The great debate among photographers, prints or digitals? Which is better? What do I offer to my clients?
In January 2023 I restructured my entire business and my approach on what to offer my clients. Not only is it very scary to do this, it was a struggle to decide what to do and how to do it. For years I have been handing over digitals. Clients want digitals for quick sharing, but I know the value of having those images printed and I want you to have that. As a photographer, my work is not valued until it is printed. There is no greater feeling of pride than seeing your client share with you your images hanging proudly in their home.
In a technology driven world, it has been stated that our children may be the most photographed generation to date, yet they are also the most likely to grow up with the fewest photographs. Because of this digital world we live in we use our phones and other devices to document our children’s lives, but do those images ever get printed, framed, or preserved in albums? Chances are they live on your cell phone, computer desktop, a DVD, or a USB drive? Trust me, I am guilty of it. It's easy to pull up a quick picture, share it to your favorite social media site, or share it through email to friends and family that are not local to you; but if you are like me, that is as far as they get. I always have the best intentions, but life is busy, other things take priority, and in the end it is forgotten about. So how we ensure that our most treasured memories exist in the future to be enjoyed by our grandchildren and great-grandchildren? How will you create a lasting legacy if our family if our photos live on our devices? Here’s why printed photographs still matter.
Prints are tangible images that are timeless, intimate, and live your everyday world alongside with you. They hold more than our memories. They are gifts we give ourselves and our children today, and they are the legacy we leave our grandchildren and great-grandchildren. They tell our story. With each flip of a page, we see how our child has grown and changed from a grinning baby to a teething toddler to a little boy missing his two front teeth.
I love having photos and albums not only from my own children, but of my childhood that include friends and family. It gives you a sense of where you come from and helps to illustrate the story of how I have become who I am today.
PRINTED PORTRAITS TELL OUR STORY AND BECOME OUR FAMILY'S ARCHIVE
Photos hold the power to make us feel, to evoke emotion, and to transport us back in time to relive a special memory or a particular phase in our child’s life. It is very nostalgic to look through my photos, and I am reminded of each fleeting phase, from my first borns obsession with Thomas the Tank Engine, first day of preschool, soccer games, dances and prom, and his senior year which was impacted by the pandemic. Still, despite what Covid stole from our children during those years, it is still a memory. Our future generations will learn about that time, and I have the documentation to share it with them. Printed photographs become our families archive.
Looking through pictures and photo albums with your children, family or friends is a great conversation starter. It encourages story telling of the people that were part of our lives, the times we shared, and remember those that may no longer be with us. It elicits emotion, and brings people together.
DISPLAYING FAMILY PHOTOS IN OUR HOME SHOW WHAT IS IMPORTANT TO US
When printed, our photographs become reminders of what is important in life – our children, our grandchildren, extended family, friends, and pets. Prints literally let you FEEL the LOVE. And a 1975 study at Tulane University demonstrated that children’s self-esteem is boosted when they see themselves in printed photographs. Seeing themselves in print daily shows children that they belong, are valued, cared for, and loved. Social media platforms do not tell my family’s story or show my children how much they are loved, but the framed photos and albums in our home are a great reminder to them of how loved and valued in our family.
Social media platforms like facebook and instagram are constantly evolving and may eventually be phased out. What if they would go out of business? We haven't even talked about "what if" your account gets hacked and shutdown? I have had several friends lose their accounts and years of their children's photos. That would be my absolute worst nightmare.
PRINTS HAVE LONGEVITY. DIGITAL IMAGES ARE NOT FAIL-SAFE
Computer’s crash. They get viruses. Uploads fail. Memory cards burn up. Basically, sh*t happens when you’re dealing with technology. It’s inevitable. If you’re counting on your computer, or a hard drive, or a memory card to keep your precious moments safe, you’re going to regret it. Don’t trust your memories to technology that is known to fail.
Taking photographs with your iPhone is great for quickly capturing a moment and instantly sharing with family and friends. But it is temporary. It is not tangible or lasting.
Jpg files are compressed and degrade each time you “save as” and open them. Your jpg is at the highest quality it’s ever going to be when it’s first created. It should be printed when its at its prime, not a year or 2 or more later when you finally get around to it. Your special images deserve more than a space on your computer’s memory and more than just another USB drive in a drawer somewhere. Media storage technoloy changes every 3-5 years. Think of technologies you’ve used that are now obsolete: Floppy drives, zip disks, even DVDs. This year’s USB is due to be “upgraded” in the next year or so. Where will that leave your images?
Furthermore, storing images on your hard drives or external hard drives can fail. I have experienced this first hand. Years and years of precious memories are on one of my external hard drives and it no longer works. Yet I still hang onto it hoping for some recovery option to retrieve all those photographs. A print can last forever when stored properly and is the best option for archiving your most important photos.
However, print quality matters. As a high-quality print, the life span of your images increases considerably. Prints have longevity, especially when created in pro labs exclusive to professional photographers. Some online print labs and consumer grade retailers sell super cheap prints for a reason. They’re distributing inexpensive paper and ink that will fade, scratch off, and smear. Their print quality – including color, contrast, clarity, and sharpness – is questionable at best, and certainly not calibrated to the profile the photographer intended. If you’ve invested in a professional photographer with professional cameras, professional lenses, and professional editing software, your end product should be a professional, archival quality photographic print.
PRINTED PHOTOGRAPHS ARE MORE IMPACTFUL
THAN DIGITAL IMAGES
Seeing your family portrait as a custom art piece hanging in your home is so much more meaningful than viewing the same image on your Facebook wall, iPhone, Instagram or computer screen.
There are so many ways to show your photographs; from prints in frames, to gallery walls, to large canvases above your fireplace. Each one is a piece of art that you are decorating your home with to add beauty, warmth, and show love.
My photography business reflects my personal values on the power of photography and the importance of printed photographs. I offer printed photos because I believe in print. Professionally printed photos will last a lifetime and are the safest way to archive your families memories to be passed down from generation to generation.
Whether you take your own family photos or hire a professional, don’t let your photos be forgotten on a hard drive or disappear into the depths of the digital cloud. Go Print Your Family Photos!!