Album vs. Disc, food for thought

I've been having lots of meetings for weddings this week, and as I discuss wedding packages with my potential clients, this article has been on my mind a lot. I wanted to share it with you all, so I contacted the author Tara of Dixie Pixel Photography and asked if I could pass it along....this was originally posted on PinkBook.com.

By Pink Pro Tara of Dixie Pixel Photography:

DISCLAIMER: I know this post will ruffle a few feathers with brides to be. But please, read with an open mind, and just hear me out. It’s something that I need to address. PLEASE, your opinion is welcome. Let your voice be heard in the comment section!

When I started shooting wedding photography, all of my brides and grooms purchased prints and albums. It was pretty rad.

In 2007, I began getting my first inquiries for discs, which I didn’t offer at the time. It was a new concept to me, to just “give” the photos away, a concept that I wasn’t comfortable with. But, I wasn’t booking any weddings. So, like the majority of photographers, I gave up the battle and I began to sell the disc. I instantly started booking weddings again.

In 2008, I sold the disc to well over 75% of my brides and grooms. I sold maybe 3 or 4 albums that year. I was well on my way to the disc revolution.

Recently, I ran into 2 brides from 2009. We’ll call them bride A and bride B. Both bride A and bride B purchased nothing but a disc and my time in their wedding package. I really thought bride A’s wedding was unique so I made a sample album from her wedding. Once she saw the sample album, she confessed to me that she had not yet made a single print from the disc (may I remind you, a disc for which she paid $1500). Bride B was torn between purchasing the disc or an album, but ended up deciding on the disc in her package. She also confessed to me that she hadn’t printed a single image from her disc, and was still interested in purchasing an album.

Not too long ago I conducted an anonymous survey from brides married in 2009. 100 brides were surveyed, most from the East Tennessee area. An overwhelming (but not surprising) 97% said they would not hire a photographer if the photographer did not sell a disc of the images. Ironically, 70% of those brides had not yet made ANY prints from the disc, nor had they made an album. I should remind you that these brides had been married for 9 months or longer.

So what the heck are the brides doing with the disc?

The overwhelming majority had said that they only thing they had done with the images was post them to social networking sites.

Ouch.

This is kind of a knife through the heart of a wedding photographer. Well, I can’t speak for everyone, but it is for me. I lose sleep over every wedding. The anxiety I feel before every wedding can’t be described because I know I cannot make a single mistake, for if I do, I won’t be forgiven. I go 6 or 7 hours without going to the bathroom because I don’t want to miss anything. I wear ugly shoes and put up with drunk people. I hold heavy equipment to my face for hours. I sit at a computer for weeks, editing and editing and editing. And once I’m done editing, I edit again. And again. All for my blood, sweat and tears to remain forever on a 30 cent disc collecting dust in a desk drawer.

I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining, I really really really love what I do. Really. I’m smiling for the majority of those long hours at my computer. But come on! For the fruits of my labor to remain as magnetic digital data for eternity is just a heart breaking reality I don’t really want to accept. And really? Y’all would pay thousands of dollars for just a nice facebook profile photo? Tsk. Tsk.

And I’m not just shaking my finger at you (and I hold nothing against bride A and bride b, I still love them both madly!). I’m guilty too.

I was married in 2006. All I have is a disc and some negatives of my wedding after I had friends from college photograph my wedding. I thought, I’ll make the prints myself. I’ll make my own album. I’m NOT paying someone else to do it when I can save so much money and do it myself.

It took me two years to hang a photo from my wedding on my wall. I still don’t have a wedding album. I hate myself.

So before you decide to book that “shoot’n’burn” package, ask yourself if you really NEED hundreds of high resolution images on a disc? Do you plan on hanging 500 or more 30x40 prints in your house? And if it’s the price tag on the prints that the photographers sell that turns you off, ask yourself this: What is the image worth to you? That beautiful iconic image from your wedding that your grandchildren will someday look at with nostalgia in their hearts and longing in their eyes (you know, that feeling you get when you look at that sepia toned image from your grandparents’ wedding?). Is it worth $1.00 from a drug store lab? I didn't think so.


I realize I might be stepping on a toe or two with this, but I'm only posting because...well, I'm guilty too. I took hundreds of personal photos of my family in 2010, and where do they sit? On a disc. I've mentioned before that I'm a fan of tangible photos...prints, albums...anything that I can hold in my hand. When I sit down to look at my grandparents' photos from their road trip, I'm not going through an album on Facebook. I'm turning the pages in a photo album. That's what I want for my kids and grandkids, especially of the big moments in life.

Does this mean you have to get an album and completely forget the disc? Of course not. Discs definitely have their advantages, and I want my clients to have the freedom to choose whatever they think will fit their needs best. It's just something to think about.

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I haven't been on top of things for 2010, but I do have all our 2008/2009 personal photos in an album....Devon picked one up and flipped through it the other day while she was at the house.
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2 comments:

Molly said...

Can't believe I'm the 1st comment on this... When you shot my wedding, I got a disc AND the fat album of every single picture you took. I have shown the fat album to WAY more people. People get teary-eyed when they flip through those pages. No one tears up when they click through an online slideshow. My wedding pictures make up 90% of the stuff hanging on my walls--4x6s and 8x10s, framed, and people are drawn to them when they come over. Disc only??? No way! It's been 3 years and I've recently given thought to going back through the album and trading out some of the images in frames, because certain images of my wedding hit me differently now than they did 3 years ago. I LOVE having the prints, and so do my parents, in-laws, & grandparents. My mother-in-law has practically worn out her 25-print "parent album", she's shown it off so much!

Joyce Woodard said...

I agree 100% with everything in this post!! Although I love having a disc ALSO, it in no way replaces an album!! There is nothing that compares to being able to sit down with friends & family & being able to flip through an album & relive that specific moment in time & see the response on their faces as you are able to tell them what was going on that special day, what you were thinking, the emotions of it all......because EVERY picture tells a story & will continue to tell those stories many many years later. I am in no way a "photographer" but it's a hobby I love to do. Out of ALL the "stuff" I have, my photos are by far something I wouldn't want to live without :) And, by the way....Jenna you are the BEST!!