The Power of a Printed Photograph – Portrait Photographer Macarthur
The first photo you can see here in this blog post is one of my most recent digital files that I have created. The second photo you can see shows an old 35mm slide that I created back in 1997. It is a colour Positive Film, also known as a Slide, Transparency Film or Reversal Film and produces a positive image on transparent film, very similar to the once commonly seen film negative but as a positive. Now they are both technically the same thing, they are both an original document taken within a camera, from which a photograph can be processed. A a portrait photographer in Macarthur for the past 24 years I have seen lots of techniques, trends and short lived fads come and go.
Photography has progressed substantially since it’s inception hundreds and hundreds of years ago.
Back then capturing a photo occurred with a pinhole camera, light was exposed to silver halide and an emulsion was made to create film which then needed to be processed and printed. These days Contrast, light, colour, intensity and brightness create a photo as a digital file which can be seen instantly.
With the introduction of digital photography and the increased usage of digital files and storage methods have also progressed at an extremely rapid rate from records, tape, floppy disks, CDs, DVDs, Blu-ray, USB, hard drives to cloud storage… who knows what’s next.
I have no doubt that in the next 20 years technology will continue to change at a rate that we will struggle to keep up with. We don’t know what it is yet, it could be how our cameras take a photo, it could be how digital information is stored… and as soon as we get on top of the current formats, new technology will be released which makes our previous methods in-adequate and unusable. I’ve noticed a trend lately or in the last 10 years, and that is of people wishing to have the digital files. I think we believe that if we have a digital file will have the negative so to speak so we won’t lose it, we can always have it we can always print in as many forms as often as we wish, as many times as we wish. Recent research has shown that the current digital files will only last approximately 15 to 20 years and that is if we update the method of storage continually, and update to the current method of storage. If the digital copies are all we have, or if we lose our computers, if we lose our hard drives and we lose our digital negatives what would be left? If we can’t access them to open them to read them it’s just a couple of numbers with .jpeg written at the end. A digital file can corrupt unexpectedly.
As a Macarthur portrait photographer I archive every digital file 4 to 3 times on site, and one time off site. Now I promise to keep digital files for at least 18 months but the fact is that I still have CDs from 2005. Now while in some CDs the readable layer has begun to peel off, I do have three CDs of each portfolio so if one CD does become an readable, I do have two other copies as I have always archived everything three times on CD or DVD.
One thing that breaks my heart is taking photos for a family and they would purchase the digital files… 3 to 4 years later I will take photos for them again and go to the clients house for delivery. I go to their home I can’t see anywhere the photos from our original session. I aske them and they say Oh its all still on the USB, we just didn’t get around to printing them just yet… That saddens me immensely. What are we doing here?
I know we get busy and life gets in the way and we say we need to print those photos, we need to make an album, we need to get those photos up on the wall… it’s never a great time. I’ll do it one day but in the meantime you’re missing out on seeing your beautiful family photos on your wall, and so are your children.
While the method of taking photos has changed significantly, cameras have changed to the point where people are taking photographs with their phone. While storage methods change significantly also, one thing that has remained consistent over the many hundreds of years that we have had photography accessible to us, is a photograph printed on paper. And this brings me to my point. We know a photo printed on photographic paper has existed since the beginning of photography, and it still exists today. A photograph isn’t a photograph until it’s printed, until it’s being held in your hands and no matter how much technology moves and changes, no matter how much your storage methods differ along the way, printed photographs always have been, and they always will be.
I can hold a printed photograph in my hand from the late 1800s, from the early 1900s, from 1999, and from 2019. And I am pretty sure without a doubt that I’ll be able to hold a printed photograph in the year 2050. And I’m pretty sure that my children and my grandchildren and will be able to hold a photograph in the year 2099. Please print your photos. Photography is a long-term investment, we talking 50, 80, 100 years! Digital files won’t make it, they simply wont, but your printed photographs will.
Karen is a portrait photographer servicing all areas in Macarthur and surrounds of Camden.
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Karen Ashcroft Portrait Photographer Macarthur