It’s a song and dance I know all too well; I provide a quote for a photography package or a portrait package only to receive a reply that simply states “Why are images on DVD so expensive?”  Sometimes, if I’m lucky, they elaborate further by stating “…after all, it’s just a DVD!”

Many moons ago, before the digital age took over the world of a photography, photographers would snap some shots of you, bring you in for a proofing session, and sell you the prints in the size and quantity that you wanted.  If you wanted 10 copies of a photo to give away to family, you had to purchase all 10 of the photos – there was no colour photocopier/scanner you could use to create additional copies at a lower cost.  In the case of weddings, the bride and groom would order photos but the parents, grandparents and even wedding party would purchase some photos, too!  Again, there was no such a thing as colour copiers or scanners that you would use to create a duplicate.  A photographer’s profit consisted of not only their service fee but also the printed media profits.

Fast forward 20 years and we’ve now entered the era of ‘everything on DVD’.  What’s the first thing everyone does with their DVD of images?  They immediately bring it to a big box store, plop the DVD in a do-it-yourself print station and select dozens upon dozens of their favourite photos to print … and don’t forget to change the quantity to 4; gotta print extras for the family!

When a photographer sells a DVD of images they are essentially guaranteeing that those clients will never, ever return to them for prints.  Yes, it’s true that there are a billion and a half reasons why a professional print is a far superior product to a do-it-yourself print… but that’s another blog post.  There is a scary trend in today’s wedding and photography market where clients are often opting for quantity over quality; thus, a DVD full of amazing images that get printed on low-quality bulk-processing machines is what clients are asking for – and it’s what the industry has had to adapt to.

Adapting isn’t a bad thing; after all, adaptation is a method of survival (hello, Blockbuster, I’m talking to you!).  Most photographers have come to terms with selling images on DVD as they have learned how to price accordingly; when selling a DVD of images you must sell it at a price that compensates for the fact that you will probably never have that client purchase a print from you.

And that, folks, is the mystery behind the cost of images on DVD.