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Do You Release Printing Rights?

By February 21, 2009September 14th, 2009Around Here, Frequently Asked Questions

Many times when I sit down with a bride and groom this very question comes into play.  Often called  “Digital Negatives”, “Full-Resolution Print Files”, or “Photographic Printing rights” – this is an incredibly important topic for any bride to be talking about with her potential wedding photographer.  Why is that? It ultimately impacts exactly what you’ll be receiving from the photographer you choose to work with.  Before I delve too far into this question, let me give you the quick answer;

Yes, Making the Moment does in fact release to you the printing rights and full resolution digital files on a disk.  On your final disk, we will be providing for you the fully (and splendidly retouched) digital image files from your day!   Anywhere from 300-700 images will be yours for life – and you’re free to print them in all their glory at the printing vendor of your choice.  For you FaceBookers – you can even  share and tag your entire bridal party with our fun & artsy wedding shots!

Don’t all photographers provide me the images on a disk?  (you might ask)

Great question – glad you asked!:)  As it turns out, in the realm of professional photography, many (actually most) photographers do not allow the images they capture and help create be reproduced outside of their control.  With other photographers, you will often be provided a “proof book” (or a low resolution DVD image set) from which you will order your final prints.  Those, and only those specific photos you order are yours – and only in the print format you order them in (5″x7″, 8″x10″, etc).  In short, you won’t be able to print these images and you’ll need to always track down your photographer for any future image requests.  Forget your hopes of putting your images on your FaceBook or MySpace page – these images are highly secured, and often watermarked.    If the photographer allows you to have the “printing rights” or image files, you’re often forced to pay a high premium, typically $500.00 – $1,000.00.

So why do other photographers not release the printing rights to my images?  Isn’t that wrong?

Great question again (had you asked).  No – it’s not wrong at all actually.  Although Making the Moment doesn’t work this way – there is are some good reasons for other photographers that take this approach to printing rights, and I debated long and hard on what would be best for Making the Moment and the brides and grooms we work with.

Without making this blog entry more than it needs to be ( I probably have already) there are several reasons for a photographer not releasing the printing rights.  One prominent argument for not releasing the printing rights to the customer is reproduction quality (or lack thereof).  From the photography standpoint, any photographer with his fee spends hours working on your photos – tending to the colors, adjusting the levels, finessing the sharpness – ’til your images are just right.   With all the work a photographer can put into your images – isn’t it important that these images only be printed in the correct setting?  There is a sharp difference between a color-corrected lab machine utilized by a trained printing professional, and the 10 cent prints a local pharmacy can turn out.  In short, many photographers are concerned about the quality of your prints – and want to ensure that your photos print in premium settings.  Of course, there are many other reasons why a photographer might not release the printing rights to you (financial gain obviously being one).

Good point Brett – what if I’d like to have high end prints of the images that Making the Moment captures for me?

And here’s where I hope to provide you the best of both worlds.  With every wedding that Making the Moment photographs, not only do we provide you your image files – entrusting you with the choice to print where you’d like – we also give you the option to print from a high end lab, our custom online print store!  It’s perfect, you can log on and see your wedding day images from anywhere in the world and order high-end lab prints in a variety of formats with a just a few mouse clicks.  What’s even better – your friends and family can join in on the fun – hopefully ordering you some nice snapshots as a wedding gift!

The main reason we provide you the printing files and self-print rights?  We believe these images are yours.  Yours to have the rest of your life – yours to do with as you wish!  I’ve heard horror stories of friends weddings who (years after their wedding) have gone to purchase images from their photographer, only to find that the photographer has closed up shot, moved out of town, or (worse yet) had some sort of data failure and lost your priceless images.

In the end, our hope is that you would enjoy the art we create alongside you as much as possible.

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