Why We Need To Print Pictures To Preserve Our Memories

by William Lulow

I was reading an article by Andrew Sullivan’s in an issue of New York Magazine last year, which dealt with our growing addiction to devices with screens of one sort or another. We all have smartphones these days, in addition to our regular computers and/or laptops/tablets. There is no questioning the fact that we are on these devices every single day for many hours. Some may question whether or not we are “addicted” to these things, but we all use them. Just walk down any street in this country if you need proof! Mr. Sullivan points out that we just might need a good rehab program to help us get back to “reality” rather than “virtual reality!”

How does this relate to photography, you might ask. Well, I’ve been writing in this space for quite a while now that we now see photographs mostly on screens of one type or another. The shots I take of my new granddaughter on my smartphone are terrific, but when I do a real photo shoot with her and then print the pictures for the family, it’s quite a different experience. They become treasured items rather than simply another image on a screen.

(Shot with a Canon 60D, in the studio and printed on Inkpress Pro Silky paper, 300GSM. This paper is super sturdy and has a nice sheen to it. Naturally, I made copies for the family!)

So many images we take on our devices are really ephemeral! In order to make them part of our history, they should be printed not just stored on the cloud. There is a quotation on the portal of the Philadelphia Art Museum, I believe, that says “All Else Passes, Art Alone Endures.” Well, if it’s only on your phone, it may very well “pass” as well! If you want to leave photographs as part of your legacy or heritage, they should be printed and framed.

When you go to someone’s home and see photographs of their family members in frames prominently displayed on the wall or on a piece of furniture, you understand how important printed photographs are to people. I know people who have come back from a vacation and shown me unedited images, still on their smartphones! Think how much more impressive it would be if only a select few of them were edited, cropped, printed and framed.

Photographs were meant to be exhibited. By this I mean that they should be carefully edited and printed on paper for people to view. When you view images on a screen, they are often fleeting and the size of the screen itself usually doesn’t allow for introspective perusal, as images in a gallery or museum might. So, I encourage all my students to print their edited images. In addition to being much more impressive as prints, images are often much clearer and sharper on paper than they are on almost any screen.

Photographs, by definition, are “light pictures.” Try to break the addiction to screens by printing your images!