Leaving a Legacy | Print v. Digital
People don't print.
Too many of them don't, anyhow.
I was just as guilty at the beginning of my photography adventures of not printing as some of you are that are reading this now. My images sat on hard drives, hoping I'd remember to get to them when that mythical "one day" arrived.
Not today. Not now. No time. No money. Other pressing issues.
Whatever the reason is, I have but one question.... why? Why take the images at all? So they can be shared and then instantly forgotten on social media, and languish on a hard drive somewhere, perhaps viewed once or twice a year on 'throwback Thursday'?
My work was finally up to snuff, and I still wasn't really ever printing. Not my own images, and not my clients'. I was still sending links to password protected galleries and handing over print releases.
I was making very little money, and watching my job satisfaction evaporate.
A photo experience with me was no longer simply "wear pretty clothes, show up at park, play with kids... snap. snap. snap".
Hope for the best, edit, and deliver.
I had upped my game, in both service and image quality.
Sessions with me were now being planned with questionnaires to help me get to know my clients, and in-person, pre-session consultations to discuss styling, props, location, etc... Back and forth communications via email, phone, and text messages, as the styling process continued to evolve. After providing my clients with plenty of educational resources in the form of welcome guides and Pinterest boards, together we found a location, wardrobe, and (if desired) props to create images that truly represent their style and bring out the best in them. Pre-planning, including detailed gear and shot lists, leaves space on shoot day for everyone to relax and have a good time. After shoot day comes editing day---yay! I love editing day!--- and it is here that I apply the 8+ years of photoshop skills I've acquired and retouch and edit to my artistic style.
After editing I would deliver images via digital download and a print release so that my client's photos could, at best, be printed poorly and cheaply somewhere like Target or Snapfish, at worst, live out a day or so in the spotlight on Facebook, and then be forgotten with the rest of the imagery we are bombarded with online.
That is a lot of work for a few Facebook likes, a few mediocre, tiny prints (an 8x10" is tiny...but that's a blog for another day), and a few hundred dollars-- not all of which is profit because remember there's overhead... professional affiliations, insurance, software, photo gear, print marketing.... the list goes on and on.
This was not sustainable and the ever-increasing feeling of burnout was driving this fact home for me.
So I sat down and got real with myself. Why on earth was I putting all of this effort into selling digitals?
That's what the market wants, I told myself.
For a large segment of the market, it is. That's why I'm writing this post-- to educate, to change the minds of photographers and clients everywhere. I'm writing this so we can all start enjoying photographs as tangible pieces. Things we can touch and hold and see in real life...3 dimensions. A photograph displayed in your home can touch your heart and bring you back to that moment each and every time you pass it...a photograph on a hard drive will not. A printed image can be passed down to your children, to your grandchildren...your great grandchildren...you get my point. And they will immediately feel a connection...they will experience the legacy of the subject through this tangible artifact.
Perhaps the technology will still exist for your images on usb to be viewed by future generations...or perhaps that would be as complex as someone handing you an image of your grandma on floppy disk.
Holy cow!--- this thing really flops! How vintage...primitive, even...
What on earth do we do with it?
My art is no more pixels on a digital display than an analogue negative was a photo back in the day...my art is the print. Tangible pieces that are born from a passion for quality and consistency. Heirloom prints and products that touch the heart and stand the test of time.
I am a print photographer. My job is not done until you are holding a printed product. One that meets my exacting standards, helping you to preserve your memories and leave a legacy.
Because life is art.
Because you are beautiful. Because you deserve to exist in photos. Because your legacy is in the light that shines from your eyes.