There’s a rather heated debate in the photography world about whether or not to sell digital files to our clients. I have always stood on the side against digitals, but I do include web-ready files of each image purchased as a print because I understand wanting to share them on social media. Personally, I feel that strictly handing over a disc of the images from your session is doing you such an injustice, and my beliefs couldn’t have been more solidified by my grandfather’s passing.
He passed away in June and while my parents were going through the house they found thousands of prints. Some just Polaroid snapshots, some were studio portraits dating as far back as 1930 (it’s at the bottom of this post). Now think of how much technology has changed since then. What if I only offer you a disc of your images? Sure you’ll post them on Facebook or Instagram, but will you ever actually print out those photos and hang them on your wall? Where do you think that disc will be in 20 years? Forgotten and tucked away is some drawer. CD/DVD readers are already on their way out, how are you going to retrieve your images in the future? At his funeral we had multiple displays of printed images from throughout his life, how will your loved ones remember you when you just have a CD hanging on the poster board? I’ve found that the majority of people who buy discs never print a single image. How sad is that not to have your family proudly displayed on your walls.
As a photographer I feel like it’s such a disservice to my clients to not offer prints. I treasure each and every one of those photos from my grandparents house. There are photos that I never even knew existed of my dad and my grandparents all when they were young children. Looking at them is like going back in time. I have very fond memories of my grandpa always taking a Polaroid of the family during the holidays and me watching in wonder as the image would magically develop on the page. Words can not truly express how lucky I am to have had a grandfather that saved so many wonderful memories. Memories that I had long forgotten or was too young to remember. I will now be able to show those photos and the pictures of him to my future children and tell them what a wonderful man he was and how the whole town of Northville adored “The Werther’s Man.”
The next time you get your portraits done, I really hope you think will twice about only requesting the digital files. Please consider those beautiful heirloom prints that your family will cherish for years to come.