image of woman taking picture with a camera

Snapshots

Recently my friends and I had a conversation about baby photos (who is the cuter baby? I guess we’ll never know). When I initially asked my mum for photos of me as a kid, she brought out a box — filled to the brim with rolls of film, developed photos. Printed photos in matte and glossy finishes carefully stored away.

Perhaps we do the same with our digital photos, arrange them by event, occasion, friend groups. Flick through them chronologically to relive days long gone by, looking at moments we thought were worth capturing. Our lives entwine with others – images of someone’s lunch saved from messages, sometimes clearly labelled with “from [name]”, other times, you wonder if you took it yourself.

In this age where most people readily have a camera in their pockets, it’s convenient to simply stick to digital copies of photos – everything is stored in one device that you can readily access. Even better, functions like widgets that spotlight photos from your vast collection remind you of moments you may have long forgotten. You can quickly look at what you’ve done on the same date through the years, and often, you’re rewarded with various video montages. It’s easy and fun. 

Just as quickly as we can capture and keep memories, we lose them

Yet, just as quickly as we can capture and keep memories, we lose them. Needing to scour through various messaging apps to locate photos, photos that haven’t been sent, images that didn’t download, and devices crashing. Granted, software such as iCloud exists, but how we store (if we even remember to) such memories is less intentional. There are no family albums, no collection of moments meticulously stored away. In theory, we could easily curate our digital photos – yet how many of us actually do it regularly?

There’s still merit in printing photos, beyond just having an extra copy. It is a way of having the past in the present. There’s no need to scroll through thousands of photos on your phone – the integration into your daily life, a nostalgic reminder, perhaps. Getting out the photo albums also always feels special and exciting, even if you know what comes next – a commitment to recalling and making more memories.
I remember printing photos whenever I felt homesick or had to write a card (thank you FreePrints). I still do.

We take more care to preserve these memories, display them, remember them. Because I know when I’m feeling tired midway through the essay, I can just look up and I’m surrounded by people I love and good memories. Sometimes that’s enough.

Image credit: Matt Hardy via Pexels