Why you shouldn’t just get digital files


One of the most common requests I hear from clients is: “I only want the digital files”.

That’s pretty normal, because with the surge of personal technologies, such as smartphones over the last decade or so, people have just become conditioned to ask for files and nothing else. Initially you might think that’s all you need, but what’s your long-term plan for your pictures? And is skimping now really worth it in the end? Here are a few reasons you might want to reconsider “just getting the digitals”.

1. Jpegs will become a thing of the past

Jpegs are on their way out, just like 8 tracks and VHS tapes and dinosaurs. They’re a low-quality compression format, and there are already new higher quality compression formats being developed. Within a few years your Jpegs will be ancient file types that are of visibly lower quality compared to the new stuff. Just think of how HD video has changed our world! Here’s an in-depth article about Apple’s HEIC and other future photo formats.

2. Technology is not foolproof

Recently my iPhone crashed and I lost an entire year's worth of photos! Luckily I use my Nikon DSLR for my professional work, but still it was heartbreaking to lose those personal iPhone photos. Technology is great but it’s not foolproof. I have a number of external storage drives, but even some of them have crashed or acted strange in the past. It’s so important to backup your backups!

3. Files get buried in digital clutter on your computer…and gather digital dust

I have a gazillion personal photos on my computer and hard drives. But I hardly ever look at them.

My albums from before “the digital era” are wonderful to page through, or for my kids to see our pre-kid lives when we lived in Europe. Because I have those physical albums I never have a reason to access the files on my computer. Yes, I posted them on Facebook 10 years ago, I got a lot of likes - so there was that - but that was it!

4. Custom printed wall art

Family photos are all over our house. Every time I run up the stairs I look right into my kids’ smiling faces and see me in the photos with them, not just the rest of the family together without me in the picture.

If you love decorating your home you can easily tie your custom printed wall art right into your decor - you can even plan it all before your session. Talk to me about your style - are you traditional? Or do you prefer light and airy images? What colors are in your home? Choose frames and prints that complement your personal style.

Also consider the size of your wall art. If you have some blank walls we can fill them in with appropriate sized prints. Large wall art can make a huge visual impact AND make your home feel like home! Just what you need.

Really think about what you love…because you’ll see it every day without even having to touch your technology.

5. A Tactile Experience

Physical prints and books are a physical experience. They trigger real chemical reactions in our brains that make us feel emotions. The texture of the paper, the smell of the leather, the craftsmanship of the canvas, the weightiness of an album – all of these things indicate value, and signify the personal importance of the subject matter. They trigger feelings of nostalgia, gratitude, and other emotions.

Glossing through files on a computer screen just can’t compare. Think about reading a printed book as opposed to scrolling through your kindle. Yes, it might be the same content, but are you really getting the whole experience? The feel of turning the pages, the smell of the paper, removing your bookmark, the artwork on the cover? Have you ever hugged a book to your chest as you’re falling asleep?

Experiencing the tactile world is far more fulfilling than gazing at screens.

6. Image Resolution and Printing Labs

So you’ve just picked up your prints at the mall and the photos just look blah… too red, too yellow, your blue eyes are now purple! Not at all what you had in mind! Why did it look so stunning during my ordering session with my photographer… but now this? They looked so great on my computer screen, but what happened?

The answer is simple: consumer labs use cheaper inks and papers, and aren’t color calibrated with your computer screen. They often use auto-correction that can distort the original colors, and it can come out looking entirely different than the original.

If you received social share preview files and you printed them at home, they would look all blurry and pixelated. This is due to low resolution compression, like the Jpeg format mentioned earlier. All of the tiny dots or pixels are blown up way bigger than they're supposed to be, and the result is a big blurry mess. Not the kind of quality you’d consider blowing up and hanging on your wall!

As a professional photographer I’ve done my research and have access to the very best professional printing labs! These labs only work with photographers who know how to properly format digital images for print (that’s me!). These are the labs who produce high quality glossy magazine imagery, not your local mall one-stop-shop.

A professional photographer has spent time calibrating their computer screen with the particular labs that they work with. This results in prints of the highest possible quality, with the highest color integrity, and come out looking just as the photographer originally intended! This is, after all, why you’d hire a professional…isn’t it?