Jared Platt: Your Photos are Worth More Than a Facebook “like”

In order to help you understand the concept of the proof book better, and for those who are not professionals and want to learn how to make a beautiful book, this video will help you get started making books from Lightroom.

I fell in love in the darkroom. I remember the day very distinctly. I was home from college between semesters and I was about to take my first photography class, so I was getting a crash course in photography in the darkroom from a high school senior who was on the yearbook staff. I remember exposing a blank piece of paper and sliding it gently into the developer under the orange glow of the darkroom safelight and watching.

Suddenly, it appeared… slowly, like someone had spilled ink across a page. The ink began to spread in the form of an image—the image I had only seen in reverse on the negative. It was sorcery! I fell in love. I changed my major, my career path, and my hobbies all in 60 seconds!

I still have that print.

There is something very special about holding a physical print, as opposed to someone’s phone. For one, a printed photograph doesn’t ring or alert you to an email with yet another task to be shoved into an already crowded day. No, a print is quiet and intimate, and when you share a print, it is in person. Not via text message. It inspires a face-to-face conversation or a handwritten note. There is something personal about a print, something that connects. When digital photography arose in the early years of my career, I embraced it with open arms, knowing that it would open so many possibilities. And it certainly has lived up to its promises. Photographers have far more powerful tools to capture, organize, edit, and share their images. But, while I remember the darkroom with a nostalgic fondness, I am grateful that I can edit my images at a comfortable desk. Given a choice, would I go back to the darkroom? Never.

One of the great advancements of the digital photo age is the digital printing process that includes inkjet printers, photo lab prints and the digital printing press and all of them are affordable and yield incredible quality imagery. And yet, we have lost sight of the power of the printed photograph. Too many professional photographers hand clients a disk of images and leave them to print the images on their own. Too many photo enthusiasts spend their summer vacations taking thousands of beautiful photos only to come home and sequester them in the depths of their computer to be seen at random on a screen saver, or maybe not at all. It is disrespectful to our images and a disservice to our family, our friends, and our clients not to make our beautiful digital images into physical photographs. Yes, we can share them on social media, and there is value to sharing images like this, but if that is the only way your clients and your friends experience your photographs, you have denied them the rich full sensory experience of art.

I make sure every single client leaves my studio with a printed product. Every single guest in my home has the opportunity to see my work on my walls and in books on my coffee tables. I do this because I believe my work is worth more than a glance and a “like” on Facebook; I believe that my work is worth experiencing. I create beautiful proof books that thrill my wedding clients and exciting books to wow my high school seniors because I know that one of the richest ways to experience a photograph is in print.

Every single guest in my home has the opportunity to see my work on my walls and in books on my coffee tables.

My wedding proof books (made in Lightroom in minutes and printed through Blurb) are simple to make, affordable, and my clients are thrilled every time. In fact, I have earned a good percentage of my new clients simply because mothers love to display their proof book at home, at work, on airplanes, and anywhere they go. Let me explain the basics of an effective proof book:

1) A proof book cannot be sold at too high a price, so it must be easy to make at an affordable price.

While a proof book is one of the most important things I hand to my clients, I know it can’t cost very much, and it certainly can’t take all my time. This makes the Blurb Module in Lightroom critical. Lightroom’s Book Module allows me to make the proof books quickly, and Blurb makes it possible to provide a book at an affordable price.

2) A proof book must be useful, which means it must have numbers that correspond to every image on the client’s disk and web site.

This is a simple and obvious point, but remember that it is the purpose of the proof book to be useful and lead people to make decisions about their images. Make the numbers easy to review by using simple numbers like 0001, not _W567R1046.jpg and make sure to design a clean and simple proof book so people can focus on the images.

3) A great proof book must also educate the client and help them choose the very best images in the collection.

A proof book that only contains a grid of images is useful, but doesn’t help educate the client to make choices. Remember that a client looking at images is often times overwhelmed by the number of images. I add full-page images that give the client a place to rest every fourth or fifth page and show them which images are particularly interesting. As a client moves through the pages of a proof book, they should be able to see the story unfold through the full-page images while they are selecting images from the grip of four images per page with numbers that identify the file name of the images.

4) A great proof book is printed at the highest quality on great paper so that the client’s viewing experience is second-to-none.

Again, Lightroom does a great job at compiling the images in an attractive way, and Blurb prints and binds a beautiful book, so when I deliver a proof book to my clients, they feel like they have been given something far better than a proof book. In fact, it is hard to think of my proofing book as a proof book, that description just doesn’t do it justice.

There is nothing that matches the experience of an exceptional photographic book. You deserve to experience it, your friends need to experience it, and your clients have earned the right to experience it. So, what are you waiting for? You have a thousand photos in your computer right now that should be magically appearing on paper… go make it happen.

To learn more about organizing, editing, and sharing your images from Jared Platt, go to his site.


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