Those of you who know me, know how much of an advocate I am for having tangible items from important memories. Whether it’s the movie-stub from your first date, plane tickets from your first international family vacation, or the letters sent back and forth through summer camp, I am a stickler for keeping them. I am not against digital, in fact it comes in handy a lot these days! I am simply very old fashioned and like to feel things with my hands; it makes the memories seem that much more real.
I’d much rather flip through the pages of a photo album on my lap of memories from my childhood, than swipe through my phone’s gallery. We all know how busy life can be, and that we may not have time to sit down and artfully create these albums, but we should really make the time because you just never know…
My personal horror story: my computer crashed a few years ago, and of course it happened at the exact same time that my back up hard drive did. I was devastated, confused, and angry. Despite the fact that they were stored in the perfect conditions as per manufacturer instructions: protected from moisture and extreme temperature and sunlight, but it turns out technology was no match for the unfortunate fate that is to be obsolete. My biggest regret was not putting the same care and attention as I put towards my clients’ images, toward my personal photos. Their only life form was in pixels and now they are gone forever; no recovery software or prayers could bring them back. Never again!
Now don’t feel too bad… This may have taught me my lesson the hard way, but I am here to help you learn from my mistakes. This article is to help you prevent the same fate for your treasured moments, and to allow you to feel the great joy of being able to hold precious memories in your hands. The goal is to make sure your photographs are protected. Whether or not they are professionally captured images, they deserve to be preserved for future generations. I am very grateful for my parents keeping these lovely prints of my childhood, which I will be able to share with my little ones when they get old enough.
The most important thing is to make sure that your favourite images are backed up. The easiest way to do so is to make sure they exist in tangible form instead of just digitally. Yes, it really CAN be that simple! The best way to protect your photographs is to print them. Each of the images that you would be devastated to have lost should be printed and kept in an archival box for safe-keeping. In other words, archival means acid-free, lignin-free, etc. These are often characteristics used to describe scrapbooking supplies because the artwork pages are meant to be preserved to last forever and not deteriorate. The best way to preserve your prints is in archival sleeves or envelopes within an archival box. While this may sound complicated and expensive, it’s actually quite affordable and is well worth the minimal investment. The luxury keepsake options below are what I offer my clients, and use personally for my professional portraits.
For a more budget-friendly selection suited to those every-day cell snaps, I would recommend visiting a store that has archival framing supplies.
Of course there is always the risk of flood or fire destroying the prints, but the chance of a natural disaster is much smaller than the inevitability of the current technology being obsolete. Heck, it certainly feels like it was only a few years ago that I was transporting computer documents on diskettes, and waiting for my favourite new movies to come out on VHS. Think of it this way… If your basement were to flood, it would absolutely destroy that hard drive anyway, but you would still have a chance of recovering your prints if they were printed on archival quality photographic paper. Same goes for a house-fire; the heat would certainly destroy the hard drive, but prints could still be salvaged if they weren’t in the centre of it all. How do you think there are still portraits existing from way back in the 17th century? Prints.
I also urge you to consider the feeling of joy you will feel when flipping through these images in the future with your spouse, kids or grand-children. How about the feeling that your grand children and future generations will feel going through the memories they never got to experience, and remember the people they loved and are now gone. The happiness that something as simple as a piece of paper can bring to a human being is nothing short of a miracle, and who wouldn’t want that! And in case you’re all wondering, I now do this with my own meaningful portraits whether they were captured by me, another professional I’ve hired, or with my handy-dandy cell phone.
Important documents and photos should be backed up in at least two sources, in addition to the printed version for ideal safe-keeping. I recommend an archival printed format, saved digitally on an external hard drive, and uploaded to an internet-based cloud drive. This will ensure you have a back-up to your back-up, and that your legacy will last for many years longer than today’s technology. If the moment is worth saving, it’s worth printing. Even if it isn’t something that you would display as a large art piece on your wall.
Join me in continuing the “Prints Are Forever” movement and take that extra step to preserve your memories. Take photos of your printed stash of memories, and post them on Instagram or Facebook with the hashtags #printsareforever and #printsnotpixels to spread the word. Future generations will thank you!
To view more of her work, ask questions regarding this article, or to book your very own photo session, visit www.purenaturalnewborn.com