The Value of a Print

September 17, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

Your photographs should be story tellers. Have you ever stumbled upon a box of old photographs in an attic, basement or closet? Perhaps you were the recipient of such a treasure after the passing of a loved one. This is especially true of today's earlier generations - our parents, grand parents, and great grandparents all have memories of a time long past, captured in photographs. Opening such a collection is sure to take you on a trip down memory lane, with many hours spent lost in the nostalgia of reliving the memories, or listening to someone recount the story that goes with the image in your hands. 


When the only thing left of a person you once loved is the image you hold in your hand, what then is the value? Shouldn't it be worth the cost and effort to create that tangible memory, for the one day in the future that it becomes your everything? Someday these photographs will be the only evidence of a person's existence in our lives. 

Contact PrintsContact PrintsAn old drawer with contact prints and negative strips, made by my Dad in the mid-70's in our basement darkroom. Light TableLight TableUsing a small light table to look at old strips of negatives.

Today's generation is the most photographed generation of all time. Let's face it, we live in a fast paced, digital, social media driven, selfie-snapping world. Everyone has access to a digital camera, making it very hard to explain the value of what is essentially a commodity in everyone's pocket. Facebook, Instagram, and a plethora of other social media sites have the allure of instant gratification and validation. Those ubiquitous likes, comments, shares, and followers - they draw you in like a gravitational pull. It's immediate, in the moment, and it's FUN. Some of these platforms are even designed to eschew permanence, giving your post a mere 24 hour lifespan. Digital wizardry at it's best! 


In a world where pixels are abundant and pictures are viewable instantly and from everywhere, it may seem that photographic prints are antiquated, old fashioned, and simply not important anymore. Why print, when you can have access to your digital photographs in the palm of your hand? Consider these statistics:

  • It is estimated that 1.7 TRILLION photographs will be taken in 2017 alone. And that's a conservative estimate. 
  • 85% of photographs will be taken with cell phones
  • 99% of all photographs taken today will be totally gone, maybe in as soon as 10 years


Staggering StatisticsMobile vs Camera. While 85% of photographs taken are with mobile devices, there is a general sentiment that if it's truly important, you should use a Digital Camera. Graphic credit to Eric Perret of

These are staggering statistics. I am, of course, primarily a digital photographer. I am also the shameless owner of a cell phone, and snapper of instant images. My personal Facebook feed often features the silly little things that happen in everyday, ordinary life. These are fun memories, but I'd be willing to bet that most of you doing the same thing are not even backing up those little devices in your pockets. Many people have mourned the loss of the images of their kids, pets, and vacations when their cell phones turned into expensive paperweights. Mobile pics or it didn't happen. Camera pics or it wasn't special. Is it a special moment? Is this an event or point in time that you want to be certain you can look back on again and again? Will you be able to get a "do over" if the images don't turn out? Hire a professional photographer if you want to be sure it's captured with the care, quality, and importance it deserves. 


Then and NowThen and NowFloppy discs, CD and DVD, memory cards, USB thumb drives, and hard drives. Some are already obsolete, and for the rest it's a matter of time before they fail or become obsolete. Aren't all professional photographers these days using digital cameras?  What about other forms of digital media? Surely it is smarter to use more 'permanent' forms of digital storage. While this is certainly better, consider that digital media changes rapidly. My first digital camera used floppy disks as the storage medium. The next generation used a mini-CD. I don't have a computer that can even read a floppy disk, and to use any form of optical disc requires the use of a separate drive. Optical drives are not even an option on most laptops being sold today. Memory card formats have changed over time, and it won't be long before the USB drive is similarly obsolete. Beyond the capability to read the files, you also need to be able to FIND the images you are looking for. Are you maintaining backup copies of your digital images, and cataloging them for easy retrieval? In 10, 20, or 30 years, will your kids or grandkids have a means to access these files? 


Nursery PrintsSomeday your new baby will want to know what his Mama looked like when she had him in her tummy. So what should we do to protect ourselves from digital overload and obsolescence? PRINT your photographs! It's really that simple. Your most special memories deserve to be proudly on display on the walls of your home or office where they can provide you with joy every single day. Someday these prints will be cherished memories of time gone by, and loved ones lost. Create a permanent visual legacy - print your portraits. Moreover, partner with your professional photographer to not only print, but to ensure your portrait art is of archival quality so that you can rest assured that your priceless photographic legacy will stand the test of time. 


This is part 2 in an education blog series about the value of professional photography. Read part 1, 'What Is A Session Fee?', and stay tuned for part 3, 'The Value Of The Digital File'. 

Tina Caron Photography is a custom newborn and maternity photography studio based in Keller, Texas, serving the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. Tina believes in creating a visual legacy of our lives through portrait photography and printed portrait art. 


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