Meandering Thoughts on Why I Give Families Hi-Res Digital Files of Their Photos

Shortly after this photo, her pearl earring fell into the stream below the bridge, but it wasn't a big deal. This wedding was at the Botanical Gardens in Tilden Park, in East Bay. Many habitats to choose from, and many paths.

November is turning out to be as busy as October. Twenty-Eight (28!!) scheduled sessions, with another pending. A decent chunk of them are referrals. Today I learned a bit more about the mother's club recommendation. Apparently, a mom had posted a question to her mother's club: Does anyone know of a photographer that lets you keep the digital images? And a handful of moms wrote back and recommended me.

I also learned recently, from my sister-in-law who is a new mom, that hospital baby photographers (who work for hospital baby photography companies) run in post-birth, take photos and offer prints only - and then come to your home again to do a session, again to offer prints only. And that you can only order prints then and there - no pondering about it - because they will delete the images right after the session! I am so aghast by this photography practice - the lack of photographer generosity with hi-res digital files. It's one thing for a photographer to protect his/her artistic rights (and even then, I think clients should have affordable access to hi-res images, when they are personal pictures) but a whole different level of unreasonableness when the pictures are apparently meaningless enough to be deleted and Still not given to clients. As if moms with newborns don't have enough on their brains/hands that they have to stress out about spending $100 on whether or not to buy photos.

It's different if say, the photo was of a sperm whale wrestling a giant squid. If I had a hi-res pic of that and just let the hi-res version go to my client (oh say, National Geographic sponsored me) then NG could go and sell that awesome image on posters and mugs and make loads of $$ that I would never see. So, I would want to retain control over where my squid/sperm whale pic goes. But family photos - they aren't going anywhere; they're only valuable to clients. I highly doubt any of my clients will post their photos on stock photo sites to sell, or pitch them to parenting magazines.

Some photographers may argue that photos are the photographer's art work, and that they shouldn't be let go so easily. My pen and ink illustrations I hang on to tightly. Those are very personal To Me, and I feel, took a much more intimate relationship between me, pen and paper to achieve, even when the illustration is for someone else's book. And, the channeling of artistic energies are much more raw - the blood sweat and tears much more palpable, when all there is between me and product is pen and ink; very different from camera, lens and computer. My photos of people are more of a collaboration - the photo would not exist without people subjects. Also, you can make multitudes of copies (digital or paper) of photos as opposed to one original drawing. For these reasons, it's easy for me to let go of photos. Perhaps if I were doing this in darkroom ages, I would think differently.