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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Digital Files Are Not The Answer

Digital Files Are Not The Answer

Photography has become commonplace, virtually everyone loves taking photos and most people do a pretty decent job at it.  However there are times when you want to hire a professional photographer to create extra special images for your family.  You want to display some incredibly beautiful, emotive images that capture who your family is at this moment in time, you want those photos to represent something spectacular, you have this vision of gorgeous albums, a stunning framed portrait in your foyer, an outstanding gallery wrap canvas hanging over your fireplace mantle.
Framed Digital Image
You begin calling to interview photographers and inevitably you explain to them that you want to print these images yourself.  You’re looking for the photographer that will create those beautiful, evocative images for you, unique to you and your family and you want them to hand over the images for you to print.  Somehow you’ve come to believe that getting the disc of images is best because you control the process and it’s cheaper to print yourself.
What?!  Come again?
This scenario is very representative of the photography market today.  Somehow people have been brainwashed into believing that digital files are the best option when, in fact, they are not.  Digital images are MEANT to be is a temporary method of storage: all too many things can go wrong with digital media leaving you in a lurch with a ton of images that were never printed; images that will never be displayed in your beautiful home; images that will never be archived and made permanent.  Lets face it, for many people, after you get back your disc from said photographer, the disc goes in the drawer to never see the light of day…maybe JUST MAYBE to be unearthed (if you’re lucky) in a year or two with an “I meant to print some of these…” utterance.

Why some photographers do not sell digital images or sell them only at a premium price

Let’s say you don’t bother printing up those photos for yourself and those images stay in the drawer for a period of time.  Perhaps these images are of your newborn baby girl at 7 days old (and now she’s 12 going on 13 yearsnot months, old!).  You want to create something really special for her 13th birthday so you finally take that disc of images out of that drawer and put it in the CD tray of your computer to get them printed. In the CD goes as you wait…and wait.  No images found.  Hmmm…  Pop out that CD tray, make sure the CD is inserted and again…waiting…waiting.  In reality your images went  POOF!  They are nonexistent.  This particular CD-R from your daughter’s newborn session doesn’t even show any data on it!  There is no data on this disc!!  Now you’re freaking out.  So then you call the photographer to order another disc from them to get to your home ASAP but when you call the number it is no longer a business number.   Then you go online to find that photographer only to find that they are now out of business!  You have no way of getting a hold of that photographer and you had all these amazing images of your daughter you want to print an image for her for her 13th birthday and there aren’t any!!  Your scrambling because now you’re sufficiently freaked out.  You went to this photographer for the first two years of your daughter’s life, frazzled and more than a bit freaked out you start pulling CD-ROM out for each and every session from those two years and poof!  one after the other the images on each of those CDs has somehow disappeared!  It’s the photographer’s fault!  It’s a defective disk!  The photographer is a scam artist!  A thousand thoughts whirl in your head when the sad reality is:
Sounds implausible?  It isn’t.  It’s actually a well known fact that CD-ROM and DVD-ROM discs are not meant as a long term storage solution.

It's true! The Myth of The 100 Year CD-Rom

But wait!!  That can’t happen to you…your photographer doesn’t burn images to a CD!! So this scenario isn’t possible.  The photographer you use, well they’re smart (and so are you) for choosing to put images on a USB key.  Those have to be fool proof – right?!
No.  USB storage is a very recent phenomena and knowing how technology evolves chances are that the USB storage key you received from your photographer will go the way of the floppy disc within ten years, give or take.  Think hard now, when is the last time you’ve seen a computer with a working floppy drive?  Can you guarantee you’ll still have a working computer with a USB port in ten years?

More on the topic of things you haven't seen in awhile…

“Oh but I didn’t just LEAVE those images on the USB key…I also downloaded them to my hard drive!”
If I had a dime for every hard drive failure I’ve heard about I’d be at least $100 richer or AKA The Story of Some Sad Photographers
Do the math.  That’s a lot of hard drive failures.  And they’re very real and scary.
But you need not worry, you have multiple copies of your images on multiple hard drives scattered far and wide, right?  Yeah well…
A photographer friend (who shall remain nameless) hadn’t printed up any images of her young children in several years.  She decided since they were taking a long trip away from home that “now’s the time to get editing and printing.”
Off they went on their trip, planning on working hard on getting up to date with her photos she did the smart thing: she brought along her laptop, her external hard drives and the back up drives on vacation with them on vacation.  You know…so she could do catch up, get some editing done, get some images tuned up and ready to order.
A few weeks into the trip, all seems good, right as rain, she’s excited because many of these images were of her youngest when she was super little and she didn’t have any prints from this time in her life.  She’s finally going to get them printed.
She kept her equipment locked up and secure when they were away but somehow someone knew to break into the place where she was storing said equipment (hard drives and back up drives) and someone took it.  EVERY last bit of it.  Every drive, the laptop, everything.  Can you imagine how awful that felt?  To lose all those memories?
That’s a tough lesson to learn.  I mean she did do the right things mostly, right?  She had back up drives of her images…but yet this method still failed her EVEN without the hard drive failure!
Years of images GONE.  Zero printed copies of these long gone moments.  Probably stuff like baby’s first bath, baby and big sister playing in the bath tub, playing dress up, baby’s first steps…the list of lost images is heart wrenching.  Had she had the prints at least she would still have the prints, I’m pretty sure prints are zero value to a petty thief but they are invaluable to the memory holder.
That story is 100% real and it’s 100% sad and there’s a hundred more like it: hard drive failures, power surges that mess up operating systems, house fires that ruin computer equipment.  More theft (in homes).  A lot of what I’m illustrating happened to those who do and should know better: photographers!
I bet they won’t have to learn that lesson twice.

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This article was written by Marianne Drenthe of Marmalade Photography and can be found at the Professional Child Photography site at

Monday, November 5, 2012

Why is custom photography so expensive?

Many people are used to going into a retail chain studio, waiting for 15 minutes, having someone show them their background choices, spending 30 minutes trying to get their kids to give a geniune smile, then after the portraits are done (usually with the photographer getting frustrated with your kids not doing what they want them to do), you wait for 30 minutes, view your pictures, pick the one pose you like (which your free or promotional package is then stuck with), then you see the really good poses (you want those as well), and after it's all said and done, you have bought $200 worth of portraits you don't need just to get the poses you want, and usually another $30 for your sitting fee (unless you got a free promo), and if you want any custom portraiture you are spending another boatload of money! All of this for mediocre images without any real meaning.

Want to become a photographer? It's harder than you think!

I can't count on my hands how many times I have heard people on the street, as well as friends and family say, wow that's so easy, I could do that! Look how expensive this is! I could do the same thing by clicking a button and it wouldn't cost $3000.00. Ha!
Amazingly, most people think we just shoot pictures for fun for the day and never give a second thought as to what goes on after the shoot is over to make sure those photographs are beautiful works of art. I can attest, editing usually eats up at minimum 30-40 hours a week that I am at the computer finalizing images for a client. I want you to think about the following, and I am going to use an excerpt from a photographer responding to a bride who complained on craigslist about $3,000 for a wedding photographer, and how she couldn't find one that was "fun, professional, took great images, and readily available for her with decent prices". Click on the link below to read what she said.

Angry Bride's Post

 Here is just one of the many responses she received:

Friday, November 2, 2012

Thumbtack Listing, A great place for leads for Photographers!

We have recently joined and added our listing there for everyone to check our verifications and to generate some more much needed business! I love taking photo's and if I get a chance to list my business in a high traffic area, I sure do it! Thumbtack has been great so far, and for only $39.99 a month I get many interested clients seeking a local photographer. I can submit quotes to each client and communicate directly with them to get exactly what they are looking for! As a bonus for me, I get more access to more people looking for a photographer, which is of course my ultimate goal! I hope if you do photography, or any other business for that matter, that you check out and get your business listed and verified.
To sign your business up for, please visit this link! We get 15 points fo every referral that signs up (and it's free to sign up), get your business noticed in your local community!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Wondering what to wear at your photo session? Try these tips!

When booking a portrait session I think it is almost always a given that the client is going to ask for suggestions on what to wear. I struggled with this question when I was first starting out. My clients would come dressed in matching outfits or in the same color head to toe.

I knew that I had to change my clients way of thinking when it came to choosing outfits for their portraits. I personally believe that is part of my job to help style a session. This gives my clients another reason to hiring me over going to a chain portrait studio. I always tell them to choose items with good color, texture (ie, knits, ruffles, denim) and accessories. I tell them to think coordinating not matching. I even go as far as offering to come to their homes and dig through their closet with them or tell them to bring a trunk full of options and we can put together outfits on location.

Kids are much easier to work with when they are comfortable. When they are stuffed into an outfit they are not allowed to get dirty in they tend to be more anxious and are easy to frustrate. Parents in turn get frustrated because their kids are not smiling like they want them to, or misbehaving. It's much easier to dress them in something comfortable but looks nice. I remember my mom sticking me in a turtle neck when I was a kid. I hate them to this day! They were itchy and I felt like someone was choking me. I never had a real smile in those photos when I look back now at them.