So many times I am asked the question, “can I just get the digitals??” And my answer is.. “sure, but can you tell me why you want them? What are they for? To reprint your own photos? sure. To share them on social media? Yes of course we all want to share our beautiful photos with our family. But what VALUE do those digitals have????”
I will admit, I always used to think they were the MOST important. We have to have every digital, we have to have every single image we’ve ever taken.. but really… WHY? What purpose does an image sitting on my computer have? Are we going to look through all of our old files on our computers every month to tell stories of when our babies were smaller? How about the 7 year old computer that has all of the photos of my first baby that barely turns on anymore – who is going to go look through those?? I ask this, and say all of this.. because I KNOW. I was there – I was the person who thought that digitals were of the utmost importance. Until I started experiencing the world of print.
So let me tell you why I print….
I print because I think flipping pages on a well-loved album is always more meaningful than swiping on a phone. I print because research shows that when kids see themselves in portraits on their walls it improves their self esteem – It tells them they are loved and valued and if I can only do one thing in this world for my kids… that is my goal. I believe in the long-lasting effect of printed photographs. When albums are present in our living room we flip through them all the time to remember old trips and kids growing up – we don’t flip through our phones or computers nearly as much. I print because I love seeing my kids faces when they see a photo of themselves as a baby, or on our family trips and ask us to tell the story of “that time we ate ice cream in the basement because of crazy thunderstorm warnings,” or “the first time we had our family photo taken in the field where we were building our forever home.”
Mostly – I print because as a generation we are LOSING print. My dad recently received a couple boxes from his uncle’s home and you know what we found when looking through them??? PHOTOGRAPHS… tons of them – photographs of my dad as a little boy (looking like my brother and my son!), photographs of my grandma who passed away 3 years ago – looking at her when she was young and a new mom. Stories of my dads childhood – narrated by my grandma through their photo albums. As this world becomes more and more digitalized we aren’t doing this.. because we have the digital option. But in 50 years… will we still??? Will everything still be digitalized or will there be something new? Prints will last. There is no denying that – my dad also just recently found a photograph from the 1920s… ONE HUNDRED YEARS AGO… do you think that in 100 years our iPhones will work (or have chargers that work!) so that our great grandchildren can look at pictures of us???? Our children, and grandchildren deserve to see our stories written down… they want to find our old boxes and pull out thousands of photographs. And we can all say this won’t happen – but you know what… I have a CD of all of my wedding photos… and I don’t have a single electronic in my home with the ability to look at a CD. Change happens – without us even realizing it… and if your family stories are written down, printed in books, hanging on the walls they won’t get lost. In the span of my lifetime we have gone from floppy discs to CDs to USBs and external hard drives to the cloud and thats only in the last 20 years of my life… who knows what the next 50 will bring.
I think we can all come up with a story about how finding a photograph has changed something within them – a story about moving and finding old boxes of photographs and sitting there flipping through them all.. we literally JUST did this – my husband cleaned out his childhood bedroom (i know.. it only took him 15 years…) and found old prints from high school – images where one cousin is the splitting image of his dad and these days we don’t realize it nearly as much, images of friends who have now become some of our best friends as a family and we can look back on them 20 years ago! (make sure you check out that little girl right in the middle with the pink pants and striped shirt… yep… with a bowl cut… that would be yours truly!!! and basically the first time my husband held a baby – little snuggle mason up at the top)
I print because photography is an investment in your life and your story – its so much more than just that hour of time you spend with a photographer. Make your story live forever by investing in an heirloom album. Make your family portrait into artwork you can’t wait to show all of your friends on your walls. Because really – thats what it is about. Sharing your love, sharing your story and being able to enjoy that for generations to come. So of course I think digital files have a place – I love sharing images on social media, I love the ease of whipping out a phone to show a coworker the latest thing that my kids are doing but in the long run… these things don’t hold the value. The value is in the stack of photographs I have printed, the ones on our walls and in our albums – those are the ones that will always be priceless. Moments you will never get back, but forever memorialized to be relived every single day – thats the value – thats why I’m a photographer and thats why I think you should walk away from every single professional photography experience with prints.