As WPPI’s competition directors, Melissa and I have been spending a lot of our time lately on The Annual 16 x 20 Print, Album and Filmmaking competition, which is one of the few around the world that still requires you to submit a physical print. That’s a pretty big deal in a world where fewer and fewer people are printing their photographs. Why is that important and how can we translate this to our businesses and our clients? As an organization, WPPI is committed to continuing to champion the importance of printed photographs. We are not just photographers—we are historians who capture moments preserved in print for future generations.
If you’ve ever attended WPPI and walked through the gallery of prints that received an award during the print competition, you will know what an inspiring experience it is to see hundreds of incredible prints all lined up and beautifully displayed; it’s certainly more impactful and meaningful than viewing them on a small phone screen or on your computer. The colors, textures and storytelling all come alive on the printed piece.
We are living in a time when most people over the age of 10 own a phone, which means they have a camera on their person at all times. And while hobbyists and photo enthusiasts are getting better at taking photographs, you simply cannot compare the quality of those photographs to an experienced professional and the power of the printed image. One way that I like to differentiate myself and survive and thrive in this tough market is by only offering collections that include a physical product. If you market to the right clientele who appreciate great photography in a printed form (whether it’s an album or wall portraits for their home) and if you work hard to create that desire for products and your services, then you give clients no choice but to purchase an album. One way that I have found many photographers are sabotaging their own chance of ever selling an album is by not showing any completed albums on their website. Not even one! I currently feature over 15 albums on my website. This is a potential client’s first impression of your studio and where we begin educating them as to what is important. After all, you always sell what you show.
Sadly, the digital revolution has forced many photographers to offer digital-only services. I am a firm believer that there will always be a market that will appreciate an album and prints that you can touch and feel. Trends come and go, but classic, well-crafted printed photography will remain forever. Many clients don’t know the charm of owning a beautiful wedding album or wall art. They just swipe a finger or search for their photos on the Cloud. It all starts with education—educating ourselves as photographers and then educating the public as to the importance of print. There will be so many presentations at WPPI 2018 that promote the power of the printed image, so be sure to check them out!
If you will be attending WPPI this year, make sure you also attend the live judging at this year’s Annual 16 x 20 Print, Album and Filmmaking competition, held on February 24 and 25 at the Excalibur Hotel in Vegas. It is such an incredible learning experience, whether you have entered or not. And then be sure to stop by and see prints that have scored an 80 or above in the gallery, which will be located on the trade show floor every day of the show. See you there!
Jerry Ghionis is WPPI’s print competition director and very first Grand Master.
Related: The Power of Print Prevails