In Praise of Digital Photography
In any discipline, you will have what many think of as “the purists”. Purists are those who revere the way things have always been done and view new innovations in the field as upstarts and obviously of poorer quality than the tried and true methods.
This is nowhere more true than photography. For decades the film and chemical processing method has undergone continual refinement to achieve higher and higher levels of sophistication and to find higher levels of quality. Small wonder that when the digital revolution came along, “the purists” were, to say the least, a bit snobby about the idea of professional photography moving in this direction.
But there are some genuine reasons to at least incorporate digital technology into your professional photography game plan. These reasons are compelling enough that more and more we are seeing the big studios going all digital. So if you are running an independent photography business or if you are “just” a photography hobbyist (and thank God for the hobbyists), you may have to think through the value of moving to digital processing yourself.
Ease of Use.
The amount of fuss and sheer “stuff” of doing a shoot digitally is dramatically less involved than using the older technologies. Witness how the digital revolution in photography has revolutionized the personal camera world. Now people can take as many pictures as they want and have them to review virtually instantaneously.
Probably the biggest leap forward in the use of digital photography is that you can do re-shoots quickly, easily and for virtually no cost. If you conduct a portrait session with a customer, you can have the “stills” of the session available almost as soon as the session is done. If a shot was good but not perfect, you can correct it and re-shoot immediately saving huge amounts of time and improving the chances you will get the portfolio you want and that the customer wants on the first session.
Rapid Customer Service.
The impression we get when a technology delivers so much value to the public is that quality will go down. But, amazingly, this is not the case with digital photography. If anything, the quality of the photographs is as good or better than any we could do with prior technologies. And the cost both to you as the photographer and to your customer drops off so dramatically that the age old complaint the customer has had about professional photographs costing too much can be eliminated making the customer want to use your services more often.
Digital photography, being a child of the internet and the digital revolution that has swept our lives via personal computers, can be delivered in a myriad of ways and at a speed that was unheard of prior to the arrival of this technology. We can deliver the photos via email, by posting them to an online gallery or by burning them to a DVD or CD so the customer can order lots more shots for the same cost and have them delivered in a way that easy to view and store.
Editing has similarly moved from the realm of the back room wizards to something any of us can do due to the sophisticated computer programs, such as Photoshop, that we can use to improve the pictures we take. It is really amazing the effects that can be imposed on a picture with this software. But more importantly we can so much more easily correct minor problems with a photograph so what might have been a lost session can be improved to become acceptable with some clever use of digital editing.
In virtually every way, digital photography, delivery and editing is superior to the way “the purists” would have us hold on to. It makes our lives as photographers easier, faster and more profitable. But above all, this is something our customers want us to use. They get to enjoy their pictures so much faster, at a more reasonable cost and the pictures can be emailed to friends and posted on their family web sites which is fun for everyone. So despite our desire to be “purists”, every reason we need is there to convince us that digital photography is the way to go.