Prints in a Digital World: Are Photo Albums Obsolete?

Growing up, my momma always had a gallon size ziplock bag filled with rolls of film. Every so often we would take a few in to be developed. Maybe this is just the homeschool in me coming out (my husband likes to tease that I was sheltered), but it was always so exciting for me and my sisters! Random rolls were taken to the local pharmacy and developed. Not knowing what memories were captured on those rolls just added an extra element of mystery and increased our excitement. We would all gather around the table looking at the photos, seeing our memories come to life. Birthday parties, Christmases, baptisms, or even just a random trip to the park where momma felt like bringing the camera. The next few days our dining room table was buried under photos and photo albums as my momma enjoyed coffee and put these tangible memories together for us. My sisters and I each have our own photo album from when we were growing up, as well as a few family ones. To this day, one of my favorite things to do is flip through my baby albums and try to see my children in the old images of me. I see how they curl up on their sides with a baby blanket over the head like I used to. I see how when my eldest daughter wrinkles up her nose when she smiles she looks just like I used to, only with strawberry blonde hair.

My home always had photos on the walls. Large ones of each of us girls that were refreshed each year. We would place the new one on top of the old one in the frame, and compare how much we had changed over the year. Family photos in frames on the piano, stuck to the fridge with magnets, collages put together in frames throughout the house. I don’t remember what other pieces of art we had on the walls, and I don’t remember exactly which images we printed. But I remember we always had photos up. I have carried this tradition with me through the years. Before moving out of an old apartment, I spent what felt like hours patching holes from hundreds of thumbtacks used to put up photos on my wall. My house today has photos of my children and our family up on the walls. My son has photos of our family on his door and one on his wall. He has a framed sonogram photo of my eldest daughter on his nightstand. I am meticulous about organizing photos for all of my babies. The girls are too little to understand, of course, but he loves sorting through his album! The smile on his face as he looks at baby pictures and fire engine birthdays and holidays through the years just melts my heart. The photos and canvases on our walls tell my children that they are worthy of being art on the walls of our home! Studies have shown that children who grow up with photos up in their home have a stronger self-esteem and confidence. It strengthens the reminder of our family unit.

But in a digital world of social media, do people still print their photos? While I was typing this up, I googled just to see if there was any research on this and found that trillions of photos will stay in digital form, never being printed. Trillions! I am hoping that we will see a resurgence of printed images. Where photos on our walls are just as important as the photos on our Facebook and Instagram. Where our children grow up seeing the love and happiness in the images all around them, not just in the amount of likes a photo gets online. Social media may not be around forever (anyone remember Myspace??). Where are your images going to be if Facebook went down tomorrow? If the cloud lost all data? If your cell phone glitched and deleted all images? What is your child taking with them into adulthood beyond cell phone shots and uploaded photos? Will they be able to take a photo album with them to college, or show their partner photos of how cute they are as a baby without having to pull out a cell phone? Take the photos, take ALL the photos! And then print them! Maybe you should even follow your photographer’s recommendation to use a professional print lab to have images that will last and not fade, but that’s a blog for another day 😉

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