Why Print?

print logo

Why even bother to print photos? After all, all modern computers have large storage capacities, and there is always the flash drive to store photos on. The “digital graveyard” has arrived. We take more and more photos. We shoot fluff. We shoot serious moments. We shoot memories. They all go onto a digital file, we rarely look at them ever again; it’s boring, it’s daunting, it’s too hard to find them again. The digital graveyard grows, Consider, 53 % of consumers have not printed a photo in the last year. 70% do not own albums, and 42% no longer intend to print at all. In a world gone digital, the physical print of a photo runs the risk of becoming obsolete.

Sadly there is a whole generation of young people, and not only young people, out there who have no printed photographic record to display or share, because we have jumped on the digital bandwagon, abandoning the emotional impact of photo albums and framed prints, or even sorting through boxes stuffed with photos. We have thousands of gigabytes (all degrading), yet no physical keepsakes, nothing to give us a tangible connection to who we are.

There are two reasons to print your photos:

• For the Sake of your Emotional Well Being
• For Preservation

For the Sake of your Emotional Well Being

Print stimulates memory. Print maximizes sensory appeal. Print offers the ability to deliver rich, vivid images along with tactile stimuli.

Printing gives life to your pictures. It is hard to ignore a framed photo on your desk or hanging on a wall. Those memories stored in the photos add a depth of character to your space. It personalizes the space around you, the space that you live in. Psychologists tell us that a deep emotional connection can arise when we simultaneously handle (feel) and view a photo. This is true, even if we have no personal connection to the photo. Think of how many times you’ve wanted to touch a painting or a photograph hanging on a wall. Simply stated: Looking at a printed image feels good!

Consider these comparisons between looking at a print verses looking at digital media:

• Print requires 21% less cognitive effort to process than digital media, making it both easier to understand and more memorable.1 There is higher brain and emotional stimulation, including recollection and desire, from looking at a physical print than from looking at the same digital image.2

• More focused time is spent looking at a physical print than is spent looking at the same digital image. There is a faster speed of memory retrieval when looking at a physical print than when looking at the same digital image. The memory is more accurate, and more confidence is place in the memory when looking at a physical print compared to looking at the same digital image.2

• Print is more “real” to the brain. It has a meaning, and a place. It is better connected to memory because it engages with its spatial memory networks.3

• Print involves more emotional processing, which is important for memory and associations.3

• Print produces more brain responses connected with internal feelings, suggesting greater “internalization” of the image.3

• Students who read text and viewed images from print had better recall and comprehension than students who read text and viewed images from digital media.4

• Printed images can stimulate a memory that, although, not connected in reality to the image, make the image become “real,” incorporating the image into the memory. This is what happens when we see a photo and it reminds us of another place, another time that we’ve experienced. Significantly, the connection remains present in print. While the same can sometimes, although less frequently happen with a digital image, the memory association quickly fades as soon as the file is closed, and usually not come back the next time the digital image is viewed.5 Having a visual reminder of something special is heart-warming and inspiring.

For Preservation

Vint Cerf, one of the fathers of the internet urges us to preserve digital data or run the risk of losing that data forever. “We stand to lose a lot of our history,” Cerf warned, “if you think about the quantity of documentation from our daily lives which is captured in digital form, like our interactions by email, people’s tweets, all of the World Wide Web, then if you wanted to see what was on the web in 1994 you’d have trouble doing that. A lot of the stuff disappears.” Web and social media sites come and go, and when they go, the data recorded there is lost.

A lot of the stuff disappears.

Not only on the internet: smart phones and tablets get lost or destroyed, hard drives crash, accidental deletions happen, digital files degrade both with use and with time. File formats are replaced. Obsolescence happens!

Nothing can ever be as secure – not even digital flash drives – as something you can hold. The only secure solution to preserving your digital photo files is to print them. Sure prints get lost, torn, wet, and fade (which takes a very long time if the printed in a quality manner. Modern high-quality inks even resist degrading from moisture) If you treasure a photo enough, it only takes a reasonable amount of care to preserve a printed memory forever. Put them in a box or an album, hang them on the wall , or framed on a desk or table.

Foot Notes:
1. True Impact Study for Canada Post (2017)
2. A Temple University study of the effect of print on the ventral striatum area of the brain, an area that stimulates desire and valuation.(2016)
3. A 2009 study conducted by Bangor University and branding agency Millward Brown also used fMRI to study the different effects of of paper and digital media.
4. Norwegian Study