Digital Files vs. Printed Pictures – Which is Better?

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November 27, 2023



Years ago when I was first beginning photography, digital files did not exist. Back then we had negatives. Yet, the desire was still the same. Back then clients wanted their negatives, just as they want digital files today. I was one of those people back when I got married…let’s just say that was some time ago!

I chose a wedding photographer who would include my negatives in my purchase. Luckily, she also included a small album with a fair number of 4×6 prints inside it. I thought it was an amazing deal! I planned to print out all my favorite images and frame some, while also creating my own photo album. How did it turn out, you ask? I never was successful at doing either. To this day, the only printed images I have from our wedding are the ones she gave us in that photo album. Amazingly, I still have those negatives tucked away in a safe place. I did try to use a cheap lab to print some early on, but the picture quality was terrible. We got busy with life, started having kids and that ended the priority of printing those pictures. Yes, I could still find a professional lab today that would print those pictures, but now my focus has moved on to other things and I have just relied on that simple album she gave us way back when. Maybe one day I’ll get around to it….

Why am I sharing this with you? Because I want you to learn from my mistakes! Trust me, I completely understand the desire to want to purchase your digital files from your session. But I want you to also understand how important it is to print your pictures through a professional lab and then hang them or frame them or create albums with them that will live with you and the generations to come! I frequently hear my clients tell me they want to purchase their digital files and print them on their own because the prices will be cheaper at the labs they want to use. Is my professional lab more expensive than places like Target, Costco, Shutterfly, etc? Yep, it certainly is, but with good reason. When you print your images through a premier, professional lab, you are receiving prints on the highest quality papers and with archival inks that will not fade or alter from their original files. Full-resolution digital files are huge and lower-end labs do not have the capabilities of printing your images correctly, without compression and color issues. They will tell you they can print them, but the reality is you will be very disappointed with the end result.

Treasured Family Pictures

Here’s a secret, friend. Years from now you will have digital pictures or digital files stored away up in some iCloud somewhere. Someone you love dearly will cross over, or your little babies will be all grown up, or something will jog your memory and you will want to find those pictures that you took way back when. Will it be easier to pull out a photo album, or maybe flip through a stack of printed pictures or try to find the iCloud that holds the files you stored away? Or even worse, feel devastated when the computer or external drive you stored those files away in is broken and no longer accessible? When your children have grown and have children of their own and they want to learn about you and who you were through pictures, will they even have access to those digital files anymore? Will your images be lost through changes in technology? Wouldn’t it be so much better if they could sit down and flip through photo albums and printed pictures? Of course it would be!

I have boxes and boxes of old negatives from childhood and thankfully they’ve lasted all these years. But it’s funny, I have never once searched through them and tried to find one in particular I was looking for. Why? Because all those pictures were printed! So I just need to grab the photo album and open it up to find what I am looking for! Today we have the gift of being able to look back through old family photos and learn about those who came before us. What a gift that is! We are now the most photographed generation ever…yet we basically have nothing to show for it! Read that again and then change it for your family.

Print Your Pictures!

When I work with a family, I want to capture all the details and stories of your life and your love for each other. I want to capture your hearts and your feelings and preserve it all through images you can print and cherish forever. Yes, you have the ability to purchase your digital files. But before you invest in those, might I suggest you first invest in tangible pictures and albums that you can hold and look at on your walls and in albums that will live on your coffee tables and bookshelves forever? Trust me, the prints and albums are far more valuable! Yes, you will pay more to print through a lab I use…But I promise you won’t regret that purchase when you hold your beautiful memories in your hands and realize their quality will never fade!

May you walk in beauty…

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Here to capture the magical moments between you and your loved ones

I believe it is in our DNA to be connected to nature, animals and each other. When I look through the lens of my camera, I want to highlight this connection and preserve it so you can share your story with future generations.

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