It's another beautiful (albeit, hot) week here in Austin Texas! However, the weather is slowly shifting as it gets later in the year. School just started, and Fall is on the way. I was trying to plan out the next time I could take my boys out and get some photos of them (they are growing like weeds!) and it occurred to me how much shorter the evening is. We will soon be assaulted with Black Friday ads, then those for Christmas, or both at once! Nothing gets more people excited than shopping for a good deal, but what I want to discuss right now is the actual price of bargain shopping when it comes to your treasured memories.
I know deep down inside, we all understand the saying, "you get what you pay for", but is that ALWAYS the case, or just a saying meant to rub salt into the wounds of those experiencing the burn of a bargain gone bad? I feel like that saying is a great big, "I told ya so"! There are plenty of times when saving money here or there is perfectly acceptable and even encouraged. I would argue that practically every time you are doing something, that should be your goal. In fact, if you are interested in money savings, there are plenty of great strategies and ways to do so-- I encourage you to visit this blog (Called the Simple Money Blog) to get a young married couple's perspective on how. Do you need 1800 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets when you have children that aren't potty trained and often wind up in bed with you? I'm pretty sure you will easily survive on a bed set from TJ Maxx. Are Kellogg's Corn Flakes really so different than the supermarket off brand? Maybe a taste test is in order ;) However-- when your investment causes you to lose money, and what you purchase isn't good enough quality to actually keep, well you are just plain throwing your money out the window. That's where the nasty saying above seems to make the most sense.
Today, I would like to talk briefly about your memories, and what they are worth. I want to talk about the quality of your items instead of the quantity. These days, the consumer market is driven by price, and the need for companies to make prices lower has spawned an entire market of inferior quality goods. This isn't to say that ALL goods that are priced lower are of inferior quality, but it does mean there is now more need than ever to be careful when deciding what you spend your money on. The desire to have our cake and eat it too has opened up a world of possibilities, and as it relates to photography, it means you have plenty of choices now. You aren't restricted in where you go for portraits now. I remember as a child, THE option was a portrait at an Olan Mills studio. I am sure many of you had this same experience as a child. Also, now you aren't restricted to where you have your photographs printed. We live in a wonderful world where you can snap a shot with your mobile phone, and have it printed within an hour at the local Pharmacy.
I know this is getting long, so I would like to cut to the chase. Why would anyone go through the trouble of commissioning a professional artist to create photographic art for your family just to have your images printed at the Pharmacy? It may seem like "saving money" in the short term, but what was the initial goal behind the portrait session? I am sure nobody plans on going through the entire experience "just because"... There was/is a reason. Be truthful to yourself. You wanted to go to a professional to help you capture memories. You like their vision, and trust their artistic style to help portray you and your loved ones just the way they are at this exact moment in time. When you go outside of your professional to have prints made, there are any number of things that can and often do happen, the most impactful is having a print that is not true to what your commissioned artist envisioned.
I could talk all day about this, and spend hundreds of dollars printing inferior products to show you the difference in quality between a professional print and an economy print. Thankfully, I don't have to because there are many pioneers that came before me to try and enlighten the masses. To see the differences, take a quick peek at any/all of these blogposts.
I am sure you can see from those photos what happens, and it is not at all flattering. Detail and color are sacrificed as is a lot of your photographer's hard work (you know, the hard work you paid them for when they were enhancing your images to begin with).
At first glance you might think that they are the same, but.... would you rather have a quart of fool's gold, or an ounce of pure?