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Did you know that, as a photographer, you are also a storyteller?
The beauty of a wedding, the love of a family session, the pride and possibility in a senior session, the joy in a newborn session—we capture precious moments. Those moments tell stories.
Beyond that, within every printed item, there is also a story. When an image or series of images are turned into tangible objects—prints, albums, or wall arts—the story can be told again and again. The more the images are seen, the more they become entrenched in our consciousness. This is how most family stories become legends. Printed photographs become the catalyst for those legends.
Are you asking yourself, “Should I sell albums and prints a part of my business?” If you aren’t, you are missing an opportunity, not only for your business but for your customers, their families, and generations to come.
Printed Photos are a Legacy
I have two prints from my parents’ wedding day—one formal image of them dressed up and one image of them together before the day really got started. As a son, and a parent to my own children, I crave more. I want to know the story behind the day, those silly little details that no one else may care about. How did my parents interact with their parents, my grandparents? Were they nervous? Did my dad need assistance tying his tie, or did my mom need help with her dress, and if so, who were the people that did that for them?
Let’s take the same situation into modern times. With today’s technology, all of those images that I want to see may have been captured by a wedding photographer and exist. But what If they only live on a USB drive? What if they only print a few images, like my parents did? Will the technology still exist to be able to open the drive and pull those images up for their children?
People are taking more photographs than ever, but they are printing out less. That’s where things get really interesting; if you think something is important enough to print, you are saying, “This image is meaningful enough to be turned into a real, physical, tangible item.” By printing, you are literally creating an artifact that can be passed down for generations to come. Every single person in the world has their own unique story, and it is our job as photographers to capture that story and share it in such a way that that story can last beyond their own lives.
The Power of Physical Connections
Currently, in universities, companies have been pushing digital textbooks. There have been many studies conducted to gauge the performance of students who used paper books versus students who used digital textbooks. Overwhelmingly, the results showed that students who use traditional paper textbooks crushed it on the tests. The reason? Paper has a 3D interaction. You can change your viewing angle; you can jump between pages and sections in an instant. Our ability to allow an image to become a part of our consciousness is far easier when it is printed.
There was another study that dealt with self-esteem in children. It showed a correlation between families who have prints on the walls and children who are less susceptible to low self-esteem. The concept of being a part of a group and being a part of a happy family is reinforced daily with these prints.
“Touching the photograph where a face is smiling or the shoulders, it is the same thing as touching a book when you read it,” says Craig Steinberg, a licensed child psychologist. “There’s a lot of stimulation of the brain when you have that sensory experience. That is a bit lost in the move to digital. You are touching a keyboard, mouse or a touchscreen but you are not touching the image.”
Our body remembers something better when there is a physical connection with it. When we can hold it, grasp it, turn it around in our hands, and feel it. It turns an image into a tangible memory.
Shoot with Intent and Design with Purpose
As a photographer, you should be thinking of printing long before you sit down to edit. During a shoot, printing should be forefront on your mind in order to capture the correct images and ultimately cut your workflow in half. It is crucial to shoot with intent to create a printed product that tells the full story.
For example, when photographing a wedding, you know to always get the emotional shots (for example: that moment when the mother of the bride puts her mother’s bracelet on her daughter, the bride). But if you shoot with intent, you know that images that support that story will help in an album design—the follow up shots that complete the story (close-up of the jewelry; the tear on mom’s cheek).
To accomplish this way of thinking, we need to move beyond the concept of “printing” as only prints, because a single print will never tell a full story. As children who grew up in the age of snapshots, we may have had them all around us, but we may only have had one or two of a specific story. As professional photographers today, we are hired to tell the whole story, and to create the fullest account from the images, and to put that in print. Then we have more than just slices of time but a full record of that moment.
The truth is: photographers who shoot with intent have less design changes from clients because they are telling a full story versus just trying to arrange images on a page. When a printed product is designed well, telling the complete narrative, it truly becomes an item the client cannot live without.
Archiving the Past
Whether your images are digital or print, at some point, they will all go into storage. As we are constantly adding to those images, we just can’t keep everything out at all times. Let’s take the wedding photo example again; at some point, those framed photos or albums are going to end up stored in a box. If the photographs weren’t printed out, that thumb drive might end up in that box instead. The difference between digital and print is that twenty years, thirty years, forty years later—when someone other than us finds this artifact, how are they going to access it?
Someday, that box will be found. Who knows if the same technology will exist? Sure, there may be some specialist who could recover the images, but maybe not. If you pull a print out of a box, you have access to a final artifact. You are basically guaranteeing that you will not disappear. No matter who finds it, no matter who discovers it, they will have the final product.
My ninety-year-old grandmother may not know how to use a flash drive, but she loves seeing printed images. From cave paintings from times before the written word to the beauty of Egyptian hieroglyphics and the stunning artwork of the Italian Renaissance, humans have a documented history of telling their stories through photographs. Why has it declined in recent years? We owe it to coming generations to get those images out of digital form, onto the walls, and into albums.
Incorporating Printing into Your Business
We take photos to reassure ourselves that life is going to be okay. Our legacy will live beyond ourselves. We will not forget. We will not be forgotten. Printing is the realization of those emotions. The needs that we have in our own lives, the images that we want to capture for ourselves, those needs are what we should be translating for our clients.
Fundy Designer was created to make it easier to design albums. We make it painless to get your albums designed, saved, and ordered. Our newest addition, the Gallery Designer, simplifies the process of creating wall art for your clients. Drag and drop your images into the designer to allow your clients to instantly see what your beautiful images will look like hanging in their homes.
We’ve taken the pain out of designing gorgeous keepsake albums and creating gallery walls for your clients because we want them to be actualized. Those albums that you love in your own homes? Your clients want that too; they just may not know it. We want to help you help them realize that.
It is key to talk about printing images with your clients. Do it early. Do it often. Make sure they realize the relevance of doing so. If you can convey the importance of creating their legacy and preserving their story, then it will make your business easier. The products sell themselves.
Printing images is important not just for enjoyment today but for generations to come. You want tangible keepsakes for your children and grandchildren, and your clients do too—it is the most important thing you can deliver as a photographer.
“If you don’t think photos are important,
wait until they are all you have left.”