Did you know that there were over 1 trillion photos estimated to have been taken during 2018? A trillion is equivalent to a million millions, or a 1 with 12 zeros after it! (Go ahead, Google it - that's what I did). That works out to almost 31,800 photos taken every second throughout the entire year - mind blowing numbers when you think about it. But how many of those images still exist? How many were deleted? Shared? Corrupted? Lost in the digtal never - never? When I consider my own photo taking exploits during 2018, the only images I definitely know still exist (and are easily and 100% guaranteed able to be retrieved) - are those that I had printed.
Digital photo printing seems to be one of the last options we consider after we press the shutter, button, touchscreen - the big rush is to share our images with as many friends, friends of friends (and sometimes everyone) as we can, as soon as we can. But what happens if you suddenly need a closeup photo of Uncle Fred or your recently deceased Grandma, and you know you took some last year, but was it on your phone? the new one or the old one? wait, the old one packed it in and you lost everything - or was it with the camera? the one your sister borrowed for her Pacific cruise and deleted all your images when she had to format the card because her friends all told her that was the best way to fit all her photos in .... you get the picture, digital images only last as long as your storage system (if you have one) works.
One of our busiest areas of work here at Presto Photographics involves the restoration or copying of old (and sometimes not so old) photos - some over 120 years old. Even with all the changes and advancements in this industry, the only reason we are able to recover and reproduce these ancient memeories is because they were printed. The old version of the digital file, the negative; often suffered the same fate as their modern counterpart - lost, damaged or destroyed, or new technology bypassed that format - but due to the fact that the only way our ancestors could see their "images" was to print them, there was always a hard copy stored away in the family album for safe keeping and occasional viewing. Unkowingly, our predecessors had ensured the future retention of those cherised memories simply by printing them - and that was at many times the cost of what it takes to print a photo today. We are in a very much better position to follow their example, but few people are prepared to invest in this simple safety net.
I often advise my customers that digital photo printing is the only guaranteed method for archiving their most important images, because as we have seen with the demise of floppy discs, vhs movies, super 8 film, 110, 126, APS and (some time in the future) 135mm film, etc, etc ... what works today will someday be redundant - and at a faster and faster rate. I can almost guarantee that if your grandson walks into a "photo shop" in 40 or 50 years time with your old USB or portable hard drive and asks if the images can be retrieved, he will be unsuccessful. However, if he takes a hard copy (a proper photographic print - don't believe all the claims about archival inkjet or similar prints) into the same store, he will walk out with the all copies, enlargements, etc he needs - simply because you had the forethought to have your digtal photos printed - congratulations!