Your Professional Photography } 3 Reasons to walk away with more than a disk

Okay here we go, this is my passion so I hope to hear some “Amens” and hopefully not too many tomatoes flying at me… I offer information about this subject in print for my clients in the welcome packets but I’ve been meaning to get it out on the blog for all to see.  I’ll probably add a few more points since I’ve got more room here to get up on my soap box! Since I can’t put up a blog entry without a picture, I’ll add one here from a few that were recently updated to the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition Post. They are of a few areas on the interior of the home, where some of my work with the Hurston family hangs.  The designers on the show know how happy it makes a family to see their images every day and they fill the house with them as part of the Extreme Makeover!

For most of us, our camera is as close as our pocket.  I love being able to capture snapshots of my family and friends while I’m on the go; however, I wouldn’t want all my precious memories stored on my phone or memory card -would you?  I’m sure not.  On the other hand why are so many people satisfied to have them sitting on a home computer or external hard drive? While the digital age has offered us the wonderful opportunity to take more pictures, for most of us it has unfortunately resulted in far less or dare I say zero pictures in print.  So why does this matter? It’s just a sign of the times right?

I would like to offer my two cents and say it does matter!  I hear stories all the time from families who didn’t have a single album or even a family portrait in print before they came to AGP. Then there are the couples, whose wedding I didn’t photograph, telling me how regretful they feel after all these years with only pictures on a disk to look back on, never having gotten around to making that album they planned or expressing disappointment with the condition of the one they did put together.  I don’t remember what was spent on the food or flowers at my own wedding but I do know that 10 years later, the only piece of that day I still have are the photographs. Here’s one thing I’ve never heard: “Wow Angel, I am so thrilled that I have all my images in digital form and hardly anything in print.”

The most upsetting are the stories of lost files.  Entire hard drives containing years of images, maybe even every image ever taken, gone in a split second when a virus takes over, a hard drive fails, or a laptop is stolen or damaged.  I’ve heard this story far too often and I’ve seen people in such pain over the significant loss, some of them even setting the camera aside, so discouraged that they don’t want to take any more pictures.  The loss of data can be prevented with diligent back up copies (maybe a post for another day) but what about the question:  why print your images?

Here’s why:

1. Legacy.  Have you ever cozied up on the couch and flipped through the pages of your parents baby books or your grandparents wedding album? What will your grandchildren see? Will they have access to your digital library somehow?  Are you going to pass out hard drives one day? Could a generation of memories be lost when 20 years from now a CD or 3.5 inch hard drive is as useful as a floppy disk? I back up my digital files like crazy, on different types of media stored in different locations but only for the purposes of archiving, not as my sole method of sharing!  Although digital files (modern day negatives) are important, technology changes at a rapid pace!  As I mentioned before: hard drives fail, disks have a shorter life span and accepted media forms are always changing.  The only way to keep up is to be ready to transfer to the most recent form of media (note: beware of using internet storage as your only backup – there are no guarantees.)   It seems to me that we are a generation without a plan for passing down our memories, floundering in a sea of pixels.  There is a way to do this, we just have to reinvent the process but I don’t think that includes abandoning the printed image.  I feel most secure about my personal family photos when I have them in archival print with digital backups and I have a passion for preserving the images of our generation that way.

2. Enjoyment. What are your kids looking at to remember their childhood or to see what they looked like as a newborn?  How are you enjoying these memories while you are limited to screen only? Realistically, I don’t think every image needs to be in print but everything special should be.  I feel it is safe to say that all of my clients consider their professional photography a good fit for that “special” category, not to be lumped in with the 53 snapshots of  the last time you went fishing, saw a rainbow or got a new car (no offense to fish, rainbows or cars.)  When I receive emails regarding clients looking for just a disk I can’t help but wonder why they would want to lump their professional photography investment in with the rest of the images living in computer land? Or maybe they actually do plan to print them but on the same inexpensive paper at the local drugstore or online budget lab, again lumped in with the snapshots. (Disclaimer: I know budget printing has it’s place, I just don’t think it is with an investment like professional artwork.)  I realize a small percentage of people have good, well executed plans for their professional digital files, but bear with me overachievers – I’m speaking here to the rest of us. (Yes I’m including myself bc I’m behind on the printing of my own family snapshots!)

3. Artwork. Wouldn’t you love to have actual artwork on the walls of your home, something with character, something beautiful, something made to last? Pieces that make you smile every time you pass through the living or dining room?  It makes you happy – simple as that!

Although fully retouched digital files and usage rights are offered complimentary (seriously, it’s not about me trying to keep you from having them!) inside many of the Collections AGP offers as well as being available for purchase a la carte, I believe strongly in the life of your images off-screen.  This is for the sake of the artwork, your enjoyment and your legacy.  It’s definitely not the easier choice for me and my business but I know it is the right one because it’s what I believe best represents AGP and is best in the end for my clients.  I don’t even offer a wedding collection anymore without a beautiful, custom designed, lifetime guaranteed album.  I can’t stand to think that any client of mine, 5 or 10 years down the road will be wishing they had something more.  I’m definitely not suggesting that this is “the way” for every photographer, but I am hoping to explain why it is the way for me.

Angel Gray Photography offers quality photographs (set apart from the land of the snapshot,) beautiful artwork (that you can enjoy off-screen) and lasting memories (heirloom products with a lifetime guarantee.)  In a world that seems to turn faster every day, it is essential to have your fleeting moments captured professionally and displayed professionally.  It truly makes me happy to think that my clients, twenty years from now, will have precious memories in print to share with their loved ones. I’m thrilled to see that so many of my families are catching on to my love for albums and are discovering the joy of having these books in their home. Over the years the albums form a beautiful collection!

Sometimes you see a picture that helps you relive a moment in time, the kind of moment you never want to forget. But the key is seeing it right?  That’s what Angel Gray Photography is all about. Sometimes you want more than to see that image on a screen. Sometimes you dream of browsing these memories with your grandchildren one day. That is my passion; to capture your life, to replay it in your images and to tell your story for generations.

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