Just Call It a Photo

Color Coupler Print_cropDear Minneapolis Institute of Arts,

I had lunch at your museum today, and visited the The World at Work: Images of Labor and Industry, 1850 to Now exhibition. This exhibit included Paul Shambroom’s “Color coupler print” of the Badger Foundry in Winona, Minnesota Unfortunately, no one knows what a color coupler print is.

I tried to convince my son that it was really just a photo, but he kept saying, “No, Dad, it’s not a photo.” He felt that it was realistic but had several flaws and was not a photo.

Technical terms that confuse people are of little value. Yes, they could look up Dye Coupler in Wikipedia, or if they are really adventurous they could go to PrintWiki and find the term Color Coupler. If they do, they will learn that color couplers are one of the components in photographic paper, and they will realize that the print is a photograph. But most people are not going to bother.

My suggestion is to skip the technical jargon altogether and use common words, or if you must use a technical description, include the common description as well. Your visitors would appreciate it, and no one would be left wondering what a color coupler print is. Thank you for your consideration.

Dr. Mark Mizen

p.s. I would also like to see the term “albumen” replaced by egg white for albumen prints.


About Mark Mizen

I have over twenty years professional experience in all aspects of photography and digital imaging. I am Chair of the ISO WG5 TG2 committee responsible for physical properties and durability of imaging material and am currently with HID Global working on systems for security printing for IDs, licenses, and credit cards. Previously, I was Director of Digital Development at Creative Memories from 2009 to 2012 and was responsible for the Creative Memories digital products and services. I also established and directed the Creative Memories Technology Center, which evaluated new products prior to product introduction, assisted with production difficulties, and provided technical information to support product sales.
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2 Responses to Just Call It a Photo

  1. nancy Lewis says:

    Amen! The first thg they taught us in Customer Service is to use everyday language. Never make the customer feel inferior by using technical terms or inside terms only the company knows.

  2. Jenn Ross says:

    I agree…call it what it is and forget the jargon!

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