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.