So tell me: How many photos do you currently have on your smartphone? and on your computer?
My guess is: A LOT. Definitely hundreds, probably thousands, maybe even tens or hundreds of thousands.
Now how many of these have you printed either as an actual print or as an album/photo book?
As a portrait photographer I take a lot of time in trying to convince my clients to choose prints over files (or at least to choose both). I seriously believe that a photo isn't a real photo until it is printed and I really want my clients to go away from a photo session with an actual tangible product in their hands and not just a file.
Ever since digital photography came into this world and especially after smartphones started coming with really decent cameras we have all started taking more and more photos. Social media such as Instagram even help and encourage "ordinary" people to approach their photography with a more professional touch. We are simply capable of taking better photos more easily - and for free.
Yet the sad truth is that most people have stopped printing their photos because they don't "have to" anymore. After all photos can be taken and looked at for free thanks to our digital devices.
But do you really only want to look at your family photos on a monitor? Do you really want to "hand over" the history of your whole life to your grand children and great grand children on a dvd, through an online gallery or on a usb key?
Don't you want to feel the magic of holding a nice print in your hands? Don't you want to decorate your home with your favorite photos? Don't you want your children to browse through the pages in a nice album or to find that famous old box full of old photographs?
And (most importantly): Don't you want to keep your memories safe by minimizing the risk of loosing them?
You see, here is the thing: Hard drives sometimes break down, phones are being stolen, things we keep on the Internet can accidentally be deleted, dvds, cds and usb keys can break. In fact years from now they probably won't even be compatible with the digital devices of the future. (Remember the floppy disk? What would you do with one of those today?).
The digital world is amazing. It has given us so much, but you should never rely on it exclusively for things that really matter to you. Such as your photos.
Today I want to share some tips on how to get started on printing your photos, because I know very well how overwhelming and impossible that project can seem.
However, as with most things in life, it's actually not so bad if you just do it step by step.
TIPS ON HOW TO START PRINTING YOUR PHOTOS
CLEAN UP YOUR PHOTO ARCHIVES
The first thing you should do before starting to systematically print your photos is to sort them out.
I know for sure that most of us have way too many photos on our computers, smartphones etc. We simply shoot too much. (Yes, that is possible! I will probably write another post some day on how you can minimize your photography in order to shoot less but better photos, but that's another story which I'll keep out of this post.)
When I go through my personal photos after taking them I ask myself two questions:
Do I already have another photo which is basically the same as this one?
Would I pay to have this photo printed?
If I can say no to the first question and yes to the second one, the photo stays. If not... DELETE.
Seriously, you don't need 20 photos of your son in the swing. You just need the best one, the one with the gorgeous smile, or maximum a few more if you would like to have a series.
With children we always tend to shoot away because it's so hard to catch them in the right moment. And that is fine. We are lucky that we can do that now that we have our cost free digital photos. Just remember to delete the bad ones right after you have taken them. Don't keep them. Choose quality over quantity - also when it comes to your photos.
Make your own criteria for which photos you want to keep and keep only the ones that meet with this criteria. Delete the rest. You will be surprised how much more you are going to enjoy the good ones.
SORT YOUR PHOTOS
Once you have deleted all the bad stuff, you are left with (hopefully) only good photos which you really care about. If you still have thousands of photos you will probably want to start out slowly by just printing some of them.
If you want to make a photo book you need to be a bit more organized. I really recommend this kind of printing - especially if you have a lot of photos - because it is a great way to have it all done at the same time: You get to print a lot of photos at a not too expensive rate per image, you receive them directly in an album, so you don't have to think about sorting the prints afterwards and you can even add text to a photo book if you like that.
You can do a photo book for a single theme (a vacation, a birthday party, your cat, or a period in the life of your kids) or you can make one for a whole year and include all your photos. There are many ways to do it.
Personally I make a photo book every year covering my daughter's life and on top of that I print the rest of my personal photos in annual books. So I have a mix of photo books that are based on a certain theme and books that refer to a certain period of time.
Decide how you like it best and sort your photos accordingly.
TAKE IT EASY
I am no saint myself. I have only printed about 5000 of my personal photos. I still have about 12,000 left to print... If you haven't printed your photos on a regular basis it is going to be very time consuming and you are also going to spend a certain amount of money on it. (But it's worth it, trust me!).
I recommend that you don't push yourself harder than necessary. Print one book at the time and enjoy it. And when you are ready then start on a new one. If you have lots of time but less money you can prepare the books in the software programmes which come from the different printing companies. That way you have the books ready to order whenever you want.
Finally you should be aware that most printing companies offer discounts on a regular basis eg. for Mother's Day etc. Make sure you follow your favorite company on social media and sign up for their newsletter so you are sure you don't miss out on a discount code. You can save a lot of money if you wait until the right moment!
WHAT TO DO WITH THE REALLY SPECIAL PHOTOS
We all have our favorite photos which stand out from the rest. They can be photos which are technically beautiful or they can be random snapshots which just happen to mean something special to us.
I recommend that you do something special with those photos. Don't just keep them in a photo book. Have them printed on high quality paper or on a foam board, frame them and hang them in your home. Put them out there where you can see them every day (and I am not talking about your desk top or the background image on your smartphone!!)
STAY UP TO DATE WITH YOUR PRINTING
Once you are done printing all the photos from your archive make sure you don't stop. The whole printing project is only time consuming if you get behind on it.
Make sure you print new photos on a regular basis. Treasure your memories. Some day they will be your most precious belonging.