Whatever the business term is for a business that’s smaller than a small business, that’s what FayFoto Boston is. We have a full-time staff of three. However, even three is a lot more complicated than one when it comes to saving, retrieving, and sharing information each of us know individually. We have many of the same needs as any of our larger small business colleagues. We just don’t have the resources for enterprise-level solutions. Consequently, to keep chaos at bay we have developed numerous DIY solutions.
We operate in the B2B sector. We don’t offer packages as a wedding or family portrait studio might. Every one of our clients has a slightly different preference, either for background, or file size, or both. It’s not uncommon for a client to ask for two, four, or even more variations for each selected portrait image. Web, print, LinkedIn, color, grayscale… Each with specific pixel dimensions, and often at different aspect ratios. And each variation has to have a consistent file name to indicate unambiguously what it is. (“lastname-firstname_web.jpg” or “Firstname-Lastname_print.jpg” for example.)
In other words… instead of telling our clients what they can have, our clients tell us what they need. And it’s on us to deliver that repeatedly and consistently.
FayFoto has been involved with Boston’s business, political, advertising and public relations communities for… well… we’re not entirely sure of the year of origin but we’re going with 80+ years.
We covered many assignments and produced many many images over the course of those decades (estimated at over 7.5 million negatives!). Our collection of negatives from the late 60’s until about the early 2000’s (when we transitioned to digital) is essentially unbroken. We also had several metal file cabinets filled with much older negatives that aren’t catalogued in any coherent manner.
We’re not hoarders exactly, but neither are we librarians or curators. Our collection hadn’t been maintained for posterity – photographers are pragmatic and we kept them mainly because someday maybe someone would buy a reprint from an image captured back when.
It is a unique time capsule…
Because we aren’t trained to be information specialists and because we don’t have resources to become that, this collection was effectively useless. Our logs maintained a good record of when an assignment took place and who our client was, but very little else in the way of metadata about the images. In other words, locating and retrieving a negative based on its content rather than an internal reference number stamped on the back of a print was next to impossible. Our logs from that era were hand written, so they couldn’t be quickly or easily searched. The cardboard boxes we kept them in weren’t in any way archival, and they consumed significant space.
What to do?
This is where Northeastern University comes in. Giordana Mecagni, a conservator in the Special Collections division of Northeastern University’s Snell Library reached out to us thanks to a timely referral from a contact at the Boston Public Library who was aware of our situation. As soon as we learned of the breadth and scope of the Library’s collection (which includes the Boston Globe’s archive!) we knew our collection would be in the best of all possible hands.
Archivist Daniel Lavoie made several exploratory site visits to our office and on June 5, 2018 the collection rolled off in a moving van to a new home and a productive future.
FayFoto Boston is grateful almost beyond words for the Library’s willingness to undertake the daunting process of sifting, sorting, organizing, and ultimately making these images available to historians and researchers. We anticipate that one day someone out there will discover just exactly the image he or she is looking for to tell a story about some aspect of Boston’s history during this era.
A new beginning, not an end
This isn’t the end of the story for FayFoto Boston! We continue to produce new work for businesses and organizations in the Boston area – digitally. It does, however, feel like the beginning of a new story for our older images.
Blog posts by their nature get pushed down as new articles are added. While we would like to think that everything we write has value and is useful, we do have some foundational articles aimed at professionals who work with photographers. We want to ensure that this “evergreen” content remains visible and accessible.
A Brief Index to Helpful Content
Here’s a short list of articles we feel are of particular value to people like you.
We have been working at clearing out old and unnecessary stuff recently. After more than 25 years in our current office, you might well imagine there’s quite a lot of that. Recently Wayne unearthed the very first digital camera FayFoto purchased. That got me curious, so I started sifting through old assignment log books for the first evidence of actually capturing assignments digitally.
They started showing up in the Fall of 1999. Given that we’re into the second quarter of 2018 as I write this, that feels like quite a long time.
We weren’t the earliest of adopters, but our market moved us into providing digital services before a lot of other photographers made the leap (or else said “to heck with this” and moved into some other endeavor). Pro-level digital cameras at that time were beyond our means. We eased into the inevitable by scanning negatives and transparencies for years before investing in digital capture equipment. Our first cautious investment in a digital camera was at the upper end of what was then the consumer level. (It was a Kodak DC265, purchased in the Fall of 1999 at the CompUSA around the corner from our office. You can still read the camera’s review in DPReview’s archive!)
I’ll begin this article with a few words about the word retouching. We understand that this is the word everyone uses and understands, so we use it, too.
Frankly, most of the connotations about that word are negative. At best it implies fakery. At worst it suggests repair work on a flawed subject. We don’t want our work to suggest either of those! We are much more comfortable using the term polishing, which suggests making something good even better. So we’ll continue to honor the term which is used by most of the world but, between you and us, polishing comes closer to what we do.
These days, just about every head shot portrait image we release to our clients has been looked at carefully by an experienced digital technician. 1
You don’t have to specify or explicitly request the basics of retouching – you can count on that being done as part of our service. It’s built into our pricing.
With that out of the way, with a mutual understanding that bad things can happen to good data, you can be assured that to the best of our ability we archive all the work we produce.
In the days of film we saved negatives. When we made the transition to digital we saw no reason (or justification) for discarding images.
In the specific case of portraits, we also archive the additional images in addition to the selected images.
The images we produce for you are still yours – we don’t release them to outside parties or stock agencies.
However, it does now and then happen that months or years after a picture is taken, a need arises for a different size or crop. It does occasionally happen that a subject wants to review his or her options later, after the portrait sitting. It does sometimes happen that a client will accidentally delete, misplace, or overwrite a file.
For those reasons and others, we do our best to maintain copies of the images we produce for you.
We don’t charge extra for this service. We feel it’s a professional courtesy. We don’t have to reach into our archive every day, or even every week. But when we do it’s usually in response to a distress call, and the party on the other end of the phone or email is grateful and relieved when we can produce the missing or damaged resource.
This is one important advantage to having and maintaining a long term relationship with a vendor such as FayFoto Boston. We want the best for you and your marketing/communication efforts.
You may have worked with other commercial photographers in the past. Or, you may not have and you have no idea what to expect. Either way, this article will outline what to expect if you hire FayFoto Boston for a business portrait, or “headshot” assignment.
(Note: While we certainly work directly with individuals in need of a head shot or business portrait, the bulk of our interactions are with marketing or practice development staff, or with executive AAs. The tone of this article reflects that orientation.)
The first half of this article deals specifically with sessions conducted in your office. The second half applies equally to location assignments and sessions in our Brighton studio. The former is more convenient for your personnel. The latter is more economical. If you have any doubts as to whether to send your people to us or ask us to come to you, please get in touch. Outline your needs, and ask us for a quote.