Digital photography has created lots of exciting new processes, but I fear one of the pitfalls is that too many of us have moved away from physical prints of our photographs. I am a passionate advocate of making prints. I even go so far as to display my photos on this blog in a digital frame as a way of reinforcing the idea.
Computers, tablets and smart phones are great devices. I have them and use them. I even keep lots of photos on them. But, I never consider those photos to have any sort of permanence. They’re too easy to loose, and they’re actually hard to share and enjoy.
We still have our album of wedding photos from 38 years ago, and we still get it out and look at them occasionally. The grandkids love to page through the old photo albums and laugh at our 1970′s styles. Visitors to our house look at the photos on the walls, the array of family photos on the buffet. But, in all the years I’ve used computers and digital photography, I’ve never had a child, grandchild, relative or friend ask to page through my iPad or computer or backup disks to look at the pictures I have stored there. Someday I’ll be gone. A lot may change between now and then, but given today’s technology, I doubt if anyone will see any of my photos that haven’t been printed.
When you make a print, you’re making a commitment to create a physical thing. The print requires an investment, and it has a presence. Its scarceness gives it value. If it gets damaged or lost, it’s gone forever, so we tend to handle it carefully.
Of course, you probably don’t want to print every photo. In fact, you probably shouldn’t print most of your exposure. But, think about the images that you’re especially proud of, or the ones that captured a special moment that you don’t want to forget. Those are the ones that deserve to be turned into something real and tangible.
Someday, someone will be glad you made the effort.