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Why print photos and what it does to our kids, family, and well-being

With thousands of photos we capture on our smartphones, how often do we actually look back at the photos we’ve taken? Would you believe it if I told you that most of us only revisit our digital snapshots once or twice a year, and a fraction of us print photos?

Come to think of it, it does ring true.

Beautiful printed family photos scattered on the table

Generation with the biggest photobank

Every day is a new day with new experiences and new memories to be captured. Every day we deposit new snaps, shots, selfies, and closeups to our image bank. Remember going through your phone to find that one funny photo to show to your friend?

“Hold on, it’s somewhere here. Nope, not this… One sec.”

It’s hard work sifting through countless videos of your dog sliding across the slippery hardwood floors or your toddler strutting around in a taupe tutu. Try scrolling through way too many retakes of your good-looking breakfast smoothie or an Instagram-worthy Açaí Bowl recreation. Not to mention the TikTok’s gone-viral baked feta pasta that you made last night for dinner, recorded the entire process, and proudly shared with your social media tribe.

Don’t worry, foodie. We all do it. ALL. THE. TIME.

Yes, we are, most definitely, the most photographed generation that documents everything and anything. We do it to hold on to precious memories in hopes to revisit them over and over again.

Only we rarely do.

Folio photo box with matted prints showcasing family photography by Vongue Art

Say Cheese, Say Print

Photos aren’t meant to hide in folders – the proverbial digital shoeboxes of our time. They aren’t meant to sit on your phone waiting to see the light of day.

Photos are meant to bring joy, retrieve happy memories, release feel-good endorphins, and make our hearts happy. Photos are meant to be printed, displayed, and looked at.

Frequently and regularly.

See, even though your photos may live forever in the land of iCloud and servers, their nature feels fleeting and impermanent.

I know, that sounds absurd. But as a photographer who believes that you should print photos, I can’t help that it feels that way.

Print photos, to me, feel real, concrete, and forever. When printed as opposed to digital, photos always come to life. The light, the ink, the texture – along with the facial expressions inside the photo can move you more profoundly the way a digital photo simply can not.

Open photo album with family images next to a flower bouquet

Seeing is believing

To me, seeing my family photos on the walls, or flipping through a photo album, brings a sense of comfort, peace, and instant joy.

And it’s not just me. These scientists say so as well.

The science behind print photos in your home

Jo Hemmings, the UK’s Leading Behavioural Psychologist calls photography the visual language of our lives. And she is right. But like many scientists and researchers, Hemmings suggests that if we aren’t regularly exposed to print photos in our environment - we are missing out on their positive effects on our lives.

“Having ‘real’ photos in our home provides regular psychological positive reinforcement by reminding us of ‘social bond enhancement’ – essentially what and who are important to us. Taking the time to look back on our treasured memories can be hugely beneficial for our well-being as it can help to evoke feelings of positivity and happiness.”

Craig Steinberg, a Licensed Psychologist, also notes the power of print photos. “Touching the photograph where a face is smiling….is the same thing as touching a book when you read it. There’s a lot of stimulation of the brain when you have that sensory experience. That is a bit lost in the move to digital.”

It’s so interesting to me when I hear these experts refer to print photos as more “real” than digital photos as if those are more abstract.

Both are real.

Yet our human brain processes it so differently, with more emotion and feeling attached to it.

Large canvas on a wall in a living room showing a photo of a family walking in High Park, Toronto

Family photos through the eyes of a child

While many psychologists have studied at length the effects of family photography on our well-being as well as family and couple dynamics, our children are the best indicators of the true impact.

At any point in time, in millions of households across the globe, kids will pause and linger in front of a gallery wall of family photos and point their tiny fingers from one frame to the next.

“Where was that?”

“Where was I?”

“Who am I with?”

“What are we doing here?”

“Was grandma there?”

The experience of seeing, reflecting, and questioning is so critical to a child’s development and understanding of self. Family portraits hung in a child’s home, according to Judy Weiser, a psychologist, art therapist, and author, tells them ‘these people have me as part of what they are, that’s why I belong here. This is where I come from.’

At home, family photos help shape our children’s view of themselves. They promote a sense of belonging, security, and safety in children of all ages, and especially in younger kids under five. Seeing themselves in photos next to their family and friends makes them feel valued, accepted, and loved. This, like nothing else, boosts their self-esteem and self-worth – shaping them as human beings in profound ways.

Professional photo of a happy family in a Toronto park with grandparents and children

Creating memories with a family photo session

You don’t need professional family photos to create a beautiful photo gallery wall in your home or to display a few momentous prints in your kids’ bedrooms. Selecting a few special moments and milestones captured simply with your camera phone and printed by your local printer is just as meaningful as those done by a photographer.

You book a family photoshoot when you want more.

The professional photo session is so much more than the beautiful imagery. It’s an experience. A chance to connect with your partner. A chance to bond with your family. It is a rare opportunity to truly be present in the moment and allow someone else to capture the significance of that moment, the essence of you.

Those print photos will reflect that moment, that connection, and the emotion.

Father kissing mom's pregnant belly - maternity photo printed on canvas

Finding the right photographer for your family

Finding the right photographer who gets you, clicks with you, and easy to work with is not that hard. A quick google search or a question in one of your favorite Facebook groups should offer plenty of options. Have a phone consult with a few to gut-check and narrow down your choices.

As a professional photographer and founder of Vongue Art Photography, here is something about me. I’m probably not the right photographer if you want perfectly orchestrated photos where your family members, including your four-legged friend, all wear matching outfits and display poise, grace, and composure. Like a Kardashian clan during the early days when the formal family portraits were a thing.

I’m the photographer that captures honest, spontaneous moments filled with raw emotions in every frame.

I’m behind the camera catching the fleeting glimpses of laughter, joy, play, and silliness wrapped up in a story. Your personal story.

I’m there to document love in the everyday kind of setting. And more than anything, I’m there to capture a day in your life, an experience worth remembering, a moment of pure joy to reminisce about – genuine and real.

Family photo album with a photo of a happy children and parents in Toronto

Turning photos into personalized stickers

There are many ways to print your portraits, from customized phone cases to splendid larger-than-life wall art. For people who want keepsakes in their personal items like laptops, bottles, tumblers, notebooks, or alike, personalized photo stickers is one of them. Photo stickers will survive as long as they are properly cared for. Plus, you may recall or revisit these occasions while you go about your day!

This may require a more durable material that not only provides sturdiness but also improves the image print quality. High-definition photographs are key to perform well in post production. While as a professional photographer I work exclusively with pro labs, there is a great company for DIY-lovers!

StickerCanada provides an excellent service for your photo sticker printing. You can upload your design to their website and choose from a variety of customization options and styles.

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