Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Print is dead! Long live print! What to do with your photos.

Monica L. Shulman - gallery wall

A gallery wall in my bedroom where I wake up every morning and go to bed every night looking at beautiful memories.

I've been thinking a lot about my photography and how best to archive, organize and save it.  Trying to keep a record of our lives and my work via prints has become somewhat of an obsession over the last few years and especially since my daughter was born.  I've lost count of the boxes of prints and negatives, and filled albums I have stored in my old room at my parents' house from high school, college, law school, vacations and just random, fun memories.

I've only been shooting digital for the last seven years or so and one of the things I miss about film, among the many, is knowing that you have 36 exposures per roll and that you're either going to choose which ones to print yourself or knowing that you're going to get all your prints in an envelope from the developer.  The anticipation, reliving the moments, holding the paper in your hand and passing it around - that experience just doesn't exist in the same way with digital photography.  I love shooting digital, instantly sharing my images online, via this blog or email with friends and family but the sheer amount of images that I shoot is daunting and overwhelming.  I'm always behind in reviewing photos of my personal work and projects and sometimes I don't even know where to start when I sit down to edit (never mind the 11,121 images that I currently have on my iPhone!)

A lot of people say they don't ever bother making prints.  Instead they keep their photos on their hard drive or their memory cards.  The cost of memory cards is so cheap these days that it makes sense to keep photos on them but what about having a physical copy of a photo to remember a moment?  This is hardly scientific but many of my friends tell me that they practically never make prints even though they load them on to sites like Shutterfly or Kodak to share them.  My parents have an entire closet at home filled with albums from my childhood and I never get tired of flipping those pages.  Obviously with the insane amount of photos that I take it doesn't make sense (especially financial) to print all of them.  Plus of all the photos I shoot at any given moment I usually only like two or three.

I'm not going to talk about my fine art work here because I'm always making test prints, trying new papers, printers, methods and it's just a different process entirely.  But, since I'm a photographer and a hoarder, and probably most importantly because I love visual storytelling, I make stuff with my pictures.  Here are my three favorite ways to enjoy my photos and ensure that my family will enjoy them for years to come: Prints, Books, Magnets

1.  Make prints

Every month (or every two to three months depending on how busy I am and how many images I shot) I go through my photos and load them on to Adoramapix.com.  The print quality, paper options and customer service are amazing.  And, sometimes they have prepaid print sales that you'd be a fool to ignore (like 50% off your entire order).  These are my favorite ways to display prints (although admittedly a lot of my prints end up in boxes).

Monica L. Shulman - prints

Albums - I don't make them as often as I used to but occasionally I love filling big, leather albums with pictures and it's pretty fun to watch Lucia go through them.  Plus the plastic cover protects the prints from tiny, baby hands.  I really like these from Crate and Barrel and have collected quite a few over the years starting from when I registered for a couple for my wedding.

Monica L. Shulman - Prints

Gallery walls - If you read this blog you probably know I'm a bit obsessed with gallery walls and I only wish I had more space in my New York apartment to make more!  The bottom line is that they're a great way to display your personal photographs and they're really not difficult to make.  Of course you can also just put them in traditional frames and display them around your home.  Here are just a few posts if you'd like to see. 

How to make a gallery wall, an Instagram gallery wall, my daughter's nursery, my living room, and a gallery wall in my kitchen.

Monica L. Shulman - Gallery Walls
My workspace.

Copyright Monica L. Shulman - Pinhole Press Calendars
My kitchen.

Copyright Monica L. Shulman
The nursery.

2.  Make books

One of the reasons I don't make albums as much as anymore is because I love book-making.  It definitely takes a while to select the prints that you want to use but it is so worth it and for me it's an exercise in editing (which I'm terrible at).  My goal is to make one big one every year and then to also make smaller ones of trips or big events but it's definitely a fantastic way to record your memories.  Adorama has beautiful book options but I love Pinhole Press.  The quality of the paper as well as all the book options are all beautiful...I love that site.  They have a ton of photo gifts but the books are my favorite.  You can see one of my books here.

UPDATE: By the way, Pinhole Press is having a sale of 25% off holiday cards through Sunday, November 25th with the code: TURKEY

Monica L. Shulman

3.  Make magnets

Pinhole Press makes awesome magnets but I also LOVE Stickygrams.  You can make tiny square format magnets of your Instagram shots and they're perfect to preserve fleeting memories captured on your mobile phone.  What's not to love?

UPDATE: Stickygram is having a sale where you get three sheets of magnets for the price of two with the code: STICKYYAMS  The sale ends Friday, November, 23rd. Plus they have free worldwide shipping.

Monica L. Shulman

I'm curious, what do you do with your images?  Are they collecting proverbial dust on your hard drive?  Do you order prints or make books?

Also, on a side note, I read this moving article in the New York Times this weekend about this Facebook page where lost photos found after Hurricane Sandy were posted. The page is called “Union Beach — Photos and Misplaced Items,” and it shows photos of newborns, birthday parties, weddings and family gatherings started by Jeanette Van Houten and her niece.  The page is helping victims of the hurricane reconnect with their memories even after their homes and belongings have been destroyed.  So many people have lost so much and these women are helping them to at least hold on to their memories.  The article talked about people storing their photos online and fact that few people print their images anymore but it's interesting to see how these women are using new technology to connect individuals with older methods of preserving memories.

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