Note: When I posted this earlier today, I really hadn't thought about how much the market has changed since Michele first wrote "I Believe." I also hadn't thought about the fact that she's a family portrait artist versus other specialties. And, while I still agree with her approach, you have to look at what components work best for you. Kevin York, is primarily a wedding photographer in the Philly area and did an outstanding job on Facebook Wedding Photographers in commenting on what would happen if he took a hardline approach to "prints only" with his clients. So, besides a big thanks to Kevin - here's my point - you have to go with what works best for your target audience and use the components of Michele's philosophy that best apply.
As the busy season starts to ramp up, this is the perfect Marketing Monday post and needed by so many of you.
I've shared this several times over the past few years but listening to many of you lately; it's important to post it again!
Michele Celentano is one of the finest family portrait artists in our industry, but it's not just because of her skill set as an artist or educator - it's because of her passion and her ability to walk the talk! She wrote "I Believe" several years ago and offered it to the industry to plagiarize away, reprint and share it with your clients.
We live in an instant fulfillment world, but it's up to you to help your client understand a great portrait is a family heirloom and goes well beyond the "importance" of a Facebook page and Internet sharing. A well-done portrait deserves the very best presentation, and that means it needs to be printed.
So, take the time to read Michele's "I Believe" and then plagiarize to your heart's content!
We can’t touch a file and the truth is we don’t know the longevity of a file or if we will even be able to find it someday. A digital file is a bit of a mystery - if it’s lost, where did it go. If a drive is damaged what happens to the files? How many people truly back up all their images?
What happened to disc cameras, eight track tapes, Walkman's and other technology we thought would last forever? What will our children be looking at in 20 or 30 years? Photographs are special - files are not!
I believe in printing my work professionally. I believe my work is more than a screen saver. Years of studying and perfecting my craft comes down to more than sending files via the internet.
The photographs I create for my clients are not only precious to my clients but they are precious to me. It is my work, a lifetime of work that deserves to be printed.
Photographs are passed on to children and grandchildren. Can you imagine a floppy disk, a DVD or a flash drive sitting in a frame representing your family portraits?
Like many photographers I have struggled with bending to the needs or wants of a clientele that is looking for files. But this is what I discovered over the last year - It makes me uncomfortable in the center of my gut to hand over digital files no matter the price. Clients have told me that the DVD is still sitting on a desk and they should have had me make the prints in the first place because they never have time to get to it.
I wonder about those files that were sold.... How were they printed? Did the client crop it too tight? Is the color correct? Did they attempt to alter the image? It troubles me because I put so much of myself into my work. And, I have to wonder... am I really acting as a professional and serving my client the best way I know how to by simply selling intangible files that may never be printed?
For some, it’s easy.... take some photos, edit them, burn them on a disk or flash-drive and make a few bucks. I don’t and can’t operate that way - I care too much about my work, my clients and future generations that might have no photographs because I wanted to make fast and easy money selling files.
I’m taking a stand! I am a photographer! I am without a doubt passionate about creating photographs - real pictures - printed on professional papers - and made into beautiful albums. I want your children, their children, my children and future grandchildren looking at and holding onto photographs not the latest greatest gadget.
It has taken deep soul searching, a lot of thought and time to define the value of my work. I am taking a stand against selling files and taking a strong stand for printing my photographs.
If being a business owner and photographer today means the current market will force me to sell files not photographs and to compromise my work and my values - well then, I’m out.
But, that won’t happen! I know it won’t because I know there are people and clients who value my work, understand and respect the value I have placed on my work and actually want photographs.
I am Michele Celentano , a professional photographer - I believe in and value photography and the images we leave for our children. My work and your portraits will be professionally printed to my standards, they will be available to frame and look at in albums...
The portraits I create for you will not become a part of your screen saver slide show. I have worked too hard and taken too much pride in my work for that to happen. I will not take the risk that in 20 years we will be a generation of lost photographs.
There I stand!