Remembering Uncle George reminds me: we should PRINT more pictures

George Hayman, age 20

Here’s a wonderful picture of Uncle George (my dad’s brother) from 1950, that was on display at his funeral/celebration yesterday.

This is obviously a great photo of a handsome guy who we all loved very much. And a truck with a three-digit phone number! But here’s what strikes me about this:

Somebody – maybe my dad, maybe my grandfather – 72 years ago, took the time to take this picture, on a low-tech camera full of “film”, and waited a week or more for it to be developed and printed just so they could see whether it turned out OK, and they then put the photo in an album where we could all find it decades later and share in its majesty.

Conversely, what do we all do? We have amazing cameras with us all the time, we take dozens of high quality instant-gratification photos every week with our phones, and we never go through and delete the bad ones or highlight the good ones, and they get stored away in a cloud service and do we think our loved ones in 70 years are going to be able to unearth these?

We all need to PRINT more pictures. PRINT. Put them in a book where your grandchildren can find them and where you can enjoy them now. Don’t just store IMG_7305.JPG off in the cloud somewhere, hoping you can remember and find it later, hoping that that Facebook or Google or Apple’s service is still in business.

Somebody told me once of a service where you could just mark digital pictures as favourites as you took them, and once a month that service would scrape through your photo collection, find the new good ones, and print them in a small book for you. I kinda like that idea.

I am a big fan of printing elaborate hardcover photo books where you spend a lot of time futzing with the layout and getting the captions just right, except for the part where it’s hard to finish a project like that and that’s why I have 3 uncompleted photo books in progress at the moment. I gotta bring those to completion.

Of course it doesn’t help that every attempt to print a photo at home is doomed to end in nothing but cursing at the printer for either laying out the picture in the dumbest possible way on the page, or smearing the ink around somehow and producing very low quality output while simultaneously messing up your future attempts to print ordinary text because you’re now out of cyan. I wish our industry could fix this.

Print the good ones. Please.