Photographers – The History Killers

On my mom’s wall, old wedding photoshe has a variety of  photographs. There’s a beautiful portrait of both sets of grandparents on their wedding days. Next to those images is a picture of my mother and father on their wedding day. And of course she has an image of Andrew and me on our wedding day.

Fast forward to today. How many people have their wedding images up on the wall?

Unfortunately, most photographers offer packages like this:

·    Full Day Coverage – Unlimited locations with no overtime
·    Digital Negatives Included – Provided on DVD (varying from 500-2000 images)
·    Online galleries – Selected and processed photographs are posted in online galleries for you to order from.

That’s what the clients’ want, right? And as a photographer, it’s easier and cheaper! Why spend all the processing time putting together albums and printing the photographs. Give the clients what they want.

But in reality, digital is a new phenomenon. It’s changing the way we take and think of pictures. Yet I’m finding we don’t quite know the full impact of the situation yet.

As a photographer, you shoot a wedding. You hand the client a DVD of her images. And she’s happy.

But life gets in the way. She heads home and puts the DVD on her desk with every intent of going through the images, ordering, framing them, putting them into an album, and ordering them for family and friends. Six months later, family and friends quit bugging her for the images. The holidays come, and other weddings occur.

Then the couple decides to start a family. Several years go by. And a family member passes away. They decide they would love that photograph printed of them with that family member. They open up the DVD only to find the images are gone. (Are DVD/CD’s really stable? We’ll see.) So they contact the photographer who in most cases is either no longer in business, or no longer has a copy of that clients’ images.

Okay, maybe that’s not the reality. Maybe the client loaded their images onto their computer and got rid of the DVD/CD. Then their hard drive crashes, and their images are gone forever.

So what will happen thirty, forty years from now when we look back at this generation? Will we find a whole generation of people that have no professional photographs because they trusted them all to DVD/CD/digital copies?

I’m willing to bet the clients rarely will print the images – again, life gets in the way.

And when they find out they have nothing from several years of their lives, what will they have to show their children? And grandchildren?

How will this generation be remembered? And as photographers, what can we do to educate and correct this problem?

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1 thought on “Photographers – The History Killers”

  1. A different scenario…

    The newly wed couple is internet and tech savvy. They’ve been using online photo finishing and sharing sites for years. They upload the files (or mail a disc) to their favorite photo sharing site, or one recommended by their photographer, and the whole family can view the photos online and order inexpensive, high quality prints and albums from anywhere in the world, without bugging the couple at all. Sometimes life does get in the way, but not as often as expensive print and album prices will.

    Back up is no problem. They are already digitally archiving all the other digital info and files they use in their lives. They’ve experienced computer failures at home or at work and take the issue seriously.

    Just as many wedding and family photos have been lost and destroyed when people didn’t take care of or keep track of negatives and slides. Whatever the process photographs will not survive unless valued and taken care of. Sticking prints in an album and the negs in an envelope or shoebox in the closet/attic/basement is not archiving. The only change the new technology makes is that it’s now easier to make identical copies.

    I still have the finished files from every wedding I’ve ever photographed digitally. Out of 300+ weddings one couple has had to ask me for another copy. I don’t have all the negs for the weddings I shot with film. Hopefully the couples who possess their wedding negs are taking care of them. I doubt they are being as careful storing them as I would.

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