Printing pictures is something that has always been extremely important to me. I love looking at them and having something tangible to hold in my hands. Brian and my home is filled with our favorite photos and I’m always looking for new nooks and crannies to display them in. However I have to admit I haven’t done a great job of this lately, and more often than not, life gets in the way and those important images tend to sit on our desktop for longer than we’d like to admit. Too often do I hear people say that they still haven’t printed photos from life’s most memorable events, sometimes even years after they’ve happened. In the world of digital, those photos are often floating on a desktop, hard drive, dusty cd in the bottom of your file cabinet or even Facebook. We’ve now entered a generation where printing photos isn’t a necessity, but a choice.
I lost a very important member of my family a few weeks ago, my grandfather. It was emotional, exhausting and very very painful. But after his passing we all found comfort in sitting around the kitchen table, going through old photos and albums, and reliving those happy memories. It’s like finding buried treasure, sifting through years and years of memories, questionable outfit choices, bad haircuts, and a time in history where I thought socks with sandals was a good look (see above!). But it was in that moment, that I quickly panicked at the thought that someday, people might not have this stash of old photos in the closet to call on or to remember someone by.
My grandmother was the record keeper for our family, creating albums for the grandchildren filled with newspaper clippings, play books and photos from our most important moments. These albums were handmade, with each photo accompanied by a funny note or witty caption in her beautiful handwritting. She was great at documenting everything, whether it was of great importance or not. In fact, she had a twisted sense of humor and would often like to photograph us as we were sleeping or waking up. That was something my grandma was amazing at…capturing a moment. Any moment. I have to admit that even as a photographer, I do a horrible job at this in my personal life. I’m great at shooting with a purpose– if my sister needs photos for her Christmas card or my cousin needs senior portraits. But what about those silly moments? Those random shots? The one of grandpa falling asleep in a chair or your cousins outrageous Halloween costume? As photography is the center of my professional life, it is hard for us photographers to sometimes continue that into our personal life, as we can’t be shooting 24 hours a day. But now, with both of my grandparents gone, I realized that the responsibility to preserve those memories continues and it doesn’t necessarily have to be just one person.
So I challenge you- to be a record keeper. A family historian. To keep track of life’s big and small moments and your family’s too. Get a disposable camera if you don’t have a digital one and send them off to get developed. Seems so old school now, but hey! I actually like the anticipation of waiting to get film back. And plus, that friend or family member always asking to see their picture on the back of your camera will suddenly be silenced :) Collect everyones images around the holidays and add them to an album or make a book online. I promise you that Facebook is not a good enough storage unit to keep your life’s worth of images on. Print. them. out. Put them in an album. And share, SHARE, with your friends and family. Your family and generations to come will thank you.