The Real Value of Printing Your Photos
And why I think you should make printing photos a habit
My friend Emma has two young children and takes photos all the time. On her phone, of course, because it’s convenient for snapping those heart-melting moments when seven-year-old Charlie spontaneously hugs one-year-old Sophie.
You probably do this too. Your phone is kept conveniently in your pocket, ready to snap a rare opportunity when you actually get to see more than four friends at once. Or the moment you catch your fluffy Cavoodle stealing popcorn off the coffee table, sending little popcorn missiles all over the lounge room.
Let’s hope technology doesn’t let you down
You capture all these moments, save them to a computer, hard drive, or the cloud. But then what? When will you find the time to trawl through the 4827 images from last year, and decide which ones to print?
Or worse, what if you just don’t get around to uploading photos from your phone? Do you ever think about why you should print photos?
Emma’s phone contained all the precious moments of Sophie’s first birthday—the laughs, the tears, and the cheeky, sticky, cake-covered face gazing with wonder at family and friends who sang for her.
Emma always intended to upload the photos to her online drive, but between work, endless commitments for her kids, and life, she never got around to it.
Can you imagine Emma’s heartache when her phone just stopped working one day, and despite best efforts and support from Apple, those photos were lost forever?
Technology evolves faster than you can keep up
Even if you’re one step ahead of Emma, and you save all your images diligently, these special moments are at the mercy of evolving technology.
Do you own, or know anyone who owns technology that can read any of these: a CD-ROM, VHS tape, floppy disk, or mini DV tape? The humble CD-ROM isn’t even that old, yet most people don’t own a device that can read them.
Hard drives have a lifespan of around 10-20 years, and USB drives around 10 years, less when used frequently. Image file formats also change, and as technology changes, there will come a time when a JPEG will no longer be readable by your software.
Even if Emma had uploaded her photos, how will she actually view them in 20 years’ time when she needs to showcase Sophie’s early years for her 21st birthday? Will JPEGs still be a readable file format? And if she saved them to a hard drive, would she even have a compatible port (or any port?!) to plug it into? Will the files be preserved, or corrupted?
The joy of re-living significant moments
At Sophie’s 21st birthday, family and friends will stand around the photo wall, sharing stories about the past, sparking tears, laughter and the occasional cringe. Charlie will point at a photo of a mud-slathered Sophie and say, ‘Hey mum, does this photo still live on your office desk?’ Emma will nod, gently touching her favourite photo of Sophie, reminiscing about that camping trip where it rained non stop, but the kids had a blast playing in the mud.
I want you to think about your favourite printed photo. Perhaps it’s on your bedroom wall, and it’s the first thing you see in the morning, and the last thing you see at night. What do you think about when you see it? What do you remember? What do you feel?
Does your frequent interaction with that photo allow you to feel like you’re experiencing that precious moment again and again, sparking the same emotions you felt in the moment it was captured?
A moment so special you chose to capture it, is a moment worth reliving.
Touch triggers vivid memories
When we see photos, we’re transported back in time. But when we physically touch photos, the experience is amplified. Why? Touch enables a significant amount of detail about an experience or moment in time to be preserved. Long after the physical sensation of touch has passed, that moment can be revisited through engaging the sensation of touch.
Touching a photo will remind you of the touch at the time, as well as a myriad of other sensations your memory has stored, and your touch activates. Your senses engage and feelings come flooding back.
You can feel the exhilaration as you glide full speed down a black run, carving the soft powder beneath your skis. You can smell the salty sea air from your childhood beachside holidays. You can even feel the desperation that comes from being in love for the first time. Those feelings linger, intensifying the memories.
This intense experience of emotionally travelling back in time simply doesn’t happen when you stare at a screen. Sure, you’ll remember some good times, but you’ll lack the intense enhancements that touch so generously delivers.
Preventing loss of important moments
Ask yourself why you’re taking photos in the first place. No, really, why? Is it because a moment is special? Is it because you want to share it with someone?
I bet when you dig deep, and seek to truly understand why, it’s because you don’t want to forget it. Because once a moment has been forgotten, it’s almost like it never existed.
Emma knows she’ll never forget her daughter’s first birthday. But she will forget the small details, the mini moments, like the delicious taste of kissing her daughter’s orange-cake smothered cheeks as she wished her a happy birthday.
Tactile is always in style
Don’t get me wrong, digital photos absolutely have a place. You can’t argue with the convenience of a smartphone for capturing moments, and for a quick scroll down memory lane when you’re stuck in a mile-long queue waiting for a COVID test.
And I feel grateful to live in a world where we can send a photo to loved ones across the globe, and they receive it seconds later.
But living in a world where all your images are digital means you, and your loved ones, are missing out.
I see digital versus print photos as being a bit like digital music versus vinyl. Digital is practical, affordable and convenient. But vinyl and turntables will always have a place, even if you’re not a music or collectibles enthusiast.
Have you ever walked into someone’s home and spotted a genuine 70s turntable, accompanied by a stack of vinyl? I bet you couldn’t resist trailing your fingers over the turntable, imagining all the parties it’s seen, and the life moments it created soundtracks for. And sifting through the vinyl collection sparks conversation about favourite bands and crazy concert experiences.
Injecting life into your home and excitement into your world
Printed photos spark those same nostalgic trips into the past. Exchanging stories over similar experiences creates new bonds, and recalling shared experiences forges the strength of old ones.
Beautiful photographic artwork also injects your personality into your home. Sure, it may cost more than artwork from a print run of 10,000 purchased at IKEA, but does it infuse your home with the same individuality?
Equally, when your friendly local postie arrives at the door with your IKEA print, do you tear open the packaging like a five-year-old on Christmas morning? Probably not. But I’m willing to bet when photographic artwork from a professional shoot arrives, you are that five-year-old kid.
No other delivery from the postie rivals the thrill and joy of receiving tangible artworks that capture you at your beautiful best, or you with the people you cherish the most.
Be kind to yourself… you deserve it
This is why I insist on offering a service that guarantees all the things that truly matter about photographs. All my packages include printed artwork. I know how valuable printed images are, I know how meaningful they are, I know how they can transform your world.
But because I also know the value of digital, I include the matching digital file. I just don’t offer digital-only, because I know you won’t experience the same thrill when you download digital files.
After all, that would kind of be like having an exquisite, mint condition Aston Martin Vantage in your garage and never taking it out for a spin. You can look at it, you can even feel the soft, lush leather against your skin. But until you hit 100+km/hr on the open road, you won’t appreciate the smoothness of the ride, the masterful way it takes corners, or the roar of the powerful engine. And you certainly won’t be making memories in it, so is it really worth the space it takes up?
I also want to remove that pressure of ‘Oh I’ll print those one day…’. Because you and I both know that may… or may not happen. And after you’ve invested in a shoot, you don’t want those spectacular photos just sitting on a hard drive.
Our future deserves printed memories
You deserve more. Our future generations deserve more. We live in a world where everything is caught on camera, with the potential to have every moment immortalised. But unless we actually do something with those immortalised moments, they have the potential to be lost forever, and be no different to the moments that weren’t captured.
Thankfully, before her phone’s untimely demise, Emma printed and framed two photos from that incredibly important milestone in her daughter’s life, including one of Sophie’s grinning, cake-covered face.
So while all those other photos are irretrievable, and evidence of those moments lost forever, she immortalised two key moments from that day. And she can relive those mini moments any time she wants, by simply touching the photos. What a gift to herself and her family.
And I can safely say Emma now has three new habits. Daily backups of her precious photos, monthly printing of her favourite moments, and annual family photoshoots with a professional photographer—who naturally insists on printed images in her packages.
If you want to discover more about my photography, and see how I can help you create tangible memories you can relive over and over again, have a look at my portfolio, my printed products, and details about the underwater photoshoot experience.