I know this is a long article, but its written by a full time photographer in Salem, Fred Molesworth.Â Well worth reading and considering: Will Your Grandchildren be Very Upset With You?
Iâ€™m willing to bet they will
Imagine 50 years from now, as your grandchildren or great grandchildren are going through the boxes in the attic. Finding all kinds of treasures and keepsakes, theyâ€™re enthralled with all that they find, and how each items ties into the story of your life.
Amongst all the old items, they find a number of round silver objects. Some have writing on them, some are blank, but they resemble some kind of a small platter about 4 inches across, with a hole in the middle.
Puzzled, they take them to their parents.
â€œWhat are these, mom?â€ they ask.
â€œOh, I think those are all of grandmaâ€™s photographs. Yep, hereâ€™s one labeled â€œMy Weddingâ€. Hereâ€™s some more labeled â€œFamily Photosâ€, and some more labeled â€œvacationsâ€.Â â€œOh, look, hereâ€™s one with all my childhood photographsâ€, you add remembering all that these photographs would portray
â€œHow do we look at them?â€ they ask.
â€œWell, Iâ€™m not sure we can. First of all, no one has the device that reads these any more. And besides that, I doubt after all these years that theyâ€™re any good any more. Being stored in the attic, the heat and cold probably ruined themâ€.
The kids are very disappointed. Nowhere amongst all the treasures are any actual prints. All your history is lost. Their connection with the past and all the wonderful stories that might have gone along with all those photographs are gone as well.
Along with all the wonders of our digital age come some significant problems that most people have never thought of.
Did you know that something over 90% of all images taken on todayâ€™s digital cameras are NEVER PRINTED? Â Â Iâ€™m guilty of that myself. I have gigabytes of personal photographs that have never been seen other than on a computer screen.
In the old days, film went to the lab, and everything that was printable was printed. Even if it was a bad photograph, it still was a hard copy, a part of your family history, and it had permanence. Even if it never went in an album, it at least went into a box, to be discovered as treasures years later. I just came across some wonderful old prints of my motherâ€™s childhood from back in the 1920s. Theyâ€™re TREASURES. They connect me with my past, and keep alive some of the memories of the stories my mother told me about growing up.
Along with those were lots of other family-history photographs. Grandparents and great grandparents I never knew, but I have photographs of them. Yes, Iâ€™ve had to do some restoration on them, but I had the hard copy that allowed me to do this.Â I even found a beautiful professional portrait of my grandparents that Iâ€™d never before seen.Â Itâ€™s the ONLY photograph I have of my grandfather, who died when I was three.
But for too many of todayâ€™s families, there will be no delight in old photographs, because most taken today never leave the hard drive, and are lost when the hard drive fails.Â Even if you store your images on CDâ€™s or DVDâ€™s theyâ€™ll likely be lost as well.Â because the chances of being able to read them in 50 years is just about zero.
Try to find an 8 track tape player today. Or one of those large 12 inch floppy drives, or even a 5 inch floppy. And those were popular less than 20 years ago.
Even images that are â€œsafelyâ€ placed online can very easily be lost, for a variety of reasons.Â Grandma dies, and with her the account name and password.Â A sharing site goes out of business.Â What was a free site now requires you to pay.Â Â The point is, you have absolutely no control once theyâ€™re place out in cyberspace.
The same problem exists in professional portrait studios today. Many people are simply asking for the images on CD. â€œIâ€™ll print them laterâ€ or â€œIâ€™ll design my own wedding albumâ€ are common phrases. Usually this is done with the thought that theyâ€™ll save some money by doing it themselves.
But you know what? Most never make it into any kind of an album or onto the wall. Life gets busy, other things get in the way, and fiveyears later, youâ€™ll still only have a disk. Kids come along, and life gets insane, and 20 years later, youâ€™ll be looking for some way to read those disks, if you even happen to think about it.
And then 50 years later, the grandkids are having â€œÂ the conversationâ€ with their parents.
I work with a wedding planner â€“ a professional in the wedding business â€“ who fitâ€™s this description perfectly. Her photographer simply gave her some proofs and a disk. Five years later, thatâ€™s all she has, and sheâ€™s admitted that itâ€™s likely that itâ€™s all sheâ€™ll ever have, because now with a new baby, sheâ€™ll probably never get around to designing an album. Life now has other priorities.Â Her kids will never have the joy brought by her wedding photographs. I bring this up only to point out the importance of what we, as a professional studio, do.
A photographers jobÂ is not just to create the images andÂ to create wonderful story telling photographs about the people in front ofÂ their camera; itâ€™s to create a final product, whether it be a professionally retouched and printed single image, a family heirloom wall portrait, or an incredibly storybook album using a collection of the images that were created.
Itâ€™s to give you a wonderful warm feeling every time you pass by that wall portrait of your newborn baby who is now finishing college.Â Itâ€™s to bring a little moisture to your eyes when you sit down and look through your wedding album.Â Somehow, looking at a disk just doesnâ€™t have the same impact. As a parallel, letâ€™s say you went shopping at Nordstrom.Â You find an outfit that you love, so you try it on.Â You look wonderful, and feel great when you see yourself in the mirror.Â Itâ€™s perfect.Â But when you go to purchase the outfit, youâ€™re simply handed some material and a pair of scissors.
Yes, it might be cheaper, but what youâ€™re paying for is the end result, not a do-it-yourself outfit that will probably never get finished, and even if it does, will never look as good as the one that was professionally made, and altered to fit you perfectly.Â No youâ€™ll never have the same feeling you had when you first tried on the outfit in the store.Â Yes, it might have been cheaper, but you didnâ€™t get the result you were paying for.
The same thing appliesÂ to a photographyÂ studio.Â It doesnâ€™t matter whether itâ€™s a wedding, a newborn baby, a senior or a family. Creating the final product for their customers is fundamental to whatÂ they shouldÂ do. To do less is to leave the job half done, and to short-change you, their customer, leaving you with â€œan ill-fitting suitâ€.
No, a photographers' job is to provide you with something that youâ€™ll treasure forever.Â Something you can hand down to your children.
Then, if you want some of the images on disk â€œso I can print them laterâ€ thatâ€™s fine.Â They can do that as well.
But, at least by providing you with a beautiful, quality finished product, theyâ€™veÂ serviced your long term needs, doneÂ their job professionally, and to completion. Youâ€™ll have something wonderful to show; something your family will love for generations, and something your grandchildren can truly get excited about when they discover that box in the attic.Â More than likely, however, it will never make it into the box.Â The beautiful portraitsÂ a professional photographerÂ creates for you and your family will be proudly displayed in your home forever, warming both your home and your heart, and keeping close those you love, even when theyâ€™re not.
No, if your photographer does their job corretly, your grandchildren will never have to have that conversation as they pourÂ with delight, and then ultimately disappointment through the contents of the boxes in the attic.