Even as a child, I loved to look at photographs. Growing up, some of my favorite memories took place sitting on the floor of my parents’ living room with photo albums spread around me. Even better was when my mom and I would go to pick up the prints from the roll of film we dropped off the week before. Back in those days (goodness I sound old) we took our film to Walmart and they would send it off to a print lab to be developed. Once in a while, we would do the 1-hour option, but that was more expensive so that was a treat and only if we knew the pictures were going to come out good. Mom would always get doubles made so we could give some away to the grandparents if we wanted to, but most of the time we wound up keeping both copies. After a while, Mom stopped putting them in albums at all, so now we have boxes full of envelopes full of photos.
I still love digging them out and picking out some favorites. Just about every Christmas I do this, which prompted me to make this post. Looking through these pictures makes me so happy, but the feeling is bittersweet. We don’t have any prints from recent times. From the time my parents moved in to the house we live in now up until about 5 years ago, we had a constant stream of printed photos. Not everyday, but rather every Christmas, birthday, and new pet was well documented and stored forever in these envelopes in the cabinet.
Today, we take photos on our phones. (And in my mom’s case, her little digital camera) The average smart phone user keeps their phone for 2 years. The ones we take on digital cameras get uploaded and then stay on the computer for years. Then what happens to those photos? iPhone users are lucky enough to have access to the cloud, but even then that storage is limited. We rarely print out photos anymore. Instead, we post them to social media outlets to show them off. We post our private, intimate moments online for so many people to see. Perhaps we enjoy the attention and ‘likes’ our photos receive. (I am guilty of this too. We all are.) So many people I went to high school with are getting married now. 1 out of 10 hire a professional photographer. Some of the photos I see online make me cringe. Yes, I understand that some people are just as happy letting their wedding be documented by cell phones and point and shoots, but those photos are posted to Facebook and that’s it. They don’t see the value in printing a wedding album. How will they access those photos years from now? What if Facebook doesn’t exist in 20 years?
I’m not saying online sharing is a bad thing, I post online at least once a day, but I still hope to see more interest in physical printed images. I print many of the photos I take of my family and friends. The walls in my apartment feature 4 or 5 collage frames of 4×6 photos that I change out every once in a while. In my opinion, printing photos today is easier than ever! Now, we can pick and choose which images we want to print, we can print 18 of the same image, blow it up huge, make wallets, whatever we want, all at the pharmacy if we want!
For pictures off my cell phone and such, I don’t mind getting them printed at an instant machine. Honestly, if they are low quality, it isn’t going to matter so you might as well not worry about dropping the big bucks on them. DON’T use Walmart’s machines! A few years back, they tried to save some money (for what, I don’t know) and came up with their own photo printers instead of using the Kodak ones. CVS, Walgreen’s, and most other instant machines however still use Kodak paper and printers. These are great for cell phone pictures and just causal shots on a digital camera.
HOWEVER, for your professional photos, I would highly suggest ordering from your photographer if they offer prints. I cannot stress this enough. If they don’t provide prints, a lot of photographers at least know a good lab that you don’t have to be a professional photographer to use. The quality is enormously better than those instant or one hour machines. These images will truly be ones you will love and cherish for generations.
This topic also allows me to speak again on why should hire a professional in the first place. In short: QUALITY. You get what you pay for. That rule applies to anything. Say you buy a car for $200. It’s shiny, looks new, so you think you got a great deal. You drive a mile down the road and it breaks down. This is the same thing that happens when hiring a photographer. If you pay $200 for wedding coverage, odds are your images aren’t going to be as beautiful or of as high quality as a $1200 or $1500 photographer. (average wedding coverage costs vary depending on location. This is the low end for Charlottesville, VA.)
It is my love of seeing prints that leads me to a change in 2015. Starting now, I will be offering the option of prints to my clients. Nothing makes me sadder than receiving a message from a client saying their pictures came out bad. Nine times out of ten, it is because they got them printed at Walmart. The files I deliver are high quality. They are sometimes too high in resolution to print clearly as a 4×6. This makes my heart ache. I will say, if you do choose to get them printed there, and they don’t come out how you like, you are not obligated to pay for them. It is not your fault, it is theirs.
To wrap up, printing your family photos, professional or just for fun, is very important in this digital age. Your electronics won’t be around forever. You certainly aren’t going to have the same phone you have now when you are 80. How are you going to show your favorite photos from 2014 to your kids or grandkids? I guess you can scroll way down on your Facebook timeline. Or you can dig out those old prints and have some laughs and celebrate the good times with your loved ones.