That is the dilemma that I am working through at the moment. With the website almost ready for publication, the question of whether I offer onsite printing or offsite printing has once again come to hassle me.
There are some good positive points for photographers to offer onsite printing and all of the big boys do just that. DE Photo, Professional Event Photography and many of the smaller independents all offer onsite printing and discussions with some other photographers all tell me that to maximise the business opportunity, onsite printing is the only way to go.
However, through M4Photo I hope to break with tradition and offer something a little different. Traditionally, onsite printing means just that, you buy a hard copy print at the event or you order a hard copy print online. These are copywritten, meaning that if you want another copy you have to pay again, if you want to scan it and publish it on Facebook, you’ll be breaking their photographers copyright.
Whenever I spoke to people (parents and children) the overwhelming reply was that they wanted both printed images AND the ability to share them in digital format without the worry of breaching copyright laws.
So, the clear message is to print onsite and maximise the business opportunity through offering an impulse buy on the day and ignore the fact that people might have bought the wrong image, the image quality might be compromised, the framing slightly off, etc.
Hmm – I want to enable kids to share low resolution images online and for parents to be able to make multiple copies for their own personal use, or to order larger prints or products from a photo lab or their local supermarket. I want a more quality focused, customer friendly approach. If this bucks with tradition, maybe I’ll be proven wrong, but let’s see.
So, research done and decisions made – the M4Photo approach will be to offer an offsite service. This enables me to spend more time capturing images and then they can be post processed where required. Afterall, if you are going to spend your hard earned money on an image, you want it to be the best that it can be right?
This offsite service will consist of the ability to buy a low cost digital .jpg file. This will be of around A4 size and it will be emailed to customers. This will both reduce costs and give customers the flexibility that they want. M4Photo are also going to invest in a professional grade Canon ink based printer that will handle numerous paper sizes up to A3 in size. These prints will be made available as plain paper images (numerous sizes up to A3) and A4 cardboard mounted images and A4 framed images.
The printer remains on the wish list pending initial purchases, but I feel happy in my approach and only time will tell whether this is going to be workable, profitable and a welcome approach by our customers.