185 years...

I just discovered the first photograph was taken in 1826. It took eight hours to expose the negative made from a pewter plate. According to National Geographic anyway.

Eight hours! Can you believe that? Now a days you can take a digital photo, download it, and upload it to an online lab in less than eight minutes.

Needless to say, photography has come a long way in 185 years. Wrap your brain around that! I don’t even think I can comprehend a time span of that length. Anywho. The role of professional photographer has changed a lot in just the past few years.

Previously photographers served a dual purpose. Not only did they take photos, but you ordered prints through them as well. Those prints were how photographers made their money. But technology has changed the situation. After digital cameras came out the number of photo labs exploded! Every grocery store, retail chain, and pharmacy has a photo lab these days.

And then came the Shutterflies and Snapfishes (or is Snapfish plural too?) of the world. Didn’t take long for someone to realize the costly overhead of a brick and mortar retail store wasn't necessary to sell photo prints. When they went online, photo labs started marketing to individuals rather than photographers.

Let me pause right here. I firmly believe there is a distinct difference in the quality of a photo printed at your neighborhood store and those printed at a professional lab. I’m willing to bet 90 percent of the time the techs working in the photo labs where you can also purchase hair dye and a frozen pizza don’t know anything about processing photos beyond the ‘start’ button of the machine.

But, I choose to offer digital negatives anyway. Why? Because my rock star clients hire me to take photos. Not print them. Who am I to say they pay $80 for a professional quality 8x10 when they would be perfectly happy spending $5 at Walgreens. Especially when most of the time they have access to the same photo labs I do.

The flip side of that coin - why do I offer prints at all? Because the sheer number of photo labs available can be overwhelming. And ordering prints takes time. For someone willing to pay a little extra, I’m more than happy to take it on for them. And I do mean, a little extra. The pricing of my prints is not designed for profit. I get paid to take pictures. I can count the number of times I’ve placed a print order on one hand. My rock star clients want the CD of images, to the point where I’m considering making it standard.

Long story short, I believe the days of photographers holding onto the printing rights of their images with both hands is coming to an end. But ultimately, it will determined by the rock stars who hire us.

This is the incredible light fixture in the main entry of the Tournament Club of Iowa in Polk City.