I’ve been hear­ing sto­ries from var­i­ous sources late­ly about cus­tomers ask­ing pho­tog­ra­phers to slash their bud­gets, even going so far as to com­plete­ly slash the funds need­ed for the dig­i­tal tech on the pho­to shoot. Bad econ­o­my all around, I guess. Self­ish­ly, of course, I think this is a bad idea. After think­ing about it in fur­ther detail it tru­ly is a bad idea not just for dig­i­tal techs, but pho­tog­ra­phers and clients alike. Here are six rea­sons you need a dig­i­tal tech on-set:

1. You need a lab

In the days of film you wouldn’t have even con­sid­ered try­ing to slash the pho­to lab’s bud­get, or even omit the pho­to lab entire­ly, from your pho­tog­ra­phy process. The lab (dig­i­tal tech, in today’s par­lance) ensures you get a prop­er­ly exposed, focused, color-accurate, clean, high-quality image for your busi­ness use. This hasn’t changed in results, mere­ly in name and location.

2. You need another set of eyes

To ensure you receive a usable, print­able, trans­mit­table, high-end image, you need some­body who isn’t wor­ried about oper­at­ing the actu­al cam­era, or the studio/location light­ing, or is in con­stant dis­cus­sions with the client or art direc­tor. You need some­body whose role is to take care of only the images. After all, you are already spend­ing enough on the entire pho­to shoot. Rely on the dig­i­tal tech to ensure it is mon­ey well spent. See rea­son 1 above.

3. You need graphic ability

In today’s dig­i­tal world, every­thing can be fixed in post (“Fix it in Pho­to­shop!”). Not that every­thing should be fixed in post, far from it, but with the pace of the world today and the rapid cycles of the inter­net (and reduced bud­gets), it is in your best inter­est to rely on your dig­i­tal tech for image pro­cess­ing before final image deliv­ery to you or your pro­duc­tion per­son­nel. Depend­ing on the lev­el of com­fort and expe­ri­ence with your team, and your busi­ness agree­ments, you may have retouch­ing and color-corrections, per­haps even com­posit­ing, done right in the pho­to stu­dio. This could pay for itself on the spot as you save an expo­nen­tial amount of time in avoid­ing the inevitable in-house pro­duc­tion log­jam (and all that messy paperwork).

4. You need repurposability

Ok, that prob­a­bly wasn’t a word until now (it is), but what you need is some­body who under­stands the var­i­ous ways your images are going to be used: the print process (hey, a huge part of the world is still ink on paper, despite the huge con­trac­tions in the news/media land­scape), the web process (color-space, com­pres­sion, file for­mats, deliv­ery for­mats), and even the video process (sim­i­lar to the web). A great dig­i­tal tech knows these things and gives you exact­ly what you need right from the start, sav­ing you time in the pro­duc­tion process.

5. You need metadata

To get the var­i­ous images into the var­i­ous modes of deliv­ery, you prob­a­bly also need to find a par­tic­u­lar image at any giv­en moment in your ever-growing archive of assets. To do this, you need meta­da­ta (data about the data). Your dig­i­tal tech knows effi­cient meth­ods of enter­ing this data and can accu­rate­ly tag and key­word your images dur­ing, or imme­di­ate­ly after, cap­ture. One less thing for you to wor­ry about.

6. You need redundancy

Your dig­i­tal tech is also respon­si­ble for ensur­ing you have com­plete and accu­rate back­up copies of your pho­to shoot. These are your neg­a­tives, if you are still think­ing in terms of the film days. The beau­ty with dig­i­tal, how­ev­er, is you actu­al­ly have more than one set of mas­ters. Your dig­i­tal tech makes these back­ups, per­haps even deliv­er­ing a set right to your hands.