Digital Images – A Photographer’s Dilemma

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The other day I popped into the Basepoint Office to say hi to the girls, and a few of my photographs – headshots of them I’d recently taken in the studio – immediately caught my eye – printed and framed and hanging for all to see in the main meeting area.

And I was MORTIFIED!!!

“Why, what’s wrong with that?” I hear you cry. Actually, nothing at all in the scheme of things. They had purchased the digital images from me, with my full permission to have them printed, as is the way with my digital image sales. So everything perfectly above board.

It was how the prints had come out that horrified me! Bright orange faces anyone? Not a good look – and definitely not the skin tones I had carefully nurtured on my calibrated monitor before sending across the digital images!

I have to stress this was in no way down to the girls in the office; they’d taken them along in good faith to a local store to get them printed, as I expect would lots of people.

I’m not blaming the store here either; I expect there may have been a similar result whichever high street outlet they had decided to take them to. The fact is that some high street kiosks, whilst good at what they do, in general aren’t set up to print professional photos.

I knew that already of course, and always recommend professional printing in the email I send with portfolios. However I very rarely get to see any prints made from my digital image sales; so I think seeing these rather frightening orange skin tones staring me in the face, truly bought home to me the enormous difference in print quality that can be the case.

I had a call from a lady who bought some digital images from me recently, and despite trying various places locally to get them printed, was very unhappy with the way they were coming out. I’m really pleased she phoned, as I was able to explain to her the issues we face as professional photographers when providing digital images, so that she understood it was not down to the images themselves. She has now ordered the prints through me so as to avoid any more hassles.

But it made me wonder how many of you maybe have bought my images digitally and been disappointed with the way they have printed out, either on your own printer, or at a local kiosk. I’d be so upset to think you weren’t over the moon with how your pictures look when up on your wall! Especially if you maybe thought it was down to the image and not the processing …

The other big issue with images is they look very different on screen to how they look when printed. Whether you are viewing them on a laptop, desktop, tablet or phone … they are likely to look different on every one!

I have a calibrated monitor to my pro lab’s specifications; this means that I can adjust the images accordingly knowing that what I see on my screen is as close as it can possibly be to the prints they send me. And it’s reassuring to have that control over the prints I order on your behalf.

Not so easy with digital images of course. I take exactly the same amount of care and probably even more time on the final thorough edit as I would when ordered as prints from me.

But after that, boom! What happens next is entirely out of my control!! You get your images, download them to your computer or device – and already you’re probably seeing them totally differently to how they appeared on my screen.

I know some photographers who simply will not offer digital images because they are concerned about these implications and the effect it could have on their reputation; others sell only the low resolution digital files for social media purposes, with the proviso that they cannot be printed and only ordered via themselves. Some may provide low res images along with any wall display items ordered over a certain value. And I can see the logic behind all of these choices.

I’ve always aimed to offer what you want to buy; and it seems the majority of you nowadays want to buy digital images.

That’s OK by me, but still causes concerns. So I came up with a little compromise a few months ago by introducing the Digital/Print Bundles as well as the Digital Image/Photobook and Digital Image/Canvas Wrap Bundles. I thought it might be a good solution so you can have professionally printed items alongside your digital images.

The good news is … I am reducing the prices of the Digital/Print Bundles effective 1st October – and I admit I am trying to tempt you into having your precious pictures professionally printed so that they can be shown at their best, whilst you still get to have them digitally too. I’ll be updating the prices on the website shortly and post the link.

If these prove popular, I will introduce more sizes and combinations too – whilst keeping the prices as keen as possible. This definitely seems a good way to go – but would love to hear what you think.

Hoping you can see where I’m coming from on this – it’s something that concerns me lots and felt I needed to put it out there. Those there orange faces are really haunting me 😉

There are also lots of other debates and common misconceptions about providing digital image files – but I’ll save those for another day 🙂

digital headache2

2 thoughts on “Digital Images – A Photographer’s Dilemma

  1. Hy Sandra , I’ve just read your blog and once again I’ve come to the conclusion that you are trying to help us all enjoy perfect pictures so thankyou …… Diane x

    • Awww thanks, Diane that’s kind of you to say. Happy New Year! Sorry for the delayed reply as I’ve only just seen your comment 🙂

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