I have no numbers to back up my thoughts here, but I believe most people care about their family and friends, their pets, and they probably have some long-held beliefs on the subject of right and wrong. It gets less clear when we are talking about goods or services that have a more intrinsic value. We need food and shelter, of course, but how about the things that add a value that is more emotional than physical? How much do the things that matter, really matter when push comes to shove? Is good enough really good enough?
As a photographer, I know I will never be the cheapest option for most people. How do I justify the value that I place on my work? I provide things that matter for people who care. Let me explain.
We live in a world where we are overwhelmed with imagery on a continual basis. Everyone who has a smart phone has a camera, and hundreds if not thousands of images that they want to share. 95 million photos and videos are added to Instagram every day! Some of these are good, some are not, but for the most part they are transient; you see them and they are gone. (Don’t even get me started on Snapchat, which I’m not even sure really exists because I blinked and it was gone.)
Sure, these images exist on a tiny hard drive somewhere, at least for the short term, but they are like small billboards along the 401: you see them when you pass by, but will they be there the next time? How about in five years? Ten years? Digital is easy, cheap and high quality, but no one can guarantee how long digital storage of any kind will last. there is no foolproof option.
The five per cent of the marketplace that I concentrate on want to know that they can see that billboard (their photographic wall art, albums and photo books) every time their mind wanders down that same road. It matters to them that it always looks the same, that the colours are always as bright and that the memories they connect to it are never far away. They attach far more than a momentary glance at a collection of pixels to the images that matter to them, and for the knowledge that it will always be available, they are willing to pay a price. They do this because to them it matters, because they care. They invest in lots of photos on the wall, and albums of prints to look back and see days gone by. And when they pass, their kids, and their kid’s kids can see who the people are that came before.
Do I wish more people cared? Sure, and not only because it might be good for business. I really think we need to do a reset about what matters and what doesn’t, but to each his or her own. I’m blown away by the quality of digital images available today. I just encourage people to select a few ‘irreplaceable” images and create prints from them.someone will be glad you did.