Print vs. Digital - Random Thoughts. . .
OK, maybe I am just showing my age (not hard to do, with a head full of gray hair), but I am going to weigh in what seems to be an ever-increasing trend among photography clients to settle for digital image copies vs printed copies.
First of all I have absolutely nothing against digital copies. They are without question the best way to share images with friends and family via Social Media, email, text messages, etc. We have seen the benefits of Social Media in our business when we get new clients that saw our work on someone’s Facebook or Instagram post. That, along with client referrals, is one of our primary sources of new business and we greatly appreciate it!
But we have also begun to see a devaluation of printed images lately in favor of digital copies. We have clients beginning to tell us that all they want is digital copies of their images. While we are happy to oblige (we provide watermarked digital images for a flat fee if no prints are ordered) I can’t help but think of what the client will NOT be getting for their investment.
Maybe you can remember a time when you were visiting a friend or relative. You might have walked into a room and noticed a portrait on the wall. Maybe you took a closer look, or maybe you didn’t, but I’ll bet you glanced at it more than once during your visit. Or maybe you saw a photo album on the table. You probably found an opportunity to thumb through a few pages (or maybe the whole album!). Seeing prints like this probably led to a little conversation, maybe some laughs, probably at least a few fond memories.
I think the “memory” aspect of this discussion is the main thing. After all, photographs represent memories. And strolling through a room where photographs are displayed is more likely to stir up memories. I mean, really, when is the last time you walked past your phone or tablet on the table and stopped to think “Oh yeah, I have all those photos from our family reunion last Thanksgiving, think I’ll take a few minutes and review them”? Think about the prints you may have that were handed down to you from the older generation in your family. Even if they are a little grainy, fuzzy and out of focus – they become our keepsakes. What will you be handing down, framed portraits or flashdrives?
Then, of course, think about the rapid pace of technological change we all experience today. We’ve gone from floppy disks, to hard disks, to CDs, to DVDs, to flashdrives, different USB connectors which require different devices, to cloud-based storage, all in just a few short years. And we’re not even talking about changes/upgrades that affect phones, tablets, etc. Almost every time we are confronted with a technology change we are also faced with the prospect of transferring our data from one medium to another. Each time, the risk of losing data is present. Any photographer will tell you, our own image backup systems probably include an attached storage device, a network device and a cloud-based backup, each system acting as a safeguard against another system failing. Personally, I like the idea of having printed copies of my personal memories as the ultimate backup against the possibility of technological failure!
But maybe that’s just me. I’d love to hear your feedback on this subject!