It's been a year since we lost my grandpa. And while his passing wasn't a surprise since his health had been declining for awhile, you never really can prepare for the letting go. The pictures were what I kept reaching for. The imperfect, overexposed, no one smiling at the camera ones. It was like he was letting his stories continue to be told to us. It meant the world in my season of grieving.
My grandfather was one of nine siblings, and all have passed except for one, spunky and sweet great aunt Marion. She's 93 years old and I could sit and talk with her for hours. In my last visit with her we went through family photo albums she has put together through the years. I loved every moment flipping through the crisp pages and hearing each of the stories behind the black and white images that filled them. The stories that built the family mine came from.
It's no surprise I love photography, but even more than the image itself, I adore the print. The physical form of the moment paused. An image does no good sitting on a phone, sleeping in the cloud, or consuming computer space. It deserves to breathe. To be held, and touched, and heard.
Cause here's the thing about photographs. They're not really about us, the subjects in the photos and the takers of the images. They're for those yet to come. The grand-kids and great nieces and nephews. The one's who continue on the legacy we begin. They exist so they can speak when we no longer can. An invaluable exchange requiring more of our intention and time.
It's this meaningful experience of loss and grief that taught me more of the value of prints. And its why I encourage everyone to print their photos after a photography session, vacation, or wedding day. For mine and Karl's anniversary this year I surprised him with a photo album of our journey together. From dating to engagement, wedding day and honeymoon, and adventures through today. It sits beautifully on our coffee table and I frequently find myself opening its pages. Smiling back at the memories of our past, anticipating the moments not yet lived that will fill the rest of its pages.
There is something so intimate and precious about pulling out a book and looking through it with another. But we've robbed ourselves of this simple joy by not printing our photos and in the name of technology created a new standard that strips not only us but generations to come the comforts and delights only prints can provide.
Lets not miss out on this anymore. Consider making it a priority to print some of those favorite photos of yours. It doesn't need to be perfect. It just needs to be there. Cause I promise you when you reach for those photos in a time of need you won't be critiquing it. You won't be huffing over who's not looking, the hair that isn't laying right, or the poor exposed light. Rather you will be so thankful you just have something. Something to hold between your fingers and hug close to your heart. Something to gaze into and get lost for a moment and for a second, feel the experience again like nothing even changed or no time even passed.
That's the gift of photographs. The magic of prints.