When I meet with potential clients I am always being asked if they can have the disk of photographs, with requests for copyright, and it's clear that many couples don't fully understand the whole thing about this area of wedding photography.
So here is the low down!
Firstly, copyright of all images belongs to the person who takes the photograph, unless it is signed off to another person or client. Once copyright has been signed over that means that the original owner of the copyright, the photographer, can no longer use the photographs without first seeking permission to do so. You can understand, then, that the majority of photographers are not going to want to hand over the copyright of their photographs as it prevents them from using photographs to use them for marketing purposed, on websites, blogs, or for brochures and leaflets.
How do we get around this to allow clients to own their photographs? That's easy, we give our clients reproduction rights - this means that copyright remains with the photographer, and the client is provided with the rights to use the photographs. It's important to make sure you have something in writing to prove that reproductions rights have been passed over to you so that you can get prints done.
What about the resolution of images? I often get asked if clients can have hi-resolution photographs on the disk - these are large files, and for most people's purposes are not necessary. Hi-res files can be printed to a very large size, such as 40in x 60in, much larger than the average person wants. However, medium resolution photographs can comfortably be printed up to A3 size (double the size of a standard sheet of paper), and as most people only require prints of, say, 7x5 or 10x8, then this is a size that is more than adequate. Some photographers may be willing to sell their medium resolution images slightly cheaper than hi-res.
And what about the cost? Well, that depends on what is done to the photographs before they are passed over to you. Some photographers talk of 'shoot and burn', which is a cheap wedding package where the photographer turns up to take the photographs, and then puts a selection of these photographs (often 150-400 images) onto a disk, giving the client reproduction rights. In these cases the photographer tends to just download the photographs straight from camera, with no or little editing other than the deletion of blinks and duplicates. You can expect to pay anything from £400 - £1,500 for a package of this type, dependent on the skill level of the photographer, and whether or not the photographer is a hobbyist or is earning a living from their work.
More experienced photographers will sell the disk of images with minor or full edits completed before passing them over. Some will include the disk in a package, whilst others sell them separately. However, something to bear in mind is that once the photographer has sold the disk of photographs they know that they will lose income because they are now unlikely to be able to sell prints to guests. The photographer is effectively selling the digital negatives to their client. So it might seem as though all you buying is a cheap disk of photographs, but in fact you are purchasing the artistry of the photographer, and the opportunity for the photographer to increase their sales, helping them to keep the price they charge you at a lower level.
As a result, you will see photographers charging anything from £1,200 to £5,000, and in some cases more, for wedding photography packages that include the disk of images, and the more product that is included, such as wedding album, proof book, framed images, etc, then the higher the price you can expect to pay. Additionally, better photographers will be likely to charge you more, as they will have invested a lot of money to develop their skill level, and it's the old adage - you get what you pay for.
If your budget is limited, then it is worth finding out if there is a photographer of the skill level you would like who is prepared to sell you a disk only package - but remember, these photographers may not want to sell you such a package for a prime date, such as Saturdays in June, July and August. Perhaps you could book your wedding for a Thursday, or in March or November.
At Zoe Photography we offer disk only packages for mid-week weddings and for weddings in November, January, February and March, and we have links with another photographer who Zoe is training who offers budget wedding photography with a disk only package - please ask for details by emailing Pauline - firstname.lastname@example.org .