Why prints are important

Yesterday Lisa and I spent the afternoon spring cleaning the house, it’s not our favourite pastime and I’ll admit I got a bit distracted whilst sorting out paperwork and spent some time looking through a box of old photo’s. It got me thinking about printed photographs again and I thought it’d be good to share some of those thoughts, and I guess some of the emotions too.  

Honestly? I don’t know who these people are other than that they’re relatives from my Mum’s side taken sometime before the first world war I guess? They’re from Essex and the East End of London and the gentlemen shown I believe, were likely to be dock workers or Metropolitan Police. It’s no surprise with these genes that I’m no looker, but despite the guys slightly horror film look and massive hands, their eyes are kind and I wonder what they’d been through in such tough times.It's also clear that no man in my family has ever had a suit which fitted.

Honestly? I don’t know who these people are other than that they’re relatives from my Mum’s side taken sometime before the first world war I guess? They’re from Essex and the East End of London and the gentlemen shown I believe, were likely to be dock workers or Metropolitan Police. It’s no surprise with these genes that I’m no looker, but despite the guys slightly horror film look and massive hands, their eyes are kind and I wonder what they’d been through in such tough times.It's also clear that no man in my family has ever had a suit which fitted.

It’s easy to get nostalgic about photographs, and often about photographs taken very badly with low quality cameras, it’s sometimes (often actually) not about the quality of the picture, but rather the content, place people, the memory that gives the photo its significance.

Do you ever notice that when using Instagram or posting our personal photo’s to social media, we (and I mean all of us, not just Lisa and I here) often use a ‘filter’ and that this very often gives a picture an aged and retro look? You’ll certainly notice that we love to share pictures, and you’ll probably have some photographs around your home, in frames or hidden carefully somewhere to view yourself or show family and friends?

I know who this one is, it’s my maternal Granddad Fred. I don’t recall ever having much by way of in-depth conversation with him, and he was known as a bit of a miserable bugger in the family – but I love this picture. He was out in Africa at the time during WW2 and I can imagine him queuing with his mates whilst waiting for his turn to have a generic ‘picture to send home’. He’d managed to keep his cigarette in one hand whilst pretending to write with the other and his hands are grubby as he’d probably been building an airfield. Nobody seemed to care there was no bulb in the ornamental lamp! He was later lucky to survive driving over a land-mine and went on to be a Butcher and Pig farmer in sleepy Norfolk. I can see my face in his face.

I know who this one is, it’s my maternal Granddad Fred. I don’t recall ever having much by way of in-depth conversation with him, and he was known as a bit of a miserable bugger in the family – but I love this picture. He was out in Africa at the time during WW2 and I can imagine him queuing with his mates whilst waiting for his turn to have a generic ‘picture to send home’. He’d managed to keep his cigarette in one hand whilst pretending to write with the other and his hands are grubby as he’d probably been building an airfield. Nobody seemed to care there was no bulb in the ornamental lamp! He was later lucky to survive driving over a land-mine and went on to be a Butcher and Pig farmer in sleepy Norfolk. I can see my face in his face.

Photographic prints are important, they’ve been important since around 1839 when commercial prints became widely available to record ourselves and our lives; before then it would have been only the wealthy who’d have been able to make a record of themselves using a portrait artist etc. Of course the artsy folk out there could have drawn or painted themselves, and had been doing since we lived in caves! Photography started, and stayed expensive for well over 150 years and initially required a visit to a studio and pay a photographer where in 1866 a modestly sized photograph would cost a modern equivalent of around £44.75 in today’s money.

Things are changing, have changed hugely in the last fifteen or so years as now most of us, child to adult, own a camera in our mobile ‘phones and can take a picture for next-to-no expense, we can have another go if it doesn’t come out right, add sophisticated edit techniques in seconds and then share the picture with our friends or the entire world in seconds. I think it’s something that professional photographers moan about, all that magic in the hands of the general public means many of the ‘old school’ now struggle to keep up with the pace. For us, we love that everyone can make pictures in their own style, and it keeps us always wanting to practice and learn to keep our own pictures interesting, relevant and to the highest standards we can achieve.

So, I’d started by asking why prints are important? Well, here’s a sad fact – I’ve lost untold snaps of family and trips I’ve been on, funny cat faces and (I’ll admit) the occasional impressive dinner I’d recorded when that was ‘a thing’. I guess they disappeared as I changed computers or when a hard drive failed, and once when I washed a memory stick in my jeans pocket. It happens with digital stuff – and there’s a significant difference- I still have photographic prints from my family collection dating back to maybe the early 1900’s. Some of them are a bit tatty and care-worn, but they’ve survived countless house moves, wars, natural disasters and changes in technology whilst safely wrapped in a brown paper bag as they moved from hand to hand and generation to generation.

Those of you who’ve already met or worked with us as clients will know we don’t spend any time on a ‘hard sell’ of print materials, it’s not cool to push people into buying things, it ought to be a decision made in your own minds and hearts, having seen the options. You’ll also know we always show a printed album though as genuinely we believe that a large, high quality print on your lap is always more exciting to view than an on screen picture. You’ll also know that we make buying photo’s from our online gallery as inexpensive and easy as possible and that we even allow a non-watermarked high resolution download of your pictures for those family and friends who maybe don’t have budget for actual prints. We do all this in the hope that both our clients and their most important people can enjoy our pictures for years to come.

I love these pictures, they’re ‘pretend’ Polaroids and both the photography and the scanning for the blog, are a bit rubbish – but these are the lovely little souls I live with and who make me smile every day. The first picture is of my tabby boys Mousey and Mao making themselves comfy as I snooze. The second is of Lisa and I in Knightsbridge on a summer evening immediately after meeting an engaged couple and taking our first wedding booking back in 2014. We were a bit giddy and over-excited.  We’d no idea back then that we’d be full time now, or that we’d still feel a bit giddy and overexcited after every client couple meeting!

I love these pictures, they’re ‘pretend’ Polaroids and both the photography and the scanning for the blog, are a bit rubbish – but these are the lovely little souls I live with and who make me smile every day. The first picture is of my tabby boys Mousey and Mao making themselves comfy as I snooze. The second is of Lisa and I in Knightsbridge on a summer evening immediately after meeting an engaged couple and taking our first wedding booking back in 2014. We were a bit giddy and over-excited.  We’d no idea back then that we’d be full time now, or that we’d still feel a bit giddy and overexcited after every client couple meeting!

I’m conscious I’ve rambled on a bit this week, but really wanted to share a feeling, or feelings I have about pictures, printed pictures. Putting aside the marketing sounding waffle we photographers often throw out there, there really is nothing like having a photograph you love in your hand. I hope you have a big box full of your own.