It finally happened. I got an email filled with desperation. I could just feel the horror in the words of her message. Her computer crashed and she hadn’t backed up her photos.
HER. WEDDING. PHOTOS.
For me, it was an easy fix. I hold onto every single image I deliver to a client forever, so I rebuilt her online gallery and sent her the new link. But what would have happened if this were just 10 years ago? She may not have been able to get her images again. Her wedding photos, gone, forever. With technology and social media nowadays, the value of the physical product has dwindled with my generation. People really don't buy prints anymore because they can just upload their images to Facebook or put them on a USB drive.
I know it's weird to think, but what happens when Facebook goes away? Google+ has never really taken off, Instagram isn't designed to hold or display massive albums, and our favorite platform of the 90's, MySpace, is dead and gone. Even if Facebook lasts for the rest of time and takes over our lives as it seems their corporate goals evolve, do you really want to search through all your selfies from the past 30 years to find your wedding pictures? What if your kids want to look at your wedding photos? Are you going to make them sift through the same stuff?
Okay, say you downloaded your images and backed them up to a USB stick or external hard-drive. That's great! Let's look at the same situation: 30 years later you want to go through your wedding photos. "Where the hell did I put that stupid USB stick?" Or better yet, "Shoot, I need an adapter because Apple's latest computers aren't compatible with USB-A anymore!" Or worse - "The drive is corrupted and this was my only copy....."
You know what is really difficult to lose and actually looks better with age? A printed photograph. People display photos and albums because not only is it a wonderful personal reminder, but we all enjoy bragging a little bit to our guests. Seriously, who loses a printed image that got framed and hung on the wall? Who loses a leather bound book that sits on a coffee table to retell the story of their wedding day? People choose to throw out prints, they don't lose them.
People hire photographers to capture special moments. That's an investment and so are physical, printed products. I never want to hear from another client that they lost their images - it's heartbreaking for me. I can only imagine the horror they would feel as well. I'm not saying to buy a print of every single image you receive, but find the ones that really make you smile and consider finding a place on your shelf for them.