Are you 'digital', 'tangible' or both?
Yesterday, facebook and instagram went down for about 10 hours before it started working again for most people. The first thing I saw was how quickly businesses were suffering, specifically the social media only type businesses. It annoyed me as well, also being someone that utilizes social media but then something happened that made me smile and realize, hey, if social media goes down I'm actually okay! I received something many businesses don't utilize, is even unheard of with some. I received an EMAIL, through my WEBSITE! Yes, you read that right, there are actually other methods of A) operating a business and being found, and B) communicating with the outside world. The second, was some comments people were making about loss of a large chunk of their photos they uploaded to facebook and the fear it seemed to bring them.
In today's day, everyone who owns a camera is a photographer. Personally and this might be just me, but I don't feel like you're truly a professional if you don't invest in your business and if all you use is a free facebook page and instagram account, you're really no different than johnny down the street posting all his cell phone shots to his pages. Professionals should have a website, especially photographers. You need a professional, quality portfolio and a way of communicating with clients or potential clients without relying solely on social media. I know I'm crazy for saying it but not everyone is on social media. Some people still like to google websites and even use the yellow pages to actually use the calling feature on their phones and speak to a person with a voice. Crazy, I know. I myself will always google before I search on facebook and chances are good the company with a professional website with clear information and a nice looking gallery of images on google, will receive my business before the guy who only has a facebook page.
If these popular social platforms were to suddenly be gone tomorrow, I'm sure there would be something new either already in existence that will grow or something else will be created. People thrive on social media, they go crazy if they can't access it (clearly seen yesterday). But the businesses that you can only find on these platforms? How would they survive without them? Word of mouth is big, you might have happy clients that tell people about you but that is not sustainable, you need many methods of getting your name, service or product out there and you need to keep up with it. If you're placing all your cards in one basket, you're limiting yourself and risking being lost if the time were to come that your only connection to the outside world is social media platforms. If you have a website, people will be able to find you and if there were no more facebook or instagram but they want your service, they will still find you.
I may very well have booked the client yesterday that emailed me through my website simply because it was the only way available at the time to find a photographer. She may have been looking for me specifically, or just looking for websites as a preference like I do. She may have wanted to use social media but couldn't and since she still wanted a photographer, she went where she could find one. The businesses that are only on social media? They weren't found and can't be booked if they're not found. See the big picture? If you can't be found, you can't gain clients.
Not only do I have a website, but I also use tangible marketing like business cards and flyers that I take to local businesses and give to clients. I've gotten inquiries and even booked clients who saw my flyer somewhere but is not on social media. You actually need to step outside the internet to find some clients, and they may very well be your ideal client with money to spend, they just prefer finding their services outside the box.
We are in such a digital world, that people rarely print their photos, or do anything with them aside from sharing on social media. What would you do if all of your photos are on a social platform like facebook, your whole life essentially in photos and one day, it was just gone? While facebook and instagram are massive platforms, years ago so were others such as myspace and those are no longer. Say they don't disappear completely, but experience technical difficulty and lose all of the data, including yours in a matter of hours or days. What if there were no way to recover it?
We used to have these things called floppy discs. I actually still have a box of them that I can never open again unless I were to find a working floppy drive to recover what's on them and if I did, I may not be able to find a program that'll open the files. Those drives are also obsolete, programs won't run certain things older than certain years. CD's are on their way to becoming obsolete in a world of online media and cloud services but the one thing all of these forms of media have in common is that they are not a guarantee for life. They can and do stop working, they can and do crash, data can be and is lost very quickly and often there are no ways to recover the data.
I have very few clients, and by few I mean I can count on one hand the ones that actually print their photos. I know very few people who care to print their photos but they have hundreds of albums, thousands of photos uploaded to social media sites that none of us own. Not a single one of us goes more than a day if at all from taking a photo, whether it be just cell phone shots, amateur or professional. Photography is as much a part of us as is breathing and to many, social media is judging by the response I saw to them going down for a day.
I have had people say all they want is the digital files, they don't need prints. While digital files may be great because well, I sell them and I use them, they are not 100% safe from destruction. Now I know neither is printed photos in the case of other types of loss like fire etc, but this is why I also highly recommend my clients not only print their photos, but back the files up in multiple places. In fact, I have it in my contract that my clients are solely responsible for their files after they have been delivered to them. I back up my work however I am not required nor do I have the space to back up every single image I have ever taken for my clients on the chance that they may need to come to me for them again.
I'm not sure how accurate the years are on this graphic, but I'm sharing just to put it in perspective
Prints will almost always bypass the lifespan of any technology we can come up with. Even if you store your digital files, one day when the media they are on becomes obsolete, how will you retrieve the images?
This is why it's so important to back up your files in multiple places as well as print them because most likely, it's your prints that will outlive the rest.
When I get inquiries for photography and people ask my prices, many simply don't respond again, some say it's out of budget and others will outright call me crazy for asking my prices for "just pictures". I've heard "just pictures" so many times it makes my eyes and ears hurt. I've heard "I can't justify spending $200 on pictures" but then yesterday when people's photos were disappearing, it was amazing how quickly they realize how important they are. And not just professional photos, but even cell phone snaps. Those are moments we can't get back. Pictures of people we may never see again.
I've said it many times, people just store their lives on Facebook believing it will always be there. They never print their most prized possessions, don't take the time to back them up, only want digital files to share online and then something happens and they could or do lose them all. It takes seconds for someone's life to disappear, and why? They didn't value them enough when they had the chance. People only value their photos when they're all they have left or are no longer there. Could this experience maybe be the proof people need that they should actually do something with their photos other than post online? Back up your files people and because many forms of technology past have become obsolete as the times change, none of this is guaranteed or safe from destruction.
Print your photos or some day you'll lose them forever then what will you do? It's crazy how many people have the mentality of "I won't pay that just for pictures!" That's a crazy price for pictures!" Yet when something happens like yesterday, the first thing people look for is...you guessed it....their "just pictures!" 🤔
Literally, the first thing people think about in a situation of loss is their photos. Like this is the lifeline to our lives, but it's not worth $200 to so many people? $200 is peanuts for your actually priceless memories. $200 is nothing for your everything.
The one thing everyone wants and needs, the one thing everyone has a heart attack over at the thought of losing, is the most undervalued and unappreciated piece of our lives until it's gone.
Professional Photographer's doing this as a career, asking for money in exchange for once in a lifetime and lifelong lasting experiences, are one of the most highly disrespected and unappreciated services out there. People will gladly pay thousands for a tattoo, but think photographers are insane for asking for mere hundreds for their service. Your photos? They will be around long after you and your tattoo are gone, just saying.
I back up my files in many ways with a mix of external hard drives and online cloud services. I have even had a hard drive crash where I was unable to retrieve all of my photos from it so those are not a guarantee either but I now back up to a minimum of 2 hard drives plus online. My methods are not 100% guaranteed for life, but my chances are far less probable of losing everything as someone who simply posts their photos on face book and thinks they'll never lose them. Facebook might be around for a long time, but why trust one place with your life and your memories?
Value photography BEFORE you lose it!