Why are we so obsessed with wanting to have our photographs as digital files rather than prints? What sensory experience will you ever feel from a digital file?
Since becoming a birth photographer from South Wales this topic has been bothering me. I thought it was about time I tried to put it into words and explain why its a huge bugbear of mine.
Let me start with a true situation my husband experienced last week.
(a little background info) My husband works at a camera store, a few days ago a couple came into the shop with a USB stick that their wedding photographer had given them as part of their package.
“Congratulations,” my husband said
“Oh, thanks” they replied “it was four years ago that we got married, and we’re now looking to get them printed”
FOUR YEARS AGO!!
There’s more, bear with…
My husband nervously inserted the USB into the computer. (this couple had not even checked that their images were still there!)
Download time took a while.
Finally, their images were ready for printing.
All 4000 of them!! (I kid you not!!)
WHY? (I’d love to insert a screaming redfaced emoji here!)
At least they were finally getting round to printing them, right?
What was the point of having their images on a USB stick, to begin with? What joy or pleasure had they had from these images for the last four years? I can tell you, the joy was fading fast as they trailed through the images with the impossible task of choosing which ones to print.
Why are we obsessed with wanting the digital files?
How many USB sticks containing your photographs do you have tucked away in a drawer somewhere?
These days, you can capture hundreds even thousands of images, what are you doing with them all?
I wonder whether we’re also still stuck in the mindset that “digital files” are somehow what the “negative” used to be?
Of course, years ago when people insisted on purchasing the negatives, they were actually purchasing the ONE copy of those moments. These days if you purchase the digital files you are simply buying just another copy.
At least if you’re going to insist on having the digital files, for the love of cheese do something with them!
When was the last time you sat and ordered prints and then actually physically held them in your hands?
When was the last time you flicked through a photograph album?
In this digital age, most of us have easy access to our memories via our phone, but when was the last time you printed any of the photographs from your phone?
I did a little digging around as I wanted to find out what the life expectancy of a USB was. Now I’m no expert, and the information I gathered was taken from various pages I’d found on the internet. The same number kept popping up. The life expectancy of a USB stick is approximately 10 years. That’s was providing you haven’t lost it, broken it or corrupted it.
Interestingly, I also came across a different blog post that claimed the oldest printed photograph was printed in 1826 – and it’s still looking pretty good!
Now as you’ve probably gathered I’m a huge advocate for printing your photographs. Getting them off that USB (you needed) and printing them. Whether you print them in albums, get them framed for your walls or just have a good old-fashioned box full (my personal favourite) do something with the ones you love!
We take photographs so that we can enjoy them.
Are you enjoying your USB stick?
Hands up if you love books!
The albums I create for my clients are just like books. I love nothing more than to grab a book snuggle down with it.
Feeling the texture of the pages, inhaling that bloody great smell only books have (you know the one I mean!)
We can’t enjoy what we can’t see. Photographs are super special because they are reflections of our lives, they’re proof and evidence of our existence.
A while ago I remember reading about a woman in her twenties who had just had a baby. She took tons of photographs of her baby and she made damn sure she got her favourite ones printed. She did this because the only photographs she could find from her childhood was a photograph that was taken when she was roughly 12 years old.
12 years old!!
Imagine that for a second…
Imagine there are no photographs of you as a baby or of your life before the age of twelve – nothing!
In this digital age, I believe we are in danger of wiping out whole generations of families and individuals. Yes, we’re taking photographs but (and it’s a big but) we are not printing them – we are not securing our memories. We are keeping them on USB sticks, hard drives, cd, phones etc, most of us aren’t investing in getting them printed.
A professionally printed photograph will last you many, many years!
All my packages include either prints, albums or wall art (digital files are also available but prints and albums are my top priority) I want you to physically hold your images in your hands, to feel the texture of the paper, and allow it give you easy access to your memories.
Photographs are a sensory procession and in them they hold time, they preserve a feeling and freeze an emotion. They should be enjoyed every single day.
So, the next time you’re choosing what packages to go for be sure to include some prints over just having the digital files. (You’ll be thanking me for years to come!)
Now go and print some of your favourite memories.
“I can’t begin to describe how delighted I am with the photos Jo captured, we will undoubtedly treasure our album”
“The final images are breathtaking, I’m just so happy I took the leap and contacted Jo, I’m so excited to get my album”