What does this all mean? Well, it actually means that you have quite a bit of bargaining power in the whole discussion and negotiation process.
My approach: I narrowed down photographers based on their price range and individual style, and then negotiated for what I really want -- digital negatives. I prefer digital photography for several reason -- they tend to be more cost efficient (the price is based on time instead of the number of photos). Digital photographers also tend to give you the option of having your photos made available for online viewing. A lot of photographers offer this service through Pictage, but the cost for printing photos on Pictage can be 10 times as much as regular digital photo sites. For that reason alone, Pictage is not a good service for sharing with friends and family. Not only do I want to save money for myself, I also don't have friends and relatives pay $10 per 4x6 print!
I was very happy with my decision to pass on the albums and focus on getting digital negatives. If you gave digital negatives on a CD or DVD, you are able to share my photos online with all my family, friends, and wedding guests very cheaply and easily. There are many sites that you can use to upload and share digital photographs, some are free and some for fee. The ones I liked:
Shutterfly is a major competitor in the space of digital photos. I have listed them above Kodakgallery for one reason -- they have a collections feature. The Collections, also a free feature, allows you to choose pictures or Photo Books to share, and invite people to see them. You can share a single album, Photo Book, or create a Collection to share multiple albums at your own web address. There is unlimites storage and a good selection of projects you can create from personalized photo cards to photo albums to make as gifts.
KodakGallery provides free unlimited online photo storage to you for 12 months from the date you first upload an image to your account. The collection solution on the aforementioned Shutterfly is called Gallery Premier on Kodakgallery, and it is a paid service (not free). Kodakgallery stores your photos online for you as long as you're an active member of the Gallery. "Active" means that you make at least one purchase from the Gallery at least once every 12 months.
Smugmug (annual fee, starts at $39.95)
I ended up going with Smugmug because I am a webbie who loves digital photos. I wanted to have a place where people can easily access my gallery (which I can set as private or public). Smugmug offers with the annual fee the following:
- Unlimited storage!
- No ads
- Crop the bad parts
- Enhance the good parts
- Personalize with themes
- Password-protect galleries
- Retrieve your high-res photos
- Easy organization
- Ability to post photos in blogs & forums
- Add photos from camera phones
- Have your own URL
- Track unlimited traffic to your photos
- Be notified of comments
- Create private ShareGroups
- Create and join communities
- Make life easy with Web 2.0: Tags, RSS feeds, APIs, and Ajax
- See photos on Google Maps
- Photo tags
- View by timeline