In the past few years as I’ve grown my little business, one thing that I already knew but became more and more evident to me was how important it is to PRINT your photographs. I’m always elated when clients choose to purchase prints, canvases, albums, and the like because I know that 80 years from now, those photographs will still be there- on their wall, on the bookshelf, in the hands of their great-grandchildren… Once those photographs are printed, they exist. And barring a natural disaster (God forbid) they will continue to exist for generations of their children and grandchildren to come.
Why digital photos aren’t actually photos…
Images made on a digital camera, or on our phones, however, don’t actually exist as tangible objects. They’re mearly bits of electronic data that are retrieved through either the computer on your desktop or the computer in your phone. Without this computer, how can we see them? We can’t. Have you ever had a “close call” with your computer or phone? You know, that sinking feeling when you go to look at some pictures you took, and instead of seeing them see you see an “error” message or an empty folder where the files used to be… A few years ago, before I started my business, the hard drive that we stored our family photos on failed, and we couldn’t find a single photo. Not one. They were GONE. My husband is the computer geek in the family and can usually “fix” any problem right away. So after seeing him fruitlessly search to recover these files, I felt sick to my stomach. ALL the photos that we ever took of our first child? GONE. ALL the photos of our first few years of marriage, our honeymoon, our first house, vacations, family? GONE. Had we PRINTED all those photos, it would not have bothered me as much that the electronic files were gone. But we hadn’t. I’d printed only a handful of them. Because… (doesn’t this sound familiar?) …I had planned to print all of them one day and put them in an album or scrapbook, make a wall gallery, hang canvases in our kids’ rooms, and on and on… I had a ton of things that I had PLANNED to do, but never got around to doing. It was a typical case of the cobbler’s children having no shoes. Now, they were simply gone. Never to have existed at all.
I will save you the suspense and say that, thankfully after a lot of sweating and praying, and about 2 days of hard drive recovery work on my husband’s part- we recovered those lost files.
I just discovered a new glitch. A couple of days ago as a matter of fact. I went back into our family’s photo folders because I decided that it was finally time to print an album of all those photos- both the beautiful ones as well as the goofy, quick ones taken with our phones- so that we would have them forever, and so that we’d never have to worry again about losing all those memories. And lo and behold, what did I see as I started choosing the images to add to my album?? THIS:
Corrupt files? Lost data? I don’t know. But it happened AGAIN. Now, these are not (thankfully) the gorgeous custom family portraits that recently had done. (I was smart enough to create 2 back-up copies of THOSE photos). But all the silly, not-such-a-great-photo-but-awesome-memory taken on my phone?? They were ALL images that I wanted to keep. They WERE photos that I wanted to put in our album so that we could look back on those ordinary, goofy, days filled with the very types of memories that slip by too quickly. I just waited too long. I find it ironic that when I finally chose to practice what I preach, my images are gone and I can’t use them. Now images from my clients’ sessions? I save them with three different back-ups! But our own? I guess I felt clients’ images to be first priority. Now I see I should have treated ours the same way!
The moral here? Hard drives WILL fail. They have to. They cannot exist forever, and the bits of electrical data that they store will be gone in a -POOF-. So PLEASE (as my Dad jokingly told us when we were growing up), do as I say and not as I do! Print your photos!!! Those gorgeous family portraits that you hired a professional to create?? Get them off that disc or your hard drive and print them! At very least print out each one in a 5×7 and then you will have them- they will actually exist as a tangible keepsake! Don’t rely on those bits of electrical data- they don’t know these files are precious to you.
How to never lose digital photos again…
I’ve decided- for my OWN family- to finally PRINT all of those mundane ordinary photos into an album- a yearbook of sorts- so that we can always look back on those days and see the craziness, the sweetness, the laughter, the messes- all the good stuff that makes us smile (or will eventually). Thankfully, it’s now, more than ever, easier to create albums like this. There are websites such as picaboo, mix book, and adoramapix, that are just a few of the consumer album-makers available today, though I’m sure there are many others. Each of these has auto-fill technology that takes all of your images, spits them out into an album design, and lets you tweak the arrangement to your liking. Easy peasy! Now, i wouldn’t recommend these types of books for wedding albums, or for gorgeous portraits that you invested good money in, as most are press-printed albums (like a magazine) and not photographic prints. I also cannot speak to the longevity of the construction of the album. So, for professional, archival photographic prints, I always recommend mpix.com (a division of Miller’s Professional Imaging.) However, I’m convinced, after years of procrastination, that these simple yearbook-style albums may be the best way for me to preserve all of those memories I capture on my phone, intending to preserve, yet failing to actually archive. So I’m going to quit talking about doing it and just do it!
Having quality cameras built into our phones is a pretty awesome thing, but don’t let this convenient anywhere-anytime-picture-taking ability keep you from actually living and experiencing these moments!! Capture those images instantly, but then print them for you to keep forever.
I hope this public service announcement serves you well, and lights a fire under your own tushie to print your photos and preserve your past! As soon as my yearbook is finished, I will be sure to share it here. Stay tuned!