The most common request I hear when speaking with a potential client is "I only really want the digitals." And it's not surprising. We've been trained that the digitals are all we need. With them we can do anything! But is what we're doing with them what we had in mind? And is it worth it in the end? Here are six (because I had more than five) reasons I've come up with for reconsidering only getting the digitals:
1: Jpegs will become obsolete.
Already Apple has been working on the development of a new compression format, HEIC, which proves to provide a higher quality image compression than jpeg. It won’t be long before this new advanced technology becomes the norm and the viewing of your prehistoric jpegs become more and more difficult. Think 8 tracks, VHS and cassettes. Simply backing up files doesn’t mean you’ll be able to access them forever.
2: Computers Crash
Even back ups are not guaranteed and are susceptible to climate change, moisture, lack of use, bumps, drops etc. I can tell you that personally, I have three 2TB external hard drives that all house the same data on them for my business. One acts a little funny sometimes so I got another. And then I didn’t trust the second simply because the first was making me nervous. I still get anxiety when one doesn’t mount on my desktop right away, even though I have two other back ups. Technology is great, but its not fool proof.
3: They become buried in your computer
I have over 30K images in my Photos folder. That’s right. Photos from before I had kids, or got married. Basically documenting my entire life since iPhoto was a thing. Do I ever look at them? Eh, occasionally when I’m searching for a specific picture that I happen to recall I’ll wander down memory lane. But for the most part they just sit there taking up room on my external hard drives. I have all of my wedding and engagement photos too. But, for those I made albums, which I actually look at relatively frequently. I show friends and family or I just sit on my bedroom floor sometimes flipping through. Since I have those I never have a reason to access the files on my computer. Yes, I posted them on Facebook at the time, but that was it. I got a lot of likes – 7 years ago. So there was that…
4: Wall Art
There’s a lot to be said about custom artwork. It’s a personal choice, especially when it comes to your family. What do you want to see everyday? Smiling, joy-filled images of your children (I do!)? A photo of YOU with your kids looking happy and fulfilled? (I for one know that I am usually the missing puzzle piece in our family photos).
Also consider your home. Do you enjoy putting effort into your décor? With wall art you can easily tie in your style to the photos you’re displaying. If you have a good photographer (ahem…) they will ask you about your personal style and discuss how to incorporate it into images being considered for wall art. Colors in you rooms, your personal taste, etc. Get creative. Light and airy home, ask for light and airy images. Choose frames and print options based on your personal style. Don’t just hang up a photo because you have it. Really think about why you want to look at it everyday.
Also consider size. With wall art the sky is the limit! Do you have a huge blank wall in your foyer? I provide canvases over 120” long! (That’s big!). Maybe you don’t need something quite that large, but larger wall art makes an impact, and on a properly proportioned wall looks amazing!
5: A Tactile Experience
Physical prints and books are an experience. They trigger real chemical reactions in our brains that make us feel certain emotions. The texture of the paper, the smell of the leather, the craftsmanship of the canvas, the weightiness of an album – all of these things signify importance and often trigger feelings of nostalgia and other emotions. When it comes to digitals these feelings are usually more hollow and cold. Think about reading a printed book as opposed to scrolling through your kindle. Yes, it’s the same content, but are you really getting the whole experience? The feel of turning the pages, the smell of the paper, removing your bookmark, the artwork on the cover? Experiencing the tactile world is a far more fulfilling feeling than gazing at screens.
6: Image Resolution and Labs
You don’t need to know much about computers or photography to know that sometimes your prints look like crap. You might not know why, but you can recognize that they do. Your images might be pixilated (all blurry or made up of blocks of color). This is due to low resolution, which means all of the tiny dots (pixels) are blown up way bigger than they're supposed to be, and the result is a big blurry mess.
Another common issue is that colors can be off. Have you ever experienced this: Your photographer gave you beautifully edited images with bright pops of color and your daughter’s eyes look amazing! But when you pick up your prints from Costco? What happened?? Her eyes should be blue not purple and why is her skin so red? Consumer labs use cheaper inks and papers, and also are not calibrated with your computer. They sometimes use auto correcting that can distort the original colors in the image, so it can come out looking entirely different than the original.
Professional photographer work with, you guessed it, professional labs! These labs only work with photographers who know how to properly format images for print. And your photographer takes time to calibrate their computer with the particular lab that they work with. Which means the prints are of the highest quality and come out looking just as the photographer originally intended! And, as someone who obsesses over skin tones and shadows for hours on end, I can tell you how important it is to me to make sure that my time is not wasted and my images are printed exactly the way I intended them to be! Because after all, that’s why you hired a professional!
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