Should I 'Give Away' the Digital Files???

There are currently two main photography business models floating around the industry right now.

1. Charge a session fee and sell products including prints, albums, and digital files.

2. Charge a flat rate for the session and full access to the digital files.

 There is a lot of debate out there about which model is better for the client, photographer, and the industry as a whole.  I currently use option #2 for my wedding photography business.  My wedding package includes 10 hours of coverage, an online gallery where they can order prints at cost, a photography assistant, and a USB drive with all of their high resolution images.

This is my only package.  Let me explain “why?”.

10 hours = I love telling stories.  10 hours gives me enough time to tell the full wedding day story but keeps me from having an unnecessary long day.

Online Gallery = I want to ensure that my clients have easy access to high quality prints and a simple way to share the photos with family and friends.

Photography Assistant = My assistant is mainly there to help me with lighting through out the day but also second shoots during the ceremony to get shots from different angles.  Also, if I pass out from photo awesomeness or an allergic reaction to the reception food (#actuallyhappened) they can take over and finish the weddings

USB Drive with Images = People love having the digital files.  For whatever reason it makes the feel warm and fuzzy inside.  I approach photographing weddings as an artist commissioned to tell their story and once I have done my thing I believe the photos are ‘their photos’.  I realize that many photographers would totally disagree with the previous statement and I’m not saying it is the way every photographer should feel about their art…I’m just saying it is how I feel.


I designed my package to be simple for potential clients and myself.  “Here is what I have to offer.  You can take it or leave it.”  Couples make so many decisions during the wedding planning process they always appreciate only having to make one decision about photography….’Yes’ or ‘No’.

Another reason I give the files to couples is so they will spread them all over facebook.  I do not pay for advertising.  I booked 43 weddings in 2012 and stopped booking weddings this year when I got to 30.  There are arguably a few factors that play into this blessing, but I accredit a large part of it to clients posting their photos on facebook.

This is how I advertise my wedding photography work and is one reason why I give my clients a USB drive with their photos.

 I would love to hear your thoughts on giving files to clients.  Let me know what you think at