When I was young, I remember sitting on the floor with my siblings, carefully analyzing our family’s photo albums – a collection of 3-ring binders with faux-leather covers, filled with hundreds of 4x6 photos.
These albums told the story of my childhood, starting from the very day I was born. They include memories of important days like my first birthday, Christmas mornings, and the loss my first tooth.
But they also weave in everyday moments from my younger years – eating cereal with my sisters on our Sesame Street placemats, waking up with crazy baby bedhead, dressing up in Mom’s high heels, the infamous “stuck in the sticky mud” photo…
Looking back over the last six months since I became a new mom, to say "time flies" seems like a huge understatement. My daughter has grown and changed so much in such a short time and I don't want to forget any of the details.
Ultimately, I realized I am experiencing the same feelings my own Mom had almost 30 years ago. So, I try to capture as many precious moments as I can while our family grows and changes daily, and I look forward to preserving these times in new albums that will last through the years.
Sadly, I am in the minority. The norm these days is to snap tons of photos, share the highlights on social media, and basically forget about the rest as they sit on some form of cloud platform. Printing photos and photo albums feels like it has become a thing of the past…
But I’m here to tell you that if you haven’t been printing your photos for the past decade or so, it’s time to start.
Here are my top 5 reasons why you should take the initiative this year to start printing photos & albums:
1) Technology is great, but potentially unreliable.
Don’t get me wrong, I love technology. Smartphones have given us the ability (for better or worse) to answer emails at 3am, find a tricky trivia-question answer in seconds, and snap high-resolution photos effortlessly.
But this digital world has also changed how we use those photos. For one, they now live all over the place – Facebook, Instagram, Dropbox, Google Drive..., you name it. But will those platforms be around forever? Please don’t assume so. Technology changes so quickly.
Maybe you’re thinking you’re doing okay because your photos aren’t in the cloud now. But it’s not alright for your baby’s first photo shoot to be living on a disc in the bottom of a filing cabinet in your basement. You sadly cannot assume you will be able to access these photos forever, or that you can turn that disc into an album next year. (Case in point, some new computers don’t even have a disc drive!)
Your best insurance is to create a physical copy of those special photos in addition to your digital version - that way you know those important memories can live on for the next generation.
2) Without photos, you might forget some of your most special moments.
These are the big ones… Your wedding day. The day your first child was born. A first birthday. The final days of your pregnancy. A senior year of high school. You know, the really special times, when we often invest a pretty penny in professional photography so we will never forget them, right? But how do we easily relive these moments when they live on a disc, zip drive, or in the cloud?
Every wedding anniversary, my husband and I get out our wedding album and reminisce the day. I’ll admit we’ve only had 2 anniversaries so far, but both times all the warm fuzzies have come back as we flipped through the pages…
Remembering the butterflies I had while getting my hair done, the look on Matt’s face when he saw me for the first time, the pure bliss we shared as we toasted our friends and family at the reception, and the craziness that happened inside our photo booth...
It is a priceless feeling holding that day in our hands. We would never have that if we hadn’t printed our wedding album. So many details of the day would be lost, and we're determined to not let that happen.
3) You want to remember your everyday (real) life, too.
While it is great to have an album full of professional photos, my favorite albums are of real life. The everyday moments that don’t make the online highlight reel, but the ones that paint a picture of your actual life.
It’s the quick-snap photos of your child’s “artwork” created with powdered sugar on the kitchen floor, the precious way your baby looks while sleeping, or the blurry one where your husband is making your daughter belly laugh for the first time.
Although these moments aren’t the ‘big’ ones, it does not mean they are insignificant. They help you recall not only what happened and how someone looked, but how you felt in that moment. Happy, silly, brave, bittersweet… printing your photos helps you remember it all.
4) A good-quality album Will stand the test of time.
Now I will admit, our older family photo albums aren’t in the best shape… but I do tip my hat to my Mom for keeping up with them. Yes, the photos are starting to yellow, a few of the pages have fallen out, and because our tiny hands were on them often, there are a number of them out of sequence (and with tiny fingerprints on them, too). But 29 years later, they are still around for us to flip through each year together as a family, and to use as prime material for blackmail. (kidding…)
Luckily, printing quality and technology have come a long way. We no longer need to print each photo as a 4x6 and insert them individually into hundreds of plastic sleeves (although if you want to go this route, go for it! I admire your ambition.). And combining all your photos – no matter where they currently reside – into one consolidated family yearbook or baby album is easier than ever with a custom design service like Shortcake.
The best part? Even if grimy toddler hands flip through the pages every day, your photos are guaranteed to stay in order, they won’t turn yellow, and high-quality features like thick pages and archival-quality inks will stand the test of time.
Plus, you’re creating a family heirloom – something that your children can look forward to owning someday, and then passing on to their children. Wouldn’t that be awesome? And with that said…
5) Your children, and their children, will be so grateful.
Having the ability to look back in time is priceless. Think for a moment about your grandkids looking back at Grandma and Grandpa’s (your) wedding day – getting to see every detail and every ounce of love shared. Or the ability to pass around your 2016 Family Yearbook at your 2065 family reunion. Just imagine the stories that could, and should, be shared.
For me, it is a crazy but comforting thought to know that decades from now, my daughter will have the ability to flip through her baby book and share it with her grandbabies. The album that includes the multitude of photos we took during that crazy, sleepless, amazing, and simply indescribable first week at home with her.
My hope is that album will help to tell her the story of how much love there was from the very second we laid eyes on her. If it conveys that message even a little bit, there isn’t a doubt in my mind that she’ll be so grateful I chose to print and protect those memories for her. And that's more than enough reason for me...
Whitney Fischer is a Design Manager at Shortcake. She lives in Minnesota with her husband and young daughter.