Do You Need To Be A Storage Facility Instead Of A Printer?

One of my favorite parts of blogging is research. I love seeing what other people are doing, what they are thinking, and how they are setting businesses up for the future.

Today I ran across a great article on H&H Color Lab – Towards a Brave New World in Photography. And it reminded me of an article I wrote months ago – Photographers – The History Killers.

Digital is here to stay. And whether we like it or not, photography is changing. Twenty-five years from now, our homes won’t be set up the way they are today. Instead of a paper printed photographs hanging on the wall, we’ll probably have a screen displaying a series of images that we have pre-selected. We won’t use photo albums; we’ll use devices that allow us to store mega amounts of data in a variety of formats. We’ll be able to carry all of our memories within one small unit.

It’s coming whether we want it to or not. You can’t change it. It’s like standing at the base of a volcano and trying to hold back a flow of lava. No matter what you do, it will flow around you and just keep going. You can’t hold back the progress.

But it also makes me question once again:

Is this the generation that will end up with zero memories in 20 years?

I too have met people that treat flash cards like film. They keep shooting and buying flash drives because they don’t know how to get the images off the card. So the cards stack up on the desk alongside the computer.

Others rely on CD/DVDs, and expect them to be there 10 years from now when they decide to look at them again. They throw them into a box with all the other CD/DVDs – which ultimately has very little value, and very little significance.

Still others load their images on a computer, and store them in a file “personal photos”. They add new images every chance they get, and the file continues to grow.

I’m willing to bet less than one percent of today’s consumers backup their computer on a regular basis, if at all. I hear the horror stories all the time: house fire, theft, computer failure. It happens in the blink of an eye, and all of your data, all of your memories are gone in an instant.

What has happened today is technology has increased before the output caught up. People have access to smartphones, digital cameras, and sharing images instantly. But what they don’t have is an intelligent way of freezing those memories forever. Yes, it seems like a great idea today to build a Flickr page or a Facebook photo album, but will it be there tomorrow? What happens when two companies merge, and they decide to “take down” all the work that’s been kept over the past few years? It can and will happen – they are free accounts run by a business, and there’s nothing that will stop it if it needs to change for “progress”.

Photography isn’t a stable industry at the moment – meaning there are large inconsistencies between what we’re producing for our clients as our “products and services”, and what truly needs to be given in order to preserve memories forever.

As a photographer, you’ve probably heard other photographers say (or even said it yourself), I have to give the DVD with all the images on it, its what the client wants.

That’s not entirely true.

The client says that because that’s what they’ve been programmed into from friends, family members, and society as a whole.

But has a client ever thought about the stability of a DVD, and whether their wedding images will still be accessible in five years – or gone forever? Chances are the answer is no. Because nobody has ever told them about the instability of DVD media devices. Nobody has programmed them to think, “I wonder if my kids and grandkids will see my photographs” all due to storing their entire wedding on a DVD, and have it corrupt a few years down the road.

With new technology, it might not be about trying to convince a client they need paper images, canvas prints, and an album displayed on their coffee table. But it might be about educating a client to know DVDs aren’t the solution. Maybe there is “an app for that” – something you can build that will help them preserve and take their images anywhere, no matter what device they are using.

Maybe their images are stored using cloud technology. Their images remain safe no matter what happens to the flash card, DVD or computer – its stored in multiple locations thanks to your “lifetime guaranteed storage plan”.

The coming years are going to be amazing to watch. Yes, there is no turning back the hands of time. It’s not “business as usual”. But that doesn’t mean you have to give up the integrity that went along with old school photography. Just find a way to bring it to today using what we have available now, and as we move rapidly into the future.

1 thought on “Do You Need To Be A Storage Facility Instead Of A Printer?”

  1. Great reminder. I think you’re probably right on the ‘less than one percent making backups’ thing. Certainly my experiences would suggest that. A good solution to me is simply to back up to a large external drive and swap that in rotation with another which is stored off site, so I always have an on-site and off-site backup but you’re right that some awareness raising is needed (without scaring people too much 🙂 ) otherwise we risk losing a generation of fantastic images. Hard drives are mechanical, can fail without warning and I’ve seen some real heartache and hassle caused by large losses of info over the years.

    I keep a copy of all images for my clients using the system above (unless they prefer me not to) and I suspect that’s common on commercial jobs but I think it’s in the consumer non-pro market where the biggest risk of loss probably is.


Leave a Comment