I believe that there is incredible value in printing photographs. I wrote a blog post a couple of weeks ago about the value of enjoying photography "offline." The idea of burying our pictures on a hard drive or keeping them on a memory card is, in my opinion, a waste of great memories.
The other day my wife was out shopping with her mom at a local superstore. On their way out, her mom remembered that she wanted to stop by the photo lab to print some pictures. She walked up to one of the printing kiosks, ruffled through her purse looking for her camera, took the memory card out of the camera and put it in the kiosk's card-reader. The screen displayed the animated "loading" graphic for a good 60 seconds as it sorted through the JPGs on the memory card. The thumbnails eventually started to show up, and she began picking and choosing which pictures to print. My wife noticed that she was choosing pictures from Christmas and ski trips that we took back in December. My wife questioned why her mom was printing Christmas pictures, and she answered, "I haven't printed them yet."
She hadn't gotten around to printing the last four months worth of pictures, and she was just getting to it now.
Let me first state some positives from this story:
- My mother-in-law was regularly taking pictures of the important moments and people in her life.
- She had made the conscious decision to print her pictures as opposed to just "upload them to Facebook" and let them get buried behind a wall of digital mush.
She is unlike so many of us today that either don't document our lives through pictures or who do take the pictures but simply forget about them in the digital world.
But... she was printing pictures from four months ago! Certainly the "moment" had passed, and there was no recency from those pictures. The excitement was gone.
I recommend that you print your pictures frequently and in smaller batches. Here's why:
- The memories are fresh in your mind. Do you remember in the "film days" when you would come home from a vacation and rush out to the local photo lab to develop your film? You'd pay extra for the one-hour turnaround so that you could look at them once you got home even before you'd unpack. It was exciting and fun, and the memories were fresh in your head.
- It's obvious that printing more frequently is much less work than doing it in bulk a couple of times each year. You're more likely to look to through the prints, put them on display and into albums if you have less to sift through. After all, no one wants to put a picture from Christmas up on the fridge in July!
- You can share the prints right away while the memories are fresh. You don't want to bring vacation pictures over to a friend's house from six months ago. If you bring over the pictures the day you get back from your vacation, you have something visual to show while you tell all the fun stories from the trip.
- There is less of a chance that the memory card will go corrupt or that you'll loose the digital pictures if you print them more often.
- One of our favorite things to do after the holidays, a trip or a get-together is to print duplicate copies of some of the pictures for friends and/or family who are in the pictures as well. We love to give them to them within 3-4 days so that they can enjoy the pictures while the memories are fresh in their minds.
As we go through our day-to-day lives, remember to take lots of pictures and print them often!
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