A question I often get asked by wedding couples is, “do we get all our wedding photos on a CD?”
And while I think it makes absolute sense for a wedding couple to acquire all their wedding photo digital files, it helps to know a few things about that.
For example, maybe getting your wedding photos on a CD or on a DVD isn’t the best media to have them on. That’s because technology changes so fast that today’s media is very soon outdated.
Consider how computers had CD drives but then were replaced by DVD drives but now everything’s mostly about USB drives… even before that, back in the day there were zip drives and 3½ floppies, which were then replaced soon enough by 5¼ discs, replaced now by flash drives…
Keeping digital files on a hard drive? You run the chance of the drive crashing and losing everything. And you also run the chance of accidentally deleting your wedding files too.
Even with newer technology though, files kept on media devices such as those I’ve described can get corrupted over time. Those media are not archival. Know what is?
Prints. Albums. They’re meant to last longer, as long as they’re constructed of archival materials and built with preservation in mind such as “library bound” wedding albums are. Same with true photographic prints. Your great, great grandchildren will very likely one day be holding your wedding album in their hands, looking through all its photos (they may also be holding a DVD in their hands but they’ll be thinking, “How barbaric. What do you do with this? How did they ever manage back then with this big round thing?”)
Which brings up another point. Viewing the images. It’s a totally different experience holding a wedding album in your hands as you casually leaf through its pages taking it in, or hanging a wedding portrait, beautifully finished, upon your wall as part of your home decor and showcasing it, and quite another experience entirely looking at pixels on a monitor.
So I believe it makes total sense to have your wedding photos in some sort of digital media for safekeeping purposes, and to have should you wish to make a print down the road. Because years after your wedding if you want or need to make or replace prints, you wouldn’t need to be dependent on your wedding photographer still being in business and still having your files. Or conveniently accessible and reachable to you in the event you or the wedding photographer moved away. Having digital wedding images also can make it easier to email your friends and relatives some wedding photos so you can share.
Even so, the only problem with that plan is all digital media rots eventually. There’s a good chance files won’t last many years.
But it doesn’t ever make sense to have wedding photos in digital form for personal viewing anyway because It’s not about files in lieu of prints and albums when you consider files are merely a delivery mechanism for the images. The beauty of photography is in its display – viewing a beautiful reproduction of an image, hanging on a wall as part of your home decor or in a timeless wedding album on your coffee table – not on a CD in a box kept in a drawer or as tiny images on a cell phone. Go to any art museum and they hang the masterpieces on their walls to be viewed and appreciated… big and beautiful… even though they could have just as well transferred every painting over to a digital file to be viewed while sitting in front of a monitor.
So when you’re looking to acquire your wedding photos in digital format for storage and printing, then some questions you may want to ask your wedding photographer are:
Are the digital files edited or are they “straight out of the camera”?
Mere straight out of the camera files are as they were shot, but further refining and giving them some artful treatment gives them a finished touch.
Are they high enough resolution to print well?
Which is critical if you plan on making prints from them. To produce a decent 8×10” print for example, a digital file should be about 2100 pixels minimum on its longest side.
Are they watermarked or not?
Some wedding photographers might discourage you from printing their wedding photos by marking the images across their face with a logo or copyright notice, while others don’t.
On wedding files intended for web use only, not for printing purposes, such as for posting on Facebook or sending through emails and sharing on social media, a small photo credit in the corner is acceptable and pretty much standard practice as it’s considerate to credit the wedding photographer. Like this, for example:
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