What is The Real Value of Photography?
The other day I went to an antique store with my husband and was admiring some old daguerreotype prints for sale. $75 for a little tiny wallet-sized photo of someone that no one really knows or remembers anymore. But yet there is clearly value in this tiny portrait. Who could imagine just throwing it away? Why? Because it's clear that by virtue of having been set, in this case, in metal, a certain kind of reverence for that person, that moment, that life represented, this person and hence their visage was a treasure. That captures the true essence of why I am a photographer.
I will tell you that in my early years as a mom I valued photography. I bought a quality SLR film camera after I had my first baby and I had a lot of film developed. I paid for beautiful portraits of him. But then digital photography came around, the harried pace of life with a lot of little ones took over and my other children have far fewer photos of themselves in print. A serious failing on my part! But life gets busy and overwhelming and before you know it, printing photos that old seems kind of strange (not to mention a lot of work!).... but we still feel the lack of them. The photos that I did trouble myself to order prints of are treasures because every day as I see them, my connection with that moment and that person in that time in life deepens. It accentuates our history together. It reminds me of how long I have loved these people, how dear they are to me. It's no surprise to me that studies have shown how psychologically beneficial it is to be surrounded in your home by tangible photographs of family.
As an artist though, there are other reasons that I believe in delivering heirloom prints and albums. Design matters, not only with respect to my creative eye, which cannot be found anywhere else... it's unique to me, but in the caliber of people that I partner with to bring you the heirloom prints and products you are looking for. You are not paying me for the raw materials used to make a picture print, though quality most definitely matters. Just as when you go to a gourmet meal, you are not paying for the raw ingredients, but rather for the genius chef at the stove whose work it is to create something that you could not replicate on your own, a creative process and understanding of his craft that is unique to him.
The creation process of each piece holds as much importance to the end result as the moment I frame a photo and hit that shutter release. For me to take myself out of the equation of the creative process once I have pressed the button would be a huge disservice to my clients. So seeing the whole photography process through from planning to creation to the selection process to hand delivery, is how I am able to ensure that you are getting the best that I can offer. All of those steps are not only a real service to my clients but they are integral parts of the creative process itself. I am, after all, presenting art to you. I am not providing you with a commodity or something you can recreate in a photo booth or at the mall. I am listening to you. The process, unlike a big box experience, is fluid and unique to you because we work together to create something truly beautiful to be treasured.
Fine art photography is really all about the final product. It's about your end goal. It's not about sheer volume. After all, what is the point of hiring a skilled professional photographer if you are going to get your photos printed at Walmart or Walgreens? I believe the work I do demands better than what you can get from a big box store in terms of print quality and color accuracy, not to mention over all client experience. As the products that I deliver to you are going to express my work in greater detail and more permanently than any other medium, it is important to me that my artistic integrity is maintained by not leaving the results up to non-professionals and imprecise printing solutions with no way for me to ensure a quality result for my clients. I invest a great deal into my business and client relationships so to leave the results, for their sakes and for mine, to so many variables would be unwise.
Just as when you reach a certain level of accomplishment in your performing arts, you invest more and more into those things and ways of showcasing it which are worthy of the level of skill achieved, so I have developed my own creativity, knowledge of photography, the printing process and client experience to a degree that demands I invest in the best representation of that skill possible.
That is what I offer to my clients. My best. It's not cheap, because my time and my work are valuable to me. Nor is it accessible to anyone who wants a photographer. But I gladly serve those who value the authenticity and bespoke nature of the creative process that is owned each step of the way by the creator as well as the provenance, uniqueness and exceptional quality of the end results which will be treasured for a lifetime.