In this digital age, it’s easier than ever to amass a substantial collection of photos of our children. In fact, I probably have more photos of my friend’s children than my own mother has of me at their age. Besides the fact that you should be in as many photos as possible with your children (that’s a post for another day), it’s equally important to have your photographs off the computer and displayed in your home. The importance of printing family photos is crucial to your long-term enjoyment of them; here are my top 6 reasons why and how to do it:
I’m participating in a blog circle this month and am sharing a link to a wonderful photographer in Arlington! Make sure to check out her link at the end of this post.
It’s no secret that digital files become corrupted over time. It happens because of something called “bit rot”. When you first take a digital photograph, each pixel is perfectly represented and in line with all the other little pixels that make up your image. Over time, these pixels become distorted or go missing altogether. The result is an image that is less clear and more “pixelated” over time. This happens more quickly the more often you save or share a jpg.
Digital files are also easily lost. How often have you not been able to find something you were looking for on your computer, or worse, accidentally deleted something? When you get new computers over a long period of time, it’s especially easy to misplace files or not transfer them over in the first place. While you can get a hard drive or USB drive to store your photographs (make sure you keep it in a fireproof safe!), changing technology may not allow you to plug it in and view your files one day.
I’d be hard-pressed to go into a family member or friend’s home without finding some old photograph of grandparents or even great-grandparents lovingly displayed somewhere in the house. Printing family photos isn’t important just for your immediate offspring, but for theirs as well. I’ve even been to friends’ houses where portraits of family members from the 1800s are hung on the walls–how cool is that! When you print your family’s photographs, you are continuing a legacy for those that have come before you and those that will come after you. Don’t let this digital age rob you of that tradition.
When I write about the importance of printing family photos, I don’t mean having your memories economically printed at the drugstore (although you may have a perfectly good reason to do so on occasion). Not only does investing in high-quality, professional photographic materials ensure that your image is displayed exactly how it was intended to look (with the right color balance, etc.), but your investment is guaranteed to last without decay.
When you look at old photos of your parents or even grandparents, more often than not, the photos have faded and/or yellowed at least a little. With the acid-free, fine cotton rag papers that are available today, your photos will look the same decades from now as they do when you hold them in your hands today. This is especially true when they are stored or framed properly–more on that in a bit.
When you hire a professional photographer, you’re making an investment to create beautiful, loving portraits of your family honoring the stage of life that you’re in. I would argue that it’s not worth making this investment just to let your photos sit, unviewed, in a file on your computer! Although you may have the intention of periodically going through your photos, it’s easy to let life get in the way and forget.
When your children ask to see photos of themselves at a younger age, wouldn’t you rather hand them an heirloom album to flip through than have to stop what you’re doing, dig through the files on your computer, and then supervise them as they scroll through?
Photographs serve not only as a reminder of your precious memories but can be works of art in their own right. A well-framed photo can serve as the focal point in a room, adding a personal touch to your home that expresses who you are and what you value. A gallery wall can even create a mood or theme in a space. A collection of family photographs can make your space feel warm and inviting, or several beach photographs hung together can give your room a relaxed, coastal vibe.
Having custom artwork in your home such as heirloom albums or matted prints can serve as a source of inspiration and joy, reminding you of the positive memories you’ve shared together and to be grateful for the time you have left.
I’m reminded of the importance of printing family photos when I walk past a framed picture of my own family. Printed photographs remind you of the special moments and memories you’ve shared with loved ones, even those that have passed. They have a powerful way of bringing back feelings or memories you may have forgotten and can instantly transport you back to a time and place you once knew.
It’s an enjoyable experience to sit down with your family and flip through old photographs, describing times and places to your children who may not have been there, or connecting them with ancestors they may never have known.
There are several ways to print and display your favorite photographs at home. It’s important to consider paper types, longevity of materials, and proper artwork design when creating heirlooms for your family. Here are a few of my favorite methods and archival materials that I offer as a South Jersey family photographer:
There’s nothing like walking past a custom gallery wall full of your favorite memories every day. Seeing your children’s gap-toothed smiles and tiny fingers preserved and lovingly framed brings you a sense of joy and nostalgia and does wonders for their self-esteem.
When it comes to custom framing, you have a million options at your disposal. Choosing the proper materials is crucial to ensure your photographs withstand the test of time and maximize their artistic potential. With the materials available today, you won’t have to worry about passing on albums full of yellowed, curled photographs or sun-faded framed prints to your children and even grandchildren.
We’ve all printed photos at a drugstore and are familiar with the thick, glossy photo paper that curls backward slightly at the edges. The feeling of acid-free, fine art cotton paper is very different. At first touch, it feels more like construction paper than photo paper. It’s important to choose an archival paper type to print your photos on that will produce the proper color and detail and resist aging over many decades. These types of prints are usually only available to professional photographers, so make sure to ask yours what they offer.
While a frame may seem like just a frame, they differ vastly in terms of quality and the amount of protection they give to your carefully-printed photographs. For example, I offer my clients their choice of sturdy hardwood molding with museum-grade acrylic that is shatter-resistant and has a non-glare coating, an abrasion-resistant coating to help prevent scratches, an anti-static coating to reduce lint and dust, and blocks 99% of UV light. Their frames even come ready to hang and sealed with an acid-free backing paper that won’t puncture like craft paper or let in humidity. Phew. Not to geek out on the technical stuff, but these frames are built like tanks and will last a very long time. Compare that to the composite wood and already scratched plastic you’ll find at most home stores and you can see why I get excited about archival framing!
Once you’ve settled on a properly framed fine art print to ensure the longevity and quality of your photographs, it’s time to actually hang it on your walls. If you don’t already have a size and favorite spot picked out to display your treasure, I offer custom gallery wall design to all my clients, done to scale and using an actual photo of the wall in their homes. I’ll even help you choose photos that go well together and tell a story so that there’s no need to worry about how to curate art for your space.
It’s so much more satisfying to turn the pages of a beautifully crafted album than to click through photos on your computer. As a child, I loved poring over my parents’ wedding album, picking out each familiar face in the celebration.
There are several choices to make when designing an heirloom album for your family, besides choosing which photographs will obtain a spot.
I offer two types of custom-designed albums, signature or matted. While both are handcrafted and made of similar materials, they differ in their design. Signature albums are what you may think of as a traditional album. Your photos are printed directly onto the pages, carefully laid out in an artistic design. These albums tell a story, with groupings of photos together on each page.
A matted album is ideal for looking at photos one at a time. Photographs are matted on a single page, allowing each to stand out. Albums of this type are best for displaying your very favorite photographs, allowing you to savor each memory individually.
Each album comes with thick, lay-flat pages made from archival materials that will last for generations. A variety of sizes are available, in an array of luxe velvet or linen covers. You can even deboss the cover with gold or silver leaf, so you know which memories they hold as you collect albums throughout the years. Each album is handcrafted using the highest-quality materials you can find, right here in the USA.
When you purchase a signature or matted album, you’ll only have to worry about choosing your favorite photographs and selecting your cover material. I’ll custom-design each page and present the layout for you to approve before it goes into production. No more printing photographs and gluing them into a scrapbook.
I’ll be honest and tell you that all the photos of my childhood are stored in a large plastic tub in my parents’ garage. As a photographer, it drives me crazy. Most of them are stuck together and impossible to sort through.
While I love dragging out the tub and digging through them from time to time, it’s much more fun to reminisce with old photos when they are properly printed and stored.
The most popular forms of beautifully storing loose prints are stacking them (by session!) in a glass or linen box, or keeping matted prints tucked away in a keepsake box. Matted loose prints come as a set of museum-grade archival prints with cotton mats and can be displayed on their own, stored for safekeeping, or used for a DIY gallery wall.
When you purchase a full set of digital files from me, you’ll receive a gorgeous glass box with a complete set of white-bordered prints.
To seamlessly incorporate your photographs into your existing home decor, it’s important to work with your photographer when planning your session. Your outfit choice, time of day, location, and even the time of year makes a huge impact on how your finished photos turn out.
If your home is full of rich, earthy, warm tones, a fall family session with lots of foliage might be better than a brightly colored spring session or muted beach session. Similarly, if your home is full of monotone, neutral colors, you’d want to choose outfits for your family that reflect those tones.
If you love antiques and European influences, choosing a historic building as a location is going to flow more seamlessly than a rustic farm and barn setting would. When planning your session, start by envisioning the colors and themes in your home, and ask your photographer for help styling your session to fit your vision.
There are about a million ways to do so when it comes to printing and displaying your photos. One brief scroll through Pinterest and you’ll easily feel overwhelmed. I recommend a combination of framing, printing in albums, and storing as loose prints (to help you narrow it down!) to all my clients.
However, you’ll feel much more satisfied with the end result if you first consider the space in your home. For example, I wouldn’t recommend a gallery wall to someone whose walls are already filled, or whose session won’t match their current home decor or other hanging artwork. If you’re the type that loves filling bookshelves around your home with your favorite reads, a series of heirloom albums that you collect over the years would be a great option for you. And a matted print box would be perfect if you might want to frame some prints down the road, but also enjoy sitting down to flip through photos with loved ones from time to time.
Now that you understand the importance of printing family photos and how to do it properly, here are a few ways to care for them over time and ensure longevity:
As your memories grow over the years, so will your collection of photographs. By choosing a combination of albums, framed artwork, and loose prints, you can avoid having an excess amount of art stored together that you won’t have time to look through.
I recommend having several places in your home with framed artwork, with extra frames stored that you can rotate through. Seasonally changing the photos in your gallery walls increases their resistance to age and gives you something fresh to look at.
For albums and loose print boxes, carefully displaying them on shelves, tables, or other spaces throughout your home makes them accessible to flip through instead of stacking them in the garage (like my parents do!).
I hope I’ve convinced you by now that it’s worth properly printing and displaying your family’s photographs, and how to do it.
If you’re looking for a family photographer to create and design custom artwork for your home, I’d love to work with you! Find out more about my artwork offerings here.
Don’t forget to check out this post on how much you should be investing on newborn photography from Arlington Newborn Photographer Jessica Hendricks!