Recently a friend was going through the heartbreaking task of sorting out his mother's things and getting her house ready for sale. Mom could no longer live alone, and the home had been in the family for generations. You can imagine how much "stuff" had collected. Although there was not much to smile about, there were a lot of old photos that told of happier times, long ago. These found photos were a treasure chest of family history, and no one knew they even existed. There were tons of them. They were in shoeboxes, in albums, in envelopes... they were everywhere because "back in the day" everyone printed photographs.
I began to wonder about all the photo sessions I've shot over the years. As time goes on, people print less and keep more images in a digital format. CD's, flash drives, external hard drives etc. are full of data that no one can see unless they have the technology to view them. I have VHS tapes that I cannot watch anymore because technology has changed. The CD's that I once included with every session are useless to people with newer computers that do not have a CD drive. How long will it be before the CD's are completely obsolete, and how long after that before flash drives are obsolete as well?
The point is that someday in the not so distant future, the images we are taking today might never be seen. We need to print! We need to print images and fill some shoeboxes and scrapbooks the way our parents did. We need to choose the ones we love and have them printed well, really well. We need to have them matted and framed, and we need to hang them on the walls of our homes instead of some mass produced stuff from a home décor store.
How will the stories of our lives be told? When our basements and attics are cleaned out by our children, will anyone try to access the data on those CD's of years gone by? Will they throw them away with the rest of our junk? I don't know, but I know they'll take time to look at the prints. Digital images may be memories, but printed photographs are legendary.