In this day and age where cell phones never leave our hands, where images pass our eyes at an almost dizzying rate, where there is at least one screen exploding with imagery in just about every room of the house, it can be easy to forget that photographs are not meant to solely inhabit the virtual world. Just as they always have since the camera was first invented, photographs have the greatest impression when they surround us in the tangible world.
After all, photographs are meant to adhere to our memory receptors, forever binding long term memories of relatively brief moments in our lives, thus anchoring and grounding us. This is why you may hear me repeat the mantra: prints matter.
Understanding the emotional and even psychological impact that the tangible print has on us as we grow up and grow old hopefully gives you a glimpse into why what photographers do is such important work. Yes, it’s art. But it’s more than art. These are the tangible visual hooks upon which some of our strongest memories, and the memories of those who have gone before us, are hung. You might look at a portrait of your grandma and suddenly you can hear her voice, smell her kitchen and feel the softness of her skin. Or an image may contain within it an entire story that your mom told you over and over whenever you looked at the picture or asked her about it.
Images are phenomenal memory cues! And without us even knowing it, these memories become more deeply imprinted on us when we simply live in the presence of these images that adorn our walls and mantles. They are that powerful.
So when you get married, it’s important to not only have a digital record of the day on a disc or a hard drive somewhere. Your portraits, your album, and even the printed proofs that you can look through with your kids one day… they are important. It makes sense to invest in them. With proper care, they will outlast you and likely even your children so that generations to come will be able to treasure them as much or even more than you do.