Photo disks are all the rage these days. So, for example, you pay $200-300 to a photographer and you get an hour long photo session (maybe more depending on the number of subjects) and then you get a batch of proofs and a disk with all the proofs that you can use however you see fit: send them to Costco, email them to friends and family, blow them up to poster size. Whatever you like. Good stuff, right?
I have my doubts, honestly, and here's why: think about the incentives there. You pay the photographer regardless of the quality of the final images. Don't like them? Tough. And what about that quality? The photographer's incentive is to do the bare minimum to keep you happy. In other words, because the photographer gets paid no matter what, he/she has every incentive to minimize (1) the amount of time devoted the session, and (2) the amount of time spent post-processing in Photoshop or some other program. In some sense, the more time a photographer spends getting you your images, the less money that photographer makes in relative terms. The photographer needs to be good--good enough to generate positive word of mouth and repeat business--but not too good.
In my personal and professional life, situations with skewed incentives like that (a benefit by one party comes at the expense of the other) rarely lead to an outcome in which both parties are satisfied. Rather, the best solutions occur when interests are aligned: if I win, you win.
What does that mean in terms of photography and photo pricing? Well, maybe the interests should be aligned there too.
If you're just paying for a photographer's time, where's the artistry? You're just paying them to record stuff--compensating them for time and equipment rather than the artistry and expertise they bring to the session.
If, on the other hand, you view photography as art (as I think we should), then you should only purchase what you want to purchase--the perfect moment, the classic expression, the work of art. That's the idea behind my pricing scheme: keep the sitting fee to an absolute minimum, and the consumer pays only for the images they love and want to keep for ever. In that scenario, my goal is clear: if I want to sell photos, I better produce the best possible images, no matter how much time it takes me to get them. The better the images, the more photos I'll sell. Bad images? Bad business.
But I repeat: photo disks appear to be all the rage, and if that's what consumer's want, well, that's what they'll get, even if it means so-so images.