Digital Files – Are they worth the hassle | Minks Photography Cincinnati Senior Photographer

Are digital files really what they're "chalked up" to be?

When it comes to professional digital images they are of little worth to the average consumer.


Professional, high quality labs only sell to professional photographers for similar reasons that other manufacturers don’t sell to the general public.  For example, digital files hold a vast amount of information and need to be configured specifically for each unique lab based on the equipment they use, which is part of the expertise of a professional photographer.
Lets look at some some differences in a mass produced canvas that the general public can purchase vs. the high quality hand made canvas that I provide my clients.
Compare this significantly smaller (12×12) canvas that I recently provided a client to the much larger (16 x 20) mass produced canvas. At first glance you may think the smaller canvas is at a disadvantage but let’s take a look.

Let’s look at the quality difference first by the weight.

Significantly larger, 16×20 gallery wrap mass produced canvas, weighs less than the smaller canvas.
Significantly smaller, 12×12 gallery wrap hand made high quality canvas, weighs more.

Notice the visual difference.

In the side by side comparison the mass produced canvas (left) is much thinner and you can see that the image is not printed all the way around (notice the white line on the back of the canvas which is visible when hung on a wall). 
On the back of the hand made canvas (right) not only does the image wrap all the way around but you can see that they have even finished the back with felt so it won’t scratch the walls.  Quality manufacturers put a lot of thought and research into products.
Let’s look at a portion of the process the hand made canvas, that I provide my clients, goes though during it’s creation.  There are several more steps than shown below which is why this company produces canvases that will last 100+ years.
A mass produced canvas goes through two steps. 
1. It’s printed directly on the canvas
2. It’s attached to a pre-made form

Benjamin Franklin said “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten”.  In essence, "You get what you pay for".


Technology changes constantly and with that comes upkeep.  Below is the history of data storage over time.  
    1. Punch Cards – 1890
    2. Magnetic Drum – 1932
    3. Williams Kilburn Tube – 1947
    4. Magnetic tape drive (cassette tape) – 1951
    5. Magnetic core – 1951
    6. Hard Disk Drive – 1956
    7. Floppy Disks – 1967
    8. Compact Disks (CD’s) – 1982
    9. Zip Drive – 1994
    10. DVD – 1995
    11. SD Card – 1999
    12. USB Flash Drive – 1999
    13. Blue Ray Disks – 2003
    14. Cloud Storage – 2006
    15. The future brings so much more…
Most people forget where they stored their digitals so when it’s time to update to a new format they may not know where they have placed them.  Once found it is likely that they will have to pay someone to transfer them to a new digital storage system.  You also need to consider that data storage can become corrupt and could cost anywhere from $100 to $2000 to have it recovered.  You can read more about data recovery here.
NOTE:  If you have digital images stored on a CD somewhere you may want to transfer them to a USB or Cloud form now while you are thinking of it.


Would you ever go to Nordstrom and purchase pieces of a suit then take them home to sew them together yourself?  Of course not.  You go to Nordstrom because they are experts in choosing high quality finished clothing. Even if you had the equipment and skill to carry out such a task, who has the time to do that?  You have better things to do with your time.  Similarly, why pay a professional photographer for 50% of the job only to have them hand off the responsibility of preserving their work to you. The process of taking a captured, edited image and transforming it to a treasured, printed memory takes dozens of hours.  Your time is too valuable for that.


If you have your image professionally taken and simply request digital copies, (instead of having your photographer print them for you), then what happens next?  Typically most people post them on social media where they are viewed for a day or two.  Perhaps (depending on the algorithm that week) some of your friends and family may or may not see them.  Then in a few years that same social media platform might remind you of them, allowing you to repeat the pattern of sharing with a few folks for a few days.
Next, when was the last time you asked a friend or family member to come and sit at your computer to view family portraits or wedding images? I think you’d agree that isn’t an effective method.
Compare that to the rich, storied tradition of printing and displaying photographs. For over 100 years people have displayed portraits in their homes for everyone to enjoy.  Those always-visible memories can at times help shape and frame the personality of a room.  In fact, they often become part of what makes your house a home.
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