Just a couple of weeks ago one of my best buddies, Michele Celentano, published this on her blog. Then, two days ago as she wrapped up SCU's Summer Session as she read this post out loud. I wish we had it recorded, because it carries even more weight when you hear the words coming directly from her heart.
We live in a challenging market. Consumer trends are pushing for instant fulfillment. More and more photographers think they need to sacrifice quality for speed. We email and text rather than call or write a thank you note long hand. All along the way we're chasing the technology train trying to make sure we don't miss anything and always have the latest and greatest!
Well, Michele, in what you're about to read, reminds us all that so many of the greatest memories in people's lives deserve the best presentation, the highest quality and everything we can do to preserve them for future generations. I've said it before, as photographers you're magicians, capable of capturing intangible moments out of time and making them tangible to last for a life time...only Michele says it a whole lot better! Skip Cohen
I believe in photography - but more than that I believe in photographs. Printed photographs are tangible. We can hold on to them, pass them around, frame them and hang them on a wall. We can make albums to be treasured and looked through by children for years to come.
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!
8/16/2013 01:59:25 am
Thank you so much for those words and the ideas behind them. I totally agree with you. I don't want to hand over files to clients not knowing if they might print them on a home printer and tell people that Mitchell Photography did that. I value my reputation more than I value a quick few bucks that could be made selling images on cd. If people have to save money and have their images on cd, I've decided they are not the clients I'm looking for and I'm happy to let them go to the multitude of new photographers popping up on every corner these days.
8/16/2013 02:03:36 am
Loved it when I heard it, love it even more now that I have read it. Reposted all over the place. Michele, you've hit on the heart and soul of what we do. And why I too feel that the power of the printed image will never fade completely from view.
8/16/2013 02:44:17 am
FYI - I am a client, not a photographer (well, I take photos but I'm no photographer). On a related note, if anything tragic ever happened and electricty were taken out, can you imagine clinging to an iPod or iPhone to TRY to envision your kids on it b/c that's the only photo you had left - and there's no way to charge it anymore? (See the beginning of the TV show Revolution - unlikely but still a real reminder of how important prints are) Without the beauty of a REAL TANGIBLE photograph, you'd miss out on so many things. :) I still regularly look at and enjoy my many photos & products from EMC Photography. :) (I do still like to have the files to access, but I LOVE the prints - they are the most important part.)
8/21/2014 06:49:09 pm
Becky, you have a very important point when it comes to electricity in fact the tv show Revolution touched on this:(Revolution was about the worlds power being lost) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O9QstqZWbUM&index=10&list=LL1Jjl31UdLiz-KJNtHCnnJA
8/16/2013 02:48:55 am
Amen Sister! Absolutely love, love, love every written word. I can't imagine not providing those things for my clients.
I sooooooooo agree. I tell something very similar to every client I talk to. I want to look out for your current needs and wants, but my true goal is to look out for your long-term needs, the needs and wants you can't even think of yer. I wish more felt like you!
My husband and I started as a landscape photographers and we would never think of selling our file to a person, it was and still is a print that we send to a professional printer to be printed the way we want it to look. Some how we have to educate the public that printing pictures at costco or walmart is for their snapshots. If you want to print it at walmart take a snapshot of your family you don't need to hire a professional. If you want some thing beautiful and professional looking hire a professional and pay for the quality that you will receive. That will love and last for a life time.
8/16/2013 08:13:02 am
Thank you Skip for posting this. I am so thrilled with the support my thoughts and feelings have received. It means more than you could know. It's never easy speaking up for what your really believe in when it seems to go against popular thought. If we collectively stand by these words we can make a difference and set this amazing industry back on the right track. -Michele
8/16/2013 08:45:46 am
Thank you, thank you, thank you! Said so well, explained in amazing clear detail, kudos over and over to a professional photographer that actually gets it and still appreciates what this ART is about!
8/16/2013 09:29:41 am
Thank You Michele! It could not have been stated any better! Thank you Skip for posting!!!
8/16/2013 05:11:32 pm
WRONG! It's MY memory, not YOURS, to be shared and viewed and printed as I see fit.
11/9/2014 03:31:32 am
Anonymous, I believe that although the memory may indeed be yours, but the photographic representation of that memory (intellectual property) belongs to the photographer, unless he or she chooses to sell it to you, along with a file or print.
8/17/2013 02:04:16 am
If this were truly about "We can make albums to be treasured and looked through by children for years to come" or to prevent data loss from failing to backup electronic devices, then why not give prints AND files?
8/17/2013 04:54:56 am
I don't think her over-arching point here, David, was some touchy-feely, woo-woo altruistic vision for the future. I think a lot of HOW she makes her point is entirely about how short-sighted simply handing-off image files on disk is – for too many reasons over and above what she has outlined here. And really, for the amount of time it takes for someone who obviously cares about HOW her images LOOK when finished and ready to hand to clients in a physical print + the extra time it takes to meet with clients for that additional "cash cow" – a print order, WHATEVER she or some other photographer charges for that service is not such a high price for anyone to pay. Problem IS we now live on Planet WalMart expecting everything to be *one-touch*, FREE – or at least(!) a Blue Light Special...
8/17/2013 05:23:25 am
Get with the times. It's digital. Who shows you pictures from their wallet anymore? You can kick and scream all you want about your "art," while you starve.
8/18/2013 06:33:11 am
Starving (or not) has everything to do with understanding how to attach value to what you sell, and nothing to do with the medium it is delivered on. Snapshots live in walls, art lives on walls.
8/17/2013 11:02:04 am
Hate it when people say get with the times. Great article. Times are changing by the time the baby boomers figure out how to send emails the generation x, y z will be shifting back to tangible goods. They want more than a digital age and don't worry keep up the great work people's attitudes come and go faster then the digital photo frame.
8/18/2013 03:25:53 am
Thank you for taking the time to put into words what almost every true professional photographic artist belives deep down!
8/19/2013 06:08:40 am
Hi, Jeff. I can't speak for Michele, but what I do is to give my clients low-res digital files of any images that they order in print form. They can share those files on Facebook or other social media, but if they try to print them, they'll be able to see the difference from a photo printed by my professional lab.
8/20/2013 08:26:03 am
hmmmm.... I sooo agree
8/21/2013 04:44:07 pm
First I am not a professional, but you have given me some things to think about with my own family photos. My family would not think to get these off of my computer or any flash drive that I might ;eave behind. Thank you for giving all of us some food for thought.
8/22/2013 05:53:18 am
Excellent words... you have so gracefully written many of my feelings. Old school all the way... prints will last the test of time!
8/24/2013 01:40:22 pm
Face it. All is ephemeral. 40 years worth of photos, carefully printed professionally didn't stand the heat worth a damn when our house burned down!
8/21/2014 03:12:52 pm
The print will not survive, but neither will the cd/DVD/flash drive. A great professional photographer should have a back up though.
8/26/2013 01:21:12 pm
Michele - thank you for putting what I have been feeling in my heart into writing! Love you for that! I need to quote this on my site!
1/23/2014 07:11:26 am
Beautifully written, and I totally agree!
12/12/2014 02:58:22 am
Amen, sister. As always, you take a stand (and raise a brave voice) to say the things we photographers might be afraid to say. Thank you.
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