Print-on-demand sites that allow for a photographer profit?
January 30, 2005 3:54 PM   Subscribe

Digital fullfilment/Photography Question:

My sister's wedding had a large number of photographs taken by their friend who's a professional photographer, on his high end nikon Digital. He gave them the photos as a wedding gift, and they want people to be able to order prints on demand online.

however, they wanted to see if it were possible to tack on a small fee per photo and have the profit go to their friend.

1. What are some good print on demand sites (ofoto, etc?)
2. Do any of them allow this kind of thing?

Thanks in advance.
posted by eljuanbobo to Shopping (14 answers total)
He gave them the photos as a wedding gift... they wanted to see if it were possible to tack on a small fee per photo and have the profit go to [the gift giver]

None of my business really, but this strikes me as undermining the giving of the gift.

I mean, this is essentially a forced transfer of funds from all their friends and family who appreciate their wedding enough to want photos of it, to a particular friend, the photographer, in order to reimburse the photographer for what he freely gave as a gift.

When your sister and her husband hold dinner parties, they won't charge guests a dollar per place setting, to be remitted to the wedding guests who gave the china and silverware.

So why do this? It seems gauche at best.
posted by orthogonality at 4:03 PM on January 30, 2005

Sorry, but tacky.
posted by davebush at 4:09 PM on January 30, 2005

When I was with they allowed this. Their prints were mediocre, although probably okay for individuals who would pay for this sort thing. She'll have to pay $30 up front for an account.

To make you feel better, this doesn't sound tacky or gauche in my view. If they want the photos, let them pay for them. I sure as hell didn't send out free photos to everyone who came to my wedding.
posted by sled at 4:17 PM on January 30, 2005

Check your local Wal-Mart or Costco photo department. They often use extremely good equipment and charge very reasonable rates. I learned about this from another AskMe thread and have so far been very pleased with the prints I've had done at my local Wal-Mart (much as I loathe shopping there). You can order from your local Wal-Mart online, but I would find out about the equipment and paper being used there first.
posted by biscotti at 4:33 PM on January 30, 2005

None of my business really. . .So why do this? It seems gauche at best.

Sorry, but tacky.

Did you guys see the note below the comment box? The one that says "Ask MetaFilter is as useful as you make it. Please limit comments to answers or help in finding an answer."

How did your answers help eljuanbobo answer his question? Think about it.
posted by mlis at 4:50 PM on January 30, 2005

Wal-mart indeed has surprisingly good digital prints. I second that. I don't know if they're set up to allow charges back to the photographer, but you could always just tell people that there's a charge for the photos and it's on the honor system, payments to be sent to Location or through the happy couple.

I think it's a bad idea, though. I really doubt that more than a bare few people will order a print from someone else's wedding that they have to pay a commission for. It doesn't feel tacky or gauche, exactly, but it rubs me the wrong way.

Just my opinion, but I think the newlywed would better serve the interest of the photographer by:
(1) Using the digital photos to assemble an HTML wedding album; my bride and I did similar.
(2) Making real damn sure that the photographer is identified, by name, several times, with the occasional comment like "Didn't Ansel take a great picture of us here?"
(3) Include a cd-r of the completed album in all their thank-you notes.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:58 PM on January 30, 2005

(I've been thinking about the value of a service like this for a while. If a company were to try to compete with the likes of ofoto or snapfish, an interesting business model would be to pay a small commission to photographers for each sale. If I could upload my amateur photos, share them with others, and earn 3 cents for each 30 cent print they buy, I'd go with that company over the competition, and would probably share more photos than I do now.)

In this, I can understand that others may feel this is a bit tacky, however eljuanbobo's sister probably has a decent handle on her guests' sensibilities. One option might be to post a link telling guests the story of the gift, and providing a paypal or other link to acknowledge the photographer's generosity.
posted by i love cheese at 5:13 PM on January 30, 2005

MLIS: I was offering a comment on the question. It was not a wisecrack. One would assume that a possible answer to the question could be "don't do it." Many, many people have offered comments that aren't direct answers to specific questions, but useful and relevant nonetheless.
posted by davebush at 5:15 PM on January 30, 2005

Considering all the time the photographer may have spent on retouching the photographs, plus the cost of printing (no matter how cheap it is to get high quality prints at COSCO's or Walmart-or even if he has a really good printer and does them himself) I don't think it's tacky. Since he's a professional, he probably spent as much time touching these up as he did for a paid shoot. Plus, all that equipment was an investment. Really- a business person needs to draw the line somewhere if they're spending a significant period of time on a shoot and are not independently wealthy.

And they have the option of throwing in an extra print to make the customer happy.
posted by sophie at 5:29 PM on January 30, 2005

Makes sense to me. The gift is to the bride & groom, not to the guests. Some of whom will want copies, especially family, which they would have paid for anyway. Your small fee is surely less than the normal markup, so everyone wins.

Anyways, there are tons of providers for this service, who will print for you and let you set prices to anything you want. The tough part is that they are all aimed at event photographers, who charge quite a lot for even a 4x6. So they don't mind paying a $100 startup fee. You probably do.

If I were you, I would check out the message boards at and That's where people who do this kind of thing for a living hang out.
posted by smackfu at 5:37 PM on January 30, 2005 [1 favorite]

I guess I'll just toss in my $0.02.

The photographer is giving complete rights to the images to the wedding party as a present. That's gold right there. If the wedding party guests are so friendly with the bride and groom and are willing to spend two hours out of their day to have prints made at CostCo, so be it. But let them do the effort.

Look at it this way, the photographer shouldn't have to go out of their way to make sure the bride and groom and all their guests and family members are taken care of. His present extends to them alone. If they want to help the guy out that's very nice, 'cause frankly, all the cash is just going to get dumped into getting better equipment. If Gramma and Grampy want something they can hold, it's worth their time if nothing else to pay online and have someone do it for them.

Anyway, with all that said, here's some actual answers to the question:

1. What are some good print on demand sites (ofoto, etc?)

Smug Mug
Photo Reflect

2. Do any of them allow this kind of thing?

These sites are designed for this purpose. It will cost your friend a monthly fee to set up the site. They give you pretty much limitless space to sell photos, and you name your own price. People go to the site, can order online and have prints delivered to them--all taken care of by them. You just collect a check (or send one in, depending on how many sales he can get).

Just make sure to let everyone know there's a site available. Oh, and don't be greedy. People aren't stupid, they know that an 8x10 doesn't cost more than a few bucks to print at Walgreens. Since most of the wedding guests don't order photos, your normal wedding photographer doesn't run into this situation very often. If a relative wants a shot, they ask the b&g, then the b&g order another shot (for, say, $30).

This opens up a big sales opportunity for a photographer providing they're able to marktet the photos at a reasonable pricepoint. The flip side is that you have to charge the bride and groom the same "low! low!" price, which would seriously cut into your regular sales. In this case it doesn't matter, because it's a gift.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:53 PM on January 30, 2005

Response by poster: Yeha. this isn't some kind of big profit thing. The guy gave them the photos on a CD, and they wanted to make sure that for people who wanted copies, he would get some kind of compensation. I don't see how this is tacky. If you want wedding photos from an event you went to, you'd pay for them.

This is NOT something the photographer is doing, or even asked that they do. They wanted to provide photos for everyone, but they wanted to give a kickback to a guy who flew 3500 miles and did them a favor.

Thanks to those that gave me actual answers.
posted by eljuanbobo at 6:13 PM on January 30, 2005

I would be really surprised if enough money was made from selling individual photos of a normal couple's wedding to even cover the cost of setting up a for profit website. A normal couple (i.e. not Donald Trump and Melania) would have maybe 100 guests, and maybe 50 or so might buy one or two pictures if they are in them. Moms and Dads might buy a few more, so maybe tops the site would turn over 200 prints. If you have 5 cents a print going to a photographer he would reap a whopping 10 dollars. That's a bit underwhelming as a show of gratitude. I think the grateful couple's intentions may be good, but there are probably more effective ways to recognize his generosity.
posted by dness2 at 6:51 PM on January 30, 2005 and are used by some pros.
posted by planetkyoto at 8:27 PM on January 30, 2005

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