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The Importance of Printing Photographs

We live in a digital world, in an era where screens and technology impact virtually every activity we engage in. The area of photography has not been exempt from this shift away from the physical and toward the digital. And yet, when it comes to professional photographers like myself, there’s no doubt that prints still play an important role in the business of photography. Many photographers are no longer happy just offering digital files to their clients. They want to make sure their artwork, which has been intentionally and thoughtfully created, lives on beyond a simple social media share. Providing their clients with tangible art is a fulfilling and rewarding culmination of the process, for me and the photographer and you as the client.

Smartphones have revolutionized the way we record our memories in photos, and the total number of photographs taken annually is difficult to fathom. This year, it’s estimated that smartphones will be used to take 1.5 trillion photos, according to Rise Above Research, a consulting firm that provides market research for the digital imaging industry. And smartphones’ share of all photos taken will grow to 94% by 2026. That data clearly demonstrates two things: Humans worldwide love taking photographs, and the way we are creating those photos continues to evolve and grow. 

What will happen to all those photos? A percentage of them will be shared on social media or shared with friends and family, but many more will simply be forgotten. As hard drive after hard drive is filled with images that are rarely or never looked at again, the question begs to be asked – why are virtually none of these images being printed?

One reason, of course, is the sheer volume of images. The average iPhone user has around 2,100 photos on their phone in 2022, and the cost of printing all of them would be prohibitive. What’s more, the point of printing was originally to share your memory with another person. Now, since we don’t need prints to do that, it’s logical that people are choosing to share their images digitally instead of dealing with printing. 

But there are still great benefits to printing your photos, and many people still embrace the joy of having their images printed, for various reasons.

Printing may be safer than relying on digital files. The physics of how our eyes view images on a piece of paper is not going to change, but the way a computer or phone reads an image file can and does change. DVDs used to be the gold standard of photo storage, but they’re all but extinct now. External hard drives have gone through several variations of physical connection, from USB to FireWire to Thunderbolt – and the changes don’t show any sign of slowing down.

The implications of this are huge: there is no guarantee that computers tomorrow will be able to open and read the images you are taking today, unless you consistently update and modernize your digital archives, a process that most people are unable or unwilling to do. This means that as technology continues to advance, more and more photos will be lost to defunct file formats or devices that aren’t able to be read any longer with modern technology. Imagine you found a cassette tape or record in your home; would you or anyone you know have the ability to listen to the music stored there using the current technology you usually use to enjoy music?

In contrast to digital, an archival print can last for over 100 years when stored properly. It doesn’t require electricity, charged batteries, or a special device to view. It can be enjoyed for generations and doesn’t need to be modernized with each upgrade in technology. So in addition to the aesthetic enjoyment you’ll get from prints, they offer a very good form of backup for your digital images, at the very least.

At the end of the day, the best reason for printing is the artistic one. When professionally printed, a high quality image is mesmerizing. There’s something about holding a tangible print in your hands that is far more satisfying than seeing that photo on a screen – especially a tiny, pocket-sized screen. It also serves as a monument to the effort that went into creating it.

As a photographer, I don’t take my responsibility lightly. I have the privilege of photographing your life and its most meaningful moments. And then I have the honor of turning those collections of pixels into tangible works of art you can display, share, and pass down to your children and grandchildren. That process is an absolute joy for me. In my years as a Phoenixville, Pennsylvania portrait photographer, some of my very favorite moments have been watching my clients open their print orders. Watching their eyes light up – and sometimes handing them a tissue for their tears – never gets old. 

Here are a few other reasons I believe printing your photos is always worthwhile:

  1. They beautify your living space

There’s nothing more satisfying than walking into your home and immediately seeing a breathtaking print or canvas of the people you love most. Your family is your masterpiece, so it’s only right that images of them should grace the walls of your space. You can update the images regularly and work with your photographer to produce images that will perfectly suit your aesthetic. 

  1. They serve as time capsules

Each image is like a time capsule, recording details about that day, the occasion, the moment, the expression, the outfit, and much more. Long after memories fade, the photos will stand unfaded, bringing the viewer back to that moment in crisp and vivid detail. Whether it’s something monumental like a wedding, or just a simple everyday moment at home, your memories deserve to be captured and printed to enjoy for years to come.

  1. They make amazing gifts

I can’t think of a more personal gift for a loved one than photos of your family, in the form of prints, books, image boxes, etc. Many of my clients love use prints to check gifts off their lists for upcoming holidays and birthdays. Older relatives like grandparents, in particular, love receiving photo gifts so they make an easy and personal choice that is always well received. 

  1. They make your memories even more special

Sure, you can scroll dozens of pages back in your phone camera role to relive a past moment, but how often do you find yourself doing that? Chances are, if a photo is in digital form only, it will be viewed just a couple times before it is buried on a hard drive somewhere, forgotten forever. In contrast, having a print you can hold or hang on your wall makes those memories all the more meaningful and makes it much more likely that you will enjoy that image over and over.  Tangible prints are a profound way to cherish memories; don’t miss out on that experience!

  1. They help remind you of moments you might otherwise forget

When my clients and I work together to plan and execute a portrait session, every detail is carefully considered. From location, to wardrobe, to the subjects included, to the moments portrayed in the photo, everything is intentionally crafted and then memorialized forever in printed form. This process helps you cherish and preserve memories from a time that you might have otherwise forgotten. Clients often remark that they feel that time is “moving too fast,” so the process of creating and printing memories can be incredibly profound and meaningful. 

I’m Rachel, and I’m a professional, fine art maternity, newborn, baby, and family photographer servicing Philadelphia and the surrounding areas. Click HERE to contact me about creating beautiful memories and artwork for your own family!

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