05 Mar

Why Digital Files?

Posted by Brent Looyenga
Will & Lisa, Luna Restaurant Wedding, Spokane Wedding Photographers, Wedding and Engagement Photography

The Why Series: Digital Files

This is the third part of an ongoing series called “The Why Series.” This is where I explain why I include certain things in my wedding packages, and why it’s so important. If you’d like to read the first installment, “Why Two Photographers?”, check it out here. I would also encourage you to also read the second part, called “Why All-Day Coverage?” I show photos that never would have existed if I only covered ten hours of your wedding day.

Every wedding package I have includes the digital files. This isn’t too uncommon these days, but it’s certainly not what has traditionally happened. I’m going to talk about what makes digital files so important, but also what I do with my digital files that sets them apart from many other photographers who offer the same thing.

One of the many benefits of having digital files is it allows you, the client, to choose your favorites. For example, if we look at this sequence of Lisa getting ready, they are all very similar. The problem is, she looks amazing in all of them (if that can be said to be a problem). As the photographer, I will eventually settle on the one I like the most, maybe because it looks more genuine, or because her eyes pop better, or maybe it looks more romantic. But just because I have a favorite doesn’t mean that favorite is the same as Lisa’s — or her husband, Will, for that matter.

One common way of handling photos from weddings is to offer print packages. That is, you get X number of hours for coverage, and that package comes with 150 4x6 prints, 4 8x10 prints, 1 16x20 print, and a photo book — or something like that. Then, after the day is done, the photographer brings you into his or her studio, you look at the photos, you pick out your favorites, and boom, you have your wedding photos. They are printed out, and you can put them in an album to keep in the future.

But what happens when you want to print more? Or perhaps you want to put them on Facebook for friends and family to see? Many photographers include “low resolution” digital files so you can do just that, but they won’t look good printed. For that you would need to go to the photographer and pay their prices to print your photos. This is almost exactly what happened to my older brother when he got married. They got their prints, and then, later, when I wanted to make a wedding slideshow for them, they didn’t have access to their digital files. The photos were only available on a special, read-only DVD. So they had to pay more money (around $500) to get the digital files.

So what if the photographer offers the digital files? Is it all good? Not necessarily. Many photographers who offer the digital files don’t edit all of those photos. They normally pick out 100 or so select photos — family portraits, key ceremony moments, and so forth — and edit those. The rest of the photos you receive are untouched. This isn’t ideal either, because this means some of the photos you like the most are not looking their best.

Consider these two photos of Lisa as she is finishing getting her dress on. Both are absolutely beautiful. One has her amazingly genuine smile, but in the other you can see her gorgeous brown eyes. What if the one I edit is the one she likes the least? How is that fair to her, or her parents, or her husband? Giving — and editing — all the digital files allows the client to choose which photos they like the most.

All my packages come with these digital files. No strings attached. These are the full-resolution, blow-them-up-as-big-as-you’d-like, digital files. They are also all edited. So you remember that pimple that showed up on the tip of your nose the morning of your wedding? I don’t, because I made sure it was removed from every photo. This is huge for a client. They have access to all their photos, and they are also looking their best. They can print out their favorites, not mine.

This brings me to photo selection. It used to surprise me when I first started which photos would be a client’s favorites. Sometimes, I would post photos from an engagement shoot or wedding thinking, “these are the best.” Only later I talk to the bride and discover they liked almost a completely different set than I did. This isn’t a bad thing; it’s actually wonderful. It not only means there were way more beautiful photos than the ones I posted, but also that my photo delivery was exceptional. That is, I realize my taste is not your taste. If I take a photo of a couple looking at a camera, and then looking at each other, and then another of them kissing, all three of those photos will look very similar. I only post one of those photos, but they client gets all three. Why? Because my favorite is not always their favorite. Giving all three photos, instead of one, and editing all three, gives the client choice. It allows them the most flexibility to post what they want, and share what they love the most.

For instance, consider these two photos shot seconds apart during Will and Lisa’s first look. Personally, I love the first one because you can see the tear on Lisa’s face, but the second one also shows so much beautiful emotion, and such a tender, caring touch from Will that it wouldn’t surprise me to see people divided down the middle in terms of which is their favorite. Editing and delivering all the digital files means you can choose.

Here is another great example from their reception. Each one is great, but for different reasons. Digital files do way more than let you print at the place you want — they let you keep all the amazing moments, and print them whenever you’d like.

I include the digital files with every package because it isn’t merely important, it’s essential. I don’t want to limit what a bride remembers, or what they can post, or share, or print. I want them to remember and share it all. This is why every wedding package comes with all the edited digital files.

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Brent Looyenga is a Spokane Wedding Photographer based out of Coeur d’Alene. He loves people and specializes in wedding, engagement, family, and senior photography. You can like Looyenga Photography on Facebook or follow them on Twitter.

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