When I suddenly lost my only brother four years ago, the whole family scrambled for photographs of him. No, it wasn’t the photos online that we looked at and cried and smiled over, it was all the printed photographs. They were the ones we held in our shaking hands and stared at in disbelief. Those smiling photos of him were the ones that pulled on our heartstrings. A couple of months after he passed, a very old friend kindly sent me a card to say how sorry she was for my loss. Inside that card was a selection of photos from my brother’s graduation. He was happy and handsome in those pictures, and I sobbed my heart out as I slowly looked through them. I was sad for what I had lost, but also so very grateful to have received those priceless photographs.
To this day, one of my most treasured items is a photograph of my brother and I, taken during St Patrick’s Day celebrations in New York. We are happy and carefree and he has his arm around me. Every evening I light a candle in front of this photograph. The photo honors his memory and makes me feel like he is still around :)
And what about you? Do you print your photographs? Do you make photo books out of all those digial files taking up space on your phone/hardrive? Do you gift actual printed photographs to grandparents/aunts/uncles/siblings, etc? Do you have family photos on your walls? Do you have a photo album of your baby’s first year? Do you have physical family photo albums your children can flick through once they’re old enough to appreciate them?
Do you feel that because we live in a digital age that you only need digital files? When you’re old and feeling sentimental and want to remember all those good times, how do you even know those digital images will survive? Would you not rather have all those special memories in print? To me, having a photograph in print means actually owning it. It is real. It is a physical version of that image, one that cannot be lost to a digital incident or accident.
Printed photographs are priceless.