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Archive for September, 2014

Print What You Want to Preserve

Monday, September 15th, 2014

srgb

Guest blog by Missy MWAC
#whyweprint

[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.

xoxo