I have two shoeboxes stuffed with “love” letters between my grandmother and grandfather (my mother’s parents) before they married in 1916. The letters aren’t really romantic, but they provide insight into the lives of two people who lived hundreds of miles apart in the years prior to their marriage. This is a record of their thoughts, hopes, plans and opinions. Handwritten in pencil or ink on now faded paper, the letters provide a link to the past. As I read these letters, I know I hold in my hands the record they created over one hundred years ago. People wrote letters back then. Letters on paper that you can hold.
My other grandmother, my father’s mother, was an artist of sorts. Her mother taught art, and my grandmother inherited the ability to put paint on canvas. Her paintings still hang on the walls of our family. As I was growing up and until she gave up housekeeping, she kept an old Kodak Brownie camera on the shelf loaded with film. Often she would retrieve that camera and say “let me make a picture.” Everyone else would say “take a picture” but she would make a picture. She wasn’t taking anything; she was creating something to print and that would last into the future. People printed photos back then. Even the bad photos were usually kept.
Today more photographs are taken than ever before. Billions and billions are taken on cell phones, stored on the phone, uploaded to Instagram and Facebook, and maybe copied to a hard disk. Viewed once or twice, but frequently never looked at again. Eventually they are discarded, deleted. That moment, that historical record or remembrance is gone and won’t be passed on. These digital records are nothing more than ones and zeroes that don’t last, and aren’t preserved.
It is important to make prints of your photos. No, not every photo needs to be printed of course, but every photo that you care about and has some lasting value should be printed on paper and should be shared. You can print on your home printer (use good photo paper) to share with family members or friends. You can print photo albums and photo books through a variety of services. Print only one photo book for your personal records, or print multiple copies to share with friends and family. You can print a copy of a special photo and hang it on your wall. Putting photographs on paper adds permanence. You can touch it. You can share it. And you have it as long as you preserve it.
Note: In addition to links to my monthly selected photos, I will occasionally provide a link to obtain prints of some of my photos. If you see a photo in any of my galleries or monthly selections that is not available in my Inprint Store, let me know and I’ll upload it to make it available. And I’ll provide a discount code for your effort.