What does having the "Digital Images" from my wedding actually mean?

Whatever you refer to them as, be it "Digital Images", "Hi-res Files" or "Digital Negatives", it has been common place for brides and grooms the world over to have the digital versions of their wedding images as one of their top 'must haves' when it comes to their wedding photography.  But I'm often asked by couples as to what this actually means.  With many photographers offering a dazzling array of wedding packages with many different products and services offered, it can sometimes be confusing, so my mission today is to break it down for you, so you'll walk away knowing all the basics which will allow you to make informed decisions when it comes to choosing your photographer. Essentially, the digital files are your wedding photos in their digital form.  Usually delivered in 'JPEG' format, they are similar file types to that your home 'point and shoot' camera would produce.

As the files have originated from your photographers high-end digital SLR camera, they will be of considerable file size, in order to be able to be displayed either on screen or in print in very high image quality.

With a wedding consisting of on average 400-500 presented images, the photographer will usually choose to deliver the images to you on one of the following methods:

  • DVD - This method is currently dying out, but has been the standard for a good few years now.  With many technology companies now opting for other storage methods, rather than DVD drives in their computers, it is evident that the format is in decline.  Also with the disks being prone to scratches and imperfections which could leave them unusable, it isn't the best way to store all those precious memories.
  • USB Drive - Following on from the DVD, the USB drive has quickly become the standard when it comes to the delivery of digital files for photographers the world over.  Using Flash memory technology,  the USB drive is now common place in the home and office, so is a format that consumers are familiar and also comfortable with.
  • Cloud Storage - The new technology leading the way when it comes to secure storage of your wedding images.  Essentially cloud storage allows you to store your digital files 'in the cloud' meaning secure servers hosted on the internet, which are backed up in different locations.  Usually a password protected, this medium allows you be able to access your files from any device with an internet connection and allows you to share your images with friends and family at the tough of a button.

The other question I often get asked is 'What am i able to do with the digital files once I own them'.  From a wedding photography point of view, on purchasing the digital files you are buying the files along with the rights to print the images for your own personal use.  This means you can take that USB drive or DVD to your print lab of choice and create prints for friends and family.  Depending on the size of the files given to you by the photographer, this will determine the size of the prints you can make, so I always recommend that before purchasing the digital images from your photographer that you ask them what rights you will receive and to what size you will be able to print to.

When it comes to my own business, the client receives their digital files in two formats on purchase.  They are delivered all the digital files on a luxury, boutique USB drive for the couple themselves to keep as well as their own private cloud storage facility hosted for one year from delivery of their images.  This allows my clients to share their images with friends and family at the touch of a button and means that you don't have to physically lend your loved ones your only copy of your wedding photos,  What is more, all the images are delivered in the highest quality JPEG files size, allowing my clients to print to some really large sizes, should they wish to.  This really does give my clients total flexibility along with the highest quality, which I endeavour to deliver in all aspects of my business.

I think it is also important to mention here that I am truly passionate about creating a tangible heirloom from your wedding photography and so I really recommend that the purchase of digital images always goes alongside either a beautiful album and/or wall art for your home.  I regularly speak to lots of couples that have gotten married in the past and only went for the digital files.  Unfortunately, those  files are still held in the vaults of their computer, not seeing the light of day.  I believe it is a disservice as a wedding photographer to not create something beautiful for my clients, which is why my digital images are always delivered alongside an album.

I hope this article has been helpful in explaining some of the terminology and products you may come across as you look for your prefect wedding photographer.  Should you now have any further questions, please feel free to post them in the comments below and I'll be sure to get back to you ASAP.  Equally, if you would like to discuss your wedding with me, I'd love to hear from you and invite you to get in touch here.