There are many reasons why people take photographs. Sometimes they serve merely as a record of an event, or of something as mundane as re-building a kitchen, but often they can be more meaningful and come with an emotional weight. Either way, photo prints, even in this age of electronic communication, are still the favoured medium via which to look back at and enjoy our favourite pictures, and digital photo prints offer an ease of use and flexibility which has completely revolutionised people’s approach to photography.
In the pre-digital age, the business of organising photo prints was a long, complicated and often very expensive one. The actual number of pictures you could take was limited by the physical size of the roll of film, and the equipment and training needed to develop and print these photographs was so specialised as to be out of the hands of ordinary people, meaning that your roll of film had to be handed in or even posted away to a specialised laboratory.
Photo developing was thus fairly expensive, and the concept of ordering multiple prints of favourite images, or enlargements was something which was extremely rare. Digital photo printing, on the other hand, couldn’t be simpler. To begin with, the reality of storing digital photographs is completely different. No longer are they kept on fragile, perishable rolls of film or equally delicate negatives, but are instead stored electronically in such a manner that thousands of individual images can be stored without taking up any significant room whatsoever. Not only that, but the same images can be stored in multiple different places for securities sake – if your camera is lost, or the memory card fails, then storing your pictures online or on the hard drive of your PC means that you have perfect copies to fall back on.
Alongside this security comes an ease of access which means that your favourite images can be shared with people all over the world at the click of a mouse or the sending of an email. Often, however, no matter how easy it is to share pictures electronically, and despite the quality of most of the devices now used to view such images, people want to print photos, enabling them to have a hard copy of a picture, a physical representation of something which may well be an especially treasured memory. And here again, the process is so much easier than it used to be, with the technology required to turn a collection of pixels on a memory stick into a glowing, vibrant, colourful photograph in your hands, being simple to understand and even simpler to operate.
What’s more, making multiple copies of an individual image is now so much cheaper than it used to be, meaning that printing off a particularly cute baby photograph for every grandparent and doting uncle and aunt to have and keep is within easy reach. Not only that, but digital photo prints can be altered to exactly suit your needs. No longer will some anonymous lab technician decide on the cropping of a favourite image, as you’ll be able to do it yourself, removing any extraneous features and framing the shot to achieve precisely the effect you were aiming for when you clicked the shutter.
No matter how advanced the technology gets, we all still value photo prints as a means via which our happiest memories can be made solid and held in our hands whenever we want.