Junior Graduations are one of the most profitable markets in our industry. Kindergarten graduation is the first rite of passage, and parents are eager to capture those memories. Graduation ceremonies are now also common at end of the elementary and middle school years. If you are considering volume photography, Junior Graduations provide an excellent opportunity to break into the market. We can help! Our new Guide to Junior Graduate Photography will help you to understand the basics of cropping and posing young graduates.
How would you like to grow your business 400% in one season? Incredible, right? Martin Patterson did just that and is a great example of how volume photography can be a game changer.
If anyone were ever destined for a career in photography, it’s Patterson. His grandfather opened a camera store in 1939. He grew up hanging out there, absorbing a lot along the way. Patterson moved in the most natural direction. He started his own photography business, in Texarkana, Texas with his cousin Mark Patterson, aptly called Patterson’s.
“We did weddings for years and stopped in the mid ‘90s but continued doing family photos, portraits, and commercial work.”
That game changer came about three years ago.
“I went to a Photography Boot Camp in Dallas,” Patterson said. “It was inspirational and motivating. We had done some sports photos for a few schools and dance photos for a dance school, so I thought they might give us a shot at volume work.”
“After I left the boot camp, I cold called every school within an hour from me. I’d find out when their picture day was and I’d call the day after to see how it went, how it could be improved, what they liked and did not like from their present service. Then I set up meetings.”
Those cold calls and meetings paid off. Patterson signed five campuses his first year, and the second year he grew the business to 22 campuses. Patterson’s School Division was born! He has contracts with five more schools for next year and is not slowing down.
Patterson has some advice for anyone who is thinking about volume photography.
“Attend a workshop and get an idea of who to contact, how to actually do the pictures, and what equipment is involved. Find a lab that you can build a relationship with. I did that with Pounds and I could not be happier. They have all been more than helpful, and they can answer any question!”
Patterson continues to learn, experiment and grow.
“I went to SPAC in January,” Patterson said. “It was my first time, and it was extremely worthwhile. I definitely plan to go back. I met some cool people who had been in the business for some time. Everyone was so willing to share information. I know I need to amp up my social media presence, and I plan to get more involved with youth league sports. The school business is very exciting. I like being around the kids, and I’m excited about the potential!”
Whether you are Irish or not, March 17th will be your lucky day! That’s when FedEx becomes our primary carrier.
In a continuing commitment to streamline shipping delivery and offer the most economic pricing to you, Pounds is pleased to announce that we will be transitioning our UPS shipping services to FedEx on March 17th. If you are currently set up in our system for UPS shipping, we’ll change your account settings to use the same level of service with FedEx.
As always, customer service is here if you need us!
We appreciate your business and look forward to another great year of working together to help your business grow in 2016!
Christy Dodson keeps it all in the family. Her parents have been integral to her business, so teamwork isn’t just captured on the field, it’s the backbone of Snap 1 Studios. She’s an award winning photographer located in Granbury, Texas. The studio serves Granbury, Weatherford and other areas of Hood and Tarrant counties.
POUNDS: What inspired you to become a photographer and how long have you been in the business?
CHRISTY: I wish I could say I fell in love with photography as a kid but the truth is it wasn’t until I was already in the business that I began to really fall in love with the photographic craft. Like many photographic entrepreneurs, I was first attracted to the self-employment potential. My mother, Pat Uttz, and I started our business venture together 15 years ago.
POUNDS: What attracted you to sports photography?
CHRISTY: Sports photography is what got us started. Mom always had the latest and greatest in camera technology (she’s the one who’s always loved photography) and she and I would take turns getting great action shots at my kids little league baseball games. Prior to this my mother had been self employed as a computer program teacher (she’s smart). She taught me how to use Photoshop which at that time was not really being used by the general public or even very many photographers. One day I was making action “collages” for each child on the team to give to the coach in an album, and since I’m a creative at heart they were starting to look pretty cool. That’s when it dawned on me. “The parents are going to want these. I wonder if I could sell them?” So at the team party I told the parents they could buy their child’s collage for $10 (stop laughing, I hadn’t joined PPA yet and didn’t know what I was doing). Well, before I knew it, I had other teams calling us for action photography and collages. My dad was smart enough to realize we couldn’t make a profit at those prices unless we added value to raise the price, so he decided we had to sell them as framed wall art. The next season we did $14,000.00 worth of what we called “Fusion Designs” in 6 weeks! Sound too good to be true? It was. We worked ourselves to death with shooting all the games, culling all the pictures, and designing works of art. At the time we didn’t want to do traditional T&I work because it seemed boring and lacked creativity. We laugh now at how naïve we were!
POUNDS: “Sportraits” is a great term. Was that term a conscious part of your branding?
CHRISTY: I definitely started using the term “Sportraits” as part of a branding effort but I don’t think I was the first to come up with it. I’ve seen others throughout the industry use it. I think it’s very fitting for professionally lit and posed athlete portraits and I absolutely love creating them!
POUNDS: How do you connect with your subjects to get such great shots?
CHRISTY: Kids can be notoriously difficult and teenagers have strong opinions. I’ve always been a people person and I think that is a big part of being able to connect and capture their inner athlete. Usually they’ve seen my work so they trust my judgment.
POUNDS: What’s the best advice you’ve received regarding photography?
CHRISTY: All of the advice I received during my certification process has been invaluable. The things that have stuck with me the most from that experience are directional lighting, light quality, and that the background matters as much as the subject.
POUNDS: What are some memorable shoots?
CHRISTY: It’s very rewarding and memorable any time we get to photograph a family or a senior who purchased Fusion Designs from us in the early days. I love their loyalty and they love that they were there in the beginning.
POUNDS: What advice would you give to photographers that want to enter the volume sports field?
CHRISTY: Volume photography is exhausting and energizing all at the same time. Speed is the name of the game with team and individual work. Coaches don’t like to wait! As a rule quality and quantity don’t go together but we strive to bridge the gap.
Guest blog by Missy Mwac
Seventy Six Years Ago
This is a photo of my dad in 2nd grade.
He is the one on the second row, far left, with a very serious middle part and mischief written all over his face.
It was taken in 1939.
I’m not good at math, but according to my calculations, this image is 76 years old.
76 years old.
There are very few items I possess that are this age or older. A couple pieces of furniture…some jewelry…handkerchiefs from my grandmother. My children never knew my dad; they only know him from photographs. And this photo has hung in our hallway for years.
I don’t know where technology will go; everything is changing and moving and phasing in and out at the blink of an eye. If you had told me five years ago that Apple laptops would no longer come with a CD drive, I would have laughed and asked what you were smoking.
And there’s a big part of me that loves that; a big part of me that is happy to ride the techno wave into the future. After all, I’m able to share this with you all because of technology.
But the only reason I have it to share in the first place is BECAUSE it was printed. And I think forward 50 years, when the most photographed generation on the planet is becoming grandparents themselves.
What will their grandchildren have to remember them by?
A paper photograph…or that digital file that was given to them by their photographer but is now lost in the back of a junk drawer somewhere because they never got around to printing it.
When this school photo was carried home in my dad’s excited little second grade hands, he had no way of knowing that 76 years later, his daughter and grandchildren would consider it one of their most prized possessions.
My dear photographer friends…I don’t believe creating and selling extraordinary prints for our clients to pass down from generation to generation is selfish or old-fashioned or out of date…I believe it’s our job.
Volume photography is a lucrative business. In the simplest of terms it boils down to photographing a high volume of customers in one location or venue. Think about it. Photographs are taken each year of every single public and private school student for yearbooks and class photos. Parents can always be counted on to order substantial photo packages from school shoots. Add to this the ever growing sports photography field and volume business is definitely a great market.
Participation in high school sports reached almost 7.8 million last year, according to a survey released by The National Federation of State High School Associations, a record high. The Sports and Fitness Industry Association keeps track of how many kids between the ages of 6 and 17 are involved in sports. In 2011 they reported 21.47 million participants. Remember this does not include children that begin sports before age 6 so that number could easily top 30 million.
What does this mean to you? It means business and a lot of it!
High volume photography is a highly sought after service and a great way to increase your revenue. So where do you begin? Right here! Pounds is the industry expert at volume photography. Marion Hughes has been in the trenches and understands the needs of volume photography. Marion and Jim Giunta, our photo-technical advisors, have over 70 years of experience between them. Marion has trained thousands of volume photographers over the last 25 years and lectures on a regular basis for photography associations and franchises. Vickie Viera is not only a fantastic customer service representative, she is the go to expert for information on products and building packages.
Let’s get the low-down from Marion and Vickie on volume photography.
Volume photography is lucrative but can be intimidating and overwhelming for a new photographer contemplating entry into the business. How can Pounds help that photographer penetrate the field?
Marion: We’ve been fortunate to help many studio photographers add profitable school and sports business to their operations. They’ve received assistance that has sped up their workflow and improved the accuracy of their exposure and color. Besides experienced personnel, we have extensive and exclusive documentation on volume and studio operations. Manuals on school day sales and photography techniques, green screen, simplified outdoor shooting, volume family photography, spring school programs and a host of other subjects are all available to our customers.
One of the biggest challenges in breaking into volume photography is the data. Images must be matched to basic school information such as the student’s name, grade, teacher and id number. We’ve simplified this by creating an easy to use software package that does most of the work for you. Ask us about ProMatch.
Vickie: We have staff that will help with sales, marketing, capture and software. At Pounds Labs we become partners with our studios. We provide training in all aspects of volume photography from capture to package delivery. We’ll be with you every step of the way.
Ok I’m a newbie. I’m in the door at my local school. How do I add more schools?
Marion: Pounds customers have access to a wonderful resource book, “School Days Photography – A Sales and Planning Guide.” It outlines the basics of approaching the decision maker and closing the sale. Pounds Labs is also a sponsor of an excellent three-day School Day Boot Camp. This is an intensive training on all aspects of developing a school program.
What products are going to be easy add-ons that will essentially sell themselves?
Vickie: Novelty products are a crucial aspect in volume photography. Not only can they help to increase your profit, but they also generate interest in the order process, helping to drive sales to the profit packages. One of the services we offer is assisting with add-ons. We will discuss the events in your location and suggest products doing well in the area and for the specific event.
Can you help me learn how to “talk the talk”?
Marion: Booking that first school can be scary. Our advisors will help you know what to say and when to shut up!
I now have several schools and I want to add their sports teams into my mix. Am I going to be overwhelmed? How can Pounds help me with sports?
Marion: Don’t worry! We’ve already been there. We’ll show you the most effective method of shooting school sports without having to go to every game.
Vickie: We have easy to use software, training for capture and data entry. We’ll introduce you to order forms, marketing, sales and how to set up the shoot.
I heard you’d meet with me personally? Do I make an appointment? How long do you meet with me?
Marion: Absolutely! We can meet with you at the lab, by phone, on Go To Meeting or even at your location. Call to schedule a time that is right for you.
Vickie: We would LOVE to see you! It is a joy to meet our partners. We love to show off our facility and introduce the people that produce our products. Depending on your needs, such as green screen training, marketing or software usage, a visit can take a few hours or we can arrange multi-day training. Please call me at 469.341.6719 and we will schedule a tour and training.
I’m an old pro at this and know a lot. What can Pounds do for me?
Vickie: Pounds Labs has partnered with studios for 40 years. We can suggest products to increase sales, marketing and volume training. We know the products that work in your area and for your events. We’ll help you train your employees to streamline your workflow.
Marion: How about free software that will speed up your data entry several fold? Then there is the fact we have one of the most completive print prices in the industry and we offer free shipping. Don’t forget our fast turnaround!
Are there any new products that are particularly suited for volume?
Vickie: We recently added new press trader cards. The cards are always favorites with events from sports teams to school clubs.
Well, how do I really know you can help? Do you have proof?
Marion: You bet! Here’s a letter from one of our customers:
From: Greg Lamb
Sent: Thursday, March 12, 2015 10:00 AM
To: Pounds Labs
As a professional photographer for over 30 years I had watched as my volume had steadily decreased over the past few years due to the increase of digital and cell phone cameras. I had originally tried school day pictures 30 plus years ago with a split 70. I hated it. It was hard to focus.
As we “tried” to get into school day pictures again, I met Marion from Pounds Labs and was blown away with his knowledge and likability. He has made a couple of trips to my studio to help get us started and he AND the Pounds staff have been on the phone with us as we started this past fall with eight schools. We will double that number this year.
This has been a very profitable decision on our end and could not have been possible without the help of Marion and the staff at Pounds Labs.
Are you ready to get started in volume photography? Give Marion and Vickie a call at 469.341.6719!
Cindy Baxter knows that childhood is fleeting. Capturing the perfect image of those wonder years is what she loves and she does it in a beautiful and unique way. She constructs theatrical settings complete with costumes, props and often animals that transport a child into their own story, creating a work of art that is timeless.
POUNDS: How did you become a photographer?
CINDY: When I was in the 7th grade I got a hold of my parents 110 camera and I loved it! I took pictures of everything. I cost them a small fortune back then in film processing! In high school I became the head photographer of the yearbook and I was hooked. I started my own studio out of my apartment when I was 19 and at 25 opened my first commercial storefront.
POUNDS: You have created quite a niche with your Storybook Sessions. How did this evolve?
CINDY: I was inspired to do theme-based portraiture by Lisa Jane. Although, the fairytale sessions like fairies and angels didn’t do well in my area so I developed a line of theme portraiture that were more “real to life” themes like the duck pond, country kids, baseball and football themes. I wanted to create works of art for my clients that included their children. I also base what kind of set I do on whether it is what I call, “WALL WORTHY”, in other words I only design a set that I believe my client would want a wall portrait of it. So you don’t see me doing things like candy shops or lemonade stands…I create themes that look like art pieces.
POUNDS: What is the best part of your job?
CINDY: Creating beautiful timeless images for my clients and the appreciation that they have for me is what I love best about what I do. Knowing that for generations people will be enjoying the portraits that I create just makes me happy!
POUNDS: Your Storybook Sessions are quite the production. Do you have a big warehouse of props or do you encourage people to bring their own items?
CINDY: I don’t have a big warehouse…lol! Just a huge studio! I do have tons of props, backgrounds and clothing. For most of my theme sessions I supply clothing up to size 8, although, for the themes that require normal clothing such as my “Winter Wonderland” theme, we just coach our clients on clothing ideas.
POUNDS: Speaking to the production end, you’ve successfully combined sets, props, animals and kids. Do you have a preproduction day where you dress the set? Tell us a little bit about your process.
CINDY: I normally build my sets the evening before the sessions begin. I have done most of my sets multiple times, so on average, it only takes me about an hour to build a set. The pond, my most complicated set, takes about 3 hours to set up.
When creating a new set it takes a few months to gather my thoughts on exactly what I want, search for the right background or have one designed, find props, foliage and other set elements. I then do a model call and photograph the set. This helps me decide on the poses and situations that I am going to photograph during the session to tell the story. It is important to not just photograph your subjects looking at the camera smiling for these theme sets. Creating real life scenarios and photographing children doing real life things in that situation is what makes theme sets true art for my clients’ walls.
POUNDS: How long does a typical photo Storybook session take?
CINDY: We normally schedule an hour for each session.
POUNDS: How do you keep everyone’s attention?
CINDY: I’ve been photographing children for 31 years so I have a ton of experience! I normally just start out talking to the children and asking questions that I know will make them smile naturally. I have a magic duck that I can flip in the air using one hand that I have them blow on. That’s my number one trick! It gets all of the children’s attention. Bubbles of course and a tickle stick (multi colored duster) work well.
POUNDS: Do you have a favorite theme session?
CINDY: My favorite session is my Duck Pond, I’ve been photographing it for 21 years, every spring. I just love how the children interact with the ducks and how natural the images look.
POUNDS: What inspires you?
CINDY: Most of my inspiration for my sets comes from child artists. In general, I’m inspired to be a photographer by all the beautiful people, children and adults that I see every day. Nothing is more important to me than capturing the heart and soul of my subjects and recording their life in a photograph that they will cherish forever.
POUNDS: How has Pounds factored in helping your business?
CINDY: The team at Pounds is the BEST!! My images always come back perfect. The product selection is helpful in giving me a variety of ways to please my clients!
POUNDS: You are great about posting to Facebook. What marketing advice would you give to fellow photographers?
CINDY: I’m good about Facebook but not as good as I need to be. It’s important to try to touch your clients every day in some way through social media. But more importantly, the Golden Rule is what I have always lived by. I treat my client the way I want to be treated. I never argue with a client and if they have any concern with any of their portraits I will fix it immediately! No hassles or questions asked. I don’t care if it is something I don’t even think it is an issue. I reprint and smile!
POUNDS: Where would you like to be in 10 years?
CINDY: I will be photographing for as long as I can stand and see…but in 10 years I will be semi-retired with a winter home in a warm climate!
You can learn more about Cindy Baxter and her studio at cindybaxterstudios.com.
Fearless, curious, energetic and full of boundless enthusiasm, Gail Nogle has been there, done that and in a big way! Think of a place. Mongolia, Africa, Romania, she’s been there. Name a person. George Bush, Rudy Giuliani, Julia Child, she’s photographed them. Awards? Well of course there’s the highest award in the profession, a Fellowship from the American Society of Photographers. The list of accolades would fill a volume! At 8 she was presented with a Brownie Starlight camera and fell in love with photography. Gail has an extraordinary talent for capturing the ordinary and after over four decades behind the camera, she is still in love with photography and is still moving forward at the speed of light. She paused long enough to answer a few questions for us!
POUNDS: You’ve been in business for some time and photographed just about every sort of subject matter. What is your absolute favorite thing to photograph and why?
GAIL: My first love and forte is to photograph children, especially 3-year-old children because they are still animated and take direction well and they are ready to play!
POUNDS: What is your best asset when it comes to photographing a subject?
GAIL: My best asset is that I can read people, make them feel comfortable in a very short time, and get down to the business of making wonderful, exciting, and exceptional portraits of them!
POUNDS: You have been at the forefront of the industry, one of the first women to be taken seriously and you’ve remained competitive. How do you do it?
GAIL: Lots of effort, hard work and attention to detail. I never settle for just good enough and I’ve been entering competitions most of the 40 years I have been in business. I was always, and still am, in competition with myself to become a better photographer. I am driven!
POUNDS: What is the next challenge you are looking forward to?
GAIL: Writing my first book, lecturing, and traveling using the world as my studio.
POUNDS: What are a couple of great photo memories you love to share?
GAIL: Some memorable moments for me have been photographing Princess Diana’s funeral, riding on the back of a motorcycle while taking photographs in the Harley Davidson 100th anniversary parade, and attending the 2013 Kumbh Mela in India (the largest religious, spiritual gathering in the world which happens every 12 years).
POUNDS: When did you start speaking about photography at trade shows and conventions?
GAIL: I first started speaking at the TPPA Convention in Dallas, TX in 1977 with my associate and mentor, Yvonne Bluberg.
POUNDS: What do you enjoy most about speaking on the business of photography?
GAIL: The art of photography and the connection I have with my subjects, seeing beyond what is happening at the moment and making something happen out of nothing. I like to share what I have learned in my 40-year career to inspire other photographers to realize their dreams.
POUNDS: How has Pounds factored in your business?
GAIL: Wow! That’s a great question. Where do I start? Pounds has always been there for me no matter what I needed. They provide great customer service. If I need something made over, no questions asked! They always produce quality prints and offer quality service that I can depend on, which is one less thing for me to worry about. Alleviating worry about my prints, that’s what they do best, so I can focus my time and energy on what I do best!
Check out Gail’s work at www.gailnoglephoto.com
Guest blog by Missy MWAC
The Client is Not the Enemy
A terrorist is an enemy.
A piece of French bread at a Gluten-Free Support Group is an enemy.
A pair of stilettos on your feet at an all day wedding is an enemy.
Off Camera Flash to a Natural Light Photographer is an enemy.
But a client? A client is NOT an enemy.
But you wouldn’t know that by listening to some photographers.
Now, I wasn’t going to even write a post like this, because I’ve touched on this topic before in a previous post. But after reading recently how some photographers:
*say they charge clients MORE if they can’t post their images online
*REFUSE a clients’ request to keep them off social media and post them online anyway
*say they charge an ADDITIONAL FEE if a client is running late to their session and make them wait…
well, I just can’t wrap my brain around this logic. (Note: I always marvel at the “additional fee/surcharge” option. Good luck on collecting that.)
And I wondered when this Client-as-Enemy thing happened? And why?
So, as I do when faced with a perplexing question, I popped a pod into the Keurig, and with coffee in hand, walked around the kitchen talking to myself until it all made sense. Now, I talk to myself a lot, mostly because I’m the only who will listen to my ramblings.
And after several laps around the kitchen table, I realized what I’ve known all along…that photographers have been tricked into this way of thinking by those who have sold them on the idea that as an Artist (read: Ar-teest) they should not go out of their way in the slightest to accommodate a client; that if a client has a differing view, then they are not respectful of you or your photography and should be kicked to the curb.
And while that may be true now and then, the vast majority have made Clients the Enemy due to a normal business situation handled wrongly.
In a Nutshell: We demonize a client rather than realize this is all just part and parcel of doing business; that most of what we encounter are not problems, but rather, the price of doing business.
And it’s hard to fully blame photographers; it’s what many have been taught, even paid good money to learn.
Workshop Givers who teach the “Are You Good Enough for Me” Qualifying Methods: Namely, the suggestion that prospective clients should answer a series of email questions to determine if they are a “Good Fit” for you. My hand to God, those words “if we are a good fit” are part of the email. I’ll tell ya right now, if a business required me to answer that before they’d speak to me, I would press the delete key faster than I can down a vodka and club soda. And that’s fast. Because the words “good fit” are read by many, including me, to mean “good enough.” Are you “good enough” for me to photograph? Yikes. I even felt weird typing that just now. Qualifying a client through your marketing and pricing is one thing. Asking them to prove themselves is another.
Business “coaches” who preach in the church of “Make it All About You.” It’s a growing congregation filled with parishioners all named “ME.” The sermon is always the same: YOU are what’s most important; not the client. Now, they don’t come right out and SAY that the client isn’t important, but just as 2+2=4, you can reason that if YOU are what’s most important, then, the client must not be. (I hope that math is right. I’m bad with math.) Note: The church of “Make it All About You” will pass around the collection plate and you will be required to pay up. Oh yes, you will.
Charge ‘Em More if They Bother You: I see this a lot. I call it a ”how-dare-they” surcharge.
How dare they not want me to post their images?
How dare they run late for their session?
How dare they reschedule?
How dare they change their order?
Succeeding at making the Client the Enemy will win you a small victory. Sure. But it won’t win you a loyal client or repeat business. Remember, clients can spend their money anywhere, but if they choose to spend it with us, shouldn’t we make it the best experience possible? I mean, don’t we want the people with whom we give our money to bend over backwards for us and make us feel special and wanted?
Now, you certainly don’t have to listen to me. This is, after all, YOUR business, so if you don’t want to work with clients to make it a great experience, then don’t. I realize you might have paid good money to hear from a business coach that it should be all about YOU and you want to get your money’s worth. If that’s the case, then allow me to help you take those rotten clients to task and then shame them online.
Feel free to copy and past the following:
“I am Sooooooooo angry. I had a client: (pick one of the following issues)
*make me wait
*not like their pictures
*request I take more
*reschedule a session
*change their order
I am furious. I mean, who do they think they are? Just because they’ve paid me money they think they have a say. I’ve gone out of my way twice for them-what more do they want? At this point, THEY need to prove themselves to me, not the other way around, right?”
Yeah, that will show ‘em.
Guest blog by Missy MWAC
[The discussion recently arose on my Facebook wall about giving clients digital files because that’s “what they want,” and I’m glad it did, because it’s an important discussion to have. This is my response to the “digital only” conversation. Warning: I took it waaaay down. So far down, that I became exhausted and had to watch SNL reruns on Netflix to counter the effects...]
I may be out of touch, it’s true. And while I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed, I really do try to stay on top of what is trending and what is about to trend. It’s kind of my thing.
As you recall, back in the days o’ film, the phone would ring and the caller would ask that question that made many a photographers’ eyes roll: “How much is an 8×10?” If I had a dime for every time, right? And, we knew…just knew… that what they were asking was not really the price of an 8×10 (although I’m sure there was a percentage for whom that was ALL they wanted to know.)
No, they asked “How much is an 8×10?” because it’s all they knew to ask. They wanted to know price, sure, but what that question really meant was:
“Why should I pick YOU?”
“Am I going to love these?” “What if I don’t?”
“Are you right for me?”
“If I pick you, will I be happy with my choice.”
“Tell me why YOU are the right photographer for me.”
Of course, they didn’t come out and say that. Instead, they asked, “How much is an 8×10?”
Now, that question could be answered according to the “what clients want” theory: they WANT the price of an 8×10, so give it to them and be done with the phone call.
Or…we could dig deeper to find out what they REALLY want.
Fast forward to now and the digital age. I happen to love it. I really do. Digital photography has made possible things that have stretched the imagination and broadened the mind. Heck, you and I are talking because of digital communication. And, for many photographers, digital technology has changed their final product.
Why? Why did it change? Were clients banging down the door demanding digital images only…or were we quick to hand them over, stick a fork in it, and say, “I’m done.”
Personally, I think it’s the latter.
Again, why? Well, with digital only, we don’t have to sell. And selling, well, the thought produces tremors in a lot of people. And then, having sold, we have to produce a product. And then, we have to hope the clients like the product. And then, we have to deliver the product.
All that…when you could slap ‘em on a CD, grab a little pocket change and be done? Well, it’s easy to see, at least to me, why that became attractive and “the thing to do.” (Not to mention this was advocated and promoted by those who stood to profit from the shift to digital only. Of course, that’s a whole other conversation.)
But…I submit it is not always what clients want…even when they say it is. Like the 8×10, they think they need to ask: “Can I get the CD?” That’s what their friends did, right? And that’s the offer they are getting everywhere they turn, so they figure it’s “what’s done.” And, having received the CD, or USB drive, or online gallery, the images will be shared for a week or so, and then, the excitement will wane and the disk will be placed in a drawer.
And it will be forgotten.
Sure, a handful might, just might, print them. Will they look how YOU intended them? After all, your name is on them, so you better hope so. I say the odds are doubtful.
The bottom line, at least, to me, is that we have devalued many things in this industry: the work, the final product, the relationships between client and photographer, the way we market…(examples are happily given for all of these upon request) and it’s time we get back to making things MEAN something again.
I believe we do that by creating a print for our client…something that lasts. I might give a social media copy to share online, but I believe my job isn’t done until I place a paper photograph in their hand, because I believe that the ONLY tangible thing we give our clients shouldn’t be a USB drive.
And, I believe their grandkids will one day be grateful.