So a little while back I was sorting through some boxes from the days before I became a professional photographer (I used to be a journalist. Shock! Horror!).
Amidst all the fascinating newspaper cuttings I’d long ago stashed in a box (student paper TV listings, anyone?), notepads full of hard-to-decipher shorthand and dictaphone mini cassette tapes (these were virtually pre-digital anything days!), I also found a few sun-faded floppy discs and a 10MB-capacity Zip disk, no doubt containing a selection of my finest work – all wrapped up in a software format that probably isn’t available today, using technology that became virtually extinct more than a decade ago.
Faced with the prospect of tracking down a vintage Zip disk reader and early Windows-compatible laptop to plug it in to, I did what any sensible person would do: chuck it in another box in the loft to fester for another decade or two.
Now, what are the chances that accessing that valuable data will be any easier when I embark upon my next substantial spring clean? Slim to none, right? Yet, it seems the vast majority of people today, when looking to book a photographer to capture precious images of their family as it is today, will ask this question: ‘Can I just buy the digitals’?
It’s OK. I understand the mentality. Data storage is relatively cheap, and it gets cheaper still every day. Why wouldn’t you want to have copies of your favourite images? But, ask yourself this: Will I still be able to access these files, 10, 15, 30 years from now? If you viewed your images as a series of zeros and ones, which is essentially what digital files are, they’d be pretty meaningless. And they wouldn’t tug at your heart strings, bring a memory flooding back, make you laugh, cry or simply feel old in the same way that a crumpled, creased print, that smells of the house you grew up in will. Even if it has seen better days, that archival print is your ticket to a time long since past. But only because you hold it in your hand. It’s real, it’s tangible, and it’s yours.
Technology marches on at an ever-increasing pace and the storage choices of today could well be archaic just a few years from now. The floppy disc is a relic, the Zip disk – with its once-impressive 10MB storage capacity – today doesn’t even have enough space for one file out of my professional camera and the ubiquitous ‘CD of images’ is going the same way. Apple doesn’t even manufacture computers containing a CD drive anymore. Who knows which format, which technology, which software or which equipment will bite the bullet next. It’s why you won’t find the digital files available as a stand-alone purchase anywhere on my website or price list.
As a mum to two young girls, running a demanding business, while trying to ensure our home is a happy and organised one (at least some of the time!), my time is precious. And yours is too. Modern life makes so many demands on our time and throws an overwhelming amount of information and choices at us. With my camera in my hand most days, I have more photographs of my children than most parents. And I truly understand the importance of getting those images printed – not least because a home filled with photos of your children will do wonders for those children’s self-esteem. But I struggle to find the time to get them printed. I don’t doubt many of my clients would feel the same overwhelm and put off the job if they just had a USB drive of images sitting in a desk drawer. So the most valuable part of my photography services actually comes some time after I’ve captured your images – at the viewing and ordering session when I help guide you to decide the best way to turn your images into heirlooms, to enjoy now and for years to come.
Book a newborn photography session with me and in a generation’s time your precious baby will be starting a family of their own. A few years on and that baby (your grandchild) will be a toddler and old enough to delight in looking at real photographs of their mummy or daddy (your son or daughter) as a baby in the beautiful long-lasting family albums that you wisely invested in.
Don’t take a risk on losing your memories. Your family’s history is worth more than that.