When hiring a photographer for your upcoming Key West wedding or beach family portrait session, you will likely be offered the option to receive digital copies of your photos, in addition to the prints, albums, and other products you'll be ordering. In our studio, we have three versions of our digital files, to suit all budgets and needs.
These are your standard screen-resolution digital files, suitable for viewing in your online gallery, watching your digital slideshow on your tablet or Smart TV, and posting to social media.
Similar to "the old days" when printed contact sheets (thumbnails lined up 9 to a page for review) were how photographers shared a set of images, digital proofs are how you review the images from the session. Digital Proofs delivered in Online Gallery
It is the full set of images, culled down to the best versions from those captured, so you'll usually have several versions of each pose/scene to choose from. Proofs are edited for basic adjustments such as color, crop, contrast, and exposure corrections if needed. They have little to no retouching done to them, since they are just for previewing and selecting your favorites.
Digital Proofs are automatically included in the cost of the session. They are delivered either via online gallery or on screen during your in-person reveal appointment.
They are the most versatile files because while they offer a lot of printed product options, the images are not so huge that they take up a ton of storage space on your computer's hard drive, and they are still small enough to upload to websites and social media without running into any issues. These files are delivered to you unwatermarked with a release for personal use.
You automatically receive a retouched Medium Resolution digital copy of everything selected for your order. So, any photos that go into an album, a wall art, matted print, or other products created and delivered by us, the retouching is included, and you get the benefit of receiving the retouched digital file as well.
Medium Resolution File BeforeImage from Digital Proofs set, before retouching for the client's order. Medium Resolution File AfterImage after removal of people in background, and enhancements made to colors and crop.
Some packages include a full Medium Resolution Digital Archive, which will be all the images you saw in your Proofs, but delivered in a larger format that you can print from.
Medium-Res' files are suitable for printing wallets, 4x6's, 5x7's, 8x10's, 10x12, for creating wedding and portrait albums up to 12x12", for purchasing photo products such as keychains, mugs, and tote bags, and for creating Save the Date cards, Thank You Cards, and Christmas Cards.
Printing larger than the recommended size will result in pixelation and very blurry, low-quality images. Not to mention the fact that, doing so technically puts you in violation of your license agreement with your photographer. :(
Medium-Resolution files are a moderately-priced upgrade that allow you to create some of your own products and have a higher-quality archive of your session, but without the added cost of full resolution files.
These are the "digital negatives" of the modern photographer. Purchasing the High-Res' files is equivalent to having a full size negative of the image(s). While you are not buying out the copyrights (meaning the photographer still retains ownership of the images), High Resolution images give you the ability to create prints and products in any size, even large 40x60" canvas portraits, if you choose.
The file sizes take up a lot more space on your computer, and may not be up-loadable on some web applications, but give you the most "digital information" in your image files as can be saved.
Similar to with the Medium Resolution Archive, if your session includes a Full Resolution or High Resolution digital image set with your package, any of the images that were retouched as part of your print order, you will also receive the retouched version of the photo, but in High Resolution format.
High Resolution files, because of their premium size and the fact that they negate the need of clients to order Wall Art from the photographer, often come at a higher price point. With my studio, clients have the option to upgrade their entire session, or just individual images, in a High Resolution format.
One thing to note. "Resolution" does not mean "Quality". The High-Res files are of no higher 'quality' than the Medium. Both are saved at a substantial 240 or 300 pixels per inch (PPI), which is the industry standard for high quality printing. The difference is in the physical dimensions of the photos, which is what determines how large they can be printed.
Hopefully this is helpful in determining your file size needs, as you make a decision on which Key West photographer to hire for your upcoming session or event!