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Is Printing Photos In The Digital Age Necessary?

Is Printing Photos In The Digital Age Necessary?

Taking photos is so handy today that we can just do it anywhere at anytime with our phones and digital cameras. We don’t even need to worry about making room for storing lots of photo albums because we can simply store and even share the photos online.

We’re taking more photos but are keeping fewer of them physically. Should we be worried about it?

Rollfilm is not limitless like digital photos, so every single photo we took used to be very precious.

Given the many benefits of digital photos, you may not even consider printing out the images. It’s likely that if you really will print some photos, you’ll have a hard time deciding which ones to print!

However, some people do appreciate having physical photos, such as your grandparents who hang up framed family photos, or hipsters who like to cover their bedroom walls with Polaroids. To them, hard copies are much more special.

Such difference in attitudes makes us wonder why we’re taking more and more photos these days—is it just because it’s easy, or do we actually treasure our memories? Are we overlooking something about old-school print-out photos?

Here are a few reasons why you may want to consider printing photos again.

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We’re taking more photos but we’re also losing more of them.

As we’re taking more and more photos, we may even forget about having taken them. Sometimes when we go through the photos in our phone, we may stumble upon photos that we don’t even remember taking.

It’s ironic how too many photos are making us worse at remembering precious moments in our lives, when those moments have driven us to take photos in the first place. That group selfie you took at a dinner party last week is probably drowned in the photo stream of your phone by now. Another week from now, you’ll probably have trouble looking for it—that is, if you still remember it.

On the other hand, prints are concrete.[1] If there’s a photo you really like (that you have printed), you can put it in a picture frame and place it on your desk.

You can still see it even after you switch off the computer or lock your smartphone. It’s there, literally.

Not everyone we know is active on the internet or knows how to use the computer, so they can’t share our memories if we stop printing photos.

Another reason why printing photos is a good idea is that it makes sharing easier sometimes.

Think of your parents, or your grandparents, they are the ones who want to remember the time they’ve spent with you more than others. Perhaps they can’t handle a smartphone or a computer very well, or perhaps you don’t want to add them on Facebook. Either way, the photos you’ve taken with them are important to them, and they probably want to look at them every day.

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The more digital photos we take, the more difficult it is to manage them digitally.

Other than losing track of our memories, digital photos also make it difficult for us to stay organized.

Even though they don’t take up physical space, storing them can be trickier than you think. For instance, just as your computer no longer has a slot for floppy discs, there is no guarantee that future computers can continue to read DVDs or USB flashdrives.[2]

Keep in mind that technology advances quickly nowadays. Digital photos may not last forever.

Even the Internet pioneer warns us not to rely on digital photos, or else we may risk losing them forever.

Vint Cerf, one of the fathers of the internet, believes that digital information is at risk of disappearing.[3]

Digitalization does not preserve photos. What it does instead is to allow us to view images we have ‘stored’ in digital form whenever we want. Unfortunately, with the rapid development of computer technology, file formats change. Older formats may become unreadable on new softwares. Even hard drives, that is, the physical form of storage, may crash or become incompatible as time passes by.

Which is to say, if you want to keep your memories, printing photos is actually a more reliable!

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If you want to keep your offline family and friends in the loop, print the photos out.

This makes sense if preserving and sharing memories is your goal for taking photos. For instance, it makes sharing with people who don’t use a computer or the internet easier.

But besides printing photos, you can also try some ways to organize your digital photos better to preserve your memories.

If you don’t want to lose track of your digital photos, store them on a single platform and ensure they’re synced across different devices.

Since losing track of your photos is a real concern, storing all of them in the same place would be a great idea.[4] This would save you from having to remember where you should go to when looking for particular photos. You can do this on your computer hard drive or a cloud storage, etc.

But don’t forget about your photos after organizing them. Check your collection regularly to make sure everything’s backed up and in the correct order.

For example, if you take photos on your phone and upload them to Flickr for storage, keep your Flickr up-to-date just in case missing out anything from the last sync.

To even better organize your photos, label them and put them in order.

To better organize your photos, you can sort them into folders. Make sure to name your folders properly with dates and the occasions, e.g. 2016/11/25 Graduation Ceremony.

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Try to use tags such as “Graduation”, “2016”, and “Winter” for quicker photos search.

Including the names of the people in the photos can also be helpful, e.g. 2017/02/06 Birthday with Chris and Ashley.

Make sure you are consistent about the way you name your folders over time, e.g. the year always comes before the month.

Lastly, since technology advancement happens so quickly, it’s be good to stay informed about the latest storage methods. Here’re several helpful websites you can follow: Lifehacker (Digital Photos Secion), TechRadar, Gizmodo.

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

Reference

More by this author

Wen Shan

Proud Philosophy grad. Based in HK.

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Last Updated on December 18, 2020

Can Technology have Biases Like Humans?

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