My daughter started daycare a couple of weeks ago, and along with the nerves, excitement and inevitable tears (don’t worry, SHE cried a little too), came a crisp white sheet of paper with a few basic instructions on what to bring in the next day. There was the completely mundane and expected: diapers, wipes, spare clothes, etc., and then there was the completely unexpected: a photo of her family.
I actually sighed when I read that. Not an annoyed sigh but a genuine ‘hmmm, what should I do’ sigh. I immediately thought about our most recent family photo (from last December) and thought that would do just perfectly – but did I have a print of it? I wracked my brain, and then my cupboards, and came up short. I printed a copy on my laser printer. Good enough for now until I can order up a proper print.
I found myself wondering what other parents in the class would do. Do YOU have prints of your family photos lying around ready to send off to daycare or school with a wave and kiss? How would you get one on an evenings notice? Can you just go to a corner store and print one out? How can I be missing this basic knowledge? I used to develop film into prints all the time.
Feeling a bit ignorant here… and the REAL kicker? I’m a PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER. I do this FOR A LIVING FOLKS.
But here’s the thing, I have my methods and my workflows. I have my editing and print preparation techniques for various media. I have my professional labs with their meticulous design and upload software and their fancy couriers that drop these finished items of art on my doorstep. I have my pretty packaging with ribbons and bows and I have pride in hand-delivering the art to my clients.
What I don’t have is a method for printing out the everyday memories – the imperfect perfection of my crazy kids, our adventures, our milk mustaches and our scraped knees. What I don’t have is a supply of prints to send a family photo or a mugshot with my kids to school so that they can share a little piece of their lives with their peers. This just feels wrong, and I know this is only one reason I need to be better at printing my photos.
There is another very REAL reason to print your photos. If you don’t print them, you risk losing them.
You probably think that if you have your photos on devices and disks and drives, you have them forever. But devices, disks and drives die.
“I have a whole laptop full of photos. And it doesn’t work!”
– Natasha Marchand, Toronto mom
Disks corrupt. Files themselves corrupt or get accidentally deleted. Media changes – technology comes and goes. What if all you had from your grandparents' wedding was a floppy disk of their wedding pictures? Or from your own wedding – a CD of images. Do you even still have a CD drive in your computer? Would you be able to even look at them today?
Even if your photos are backed up to within an inch of their life on external hard drives (like mine are) they are still at risk.
Last year Vint Cerf, one of the ‘fathers of the internet’ and current VP and Chief Internet Evangelist of Google said this:
“We have various formats for digital photographs and movies and those formats need software to correctly render those objects. Sometimes the standards we use to produce those objects fade away and are replaced by other alternatives and then software that is supposed to render images can’t render older formats, so the images are no longer visible.
This is starting to happen to people who are saving a lot of their digital photographs because they are just files of bits. The file system doesn’t know how to interpret them, you need software to do that. Now you’ve lost the photograph in effect.
If there are pictures that you really really care about then creating a physical instance is probably a good idea. Print them out, literally.”
I’m thinking someone with the title ‘Chief Internet Evangelist’ is someone we should pay attention to on the topic of all things digital.
Even if our digital images persist through advances and changes in technology, if they sit in cyberspace, they are potentially lost metaphorically. They are lost to our children, to our friends, to our families.
"Think about it for a minute -- how romantic is it to sit behind a computer screen with your fiancé and look at your engagement pictures? Or how nostalgic is it to sit on the couch with your kids and a laptop to flick through family pictures? Not very..."
Yes, a major advantage of shooting digitally is that the ability to capture images is widely available and easy, and we can share so easily now on social media. But is that what we want to turn our memories in to? Images that are shared for a few hours on Facebook before they disappear down the news feed days or even hours later, never to be seen again?
Ask yourself this: when your children are the age you are now, what photos will you be able to show them of this time in your life?
Need a little visual convincing? This video by Bryan Caporicci is a hilarious take on the situation.
Now let’s get a little dramatic for a minute.
The ‘dark ages’, as history knows is, is a period of time in Europe which is very poorly understood because there are relatively few surviving historical records. Think of all the information stored digitally today. If it is all lost with the changes and progression of technology, our generation’s time will become the ‘digital dark age’.
Vint Cerf warns:
“..that a second dark age may be looming in the horizon due to the fact that so much of our data these days is kept in digital formats.
Future generations will wonder about us but they will have very great difficulty knowing about us.
We don't want our digital lives to fade away. If we want to preserve them the same way we preserve books and so on we need to make sure that the digital objects we create will be rendered far into the future.”
Here’s a pretty dramatic video that is going to make you feel pretty scared of this - it’s worth watching for the narrator’s movie-trailer voice alone. (It’s just over 4 minutes).
Then there is the feel good factor. Being able to walk by a photo on the wall multiple times a day lets you enjoy that photo. Being able to sit on the sofa and thumb through an album and reminisce with your children is a feel-good bonding moment, unlike what it might be like on the smart phone or computer with the distractions of Facebook notifications, e-mail alerts and banner ads.
It’s like slow food to fast food; the printed image to the one on your hard drive
Get away from the screens and the pixels and enjoy the tangible.
"We are the most photographed generation, yet we enjoy those photographs the least."
Here's another thought. A number of studies have also shown that children who have photos of themselves and their family on display int their homes have great self-esteem.
"For children in particular, looking at photographs is part of the socialising process; learning who you are and where you fit into the family. By displaying photographs of our children at different stages of their lives, we are making a very public statement that we are proud of them."
- Professor Geoff Beattie, Head of School and Dean of Psychological Sciences at the University of Manchester
By displaying our images, we honour our families and children.
"Displaying photos prominently in the home sends the message that our family and those in it are important to one another, and we honour the memories we have experienced."
- Cathy Lander-Goldberg, Licensed Clinical Social Worker
In a final attempt to convince you that you need to print your photos, I’m going to leave this quote right here:
"It’s like the difference between going to the art museum or looking at their website on your cellphone. They simply do not compare!"
So what’s the next step? Stay tuned for my recommendations on just HOW and WHERE to print your photos in an upcoming blog post. Be sure to subscribe to my newsletter, follow me on FB and IG and the Twitter so you don’t miss this all important post!
Ok – gotta run. Seriously need to just go and get my family album from 2010 ordered. Oh, and share this with the hashtag #printyourpictures, or #printyourphotos. It’s a thing, for real. Look it up to see what people have created with their images that they can now hold in their hands!
BTW: Take a look here at the products Fun Love prints and offers!