7 years ago there was a wedding.
Short ceremony, mom-made dress, 68 loved guests, a middle-of-the-night “we are out of wine!” panic run, burlesque dance performance by the bachelorette party, a photo station, seven cheese cakes, and a mother-of-the-bride who was missing as it was time for said cheese cakes. And lots and lots of laughter.
This was our wedding – which we have 700+ digital photos from. And not a single one printed – which I feel quite embarrassed about. (It’s on my to do list.)
Now I make sure my clients have photographs in printed form – because I know why it’s important to print the memories you don’t want to forget:
You get to slow down
Whenever I look through digital files, I’m usually looking for a particular photo or event. I’ll be quickly scrolling through without appreciating most of the photos in between. With prints it is really, really hard to not stop to appreciate, to be surprised, to feel, to slow down. And all this without having to update software or stare at a screen!
You can curate a simple collection
The best part about the age of digital photography is that you can really pare down your photo selection and only print your most favorite photographs, instead of developing full rolls of film to see if your pictures even turned out ok. I print around 400-500 photos per year as simple 4×6 prints, and store them in shoe boxes as I did as a kid. I also pick a few special prints to print bigger to have around our home.
Photo file quality deteriorates
Over time, as you open and close and create copies of jpeg photo files, the quality of the original image goes down. This is why it’s best to print them right away.
Files get corrupted
Sometimes files aren’t just deteriorating in quality, but they might become completely unviewable if not simply distorted. This can be due to damage to a hard drive or simply something having gone wrong in the process of moving or storing the image file. I was looking for some photos from just a few years ago to print, but I was not able to open the files anymore – which not only means that some memories from our first years in California are completely gone but that photos can get corrupted in a short period of time.
Technology can fail
Even if a technology or software is the latest amazing thing, it can get damaged or fail. Your computer’s hard drive might corrupt, your dog might knock your external hard drive on the ground (I had that happen!), or your cloud storage provider might go out of business.
Remember to keep backing up your hard drives (the external ones too), in addition to having prints.
Storage can get expensive
If you never purge images from your archives, you might end up buying more and more external hard drives or paying for a bigger and bigger cloud storage. If you cull down your selection and have those photos printed, you don’t have to worry as much about having backups of backups and their backups that take up a lot of (expensive) space.
You’ll see your photos every day
While most of photos now remain forever-digital on our devices, you can choose to have some treasured ones printed so you can see them every single day. Right now I feel like a crazy dog lady, especially since I hung a big print of Nova in our bedroom. But someday not very far along she won’t be with us anymore, and those photos are going to mean the world.
You’ll leave a legacy
I don’t like to talk about it, but some day we will all be gone. Printed photos ensure that there will be something of yours outliving you – and possibly several generations after you. My farfar (grandpa) put together a big black photo book of him and farmor from their pre-kids years through the years of growing their family – and it is the single thing I wanted to keep from their home after they passed.