I didn't intend for a two part post about prints, but it became too long for one post, so I'm splitting it up. This one will be about why you should print your photos, and the next about WHERE you should print them. It matters, trust me. Anyway, Print Your Pictures, People!!! I'm sure you've heard it before, many times, but for whatever reason, actually printing photographs sort of falls off the priority list and then never makes it back on. Probably because we're online so often and can just scroll through our photos with a tap of our finger. It's so easy. But what happens when your phone falls into a sink (or toilet, pool, puddle. Any body of water, really) full of water, your child accidentally deletes your entire gallery or your computer gets some kind of virus, and you lose everything? What if you haven't backed them up? All of those memories, gone. In an instant.
Trust me, I'm as guilty as the next person. Before this winter, I only printed photos when my kids needed them for school or day care. And, true story, I actually accidentally deleted my own gallery of photos off of my phone once. A whole year's worth, gone, just like that. I was beyond upset. So this winter I decided that I would print photo books. One for each year, starting when I was pregnant with my first child. The vast majority of these photos, up until about 2 years ago are photos that I took with my phone. Some are from a point and shoot camera. But, I uploaded them to Shutterfly (this is in no way and ad for, or sponsored by, Shutterfly. I've just used them in the past and already had a lot of these photos backed up on their site so it was easier than starting over for the scope of this project. I really like how they came out, but I may try other sites for future books, just to see how I like them), and then started putting books together. I'm not going to lie, it was A LOT of work. Waiting for the uploads to complete. Choosing what made it in the books, and what didn't. Going through all the different layouts for each page, and arranging the photos. And because I was seven years behind on this project, it took weeks and weeks to get them done. I'd wait until there was a deal or sale on photo books, and because it was around Christmas and New Year's, there were so.many.deals. (Seriously, don't buy them until you have a coupon code!) As soon as one coupon expired, a new one came out, so I'd use the new code to purchase the current book, and then start on the next book. At this point the only one that I haven't put together is last year's, but it's on my list of things to get done this summer. And for this current year, I'm already so much better organized about backing my photos up online and having them ready for the next photo book, that at the end of 2019 it will be super easy to put together and order.
It's been one of the best things I've done. My kids (and I) absolutely LOVE picking up these books and looking through them. They don't have phones or the ability to grab a device and look at photos whenever they want--they're too young for that kind of internet freedom--so this is how they can look back at all of our memories. Family events, vacations, holidays, outings, daily life. There are photos in there of family members who have since passed away, but their memories and how much they loved us all live on in those photographs. Their favorites are the years they were born. Seeing themselves so tiny, and all of the things we did before they can remember. Getting a glimpse into each season of our lives as a family thus far and feeling connected to the past, to family and friends. We will have these forever, and I can't even describe how happy I am that I finally decided to just do it.
An unexpected benefit of this project is that it's inspired me to keep printing my photos to put up in my home, and to try out some new ways of printing them. In the past few months, I've done large 12x12 prints for our office, regular old 4x6s and 5x7s for a gallery wall in our dining room, a Framebridge framed print, a big canvas print from Smallwood and a wood print (yes, WOOD! It's stunning.) from an Etsy shop called Pretty In Polka Dots. I'm probably going to run out of wall space pretty soon!
Anyway. It's hard to put into words how very important photographs are, and how important it is to have those memories readily available to look at. I could probably write on and on, insensically, about what it means to me, but I'll let one of the many phenomenal quotes about photography say it for me:
"Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever... It remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything." Aaron Siskind
So, whether they are phone pictures, camera pictures or professionally done family photos, print your pictures. Whether you put them in frames, on the wall, in books, albums or photo boxes, print your pictures. Please don't just let them live on your current phone or hard drive. Sooner or later you'll need new phones and computers, and you won't be looking at those photos there anymore. You will be forever grateful that you have those prints to look at long after you have forgotten the reason you took it in the first place.