Q&A: Why Are Digital Images So Expensive?

Almost everyone thinks they want digital images…many until they see the price.

If you’ve ever inquired or 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.

Value Versus Price

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.

Managing Expectations Surrounding Digital Files

Unless you are working with a shoot-and-burn photographer who charges one flat fee for a session and a set number of digital images, none of which you’ve seen before agreeing to purchase (uh-oh!), you should expect to pay a significant amount of money for digital images. How much, however, will vary from photographer to photographer.

On average, professional photographers charge anywhere from $50-250 for a gift print (traditionally considered 8×10 and smaller). Digitals, often much higher.

USB stick for 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 regard 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 ordering appointment or via an 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 time and financial investment you made in your pet’s session. It makes little sense to invest hundreds or thousands of dollars on your session and hours of your time only to skimp out on quality products in an attempt to save a few dollars on prints.

Why Clients Are Attracted to Digital Images

While I absolutely want you to share your images, I also want you to walk away with tangible, high-quality custom artwork of your dog. That said, you can expect to pay a premium for digital files. So why even purchase them then?

I’ve found that, of the handful of clients who inquire about digital files, the majority of them simply want them for sharing on social media. For that reason, every image you purchase in any product form, from wall art to fine art albums to folio boxes and even boutique add-ons, includes the complimentary matching web-sized digital file; however, when you spend $995 or more, the high-resolution digital file of each ordered product image(s) is gifted to you. If you’re following along in your product and design guide, that means that with the purchase of any signature collection, fine art album, heirloom folio box, or wall art grouping, you also receive the matching high-resolution digital files of each ordered product image(s).

Do You Really Want Just Digital Images?

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 artwork?
  • What products does my photographer offer that reflect this value?
  • 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?

As someone who values tangible products and believes my job is not finished until every client has photos on display, ready to be enjoyed and handed down from generation to generation, I place an extremely high priority on continuing my education on the best ways to create a truly boutique experience for every client and striving to provide the best practices of workflow, processes, design strategies, and client support. That means leaving no part of the Bark & Gold Photography experience unfinished, including you having to print your own photos. As a Certified Printmaker, I value the service I provide to you every step of the way, from your initial inquiry to the delivery of your finished artwork, and I’ve seen firsthand through happy tears and huge hugs the importance of my clients having tangible products for generations to follow. 

There are many ways to enjoy your images after your session, including signature collections, fine art albums, and heirloom folio boxes, which bring you the best of both worlds: tangible and digital! If you’re keen to learn more about the beautiful, archival-quality products I offer, let’s connect today. Choose your adventure below to begin.

2 thoughts on “Q&A: Why Are Digital Images So Expensive?

  1. Angela says:

    Jes, I love how you present all of these facts here. I’m confident many clients will be thrilled to receive their social media low-res files with their gorgeous wall art or albums that you create!

    • Bark & Gold Photography says:

      Thanks, Angela! Most of my clients are focused on the tangible art aspect of the experience, but those digital files can be a fun bonus!

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