We live in a digital world. We take photos with our digital cameras and our phone, then we share them on social media and in our emails. For the most part that’s the last time we see them. No longer do you put photos in frames on the walls or have photo albums chronicling our lives or the growth and lives of our children.
As a photographer I’m constantly taking photos, working to edit them to perfection and sharing them on my social media and some even make it to my website. But is that all the life they will ever have, just the 24 hours they stay at the top of people’s feeds? I get great enjoyment out of taking these images as well as sharing them. I also find that having something tangible is important. I print my photos to sell and share. Seeing them on a wall has a more lasting impact and in the long run, a deeper enjoyment than looking at a computer or phone screen.
During the pandemic we at noticed a lot of people getting back into shooting film. At the store we talked about how people wanted something a little more tangible than the images we take on our phones, share on social media and then never look at again. Often, I talk about how there is going to be generations of kids going up and never being able to share photos of their childhood because mom lost her phone with all the photos, or their parents forgot the password to their online photo albums.
Whether you’re a pro photographer, a hobbyist, or just a parent, here are some reasons to have your favorite photos printed.
1. Time capsules/tangible memories
Going through family album connects us to our past like nothing else. Most of us are visual focused. We can looks at family trees or letters to understand our past, but there is nothing like looking at a great grandparent in their youth to bring us closer. You can see that you share their eyes or jaw line while still seeing how they lived, what they liked to dress in or do.
Which do you like better? Passing around a phone or to sit and pass around a photo album where you can take time and look at each image, easily flipping back and forth through the pages. Emailing photos can also be a great way to share, but isn’t getting a physical letter with enclosed photos so much nicer showing how much you care?
3. Home décor
There are digital frames, but they are small and can be a pain to work with. They can also be costly. But a stunning image made into a 16x20 framed photo from your latest vacation makes a statement and the family portrait is something that can be viewed for many generations.
4. Technology is not perfect and is constantly changing
Computers crash, we forget passwords and lose cellphones. If your images are only digital, any one of these can permanently cause your photos to disappear and if all your vacations, kids, and other special photos are not backed up, they are gone forever. Cloud storage companies can also go out of business, be hacked, or just keep raising their prices. Being a photographer for a few decades now I have seen memory devices come and go. I can no longer retrieve photos from my Jazz drive and I can’t recall the last computer I bought that had a CD reader in it. Our current SD cards are being upgraded to CF-express cards. How long until there are no more SD readers?
5. Jpeg can deteriorate over time
Most people think that jpeg will always look the same. This is not the case. When you “save as” the software can reprocess the jpeg introducing new artifacts, meaning your photo can become pixelated and look bad over time.
6. Improve your photography
As photographers we are constantly trying to improve. Printing a large photo allows you time to just sit with the image. You can start to see why you like a certain composition or what didn’t quite work. This will feed into our next photo we take. Each one getting better and better. The next time you will look to see if there is a telephone post right behind your subject before you click the photo and there will not be a pole coming out of their head.
7. Boost your mood
We all have bad days. After coming home from a hard day at work, firing up the computer may not be your first choice. But walking into your home, seeing a treasured memory from a past vacation or birthday can instantly put a smile on your face and lift your mood, all without having to plug in.
8. Your children will thank you
OK, they may not thank you when you show their future bride or groom childhood shots of them wearing their underwear on their heads, but their betrothed will love the bonding. It’s a way to share treasured moments that most will come to appreciate.
Whether you are sharing family memories or trying to improve and share your photography, having your work printed is just satisfying and enjoyable. When I’m standing in front of large print at an art show, talking to someone about the photo, we are having a deeper connection than if they just looked at it on their phone. And when I share photos of my son’s latest adventure by mailing them to his great aunt out of town, she feels the love we have for her knowing we have taken the extra time to print and share.
So, bring your phone in, or your film and get some prints made. Make a “Gallery” wrap of your family portrait to hang on the wall or a bunch of 4x6s and get a photo album to make memories more sharable.