order size has grown significantly.

Pair of wooden blocks, printed in vibrant non scratch finish, with mahogany look edge
Stunning single wooden block. When wall mounted this appears to float on the wall, with a pleasing drop shadow.

Just as a final point, I completely understand why people believe they want to buy JPEGs rather than finished products and thus keep to a reasonable budget. In recent years some large portrait photography companies have done a lot of damage to the image of the industry by luring clients in with low cost photo shoots and then seducing them into spending vast amounts of money on over sized and over priced products. This is not what many photographers are about. Most of us are absolutely passionate about photography and about giving the customer an amazing experience from start to finish, without the need for a second mortgage!

If you are interested in a lifestyle photo shoot please get in touch and I’ll be very happy to give you clear pricing examples of framed and finished products – you’ll be very pleasantly surprised that you can get fabulous quality to suit your budget. I charge £75 for the photo shoot (1-2 hours on location) – this includes a free 8X10 print of your choice. Framed products start from £50.

Contact me, Jane, at jane@picture-it-big.co.uk or call 07868 750505 and take a look at my website www.picture-it-big.co.uk

*Please note that this does not apply to commercial photography, where it is usual to supply JPEG files to the client.

By Jane Burkinshaw. Share this post by clicking on one of the Share buttons on the right hand side. I’d love to hear your comments too!

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