//Rant// Digital files are a death sentence for your wedding photos

This post is appropriately titled... "Rant." Consider yourself warned and read on at your own risk!

The importance of print is something that I have slowly become more passionate about over the last year or so. I used to be a huge believer in the client having all their high-resolution files so that I could brush my hands off and let them do their thing. So many of my couples would say that they wanted to go print and album or make a wall gallery and I thought "Great! they can choose their favorite photos and make the album they want." 

A few things happened between then and now to change my mind: First, I happened to run into a previous couple of mine and we wound up chatting. She had been one of the people most adamant about having her printing rights so that she could make her own album. She loved graphic design and wanted to be able to build it just how she wanted. So, naturally, I asked her how her album was! This was a year after her wedding. She hadn't put it together yet.

She hadn't printed of her photos despite being the most passionate about wanting to! 

After we met up, what she said stuck with me for a while, and I couldn't stop thinking about what my other couples were up to. Since was so adamant about making an album, what about all the other couples who were just sitting with digital files on their computers?  

So, I emailed a few people...

"hey, random question, have you made that album you were so excited about? Did you get some prints......no? do you have your photos saved in more than one place....NO??!!!" GUYS.

here's the thing about hard drives. they fail. a lot.

Like at least every three years. I know because my external drives fail ALL. THE. TIME. But, it doesn't bother me. My whole job is having digital files safely stored until I can get them to my couples, and as such, I am neurotic about storage. That's not a normal-person-thing though. Do you have a mirrored hard drive of your system files, two mirrored external drives, and cloud storage for your photos?? I didn't think so. If so BRAVO. I applaud you. But in my experience, that is not the norm. 

After hearing from all of my couples that NOT ONE of them had printed their own files, despite insisting that they were going to and they wanted the freedom to do so... I made a decision. It felt really extreme at the time, but I feel better and better about it every day. I started offering print products and including albums in ALL of my collections, even the smallest one.

I want people to see that it is SO important to me that your precious memories NEED to be stored somewhere other than a hard drive. They need to be printed!!! 

Here's the final straw that inspired me to write this rambling rant and finally get it out on paper (sort of). I got an email a couple weeks ago from one of my brides from July 2016. She said

"Kate, please tell me you still have my wedding photos. My computer died, they've told me I can't recover anything off of the drive, and I thought my friend downloaded them but she didn't."

My jaw hit the floor. 

I could only imagine the agonizing, gut-wrenching, fear that she felt thinking that her photos might just be gone forever. Thankfully, I still had her photos and reactivated her gallery so that she could download them again... but my goodness. What does it take for people to realize that hard drives are not safe places? LOSING such important memories? What if I hadn't had the photos. What if it had been five years from now instead of 6 months? Would my backup copies have been safe? Would the computers of the future even be able to open them?

The ONLY thing that truly lasts in this day and age is... PRINT.

I've come to see "Digital Files" as the current curse of the photography industry. All the wedding blogs say "make sure your photographer gives you the digital files and printing rights" but that now feels to me like a betrayal.

That feels like dropping a baby who can barely walk in the middle of the desert and trust they can find water.

I know how to print photos so that the colors look right, I know the professional labs that use archival quality inks and papers, and I know the album companies who make stuff that's not going to fall apart. Why should I let these photos that I lovingly craft, and spend hours and hours editing to get perfect skin tones and contrast, get printed by a crappy printer at Walgreens?

If you trust me to document the day while it's happening and tell your story, why not trust me to finish that process with you? 

Maybe right now it feels like enough to have an album on Facebook... or to just have them on your phone to show off to our friends. Maybe it feels like too much money when you're already spending SO MUCH on your wedding. But what happens as time goes on?

What happens when social media is totally changed, you've gotten a new phone 10 times since then, and the laptop where you downloaded the photos is gone? What are your kids going to touch, turn the pages of, marvel at the beauty of? How are they going to experience the beginning of the story that brought them into the world?

I remember leafing through thousands of 4x6 prints from film of my parents... on vacation in Bali, drunkenly dancing at their wedding, wearing ridiculous white bellbottoms in the 70's, having me, seeing the first time my golden retriever sniffed me when I came home from the hospital, and so so so much more.

i know things about their story because i saw a photo and asked. 

Our memories are important. Our stories are important. Like it or not, we relive them through frozen images of a time gone by. That is why I have a job that is also my passion, and that is why I love documenting weddings. I want to finish telling that story and make sure you relive that day every time you walk by the print on your staircase, or when you blow the dust off the spine of your album to flip through it with an elderly relative. Let's do it!

Prints, guys. Go get some. Like, yesterday.