The Photographic Print
How long has it been? My mom passed away. Years later my Dad did the same. My brother and his family live Upstate New York about 7 hours away. My daughter has 4 children, grand children and somewhere there is a son now gone.
I am 70 years young. I have lived amongst photographers all of my life and these photographers have made hundreds of thousands of memorable images. Treasure troves of photographs about their lives and the lives of others.
They were shot on film long before digital existed as a medium and were printed on paper instead of a digital representation of zeros and ones being reformulated as images on desktop, portable and mobile screens. They were in the memory of negatives and slides as opposed to Cd’s, DVDs and hard drives and of course some cloud – somewhere.
I can remember going to an friend’s home and seeing pictures on fireplaces, tables, walls, lining a stair case depicting the stages of the family and events that filled that persons life. My seeing those images preceded what would become a conversation about the images and what they represented.
In my home there are images scattered around of family, pets, places that are a constant reminder of so many things that have taken place in my life. Sitting on a desk are pictures of myself from the time I was a toddler to now. 70 years of who and what I have been. I can look on these images everyday and they stir memories that are long gone.
Fast forwarding to today, a great deal has changed for the majority of people taking pictures. Most images never see the light of day. They are locked forever digitally on storage devices. They are preserved only for a short period of time on a phone and then they are gone. They are tossed on to some social media site and eventually buried in a constant, unending barrage of other people’s images until they are forgotten.
This is not an attack on digital. I embraced digital imaging over film processing a long time ago. Probably before many this article. But when I embraced it images were still being transferred to paper. Whether they were of the family outing at the park or a dinner party, or a fine art photograph, they made their way to paper then made their way to frames, walls, and albums and were available for all to look at and ponder. Images were stored on Cd’s instead of in boxes for slides and negatives. I can truthfully say that 65-year-old negatives and slides have lasted longer than many images stored on Cd’s.
Very little printing is done today because most people are leaving images in a digital form in a variety of places that they will more than likely never again access. Those images that should nicely provide memories of days gone by and wonderful places visited will be suspended somewhere forgotten.
I am not trying to convince people to make prints. I am trying to convince people to think about it and to maybe make a minute selection of images on phones and pads and computers and move them to prints that will always be there for you to look at and remember, every day. What is wrong with that? Just make a small number of images that people you care about can share.
There are so many labs with kiosks as well as inexpensive, at home printers. Don’t stuff your zeros and one’s into the digital depths of forgotten memories.