Read a great article today – Pros and cons to Facebook’s fast growing role in digital photography.

According to this article, estimates are that 42 billion photos will be printed worldwide in 2013, a third fewer than the 63 billion printed in 2008. And if it maintains its momentum, Facebook will probably host the biggest share of these Facebook Photography Serviceimages.

Because everyone has a digital camera these days, it’s easy to snap a photo, plug it into your USB, and download it to Facebook. Then you can tag and share your photos with all of your friends, thus eliminating the need to print them off to hand to your friends personally.

Because consumers are driving the Facebook craze, it’s easy to see how this will also affect professional photographers in the long run as well. When someone comes in for a professional portrait, they may want the traditional framed images and albums, but more and more they are also going to want photos to share on their Facebook account with family and friends.

I’ve talked with photographers on all sides of this issue. Because most photographers end up giving a CD/DVD with the digital files on it, more professional photos have and will end up on Facebook, whether you want them to or not.

The problem really doesn’t come from integrating this new technology into your professional portrait pricing, it comes with educating your clients on the ramifications of using Facebook for photography. Back to the article from above:

“It’s also troubling that most users aren’t aware that uploading a picture to Facebook — and then deleting it from your camera — means you’ve lost the original image for good. According to a recent survey from market research firm InfoTrends, fewer than a third of people surveyed knew that photos on social-networking sites are stored at a decreased resolution. This is probably because Facebook photos look just fine on a computer screen. But when they are printed, the images cannot be cropped or enlarged without looking blurry.”

People use digital cameras, but in reality, most of the consumer population has little knowledge when it comes to storing or production of their digital files. I’ve met people who keep buying Flash drives, and didn’t know you could download the images to a computer to reuse the card. I’ve met people who store images on their hard drive, only to lose them all when their hard drive crashes. I’ve met people who never knew nor thought about the archival quality of a CD or DVD. Just because their wedding images are on a CD now doesn’t mean they will still be accessible in 20 years.

Technology changes the way we shoot and sell our photography. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be profitable. What we are lacking now is a huge understanding of how the digital revolution affects us all. Photographers should do more than shoot a few pictures. Instead, turn it into an education about digital. Including simple things in your marketing can open up the eyes of your clients, and help them see why there is a need for the professional photographer. Statements like:

Did you know Facebook isn’t meant for storing your photographs? They reduce the quality of your image by as much as 80% – meaning you can never print a quality photograph from any file you save on Facebook.

Or

Did you know CD/DVD’s may not be archival? Meaning your friends who received a CD/DVD with their wedding images may have nothing left of their memories after a few short years.

Can trigger a ton of emotion in your clients, and help them see the benefits of using a professional, that truly understands how to use technology to its greatest ability.

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