March 14, 2020 /
Digital File Dos and Don’ts
Can we talk digital files for a minute, friends? It’s completely and utterly commonplace for couples to receive digital files from their wedding day, and even sometimes their engagement session. All of our couples receive their digital files. And while we know exactly what to do with them and how to handle them, it occurred to us that even though we know and educate our couples, not every photographer does that.
So what do you do with them?
How do you make sure they don’t disappear or go corrupt? What can you do to make sure you can still access them 20 years from now? How can you make sure you don’t accidentally misplace them? Well, friends, we’re here to answer all of those questions for you today.
And to share some of our favorite photos with you from Anna and Jeff’s Engagement session. 🙂 Because, you know, that’s just how we are. 🙂
Digital File Dos and Don’t
Let’s make it easy and start with what you can do with those digital files to ensure their safety and longevity.
Do print your favorites.
Yep. Here’s the thing. Even as much as we hate to admit it, digital files do corrupt. And sometimes there’s just no preventing it. The best way to avoid losing all of your digital files? Print them. Even if it’s just your favorite one or two. Frame them. The upside of printing your photos is that you’ll also get to see them every.single.day. without having to log onto Facebook.
Seeing our favorite photos of ourselves in our home? Puts a smile on my face and brings back a happy memory every single time I walk by one. For prosumer printing we recommend Mpix for everything.
Do load them to your computer.
This should really be step 1 after you get access to your files. If your photographer gives you a thumb-drive of your images, don’t just throw the thumb-drive in a drawer and rely on finding them on Facebook. Or on always having your phone on you to view them (especially if you’re bad about backing up your phone). Load the digital files to your computer. In a file that you can easily find and have access to. This may sound like one of those “duh” statements, but the number of times we’ve had couples message us asking for another thumb-drive because they can’t find theirs would take at least 2 hands.
Do back them up in more than one place.
After you load them to your computer, back those babies up. Not just in 1 place, but in at least 2 spots. Don’t just rely on your iCloud’s automatic back-up. Physically move those digital files to your Google Drive, or even your Amazon Photo account. Better yet, but them on an external hard-drive that goes into a lockbox. In all of our 12 years of photographing weddings, we’ve never lost files yet, and we attribute this to the fact that we have 5 copies of all of your files at any given point in time.
Do store your thumb-drive someplace safe.
After you load your photos, don’t just toss that thumb-drive in your junk drawer or nightstand. Put it someplace safe. We recommend a lockbox with your other important documents (passports, birth certificates, etc.). Or, even an offsite lockbox that you know is fire and waterproof, just in case.
Do share them correctly.
Use watermarks, give credit to your photographer. If your photographer grants you the right to share your photos online, share them correctly. Use the watermarked files they gave you for social purposes (this helps prevent randos from stealing your pictures). And always, always give credit to your photographer. There’s no bigger or better compliment that we receive than when a couple tags us in their social media use of our files. It’s the biggest referral and pat on the back you can possible give us. 🙂 That, and you should always give photo credit where photo credit is due.
So. What should you not do with those digital files? Well, here’s our short list.
Don’t screenshot anything (or everything) your photographer posts.
Friends. We love you. But just don’t. The images that photographers post on their website and social media are teeny, tiny files. They have to be to make the Google gods happy. When you screenshot those files? You’re adding more noise and distortion, and not thus not accurately sharing a photographer’s work. That, and screen-shotting is stealing. Just share the post, friends. That way no one is stealing, image quality doesn’t get downgraded, and your photographer gets the photo credit.
Don’t print images with watermarks on them.
Again, friends, we love you all but this is still copyright infringement. Especially if you print a screenshot of something on your photographer’s website, social media, or online gallery (that’s still stealing, friends). You need to have a print release to print your digital files; printing them with a watermark doesn’t count as permission or not stealing. If you don’t receive digital files from your photographer? Don’t screenshot them. Buy the digital file and the print release that goes with it. Will it be expensive? Maybe. But at least you won’t be stealing.
Again, the number of times that we’ve walked into your homes and you’ve printed images with our watermarks on them? Or printed watermarked images for your reception decor? Friends, we’re flattered but it makes us cringe every single time. Just don’t do it.
Don’t resize them using a Pinterest tutorial.
Guys. That’s still copyright infringement. I was absolutely appalled when I found this tutorial on Pinterest. 1, because I couldn’t believe an “expert” was encouraging stealing and copyright infringement. 2, because the tutorial wasn’t that great. When you receive a print release from your photographer it will specifically state how you can print your digital files and up to what size. Stick to that, friends, and all will be okay.
If you want something bigger? Invest in a good, quality piece of artwork (print, canvas, metal, etc.) from your photographer. You’ll be so much happier with the quality of the large print, and you’ll be supporting a small business that you know you already love.
Don’t download them and leave them in your downloads folder.
We’re guilty of this too. But when you download your photos? Especially all 564 of your wedding photos? Don’t just leave them in your downloads folder. The number of times that we’ve accidentally deleted that folder or emptied our trash and lost everything is more than we would like to admit. And we would hate for the same thing to happen to your precious wedding or engagement pictures.
After you download them create a separate file for them in a safe place (see our Dos list), and move them there. Immediately. Don’t take any chances, friends.
Don’t modify them in anyway.
This totally includes cropping, adding a filter, any skin/hair/eye modifications. Again, friends, modifying those digital files in any way is still copyright infringement. Don’t add Snapchat or Instagram filters. We guarantee you that your photographer has put precious time in to make sure that they deliver the best photos that best represent you and your day. Adding filters or “fixing” your skin or making your eyes bigger isn’t only an insult to your photographer (and yourself), but it also becomes a false representation of your photographers’ work. And nothing quite irritates a photographer like having their finished work “messed” with.
Are good-cause banners okay to put over photos? Sometimes, as long as they don’t include a built-in blue filter or something. Again, this is something your print release from your photographer should specifically state out. But, if it doesn’t, just be a good human and don’t do it. 🙂
Well, friends, there you go. You probably got a little more information from us than we intended (there we go again), or maybe these were all brand new things that you’d never thought about. Either way, we hope you found something helpful in this post.
Have questions about something you read? Feel free to shoot us a message. We would love to talk with you or help resolve any concerns or questions you have about what you can and can’t do with your digital files. 🙂 Or, check out our post on Copyright 101.
Feel like you’re missing something? Check out Anna and Jeff’s Sneak Peek here.