Q&A: Why Are Digital Images So Expensive?

Almost everyone thinks they want digital images…many until the see the price. If you’ve ever worked with a professional photographer, I’m sure you’ve asked yourself the same: why are digital images so expensive?! The answer to that question is not as black and white as you may think. First, you have to define your idea of expensive, which means looking at that term a little broader. I’m talking about cost versus value.

Everyone will have a varying opinion of what constitutes expensive. For some, that may be a few hundred dollars; for others, thousands or more. It matters less where your opinion falls on the pricing spectrum and more so toward the importance you find in value. As I’ve mentioned before, value is not the same as price. Price is simply the monetary amount necessary to purchase a service or product; value, as The Oxford English Dictionary defines  it is “the worth of something compared to the price paid or asked for it,” or rather, the gratification and advantage one finds in that particular service or product.

Unless you are working with a shoot-and-burn photographer who charges one flat fee for a session and set number of digital images, none of which you’ve seen before agreeing to purchase (uh-oh!), you should expect to pay for digital images. How much, however, will vary from photographer to photographer. On average, professional photographers charge anywhere from $50-200 for a gift print (traditionally considered 8×10 and smaller). Digitals, often much higher.

USB stick for digital images

Related: 3 Pros & Cons of Purchasing Digital Images

Why so much, you may wonder when you consider how cheaply you can print photos at your local Target, Walmart, or Costco. Well, because professional photographers bring a level of competence and commitment to quality that your generic printing service can’t match. Professional photographers use professional labs that print their images exactly as they intended them to be printed, specifically in regards to color calibration and quality retention. Take your digital images and print them yourself and you’ll likely find that your images look almost nothing like what your photographer presented you with at your viewing appointment or via online gallery, I can guarantee it. Using these low-cost labs is a surefire way to not only devalue the work of your photographer, but the price you invested in your pet’s session. It  makes little sense to invest $100+ on your session only to skimp out on quality products in an attempt to save a few dollars on prints.

While I absolutely want you to share your images, I also want you walk away with tangible, high-quality custom artwork of your dog. That said, you can expect to pay a premium for my digital files. So why even purchase them then? I’ve found that the majority of my clients who want digital images want them for sharing on social media. For that reason, every image you purchase in any product form, from wall art to album blocks to signature books, includes a complimentary matching web-sized, watermarked digital. That means, for instance, that if you purchase an 8×8 signature book of 25 images, you’re not only getting your images preserved in a beautiful custom-designed book, you’re also getting the 25 matching web-sized, watermarked digitals–and at 58% less than what you would have paid for those 25 high-resolution digital images that will likely print up to standard at a consumer lab anyway.

Before you balk at the cost of digital images, ask yourself the following:

  • How much value do I place on professional photography and quality, archival custom artwork?
  • What products does my photographer offer that reflect these values?
  • Why do I want digital images?
  • If I purchase digital images, am I comfortable with printing them on my own knowing that they will not accurately represent the time and money I invested in my dog’s photography session?

If you would like to book a Bark & Gold Photography session for your pet, click here or give me a call at 724-913-BARK (2275). For more information on Bark & Gold Photography sessions, visit “Your Session” in the menu.

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