Capitalizing on the Preservation Era: The Opportunity for Photo Labs with Hard Copy Prints

By Joe LaBarca – Pixel Preservation International

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There’s a potential risk associated with the rise in digital photography. Most of us are unaware of the real possibility of losing our digital photos. We take countless images on digital cameras and mobile phones, storing them on hard drives, laptops and in the cloud. But what happens when you lose your phone or technology standards change or you have so many images that sorting through them is not only impractical, it’s nearly impossible?

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Printing is the simplest way for consumers to preserve their most valuable images. There’s a tremendous amount of technology and media that exist today that can preserve digital images for more than a hundred years at room temperature conditions. And yet, in today’s digital world, printing is rarely done. This represents a great opportunity for photographic printing labs – wholesale labs, large and small professional and school labs, in-store retail labs as well as on-online fulfillment services – to take advantage of a classic product: the hard copy print.

The key is to get the message out on the need for hard copy preservation. The trick is how the message is presented. A positive, value added approach is going to be more effective than a scare tactic. The positive approach is a message created about precious digital files of family events and how important it will be to have a record of these events in 20 or 30 years. Producing prints and photo books today will ensure the memories will be around for the future. The alternative scare tactic approach – imploring a consumer to make prints or photo books or else – is not only going to be less effective, it could also hurt repeat business.

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It’s also critical to make sure that you’re reaching the right demographics. Start with young moms. While historically it was often dad taking the pictures, it was mom who managed the pictures of the family through photo albums and scrapbooks. She essentially became the CFPO – Chief Family Photo Officer and that remains largely true today. As millennials become parents, they will easily identify with the preservation message for two main reasons: 1) they observe first-hand how quickly their children are changing and growing up; 2) their parents likely had hard copy photos of themselves as children and they will recognize the importance and value of seeing these images of themselves from 25 or 30 years ago. This easily translates to the importance of having images of their children 25 or 30 years from now. This will happen even though they may never have taken a film photograph or made a digital print in their entire lives.

While it may sound odd, a second important demographic is the baby boomer generation that are now becoming grandparents. Boomers made prints of their children when they were young and immediately recognize the value of pulling those photo albums and scrapbooks out to show their children who are new parents. This group also reinforces the value of printing and preservation to new moms and dads. Boomers are also active photo enthusiasts and will be taking their own digital pictures of their new grandchildren. Since they already recognize the long-term value of hard copy photos from their children’s photos, it should not take much encouragement for them to realize their best digital photos are important and need to be in hard copy form as a means of long-term preservation.

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A further component to hard copy prints and photo books, adding even more value for the consumer, is that hard copy comes “full circle” in the digital world. A print today was likely “born digital” – that is created from a digitally captured file. Because high quality scans can be created from hard copy prints, a new digital file can be created from the print, should the original ever need to be replaced. Clearly there is strong value from many perspectives to having a hard copy print and the key to unlocking this value is to insure that the consumer recognizes all the benefits the print has to offer.

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With state of the art image permanence and the longest lasting image in dark storage of any silver halide media in the industry, KODAK PROFESSIONAL Endura Premier Paper is the logical choice for long-term preservation. This paper provides high image quality today and maintains that image quality for generations to come in the future.

As a photographic lab, professional photographer, or a consumer, you’re probably interested in learning more about how you can take advantage of the opportunities presented by hard copy preservation using KODAK PROFESSIONAL Endura Premier Paper. Please check out two papers that were recently presented at the Society of Image Science and Technology 5th annual International Symposium on Technologies for Digital Photo Fulfillment at the annual PMA/DIMA/Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The first paper: Hard Copy Printing for Long-term Preservation as a Growth Engine for Prints and Photo Books, takes a deep dive into the trends around preservation and how to take advantage of them. The second paper: KODAK PROFESSIONAL ENDURA Premier Paper: Still the Digital Imaging Media of Choice, looks at digital print technologies and how KODAK PROFESSIONAL Endura Premier Paper is optimized for long-term, hard copy preservation.

15 thoughts on “Capitalizing on the Preservation Era: The Opportunity for Photo Labs with Hard Copy Prints

  1. Honestly, I’ve yet to see a digital print that looks all that wonderful. I’ve had a few things printed, but looking back to stuff from 15 years ago that were optically printed, those look so much better. Besides: I still have the negatives. :)

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  2. There is no comparison of a digital print to a silver gelatin or chromogenic print. While inks and papers have indeed improved, they have lagged behind actual image capture. Hate to say it, digital fans- in this case, optical prints are still better.

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