Wedding photography has changed greatly over the last 10 years or so. In the past we sold packages consisting of professional albums filled with high quality prints that would last a lifetime. Today, some photographers are giving their clients a disk or thumb drive burnt with JPEG images of the wedding. No prints – No albums. Some of the better disc burning photographers will have software on the disk that will create a slideshow if the disk is inserted into a dvd player or computer, but most of the time, the disk just has some lightly edited JPEG’s leaving it up to the client to get them printed.

Off the top of my head, I can think of three reasons, why this shoot and burn wedding-business-model is a bad idea:

  1. You’re Leaving Money On The Table – With every wedding I’ve ever done, I’ve enjoyed tremendous print sales over and above what was given in the purchased package. For example, my cheapest package included ten prints in an album. After the couple looked at the proofs, they always purchased more than the ten that were in their package and the they often purchased parent albums and 16×20 framed prints as well. These additional print sales often doubled my profit.
  2. You Lose Control Of Your Final Product – Giving the client a disk and allowing them to get their prints wherever they choose means that you have no control over the quality of the print. As far as the average non photographer is concerned, a print is a print is a print. They have no reason not to believe that the drug store print is not as good quality as a professional photo lab print. The problem is that YOUR name goes with those prints wherever they’re created. If they’re printed poorly, the client will likely come to the conclusion that you’re a terrible photographer.
  3. It’s Makes It Too Easy For Amateurs to Fein Professionalism – Are you a skilled photographer? Have you spent years to learn the craft and are you constantly studying and learning all of the time? With the technological revolution of today, everyday photography has become more affordable so more people are taking better shots but unfortunately, because of this, more people who have little or no experience are selling brides and grooms inferior photography services. You should not allow your PROFESSIONAL brand be associated with that and you should sell the quality that you represent.

Shoot and burn is now starting to seep it’s way into portraiture. It’s definitely a trend that isn’t going away and by the looks of things, it’s growing. I encourage all aspiring wedding and portrait photographers to master the entire craft from shooting to printing and educate their potential clients why it’s better to let you take care of the printing and assemblage of albums (or printing of wedding books). You’re putting your name on the product and you can make sure that the client gets what they expect.

You owe it to them… and to yourself.