What is the Difference Between Fine Art Photography and Shoot and Burn Photography?

So here you are, looking to hire a photographer for your family session. Finally! But then, you see a huge difference when you get quotes – anywhere from $150 for all the digitals to high-ticket options to create keepsakes that may cost thousands of dollars. What are industry standards and why is the gap so huge?

First, let’s talk about what each one means:

Shoot-and-Burn Photography – a photographer works with clients to deliver digital images by a gallery download, images on usb, or as prior on a CD.

Fine Art Portrait Photography – the photography studio specializes in a custom experience from start to finish to create keepsakes, like wall portraits (canvases, framed prints, metal and acrylic prints), albums, fine art prints, etc.


Shoot-and-Burn Photography (or recent Shoot-and-Share): In the last 12-15 years the trend was and still is to have a quick in-and-out session when you get the digital images burned to the CD, uploaded on a USB or delivered by a gallery cloud.


  • Instant gratification from posting online on social media.
  • It gives clients freedom of creating their own prints, making Christmas cards, posting online and sending to family.
  • Usually very affordable (ranges from $150-1,500 per session and includes high resolution images).


  • Most clients never print their own photos as they plan or hope to do.
  • When families print their own images through consumer labs, the quality of photographer’s work gets completely modified since colors, contrast, etc are not calibrated, so the results are usually absolutely different from what you see in your digital copy.
  • Most Shoot-and-Burn photographers color-correct photos but do not retouch them, since it’s a very time-consuming process and they deliver the volume.
  • Hard drives with digital images fail, social media profiles get deleted, USB’s get lost and CD’s are no longer readable by modern computers.
  • Images in the cloud just stay there in folders and nobody ever goes through those.

While in concept, it’s a great idea, many people realized having JUST digital negatives is not THAT good. Yes, you get instant gratification of posting photos on social media and many people end up never printing them. Although in many cases of today’s digital world it’s an acceptable and normal practice for daily life, trips, content for businesses and lifestyle, family portraiture is taking a big hit by people not printing portraits from their sessions. We’ve heard our clients saying – “life got in the way, we are too busy”, “we’ve had another baby and never printed images from that session”, “I just don’t know where to print”, “I ordered a canvas and it fell apart”, etc. We’ve all heard the stories of failed hard drives with a lot of memorable events and photos from someones’ important milestones and events in life. So, if for some crazy reason digital world will hiccup and disappear, it will kill all those memories that are stored online and in the clouds, and our future generations will not have a reference to their family memories and important moments.


Fine Art Portrait Photography: When a photographer takes portraits, they are intended for wall art or other artistic expressions of photography: coffee table books and albums, smaller fine art prints, etc. It can sometimes be described as “décor photography” or “photo décor.” This style of photography stands in contrast to documentary-style photojournalism in which subjects and events are captured to represent reality. Fine art portrait photographers are, in fact, artists. There is a high level of perception and skill that goes into creating fine art portrait images in the digital world. It takes a highly skilled and specialist photographer to do this well. It’s all about creative vision. {FStoppers}

Before the digital world, that was the only standard in the Photography Industry.


  • The keepsakes created for you by your photographer will stay in your family for generations.
  • Professionally printed wall art takes you back to a happy moment in time making you feel the love and connection to each other every time you look at it.
  • Fine Art Prints, wall portraits, albums are printed in professional labs on the highest quality equipment.
  • Most of the time, you get your photos not only color-corrected (aka edited) but also retouched, meaning you get skin and wrinkles softened, stray hair removed, liquified if requested, etc.
  • Usually your keepsakes have Warranty by your photography studio.


  • Physical Heirlooms require a higher financial investment.
  • Some Fine Art Portrait Studios do not offer digital images with Keepsakes (ask before the session!)

Is there a Hybrid?

If a photographer offers both, professionally made keepsakes and wall art, along with digital copies for your online posting and reprinting of gift prints, most clients get the best of both worlds!

Here are a few things to consider and ask when you are hiring a photographer:

  • Do they only offer digital images and do not support/specialize in ordering heirlooms? If they do not specialize in creating keepsakes for your family, would they give you high resolution printing release so you can order yourself or through another professional studio?
  • Does a Fine Art Portrait Photographer offer an access to digital files? Is it important for you to have digital copies?
  • Is there a limitation of the reprintable sizing of prints from digital copies or the files will come in high resolution? Is there a separate fee for upgrading to high resolution files?
  • Do ask the photographer to go over pricing before your photo session, so you are prepared for an investment in case if you want to get wall art, albums, prints, etc.
  • Does the Fine Art Photography Studio offer a payment plan option if your investment into keepsakes is high?


30A Beach Portrait Photographers

Our company, Ti Adoro Studios, is a Fine Art Portrait Photography studio that gives access to corresponding digital images (reprintable up to 8×10) with a purchase of Keepsakes. You can find examples of our work here!

We have 100% You Will Be Thrilled Guarantee on all of our wall portraits, albums, fine art prints, etc. We offer Pre-Session and Post-Session Payment Plans.

If you would like to find out more about our services, please contact us here: Contact Page.


Alena and Michael