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Campaign to Bring Back the Printed Image - Part 1

'Bring Back the Printed Image', I've had these words in my head for ages now. I've spent a lifetime cherishing the printed photographs I have had the pleasure of viewing, owning, and sharing. Seeing this trend for physical copies of photographs declining I thought I'd try to help spark some new interest. And maybe even run a competition to help things along. More on this in a minute.
(This is one of my favourite photographs of my mother. I think its amazing to look back on the past and imagine what it was like back then. Sometimes its hard to imagine our parents as anything other than our parents who always seem old because we can't quite imagine them ever being our own age. To see them so young, as in this picture it reminds you that they were young once too.)

You may be thinking, 'why does it matter if they are in print?' And I suppose it doesn't really. But there are key reasons I see printing as being essential, reasons I'd like you to consider if you don't currently print any photographs.

1. Digital isn't necessarily the safest form of storage. I've read on numerous occasions that we are the most photographed generation but yet we have the least photographs in print. In years to come will people look back on our generation and wonder where all the photographic evidence is from our era because digital media as we know it today didn't archive our generations photographs for us to look back on? I mean just think back to what has been and gone for us already. Who remembers My Space, Bebo or even worse, the floppy disc?

Even the disks we use today are fading away with fewer computers having disk drives as a standard feature, not to mention they are a very unreliable source anyway with data corruption being quite common. USB drives are evolving as we speak also so its doubtful the external drives we currently use will be in the same form in a few years time. I had an inquiry a few years ago from a woman asking for a disk of images because she planned on collecting a box of discs to give to her daughter when she turned 18. That's a wonderful thought but I wonder how many of those disks will be readable, if any by that time (she was warned by the way).

2. Printed products are viewed more often.
My family rarely sit around a computer browsing through folders of old photos. But we do regularly pull out old albums and photo books and have a look through those. And most days as I walk up the stairs I glance at the portraits of my family as I walk by the framed collection on my walls. Or as I sit here now at my desk I regularly look over to the portrait of my daughter on my studio wall and admire her beauty (She's the ballerina on the right - dance is a huge part of her life right now so this keepsake is going to be so valuable to me when she is older).
3. Printed photographs are beautiful. 
These photographs that adorn my walls are considerably more beautiful in their printed form than they ever have been as viewed on a digital device. A photograph that is only inches high cannot compare to what I have in print on my walls. I'm not saying you are just limited to traditional paper or canvas prints.  These days there are so many options for having a physical copy of your photographs. This could take the form of anything from phone or tablet cases, cushions, notebooks, mugs, jigsaw puzzles or even wallpaper.

It is for these reasons that I wish to encourage others to do more than leave photographs on computers, or worse, phones and get them printed in a way that they can be enjoyed more often.
(This is my dad. I find it to fascinating to get a glimpse into how things were back then. This would have actually been taken in Italy where my dad was born and lived until the age of 6. I love the look of the print as much as the content. It would never be the same if it were only a digital file, not to mention I'm not sure if we would still have it if it were only kept in digital format.)

I've been wanting to put something together for ages about the printed image. Photographs these days are rarely seen in anyway other than digitally and I think its a real shame. So I want to inspire and encourage you all to do something different with your photos. Don't leave them on a phone or a computer where they may end up getting lost (but if you do leave them there please do regular backups - losing photographs for me is much worse than losing any material possession).
(The photographs above were actually shot on slide film. I used to love looking through the hundreds of slides my parents had from when I was a kid. Even back then I was preparing slide shows and making the family watch, although the projector was rather different to what we have today)

These photographs are probably one of the reasons I'm a photographer today. I can still remember how I felt when I looked through my mother's photo albums. From a very young age I was admiring the light in these photographs and thinking that I wanted to create work like this. I asked for my first camera at the age of 8 or 9 as a result (which was quite young to be given a camera back then).

(This is a photo taken on a family holiday in Florida with my dad in the middle, my brother on the right and our neighbour who joined us on holiday on the left. The spring after this was taken my brother was hit by a train and killed. I believe this is the last photograph we have of him. You can imagine how valuable it is to our family. And not long ago the man on the left died of cancer. You just never know what's around the corner.)

Even if Facebook is around in 30 years will we be able to find the photos that matter most to us?  I'm not willing to take that chance. I know in 30 years time either I or my daughter will want to show photos from now to my grandchildren and I will be prepared to do so.  Will you be prepared to show your grandchildren your photographs? 

(These are some of the family photo books we've created over the years, most of which by my daughter as gifts for family and friends. She gets to keep a copy for herself too.) 

I'm a big fan of books and over the years we've collected quite a few of ones we've created using our personal snaps. Its become an annual tradition that my daughter creates a book of the past year. She sends a copy to both grandmothers for Christmas and she gets a copy to keep for herself. They are so simple to create that my daughter has been doing it with little help from me since she was 6 years old.

This collection of books is already quite valuable to us but its going to be even more so in years to come. We regularly flip through the books, far more so than we look through the digital images we have stored on various devices.


(This is a collection of some of my favourite portraits that I've created)

I know photography is my life and you may be thinking its easy for me but I'm just like everyone else. I have to make the time to use my own photos in printed products. I can easily leave mine on a computer too. Photography is my job so I still need to use my free time to use my personal photos and using free time to do something you do as a job is often difficult. Just ask anyone in the building trade. But the truth is I absolutely love seeing photographs in print. There is something so special about being able to hold or display a photograph and now more than ever there are so many unique, convenient and very affordable ways to display these treasured items. I'll post more on just how you can do this in Part 2 of this blog post.

This idea of promoting printed images came to me when I visited a clients home to photograph my products on their wall. They used their own family pictures to create a cover for their pool table and I thought it was a fantastic idea. (See image below). It was so nice to see photographs printed and being used in a way that they could be viewed every day.

(I love this beautiful collection of so many photographs which makes an excellent feature in this stunning home)

So what have I got in mind for a competition? I'm interested in seeing how others use their photographs. I want to see unique, special and interesting ways photographs are used in the hopes that it inspires others to get their images off their computer and into some form that can be enjoyed more often. So, show me something that you are particularly proud of as I'd love to see it. And maybe you'll end up inspiring others too. Share your ideas with us all. I'm organising some great prizes for the best use of printed images (and maybe one that we choose at random so everyone has a chance at winning). And as you can probably guess, the prizes will involve some sort of printed photographic products as well as a session with me that will also include printed products.

Message me through Facebook or my website here, add a comment on this blog post or send me an email to christina@christinalauderportraits.com. I am really looking forward to hearing from you. (Please be aware that you must have permission to use the photo you send me and by sending me these images you give me permission to post them to Facebook and possibly a future blog post).  

I look forward to seeing what you've got to share with us. I'll post again soon with an update.

Comments

Pat Orefice said…
Love the blog Tina and it has some great ideas.

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