How I Make Peace with “Selling the Files.”


Plenty of photographers will tell you that for a long time the most popular question a prospective client asked after, “How much is your session fee?” was some version of, “How much are the digital files?” Thankfully, I do see a shift happening. I feel like more and more people are coming to me who want to invest in actual printed artwork. I don’t know if that shift is industry-wide or if it has to do with who I am connecting with and how I am presenting my work but I am thrilled to be helping more and more people purchase gorgeous custom albums and wall displays.

As an artist who cares deeply about what I do and who believes that photographs are an invaluable link to many of our most cherished memories, I am really uncomfortable with seeing clients leave me with no tangible printed products. I know many people think “all they need” are the digital files. But I also know that life is busy and overwhelming and that many people have neither the time nor the vision to put together a wall display or a custom album.

I get it, though. When the images are of your own family–the people you love most in the world–it can be hard to not want to buy them all. You can frame and hang a lot of photographs but let’s face it–wallpapering your entire living room in family photos may be a bit much! How do I help my clients get what they really want without feeling like they are walking away with just digital files?

I show them these:

I share a gorgeous glass image box filled with their pictures, professionally printed, and a custom USB drive that holds the digital files from their session. These are one of my most popular items. Many clients, once they see it, cannot imagine not owning it. And I love knowing that they will have this gorgeous memento on display in their home to enjoy with each other for years to come.

Recently I was contacted by USB Memory Direct. They wanted to know if I was interested in trying their custom USBs for my own business.  I am always game to try new products. And their wooden USB drives definitely fit with my aesthetic so I said, why not? I really love how my logo looks on the pine. Clean and simple.

Placed along with a client’s prints in a beautiful glass box, this is a perfect way for me to sell files without worrying that my clients may never get around to making their own prints. The best part is, most of my clients still invest in large wall art or albums but love having this product, too, so that they can enjoy all of their images. I love knowing that their children will grow up looking through these precious memories and that their parents can pass these down to them and to future generations many years from now.

Why not just sell the files in an online gallery? That is still an option but given how often technology fails and how few people have a foolproof back-up system for their personal files, I like providing a tangible product, too. I still encourage clients to make additional prints and to make back-ups of everything–but knowing they have a version on their computer plus the USB is extra peace of mind.


These wooden drives from USB Memory Direct are really nice. The tops are magnetic so there is a satisfying ‘snap’ when you close the drive so you know it will be well protected when not in use. They also fit securely in the USB ports on my laptop and work computer. I am really pleased with how they look, how they function and am excited to share them with my clients. So happy I had a chance to try them!

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