Will Your Grandchildren Be Upset With You?

I read the below and just had to share. In the age of everything going digital, I found this article had an interesting view point. I have always loved paper and tangible items over quick and easy digital products. When something is printed on paper you can hold it in your hand or place it in a box as a keepsake forever. My love of paper and those tangible items probably has something to do with being a graphic designer for over 10-years. I studied print, web and multimedia production in college but always loved print more than the others. When holding something I’ve created in my hands, it looks the same no matter who looks at it or where they view it. With the internet and digital you have to worry about how it will look on someone’s monitor and if their software is even compatible to view your creation. Don’t get me wrong, multimedia is great and the ability to share with friends and family around the world with a click of a button is truly amazing. I realized after reading this article that a few years ago I stopped printing my snapshots – they are all archived on a disks or uploaded to Facebook to share with others. I need to get those disks out and get my photos printed so they can go in frames or even end up in my photo box for generations to look at through the years.

Don’t worry, I’m not going anti-digital and banning the sale of disks to my clients. I do offer digital files to my clients from their portrait session and I always include a 5×7 print for them to have something tangible and not just a disk to sit in a box by itself.


sepia photograph of little girl with big eyes and bow in her hair

Will Your Grandchildren Be Upset With You?

Author: Fred Molesworth, Salem, Oregon

I’m willing to bet your grandchildren will be upset with you. Here’s why. Imagine, 50 years from now, as your grandchildren or great grandchildren are going through the boxes in the attic. They are enthralled with the treasures and keepsakes they find and how they tie 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? across, with a hole in the middle.

Puzzled, they take them to their parents. “What are these, Mom?” they ask. “Oh, I think those are all of grandma’s photographs. Yep, here’s one labeled ‘My Wedding’. Here’s some more labeled ‘Family Photos,’ and some more labeled ‘Vacations’.”

“How do we look at them?” they ask.

“Well, I’m not sure we can. First of all, no one has the device that reads these anymore. Besides that, I doubt after all these years that they’re any good anymore. Being stored in the attic, the heat and cold probably ruined them.”

The kids are very disappointed. Nowhere amongst all the treasures are any actual prints. All that 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 over 90% of all images taken on today’s digital cameras are NEVER PRINTED? I’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 they never went in an album, they at least went into a box, to be discovered as treasures years later.

The same problem exists in professional portrait studios today. Many people are simply asking for the images on CD. “I’ll print them later” or “I’ll design my own wedding album” are common phrases. Usually this is done with the thought that they’ll save some money by doing it themselves.

But you know what? Most never make it into any kind of an album. Life gets busy and 20 years later they’ll be looking for some way to read those disks.

I bring this up only to point out the importance of what we, as a professional studio do. Our job is not just to create the images, to create wonderful story telling photographs about the people in front of our camera; it’s to create a final product, whether it be a professionally retouched and printed single image, a family heirloom wall portrait, or an incredible storybook album using a collection of the images that were created.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s a wedding, a newborn baby, a senior or a family. Having the final product created for you is important. To do less is to leave the job half done and to short change the customer.

So, if you’re asked for a disk with all the images “so I can print them later”, that’s fine, just make sure your customers understand that if not printed, the conversation their grandchildren will want to have about their family history may never be able to happen.

Fred Molesworth

In addition to running a full time portrait studio in Salem Oregon, Fred Molesworth is a small business teacher and advisor, and the author of the Portrait Studio Marketing blog (www.portraitstudiomarketing.com). He’s also a nationally known business and marketing speaker in the portrait industry, and past president of the Professional Photographers of Oregon.

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