Prints Charming

28 08 2012

Film is dead. Processing is dead. Heck, Kodak is almost dead, too. But printing is a whole other proposition. Turns out there is still a present and a future in printing photographs.

Anyone who visits my office will instantly see my walls covered with gigantic canvas prints of my photography made by CafePress.com and PictureItOnCanvas.com. Just the other day, I saw a Kickstarter.com campaign for a startup called Instacube, through which users will be able to wirelessly beam their Instagram pics to a desktop digital viewer. And then they can contact CafePress to order canvas prints of those same Instagram snaps.

Yeah, we really are enamored of our photographic skills, aren’t we? Ansel Adams would have loved living today.

So I was instantly intrigued this morning to read about the new Walgreens Facebook photo app in which you can send your Facebook photos to Walgreens, and it will even include all the Likes, Shares and friendly comments.

“Hey, there’s your next canvas!” my research partner and most excellent friend Dr. Kris Drumheller poked.

“And then again, maybe not,” the nonplussed Marketing professor replied.

But it’s interesting nonetheless. Photography took a sudden turn around 1996 with the introduction of digital cameras. Film, processing and printing started a precipitous decline. Apparently we secretly yearned for printed pics, though, even if all our pics were reduced to a bunch of code. And that’s how and why companies like CafePress and PictureItOnCanvas are doing gangbuster business.

Except for one little problem, in my estimation. Who wants their photos, complete with artistic angle, sepia tone filter and tilt shift blur, to be printed along with FB commentary? I’m not sure I want that on a 5X7, much less a 24X30 canvas print. Furthermore, I’m not sure my FB friends want their comments hanging on my wall, either.

But I do have to credit Walgreens for a very clever app, one that leverages the changes around us, the technology, and the highly social aspect of our computing lives. This is a home run, even if it is near the foul pole.

Sure, some will cry they have been quoted without permission, but that’s the risk we all take with social media. If you don’t want others to Share or Retweet, then don’t post it. Which means that given this latest wrinkle in FB partnerships, we had all better be a lot more careful with what we say in response to other people’s pictures. The last thing you want is your so-called friend with a drinking problem to print pics from your last party together. Worse yet, let’s just suppose you replied with a hearty “Party on, dude! That was one awesome night!”

So as we continue to evolve in the social media era, let us use more caution in all that we say and do, and especially what we do in front of someone else’s camera. While I still applaud Walgreens for a timely novelty, there are some things that you do not want or need to be in print. Or one someone’s desk or wall.

Because your future should not hinge on a photograph from the past, no matter how witty your comment may have been.

Dr “Present Tense” Gerlich

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