Can I be honest with you?
As a professional photographer, it's much easier and more cost efficient for me to deliver digital images than to deliver print images.
- Digital images can be uploaded into an online gallery where you can download them directly. I don't have to fuss with USB's or CD's. What are CD's even anymore?
- I don't have to fuss with sales tax when delivering digital images. When I deliver a physical product, I have to charge you sales tax and then I have to pay that tax to the state. That creates more work for me.
- With digital images, as long as it looks good on the screen, I can let go of the quality of the prints. It's out of my hands, and I don't have to be held responsible if the print lab that you choose uses a different color space than I do. I did one rather expensive print job recently where the color was completely off. It was my fault because I didn't have the correct color space embedded in the file before I sent it to print. I had to completely reorder the new print, apologize to my client for the delay, and now I have a huge, useless print that I can't even use as a sample because their skin tones look orange.
- With digital images, I don't have to leave my office to do the delivery. I just hit the "send" button. With prints, when they actually show up on my doorstep, I have to either drive to the post office or deliver them directly to you. I can't send them directly to the client because, as we saw in number 3 above, I need to make sure that the quality of the print is good.
- Furthermore, prints actually cost me money. Digital images cost me time in editing. Prints cost me time in editing, plus actual money for the physical product.
Why would I go through all of this? Why wouldn't I just price my digital images in a profitable way? Then I wouldn't have to go through all of the extra hassle. Because let's be honest. The extra hassle is more work time for me, which is cutting into per-hour profitability and taking time away from my family.
I do all of this because print is better than digital. Period.
It's not just in the photography world where the real, the organic and the physical are superior to the digital.
Physical books are better than ebooks
Not only are ebooks not rising to the status that everyone thought they would, they are actually declining in popularity. When ebooks came out, the world thought they were the perfect solution to wasting natural resources because you're not cutting down trees to print books, saving space because you can hold multiple books in one streamlined device, and cost effectiveness because they're cheaper to deliver than physical books.
For a few reasons, people choose to read physical books over ebooks. When you read books with children, they love to touch the pages, flip them back and forth, and chew on the corners. With a physical book, you can see and touch how far you've come and how far you have to go. Physical books feel better in your hands than the digital representation of a book.
Acoustic instruments are better than digital instruments
What makes an instrument have its own characteristic sound that distinguishes it from other instruments? Why does an oboe sound different from a flute, even though they play in the same range? Why does your voice sound different from my voice? It's because of overtones. When an instrument plays a note, the note that you're hearing is called the "fundamental." But what you're not aware of is the series of pitches that are also being produced. An oboe playing one pitch will excite or bring out a different set of overtones than a flute playing the same pitch. It's these different sets of overtones that are brought out that make the oboe sound different than a flute.
When you hear a real oboe, you're hearing, and actually sensing, real overtones. When you hear a digital oboe, those overtones are not present. As a musician, I have a hard time matching a pitch that I hear digitally. I have a much easier time matching a pitch that is played with a real instrument because of the presence of those overtones.
If you want to really drive it home as to why acoustic is better than digital, watch this YouTube video explaining overtones. It's a digital voice. It's awful.
Print pictures are better than digital pictures
The value of digital format pictures is inexpensive. It costs almost nothing to store digital pictures. Everyone has 300 terrabytes of storage somewhere, between your phone, your hard drive on your computer, your external hard drives and your unlimited cloud storage.
But that's awesome, right???? You can store a million pictures.
How important are those pictures to you? Very important, you say.
Otherwise, you wouldn't go through the process of backing them up to multiple locations so that they stay safe. You ARE backing up your pictures to multiple locations, aren't you? Because you do realize that your digital media is not archival and will eventually fail, don't you? If you don't know what I'm talking about, read my blog post here.
So, if those pictures are very important to you, how often do you look at those pictures? Do you scroll through your phone every day, to admire your beautiful pictures? Do you go through your Instagram or Facebook feed every day to look at your pictures? Do you go through the folders on your hard drive every day to look at your pictures?
You probably answered no to all of those questions.
What about the pictures in your home? Is there a wall, night stand, or table top that you pass every day and see your beautiful pictures? My guess is that the answer is yes.
I'm sorry, but the gazillion digital pictures that you are keeping are the Target Dollar Spot trinkets that you thought would be cute but never use. Everyone has them, and no one values them.
Everyone has them + no one values them = cheap
Your prints, however, are the things that took some of your time, your effort, and your money. They're your boutique store treasures that are unique and special to you. Those are the images that you actually value.
Don't get me wrong. I didn't say "Your digital pictures aren't wonderful." Of course they're wonderful. I can't stand to delete pictures of my children off of my phone when I get the adorable smile, even if they're slightly out of focus and the lighting isn't wonderful. But the ones that really make me happy are the ones that are on the landing of my stairs. And the ones on my desk at work.
My children will never find the images that are buried in the folders of my hard drive. But they do enjoy the pictures that they see in our home every day. And you better believe that they will have these physical pictures kept safely stored in a box for them to take with them when they leave my home. These prints will survive, and will hopefully be enjoyed by my children's children. I can't say the same about the digital versions of the pictures, which may never surface from the depths of my hard drive.
That all may be well and fine for my pictures, but...
What about YOUR pictures?
If you're like most of my clients used to be, you got a whole bunch of digital files and had great intentions to print them, but then life got in the way and you never got around to it. Maybe from your baby's newborn session? Maybe even from your wedding?
That's how my clients used to be. They're not like that anymore, because I do the printing for them. It's my job.
It's my job to make sure you have images that you love... for a really long time. I don't want you to just love your pictures when you see them online and then forget about them. I want you to love them every time you see them. And I want you to see them often. Every day even.
It's my job to make sure you have photo books that you can pull out every few months and touch the pages with your children. It's my job to make you smile every time you pass by that wall with your beautiful collage of photos because that beautiful and fleeting moment deserves to be celebrated every day. it's my job to make sure that you have gift prints for the grandparents because the only thing they ever want is pictures of their beautiful grandchildren.
Life is hard, and if you're like me, you probably have a million things on your plate. I know that you know that adding one more item on that to-do list is increasing your stress level. If it's important enough to you to take the time to capture this moment before it's gone, then it's worthwhile to enjoy it every day. The pictures on your social media feed and on your phone will eventually get pushed down to the bottom. Make sure that you take your most favorite images from your session and get them onto a physical print so that you can continue to enjoy them for years to come.