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The Printing in Professional Photography Summit Brings the Printed Portrait to the Forefront - PPA Today

The Printing in Professional Photography Summit Brings the Printed Portrait to the Forefront

By John Owens

Millenials Are Part of A Lost Generation


We are raising a generation of young adults who have been conditioned to not print, yet the public values photography more than ever. People take pictures of everything. EVERYTHING! The sunset, your pets, your food #brunch #noms, yet they don't leave your phone. OK, sure, you uploaded them to the cloud, but where do they go? And how do you know the cloud is safe?

Family heirlooms are becoming far too literally a thing of the past. Our current generation lacks the portraits on the wall. We have Facebook albums and Instagram feeds and CDs in a drawer, but honestly, when is the last time you printed a picture? Or had a family portrait professionally taken and ordered prints? It's a problem facing the photographic community, and the reason the biggest print labs in the industry convened at PPA headquarters in Atlanta for the Printing in Professional Photography Summit.

White House Custom  Colour and Miller's Professional Imaging, H+H, Simply Color, Tyndell Photographic, Hahnemuhle, Kodak Alaris, GW Molding, Finao and American Color Imaging, BWC Photo Imaging, Marathon Press and even Canon had representatives on hand to discuss the lost art of the printed portrait and how to find it again, both for photographers and consumers.

As for professional photographers, many don't even know the intricacies behind selling  prints, let alone have a lab partner to print for them. The disc is handed over and that's the end of the transaction. And consumers don't know the difference between a portrait printed at CVS versus a professional portrait from ACI.

The summit was convened by PPA to find a way to bring the printed portrait back to the forefront of professional photography, and to consumers in general. The fear is that a portion of our society's history will be missing, stashed away on discs that will become obsolete or hard drives that long ago failed. An entire generation lacking a printed history--it's a scary thought!

Why Aren't We Printing Pictures?

It's not that no one is, it's that people are less than they used to. Technology is certainly partly to blame; anyone reading this probably has hundreds of photos on their phone that they've never done anything with, and most likely never will. More images than ever before are being captured, so the ratio of photos taken to photos printed is a much smaller percentage. Your vacation photos that used to go into albums now sit and wait on the computer five years after you came back.

But it's not just Millenials; photographers also share the blame. Pros practicing the "shoot and burn" model are doing a disservice to themselves, the industry, and most importantly--the consumer. And worse--it's an unsustainable model, the industry needs printing to remain viable. And society needs photography to remain viable.

What Can Be Done to Make a Change?

That's what the summit was all about! The coalition convened in Atlanta to start the conversation and brainstorm a movement. Almost forgotten, the printed portrait is starting to be seen as valuable again, while they were almost forgotten.

It's agreed that education on the value of a printed portrait starts with the photographer, and a grassroots campaign to raise awareness was discussed. The group will soon form a name and get the ball rolling on just how to spread its message, but the pieces are in place to get things out very soon.

The goal is for photographers to Be More Profitable. A great way is to sell prints--family heirlooms that will adorn walls for generations. The soon-to-be-named group of industry leaders will serve for the good of the photography community. On a larger scale, it's also to preserve the history of society in printed works. More updates will follow as soon as information becomes available.

For you, maybe it's as simple as thinking about the future of your family. Maybe one day you'll sit down with your grandson or daughter and tell them your story. Will you have the images to go along with them to touch and feel or will you rely on their imagination? 


John Owens is PPA's resident wordsmith. Know how they say a picture is worth a thousand words? That's where he comes in. The Connecticut transplant and (still) avid Hartford Whalers fan is an aspiring adventurist/novelist/racer on a lifelong quest to find the best trails, brews and burger.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Professional Photographers of America (PPA) published on May 29, 2015 6:28 PM.

Social Media Tips, Infographics and a New Way to See The Difference: The Top 10 Blog Posts of 5/25-29 was the previous entry in this blog.

Ready to Enter the International Photographic Competition? Open Now! is the next entry in this blog.

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