it used to work for me:
you paid me a fee, I gave you the files, transaction complete. Washing my hands of you worked well back when I was the primary caretaker of a child with a chronic illness, not getting enough sleep to think straight. I continued with this for years because it was convenient and people seem to want files as part of the fee. But as my own child grows and the years and files amass, I'm starting to see a problem.
Folks will fight me to the death on this, photographers and clients alike, and that's OK. But tell me....
What have you done with all the files?
Some of you have done a lot! You are the organized, creative, inspired types who make books, gifts and prints within a month of receiving your photos. And you should invest in all the files! Honest to God, we the photographers ADORE you because it's clear that you really value photography and what we do. You are the dream client.
But most of us, myself included, are far less organized, kinda drained and a bit creatively squelched by life.
Switching gears a bit...
I read a lot of dystopian novels and often imagine a world where the Internet disappears and electricity dissipates, leaving our backlit devices lifeless and blank. I know that if a zombie apocalypse comes for us we'll have bigger problems than the family files we lost, but if those files only lived on drives or on a phone to be scrolled, did we ever cash in on the investment?
The more we have of something, the less any of it means. Sam says there is an economic law for this, "The Law of Diminishing Returns"
I think we're drowning in photos. I'll hand you a hundred files to add to the bazillion already on your phone.
We truly believe that we'll get around to doing something with them - we just need to find the time. Guess who photographs newborns for a living, has one child and no baby book for him? 🙋🏼♀️
Suddenly your oldest is off to college.
What about the family archive? This is really, really important. But here's the folly: unless you are scrupulous and disciplined with your archiving, you've likely lost files already. You upgraded computers, you can't power up that drive anymore, the server you were storing your photos on went defunct. JPEGs are still viable now but will be obsolete in time, gone the way of the floppy disk and the dodo bird. Even as a professional, I've lost many of my own precious photos to "someday" ambitions because the tech outpaced me.
And there's this other thing. I know that, with my clients at least, we don't always print and hang things because it seems narcissistic to have big ol' pictures of ourselves up on our wall for others to see. Just who do we think we are? But....
Photography is a powerful art form, photographs have helped end wars, famine and injustice by forcing the world to see inhumanity and stop it. What if the opposite is also true - and the photos that reveal our humanity and ordinary joy are just as powerful? What if living with, and regularly seeing photos of ourselves giving and receiving love makes us more tender and patient parents? What if seeing ourselves being loved as we are makes our children feel more safe, confident and self assured as they step outside our home and into an unforgiving world?
I believe it does. And as each generation becomes increasingly visually literate, I have a hard time imagining that I'm wrong.
And I'm betting on it in my own home. While we don't have books (yet), we do have many family photos on display.
(I'm finally getting here, thanks if you've read this far!)
What if choosing files on the front end makes that image more special and more worthy of display? What if making these choices on the front end makes it not only easier to put them into production but more urgent? And what if that getting them up on your walls and in front of your family while your children are still growing up makes everyone in your home's life better?
If you just don't have time or capacity to convert your files to art, hire someone like me to design, execute and install a gallery wall for you. We can work with whatever space you have and we can design it in such a way that you can easily update and maneuver as your family grows and as your life and space evolves.
And if you really can't live without all the files - and as a storyteller, I get it - invest. But let's also get them printed into a series of high quality, archival and artful memory books that can be accessed anytime and passed down to the next generation. Maybe a small format book you can carry with ease in the zombie apocalypse.
Our photos can show us how we show up for one another. And from that standpoint, less might be more. Intention might be better than volume. Let me help you figure it all out.
And beginning in 2024, if you buy all the files you are also getting a printed product. Period. You need to see how beautiful you are outside social media and the scroll. Announcements coming soon!