A little while back I wandered into my office and found my son sitting on the floor, flipping through a book he had pulled off a shelf.
It was a little photo book that my mom had made for us a few years back with pictures of my childhood. My family at Disney. Fishing in the backyard with my grandparents. Me with braces.
(I mean, come on? It would have been a travesty if this photo was lost!)
I sat next to him on the floor and we spent the next hour going through that book. He asked questions about my friends, my first car, the trips to the family cabin.
I got to tell him about the people in the photos – about his greatgrandfather, who passed away before he was born, who he was named after, about his grandparents when they were younger, about our pets, our trips, our life.
And that was when it hit me like a ton of bricks. THIS was why it is so important to print your photos. This moment. Right here.
Photography isn’t just about capturing memories. Its about making space for new memories to be created.
Sitting there with my son going through those old photos? Its something I’ll never forget.
I had been pushing my couples to print their photos and including albums in a lot of my packages for a while but I don’t think it TRULY hit me until that moment just how powerful these things are. It was also the moment when I decided, really and truly, to buck the current trend of focusing ONLY on digital images (my clients still get them but I view them more as backups) and commit to putting albums in the hands of every single one of my couples.
To be honest I’ve long felt that delivering just digitals felt like only doing half the job. Until a picture if printed its literally just a bunch of data stored in a file. Its useful to have as a backup and to share with friends and family who are far away but that is where most of the value ends. It doesn’t TRULY become a photo until its printed..
And with the way technology is changing? You may not even be able to access those files in the future. I just bought a laptop – it doesn’t have a disc drive OR USB port. I couldn’t put a CD or flash drive in if I wanted to. Most photographers (myself included) deliver digital images as jpegs. Will we be able to open jpeg files in 50 or 100 years? I wouldn’t bet this slice of my family’s history on it.
My husband and I got married in 2009. Our photographer gave us hundreds of photos on a CD. We sifted through those photos and then put the CD in a drawer. Its still there. We haven’t touched those digital images in ten years.
But what we have done? We’ve looked at our album.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t hate digital images. I love sharing them online and appreciate the security of having your photos backed up in the cloud. I just don’t believe that that’s where your photos should live or that you should experience them in the way that you experience pictures of people’s cats on Instagram. They should live in a place where they can be seen and felt, a place where your kids or grandkids can pull them off the shelf and flip through them. They should be presented in a way that tells the entire story of your day.
All that to say, please guys? If you’re a photographer reading this? Print photos for your couples. If you’re a couple who is getting married? Make sure you are getting your photos printed. (If you’re one of MY couples? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered!)
Seriously, you’re investing a lot of time and money in capturing these moments. Make sure they don’t live on a computer.