Intrinsic Value of Prints

My wife and I were talking about the value of prints compared to digital media, and I think it is an interesting and valid conversation.  While digital photo files have value, they border on being intangible since the digital file itself may be stored on your hard drive or a disk.  There is no tangible substance to the digital file like there is with a print.  To take the argument a step further, the emotional attachment is minimal as compared to a print, giving the print much more value monetarily and sentimentally.

This point became very apparent this past weekend when I was looking through old photos of my dad with family.  Somehow being able to hold the print in my hand, instead of huddling around a computer monitor gave the image an incredible value.  Part of this may have been the fact that the image was from 1957, a time when getting a print was a bit more cumbersome than with today’s technology.  The fact still remained that the print could be passed from person to person and that tangible aspect of the print outweighed having that image on disk.

I suppose it could be argued that the ease of digital photography has cheapened the photography profession…much could be written on that.  As an upstart photographer it can be easy to fall into this classification.  The urge for a beginning photographer to shoot and burn a disk means less post shoot work in terms of image processing and album creation.  I even fall into this dilemma.

With the idea of print value in mind I feel it is important to seek out ways to impress this value on clients.  Price often wins out in the short term, but it is tangibility that holds value.  Too often prints are never made from the digital files, preventing the true value of the photography to be expressed.  Please feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts on this topic.  Digital photography has created a new dynamics within photography and I feel this is one that is very interesting.


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