Sure you took plenty of photos over the holidays - from Thanksgiving through New Year's Eve, the digital cameras and smartphones were going off like fireworks - there were 10 million images uploaded to Instagram on Turkey Day alone.
But what will happen to most of those photos? They'll disappear deep into our Facebook timelines, or remain on memory cards or hard drives until they're lost or crash. And frankly, in many cases, that's probably for the best.
But what of the countless images that captured a moment or a face or a hug that's worth preserving? Those timeless memories that should last for years, if not beyond our own lifetimes?
Polaroid, the inventors of the instant film cameras that were ubiquitous when I was growing up in the 70's and 80's, has announced its plans to open a chain of "Fotobars" where you can print your smartphone photos in a variety of formats. Bravo! While Polaroid's execution and ultimate success of the venture is yet to be seen, it does bring the power of the print back into the minds of the millions who have fallen in love with Instagram and other digital-only photo sharing platforms.
As photographer William Lulow recently said, for traditional photographers:
"the print was the ultimate goal. From...Ansel Adams to W. Eugene Smith to Penn, Avedon, Halsman and the like, the goal was always to produce a great print."
And while the vast majority of photographic images made today will never see life on paper, the high quality photo print is still treasured - by brides who will thumb through their albums time and time again, and to many of my clients, for whom a printed image of their children on the living room wall is the ultimate heirloom, to someday grace the homes of the generations to follow.
And there are plenty of other great options for bringing your favorite photos to the printed page - photo books are a personal favorite, I often give them as gifts to grandparents, who appreciate the ability to see what everyone else is seeing on Facebook, and to share with their friends at the hair salon or visitors to their home.
There's a gravitas, a permanence, and a beauty to a printed image that goes beyond the hundreds that flash past our eyes on Facebook and Twitter every day. A 20"x30" framed, archival quality print in your living room becomes part of your daily experience, part of what makes your house home, and will be cherished by your kids and their kids. If we spend so much time picking out the right photo for our Facebook profile, for our iPhone wallpaper, why not do the same for our dens and kitchens?
Let's not limit ourselves to photos of loved ones, either. Whenever my family visits a new place - a beach vacation, for example, I often either seek out a print by a local photographer to take home and frame, or print one of my own to place on the wall - it brings those memories back to life every day.
I'm not talking about keeping shoeboxes full of 4x6's from Walgreens - that clutter isn't any better than the chaos on your hard drive. I am talking about pausing for a moment, after a birthday party or anniversary or that Costa Rican vacation, and picking one photo - the best photograph you made, and making it into a print to frame and hang or put on your bedside table - a piece of you that will last a lifetime and beyond.