Preserve your Moments
In the past month, I’ve rescued six irreplaceable images from different clients. This is not an inexpensive service because I have to recreate skin textures and colors that are faithful to the moment the picture was taken. One of the pictures was a screenshot of a cellphone pic of a print that was at taken at least 50 years ago. Stories like that, coupled with my memory of picture taken 15 years ago—and almost lost forever—are why I decided to write about preserving your pictures.
Before I dive into the advice, I want to clearly define the terms I use: A picture or photo is a representation of someone or something, and it can have any form; I use these terms interchangeably. An image is a picture that doesn’t have a physical form; it’s just a collection of ones and zeroes to be scrolled, swiped, and emailed. A print is a picture that has a physical form; you can touch it and view it without the use of an electronic device, and it takes up permanent physical space in the world. These distinctions will mean nothing to you unless you have lost a photo that was either a picture or an image.
As promised, here are some ways to preserve your photos (ordered from best to worst):
Prints: The print is the ultimate final form of an image. You can think of these as a true archive of the moment. They aren’t as susceptible to corruption, loss, or theft like an image on your phone. Also, they typically take on an air of importance because we print what matters. For the most part, I offer two qualities of traditional prints: a smooth matte that shows skin tones beautifully and doesn’t reflect light, and fine-art papers that enrich the details and color.
When you decide to purchase a print, whether from me or somewhere else, think about the image and how/where it will be shown. You might want a metallic print that pops, or a canvas that suggests a painted portrait. Wood, metal, and stone prints are other ways to preserve and showcase your moments. It really all depends on your values. That is the beauty of a print—it can be made to suit your exact tastes rather than the tastes of Apple, Samsung, Microsoft, or some other company that restricts the size and location of your memories. And framing your pictures allows for even more customization.
Albums or Picture Books: As a full-service photographer, clients usually (literally) pass the buck to me create a visual narrative around their photo session that blends in with the theme. Just like my prints, the albums I provide are of the finest construction and materials made in the United States. I consult with you to achieve the best layout and material options because these are meant to be handed down. An album binds the moments together and communicates to the future in a more substantial way than a standalone wall print.
Putting your printed photos into an album can seem like a long process, but it’s worth it. When you do this, you’re actually building a mental story around those moments. You don’t have to get fancy or specific just slip your photos into an album in the best chronological order you can. If you want to get creative and add in some extra special memories create a scrapbook of your photos.
If you who want to create your own albums make sure they are made with acid and lignin free paper, they use non-PVC plastic, and that they don’t have magnetic or sticky backed sheets. Typically, the best albums are ones that can accommodate various sizes of photos from wallet size to 8×10. Avoid using glue or adhesive to keep your photos in place as you may change your mind.
Photo Storage Boxes: For those who want to keep their walls clear, or haven’t decided on a frame just yet, photo boxes are a very good option. In fact, of the best and quickest and easiest ways to archive loose photos is with a photo storage box. If you want to look into getting photo storage boxes, just be sure yours of archival quality. My service includes a photo box for medium-sized prints so that you can regift in style, or set it aside temporarily without worrying about scratching, bending, or otherwise damaging the art you’ve paid good money for.
This is also why I started including a boxed set of 4×6 proofs with my portrait sessions. Although they don’t compare with the quality of a portrait print or convey the importance of a framed print, proofs are my attempt to help you archive your images. It’s fun to go through your small prints and literally hold a moment in the palm of your hand. When you’re done, you can literally tuck your memories away! And holding a proof usually makes people want to buy a large, high-quality print. So there’s that, too.
Online or Digital Album: Although this is the most commonly used method, online and local digital storage is the most susceptible to corruption. As someone who gets paid upwards of $100 just to reconstruct a digital image, it’s probably not in my best interest to tell you that. But as someone whose mission is really to make sure your moments are shown in the best way, it’s absolutely necessary for me to let you know. Think about it. Because an image is formless (you can’t actually touch it) your capacity to interact with it—to be moved by it—is tied to whatever it’s being displayed on. A cracked screen, a low battery, and a tiny display are all ways to restrict what you were meant to feel. Digital storage has its place, but it is for storing and searching images, not archiving and recalling moments.
I back up my images in the cloud. But the cloud is just somebody else’s computer. I store them on a redundant personal hard drive. But every hard drive is a device waiting to fail. All it takes is a single zero to be out of place, and the entire image is corrupted. I say this all the time: You print what matters, and you scroll what doesn’t.
Why does this matter? Prints can be digitized, and digital images can be printed. But the magic of the moment lies in the physical world. That is why people travel to museums. That is why bank robbers always want heavy bags of cash. That is why people email me a screenshot, and cry when I deliver the print.