Why You Should Print Your Photos NOW + What To Do With Them | Chesapeake Photographer | Jess Nicole Photography
Printing and storing your photos may seem like a daunting task...and trust me, I get it. I am not organized, like at all. But I do have a few tips for storing photos and a few things you may not know about photo storage.
As a photographer, I believe that photos are some of the most priceless tangible items that we can possess. It's a bit like magic- a photo takes a single second in time and freezes it forever. It allows us to relive a moment and it sparks something within us. To me, that's pure magic. Our memories can often fail us and I always use the example of how I forgot about an entire vacation I took with both my maternal and paternal grandmothers (you can read about it here). The only way I remembered was because on a rainy day, I decided to pull out a Rubbermaid tote full of old pictures. It makes sense to protect our memories and to care for them carefully. Your memories deserve to exist out side of a hard drive.
I'm not going to get into the nitty gritty details of photo storage and life spans of external hard drives (you guys, they are short. Like, 5-7 years short, so please don't let that be your only method!), but what I am going to do is tell you how I store and display my personal photos and why you should print your pictures. I posted about a print order I had just gotten in over on my Instagram and I got a huge response!
"What do you do with them?"
"Those are so gorgeous!"
"I'm so in love!"
"Where do you put them all?"
"How often do you do it?"
Just to recite a few.
Your memories deserve to exist outside of a hard drive.
I believe in printing your pictures. I believe in being able to hold an actual, tangible memory in your hand. Years ago, I was caught up in digital everything. I mean, let's face it, we all kind of are. Our whole world revolves around digital technology. Why print out a picture when I can look at it on my phone or pull it up on my computer whenever I want to? And that's fine and of course I still do that. BUT, you absolutely, 100% cannot replace the feeling that you get by holding a real, beautifully printed memory in your hand. Holding it in your hand makes it real. You feel it. It's there. Every. Single. Time. that I get a print order in (I only print out my absolute favorites), I have a visceral reaction to seeing them in my hand. Every time. I usually even put it in my Insta stories or Facetime my mom or call my husband over to say, "Hey! Look at these prints! Aren't they amazing!?" And they always agree. Why? Because they are having the same reaction. They are so much more beautiful and so much more meaningful when printed and held in hand.
So, what do I do with them all?
I do a few things. I love loose prints. Nothing compares to shuffling through a stack of old prints. Sitting huddled around together, passing them around, finding one that speaks so deeply to you that you hang it up on the refrigerator to see it multiple times a day. For these prints, I store them in a photo box. What makes this different than other boxes is because it has been treated and is acid free, so as not to destroy the paper and ink of the photographs held inside. This is especially true if you are printing at a commercial lab like Walmart, Shutterfly, Walgreens, etc. as they do not use quality paper or ink. Prints from these labs are going to need special consideration to make them last, this is not the same as the paper and ink our grandparents photos were developed on.
Every year, I take my favorite prints, assemble them together, and order a beautiful photo album for a Family Yearbook. I absolutely love this and my children do too. They love to look through the books and see all of their favorite memories of the year at a glance. It's a compact, beautiful, and easy way to print hundreds of photos.
I also display photos throughout my home in a more traditional way. I have them in frames throughout the home and some printed on canvas. However, I do have a few less traditional ways I display them. I thrifted a few flat baskets (I don't know what to call them?) and had the idea to hang them on the wall and attach the pictures with little wooden clothespins. I can easily change them out whenever I want and it's a fun way to display seasonal pictures.
One more quick note about the importance of printing pictures and not allowing them to exist solely on your hard drive- there has been a study done that shows that kids self esteem is impacted by seeing themselves in photographs that are displayed. It allows them to see their role within the family and see their importance. You can read the article here. I think about it often and I strive to not only display pictures, but show them what I'm working on and editing on the computer too. I've also taken to making family films and they love watching them! Actually, my daughter CRIED when I showed her the first film I made of our family. How precious is that?
But I can also attest to the children reacting to see themselves in print because our littlest didn't have many pictures hanging in our home there for a while. We'd gotten busy, it was on the back burner, etc etc. (to clarify, I had the pictures, they just were not displayed.) and when I finally hung them up, he took notice immediately. He went around pointing and shouting, "That's me mama! That's Baby! That's ME!"
If you're ready to start capturing some memories and getting some meaningful images to hang around your home, send me a message and let's chat. I'm happy to answer any questions you may have and I'm so excited to create something amazing with your family.
I need to tell you about a pretty powerful experience I had the other day. I didn't quite realize how powerful it was until about midway through the box. And then it hit me like a ton of bricks.
I was looking for a certain scrapbook, one my mom made for me when I graduated high school. Specifically, I was looking for pictures of my maternal grandparents home. It's been on my heart lately and I really wanted to see it again- the way I see it in my memories. Filled with cousins. Aunts. Uncles. Always someone around the kitchen table. I wanted to remember the smell. The feel of that old farmhouse table under my fingertips.
But as I pulled out that old tote covered in tape and stickers from various moves, it evolved into an entirely different journey. Memories began pouring back to me, flooding my brain.
I called my kids over to see pictures from my very first Disney trip 21 years ago, to see the dog I grew up with, to see my grandparents- great grandparents they never got to meet. I showed them my first car, my middle school BFF (I also explained to them that I could literally smell the Bath & Body Works Cucumber Melon through the picture and they couldn't understand why we would want to smell like that), and what my nephew looked like as a baby. I showed them pictures of trips that my husband and I went on before we had kids! We came across pictures of loved ones who are no longer with us. With bitter sweet tears in my eyes, I was able to honor their memory by telling the story behind the picture.
I showed them pictures of my mom and dad, before they were Gigi and Poppa.
I found pictures from a vacation I didn't ever remember taking.
Can we think about that for a minute? I must've been about 16 in the pictures. That was only 17 years ago. I didn't remember taking the vacation (it was a cruise). Nothing. The part that floored me is that BOTH of my grandmothers went on the cruise with me- my maternal and paternal grandmothers. And I forgot about the entire trip. I can't get over that. I only halfway remembered because I saw myself in the pictures. I'm only 33 and my memory failed me-severely.
Another thing I noticed again and again, there wasn't many pictures of me and my mom. Because so many times, moms are tasked with being the family historian, the memory catcher. But that's another topic for another post...
This magical afternoon of traveling down memory lane wouldn't ever have happened if I hadn't pulled out that tote. None of this would've happened if there hadn't been actual, physical prints in that tote. I don't know when those stories or memories would've come up. I don't know when my kids would've heard them.
There is great power in holding an actual print in your hands.
Holding a memory. A legacy.
The digital images tucked away on a CD or hard drive don't have that kind of power. And as I found out, our memory can fail us- mine certainly did.
I'm forever grateful for that tote of memories. I'm thankful for the physical reminders of our past.
Document your days.
Leave a legacy for the generations after you.
Print the pictures.
Frame and hang them.
Keep them safe.
Trust me when I say that if you think pictures are valuable now, just wait 15 years. Priceless.
Jess is a photographer serving families located in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. She specializes in documentary and storytelling photography.