“All we ever see of stars are their old photographs.”
–Alan Moore, Watchmen
I received my first camera as a Christmas gift when I was in 7th grade. It was a 35mm Canon Rebel X, and I was in love. I still have boxes full of negatives and 4×6″ prints of my friends, family, trees, flowers, and whatever else caught my eye. None of these were masterpieces, but they’re the images that sparked my love and creativity for this craft, and they are what started me on the path I am still following today.
To many, printed photographs seem now to be a thing of the past, left to reside in boxes in the closets and attics of our parents and grandparents; to me, they’re something of the future. Photos aren’t printed just to be shared and enjoyed by us now; they’re printed to pass on and love for generations to come! Photographs are our link to the past and will continue to tell our stories long after we’re gone.
After my father passed away last summer, my mom, sister, and I visited my grandma in Alabama, and we actually just returned from another trip to see her. During both stays with her, we went through boxes and boxes of photos of my dad and his siblings growing up. Many of these I had never seen before, and it offered a glimpse into their lives as young boys and brought back memories my mam-ma had long forgotten. The emotion of holding an image of your grandmother that was created 60+ years ago is something you can’t experience with a digital photograph. The look, feel, and even smell of an old photo can invoke feelings and memories in a way that is not possible looking at a photo on a screen.
Print is an incredibly powerful medium. It’s why I do what I do. I live for seeing the excitement on my clients’ faces as they unwrap their printed photographs and albums, and I feel that I would be robbing them of that joy if I were to only hand over a USB with digital images on it. I print your images because I’m not just a photographer; I’m a storyteller. I want you to share your story now, and I want you to share it in 50 years.
The printed photograph certainly has competition in this digital age. It’s incredible knowing that you can take a photo with your cell phone and share it with someone halfway around the world in a matter of seconds! A bride and groom can see photos from their wedding in an online gallery before they even return from their honeymoon, and I can share pictures of my dogs with my grandma from 400 miles away! I can save these photos on my computer and keep them safe in the magical cloud. However, all of my favorite photos don’t live solely on a hard drive, they’ve been brought to life hanging on our walls and in albums displayed throughout our home. These are the photos I love to see everyday and share when we have company over to visit.
So here’s the power of print: below is my favorite photo of my mam-ma. She has it hanging in her hallway to give her grandchildren a peek into her past and to remind herself that she was (and still is) a total sassy babe. This photograph is just one of many to tell her story on paper, and it will continue to do so for years to come.