When I arrived at my hen doo venue, I walked in to the room not only to see all of my favourite women in my life, but I was also met with a string of memories plastered a cross the room on little pegs. It was the most moving moment (if not also a little embarrassing - 15 year old me wearing the most god awful tank top, and my face plastered in collection 2000 poorly applied make up). My friends had printed out all of our best memories from our childhood and beyond and laid them all out for me to see. The next few moments were sprinkled with ‘oh my god yes remember that?’ And holding my face in disbelief as the past memories of another life, another age came flooding back. These pictures, some taken with either disposable cameras or compact cameras (we were teens before phones had good cameras and Facebook, and before the age of snap chat THANK GOD). Despite the varying quality, and the interesting compositions, these photos were the documentation of my childhood, and more prescious than anyone could ever imagine.
I am SO thankful to my friend Becky, the ‘documenter’ who we all say has the best memory in our group of girls. She can can remember what we were wearing to THAT house party when we were 15, and who was going out with who at the time. We’ve spoken about this recently. And I wondered whether some of it is down to her large photo collection from our youth, a photo memory bank. Becky was always the one taking a disposable camera wherever we went, to house parties, to girls holidays and more. I don’t think we realised at the time just how important these prints made down at the local boots would be to us one day.
In the digital age, we have come to store most of our photos on Facebook or on our phone’s camera roll. I do this too. And I would never say we shouldn’t! Photos and ‘timehops’ are a couple of clicks away, at our disposal, at any point. Sitting in the chair at the hairdressers, our hair dresser says ‘I’m not quite sure what you want..’ out comes Pinterest or a photo from a previous hair style, or a friend’s profile pic to get the message across.
Wedding pictures are now saved on to cute little wooden USB memory sticks, to be filled away in the draw, never to be seen again! I know, I've packed mine away 'somewhere safe'. How can we be sure that when we next get this out of the draw, that this digital format will be relevant? Technology is moving at such a fast pace, it’s hard to believe that even the crappiest camera phone was ‘state of the art’ when I was a late teen. Who’s to say what will be irrelevant in ten, twenty years time? Remember CD’s? Blue ray? Exactly. Say that to a millennial today and they will be baffled. We rely so heavily on hard drives storing our precious memories, but the fact is hard drives fail. Memory formats change. A JPEG may not exist in twenty years time, we certainly can’t guarantee it will.
My point is, print is timeless. It’s available to us at any point, if we just take the time, like Becky, to get it done. I have recently started printing albums as part of my photography business and I have been blown away with the quality of modern day printing. Not only can we now print beautiful prints on quality paper, but they will stand the test of time.
I’m not saying shut down your Facebook and stop syncing your google photos. I will never do that. What I am saying is remember the value of print. I have started to do both. Every month I will print out a bunch of photos from my iPhone on an app on my phone. They are not the same quality that my Nikon or Sony full frame cameras can produce but they are memories - and after all, the best camera is the one you have on you. I have also started to make photo book albums of my favourite photos taken with my professional cameras in the same way I would for a customer. I have so much more confidence about their longevity knowing those pictures are in an album rather than stored on a fallible hard drive. Also, time yourself the next time you flick through a Facebook album rather than a real life, hold in your hands album. See which one you spend more time with and, which format you enjoy more. Also.,the fact is, photos look better in print - top quality paper and ink created in a professional photo lab will beat a screen resolution any day.
The reason why I make prints and albums as part of my photography service is because I believe in prints in my own personal life. I am looking right now at a print I made of a photo taken on a small, crop sensor Nikon in my favourite place on the planet, Wasdale Head. Because I printed this photo, I look at that place, and go there in my mind every day.
As a professional photographer, finding ways for you to enjoy your photos and ways for your photos to stand the test of time is part of my job, not just taking photos. It is part of the service that I offer that you can tell me 'make my photos timeless' and then just leave the rest to me. I can make beautiful prints, bespoke albums, and wall art as daily reminders of your happy times. If you do one thing today, go and print some photos before they are gone forever!