With the NFL season kicking off this week (September 10), it means summer is evolving into colorful Autumn, and people will be snapping photos of sports events, favorite concerts, fall weddings, first day of school for the kiddos, cute pets and breathtaking travel scenes, while taking the ubiquitous selfie. We just can't seem to get enough of taking photos. Yet, the oldest known photograph with a person was only taken in 1838, depicting a man in Paris getting his shoes shined.
Now it's estimated there'll be one trillion photos taken this year, and the total number of photos stored may reach 4.9 trillion in 2017. Hello, that's a lot of terabytes! Indeed, the recent World Photo Day (August 19) underscored our growing fascination with snapping everything and everybody.
And although eccentric British photographer David Bailey once suggested that it "takes a lot of imagination to be a good photographer," quality photography has indeed come to us masses.
Chicago-based John Larkin, co-founder with his brother Nate of cutting edge and specialized online print company "Inkdot," says that the invention of camera phones, especially the iPhone, has changed the whole game.
Every day there's an incredible photo that comes through that was taken on an iPhone. Now everyone is able to capture quality shots, with a professional look about them. They don't have to carry around a big camera, so it's super convenient, they're grabbing these spontaneous, quality moments and the images deserve to come to life again, in a tactile, creative and fun way -- instead of only being shared on Facebook or Instagram.
The Larkin brothers were introduced to me by an associate of mine and a marketing expert Jonathan Stuart, whom I've worked with on several high profile athlete blogs for international platforms. Jonathan, whose Greay Area consultancy service helps clients cut through the noise, says the key to Inkdot's success is its focus on creating distinctive and premium products, as opposed to churning out sub-par prints like many online photo-printing-sites.
So I checked out some of Inkdot's unique products and discovered that by uploading one of your cool digital images from Instagram, Facebook or your computer to their website, you can pick hip "material" options for sporting your great image, including: immortalize your favorite event (like a sports score celebration or outstanding concert) by getting the shot printed on cool coasters or on a square print; create a memorable piece of art out of your stored wedding pix or recent vacation photos printed directly into natural wood; you can embed your back-to-school kids' images off your phone into aluminum, giving it a long-lasting vibrancy; better still, do yourself a solid, grab a cute pet photo, and impress your lady by splashing her pooch's mug on a throw pillow or tote bag; or to really rock out, use Stiick, a special magnetic frame to show off your special photos.
Nate Larkin offers:
People take photos and the only feedback is from sharing on social media platforms and getting likes. But with Inkdot, people can see their photos printed in a tactile, tangible way, something you can hold in your hand, and easily put up in your house, something you can experience every day. The nice thing about the Wood Print is that it comes ready to hang, you don't need to put it in a frame and pay extra. And, our distinctive printed products return you to that memory, and help bring the stories behind the photos back to life again.
The Larkins, who have a wide-format printing background working in their father's business, feel they've caught the right wave with their business, brought on by the affordability and progress of printer technology and the growth of high quality photos.
John explains, "We didn't want to focus on printing every photo but wanted to print those unique images -- while also thinking, let's pair it with some really cool, high-end materials." Nate smoothly continues, "We were really testing the assumption that you can only print on certain materials, like paper. By using different grades of wood, we were creating our own medium to print on."
In their ongoing goal to create new mediums and a new sort of art, the brothers also feature select artists and designers whose related products are available to customers in Inkdot's "marketplace." John explains, "By hosting different digital artists, we're promoting their designs to work in combination with what our clients want."
But the Larkins have also glommed onto another change, as Nate suggests:
There's been a lull in printing, with people storing all those digital photos. But now it's coming back to people remembering those photo albums they used to go through at their parents' house, and now wanting to experience that again. We see this push back to printing physical photos. And the response we're getting, especially with material like our Wood Prints and Metal Prints, people are blown away by the quality. We're not here to print every photo that's taken on an iPhone. We're here to print those special photos that mean a lot, and need to be shared with loved ones, friends and family.
Speaking of family, the Larkin brothers pride themselves on being a family business with John adding:
We're constantly making sure our products are the best and really take satisfaction in what we do. It's a family business and we're going to be around for awhile. We want to grow an awareness about what's possible. People often leave their photos in the 'App' and they don't actually have the original image stored anywhere. Or, they still aren't sure that they can print their photos from Instagram. Or that iPhone quality is now good enough to blow up to 24 x 36 size print. So bring us your wedding, memorable event, travel, cute kid or pet images, and we'll creatively bring your stories and memories back to life.
Ashley Jude Collie is a big fan of Inkdot's artistic creations.