Even if you are not really into photography, chances are you have a wealth of photos captured from digital cameras and mobile phones that exist in a digital limbo. You might share some of these photos on social media, or send them to one or two people on your contacts list, but the majority likely remain unseen and unappreciated.
This wasn’t always the case with photography. Analog photography, the kind that requires film, was made up of a series of activities of which pressing the shutter button was only a middle point. Once you had found a subject and pressed the shutter, next came developing the film. But developing the film wasn’t the end because what really mattered in photography was the print. The print resulted from the effort and made a meaningful, tactile artifact – something you could hold in your hands and share with others.
With digital photography, the practice of making photography tangible has been lost to an extent. Most social media is geared toward digital distribution, but digital distribution is by its very nature non-permanent. There is so much content, information constantly coming in, that your images are lost in all the digital noise and the people you want to share with, the people who matter, may not even see them.
In this situation, it is a good time to consider the benefits of printing your photography.
It Will Make Your Photography a Thing... Literally
The first reason is important. Chances are you might print one or two photographs of special events, but it isn’t the habit it should be. Those images will get lost in the digital shuffle of upgraded mobile phones, laptop/computer hard drive failures, and general forgetfulness. The shame of it is that there are a lot of really fantastic images that are not getting their due.
Getting those images out of digital limbo and into the real world as prints, photo books, calendars and more will mean that those memories don’t have to just fade away. They will be around for a long time, shared and re-shared by hand rather than a social media post.
It Will Make You A Better Photographer
Once you commit to the idea that your photographs are going to be printed the next step is editing, taking a critical look at your photographs. You will become a better editor of what you photograph, paying more attention to what makes a good photograph, and this skill will become second nature.
As your skill as a photographer increases, you will produce more photographs that deserve to be printed. It’s a delightful cycle.
Use Them or Lose Them
One thing is certain; technology, like time, marches on. Digital technology is advancing at incredible speeds with regard to storage media and image formats. It is likely that in the future the pictures you are taking now will not be accessible by future devices (just ask anyone who remembers floppy disks). Media and storage formats may come and go but your printed photographs can be stored with the confidence that they will last for decades to come.
Concerns over space shouldn’t really be an issue either. You may capture thousands of photos a year, but you won’t print them all. Selectively knowing what to preserve and what to discard will make you the curator of your own experiences and that of your family.
So Get Started
There’s no reason to hesitate on this point. Right now you’ve got a treasure trove of memory sitting on SD cards, mobile phones, and hard drives. Time to get them out into the light of day, and your hands.