Living in an era awash with social media and digital advertising, its easy to become overwhelmed by the constant stream of visual stimuli bombarding us almost every waking moment. With our phones and newsfeeds overflowing, meaningful photos often get lost amongst the trash.
Photography has never been more accessible than it is now. Most of us carry a high-resolution camera in our pockets every day. Yet, at the same time, it feels as though photography has never been more disposable.
Gone are the good ol’ days of capturing treasured memories on “proper” film.
The giddy anticipation as you eagerly awaited your photos to be developed at your local photo lab and then feverishly flicking through the envelope to make sure they all actually worked! We’d then proudly display them on the mantle for all to see.
Instead, nowadays, we find ourselves with thousands upon thousands of photos stored on our devices. Some have their 15 seconds in the spotlight, appearing on our feeds, gathering likes and throwaway comments. But then, as quickly as they appeared, they are often forgotten as they are scrolled away and the next exciting thing steals our attention. Just like a beautifully written theatre script that never makes it to the stage, photographs left purely in digital form takes something really special from us, something tangible and everlasting. A photo is truly embodied when the physical printed image becomes part of our homes and stories.
1. The Stories they tell Every photo tells a story, but if no one ever sees them, the stories get buried along with the photos in the depths of cyber space. The moments, the memories and the history will be forgotten. As simple as it sounds, printing your photos in the digital age means you will actually look at them.
Photos are great conversation starters, taking our minds back to those special times and sharing our experiences. Think about those precious moments visiting your grandparents and thumbing the pages of the photo album together, their eyes sparkling as they reminisce on each special moments of their life. Their wedding, their honeymoon in Spain, and even your own Mother just days old in your Grandmother’s arms… Not every image is perfectly framed, some are blurry and others washed out, but the memory and fleeting moment in time is preserved forever.
I don’t know about you, but when I was growing up my parents had piles of photo albums, with every photo’s date and location scrawled on the back with biro. As a kid I loved flipping through the albums, seeing myself growing and changing. Parents perhaps take more photos of their children now than ever before, but it is tricky for kids to access these images when they don’t have their own phones or Facebook accounts. Displaying photos of your kids, even if it is in an album, will help them feel loved, know they are an important part of your life, as well as give them something to hold onto and to look back on in years to come.
2. PHOTOGRAPHY AS DÉCOR Nothing makes a house more of a home than family photos, and when we hang them in our homes or place them on our mantels, our photos become art. Family photos are unique and add a level of warmth and life to your interior styling that no trendy Ikea print or “The Block” inspired feature wall can give you. Have you ever visited a friend who has their family photos displayed around the house? The visual message of the love and appreciation within the family is contagious, and as a guest you feel instantly welcome.
The life that photos can bring to your space is powerful. Seeing the happy faces against the sunny backdrops smiling to you from the wall can be a wonderful source of inspiration on a gloomy day, or when you walk in the door after a hard day at work. You don’t have to go looking for them, or wade through the clickbait online to see them on Facebook. They can also keep alive the beautiful memories of our dearest family members that are no longer with us.
Large, professionally shot and printed photos have colours, contrast and sharpness that just can’t be replicated by a computer or phone screen. Putting a little thought into matching the theme of your photos to the styling of your home will help the images complement not clash with your décor. Your photos will become a feature wall to be proud of!
3. PAPER DOESN’T DIE For all the advantages of modern technology; it certainly brings with it some frustrating, and potentially heartbreaking, pitfalls. Choosing to rely solely on digital formats to store your cherished photographic memories may be a decision you live to regret – because as we have all learnt the hard way that at some point, technology is incredibly vulnerable to failure.
Memory cards, hard drives, cameras and phones can all let us down without warning, and if Murphy has anything to do with it, it will happen the day after you have just postponed backing up your files. Having at least some of your family photos imortalised as printed images will help safeguard you against the risk of losing everything if technology lets you down.
If you have been very lucky and avoided data loss through technology crashing, one day you might decide to dig out the tiny USB stick with everything on it. Its not in the drawer… its not down the side of the couch… and its not in your laptop bag… It’s lost to the digital graveyard forever.
A friend told me the story of losing 6 months worth of travel photos when she left her camera in a taxi in Barcelona and I almost cried. I couldn’t even imagine that kind of distress. Her pain was real. Technology is also notorious for becoming outdated and obsolete in the blink of an eye. Remember your parents painstakingly saving their entire family photo album to the fancy new disc called a DVD in the early 2000s? Just a couple of years later nature strips were littered with DVD players on hard rubbish piles. That disc full of memories? Useless.
Printed photos of loved ones are classic and timeless and will be with you forever no matter how quickly technology evolves
4. QUALITY OVER QUANTITY One stunning framed portrait hung in the home is worth a thousand digital images stored in the depths of your camera roll. A USB stick storing hundreds of wedding photos is worth nothing if it sits in a drawer for the rest of time.
The magical bonus of digital photography is the gift of the second chance. Once upon a time we would only discover the inconveniently-timed blink after the photos were returned from the lab, but today’s technology has meant we now have a virtually infinite number of chances to snap the perfect image. But this doesn’t mean we have to print every single photo. Since these days we aren’t sending a whole roll of film to be developed, it gives us the opportunity to be picky with the images we do want to print. A handful of carefully selected prints will mean much more to you than dozens of digitals.
The tactile value of physical photos is something that has sadly disappeared in the digital age. Whether they are hanging on your wall, or in a book on the coffee table, printed images will become a part of your daily life; beautiful reminders of what’s really important.
So in saying all of this, in the modern world we live in today, photography has become cheaper, more accessible and higher quality than ever before. But with these advancements we have lost something really important along the way. The tangible joy of holding a cherished image in your hand, or hanging it proudly on your wall, has virtually disappeared as technology hurtles at lightspeed into the future. To get the most enjoyment out of out images, we all need to think about what a photo really means.