my thoughts on digital images / by Ashley Brown

This is something I've been thinking a lot about lately, as my years in this business slowly tick by. I've always offered digital image files to my clients. Now, as I return to their homes, I see one of two things: either prints beautifully displayed throughout the house, or nothing, which means those digital images the client purchased are still sitting on the disk they came on. Unfortunately, I see more of the latter! That prompted me to write a brief article on digital images to share with my clients, and I thought I'd share it here as well. (And P.S... if you are a client of mine who has a disk sitting in a drawer and has done nothing with it, this is a reminder to get movin' and enjoy those lovely images!) ---

In this day and age, many clients look for the ability to purchase digital images (the digital version of a film negative) from their photographer. I believe that owning the digital images from your session is a wonderful thing; first and foremost, for archiving your images for the future, and secondly, for printing small gifts for family and friends. This is why I offer them to my clients.

However, I firmly believe that a professional photographer is just that... an artist, not just a finger that clicks the shutter. The work any artist is meant to be displayed to its fullest capacity. With that being said, I feel it is infinitely important that my clients enjoy their images in the form of fine art, archival portraits and albums. When you purchase a print through a professional photographer, it will be color corrected and processed to perfection. It will also be finished, with a protective coating and backing substrate. Albums are created from top quality papers and bindings, and will provide a wonderful format for viewing your images for a lifetime (albums are also a great alternative to large wall portraits, for those with limited space or who don't desire to go that route). These products are pieces of art to be enjoyed for years, and are truly the best way to enjoy the products of your session.

Digital images have their place, and are a great addition to any portrait session... however, is important to keep in mind that when purchasing digital images, you are assuming the responsibility for the outcome of the finished product. Please be sure that if you go this route, you are willing to take the steps to ensure that your images are printed correctly (i.e. using a high quality lab instead of a drugstore). Also, do keep in mind that like the hundreds of snapshots you have taken yourself, professional digital images often end up sitting dormant on a hard drive or disk. Will you take the time to print and enjoy your images, or do you prefer to take a more full service approach? Every client is different, so it is important to think about whether or not digital images are the right option for you.

Digital images are not inexpensive (and any photographer who sells them for next to nothing is doing a disservice not only to themselves, but to the photographic community as a whole... not to mention, this is rarely a sustainable business model). When a photographer sells them, they are selling their art and vision. They are also selling the ability for the client to reproduce the images countless times and retain all of the images from their session, which is invaluable.

When purchasing digital images, the copyright (ownership) of the images that you purchase stays with Ashley Brown. This means that while you can freely use them for personal use, you cannot use/sell them for any commercial purposes or contests. Since each image is a unique piece of art that has been digitally mastered by Ashley, it is important that the files are not altered. Your digital images will be sent to you electronically via a very simple process. An account will also be created for you at Ashley's consumer lab of choice. While not required, it ishighly recommended that you go this route for creating your prints. Please note that while we are happy to give recommendations (an in-depth printing guide will be provided to you), we cannot guarantee the quality of prints that are not created by our lab, nor can we provide ongoing technical support.

Keeping all of this in mind, most clients choose to go with a hybrid of both professional prints, products and digital images from their session. Both formats allow you to enjoy the beautiful images from your session in the format that is right for your family.