Print Your Photos (before it's too late)

The above two photos will be of no interest to anyone here.

The first is of my dads 21st birthday party in March 1951 & the second is of my christening party in February 1956. I had seen neither of these, & a whole load of other christening photos until I went through Mums photo albums & a couple of shoeboxes full of loose pictures after her death.

Mum had never shown me these images before, probably correctly guessing that I wouldn’t have had much interest in them. However, I was surprised at the memories of relatives long gone that were revived by them. Being able to put faces to the people made them all seem so much more real.

The original photos were both little larger than big postage stamps but, thanks to Photoshop, I was able to enlarge them to A4 size, clean them up & make a good A4 size print of each. Coincidently, in each shot, three of the people shown are still alive, including me in the christening one. Other than me, a mere 66, the oldest is now 95 & the youngest is mid 70’s.

I gave prints to all of them & was amazed at the response I received from each of them. As well as being delighted with the pictures, I was regaled with many stories about all the other grannies, grandads, aunts & uncles. A few I had heard but most that I hadn’t. My 95-year-old aunt is suffering from dementia but was as lucid as any of the others when recalling family stories/events from nearly a century ago, triggered by seeing the people in the pictures.

The phrase ‘A picture says a thousand words’ was never truer for me.

The point of this post is to say don’t just leave your photos on your phone. They won’t be there in 70 years’ time for you or your children. Print out some of the family shots & put them away in a shoebox or similar. You may not ever wish to see them again but someone will, who will probably gain an enormous amount of pleasure from them & silently thank you for doing this.

Added with an edit:- & for goodness sake, write on the back who it is & approximately when/where it was taken!


How true, I digitised all the family photos back in 2007 and created slideshows for the rest of the family to view on their television or computers.
The photos come to life on a big screen and everyone agreed my time and efforts were very much appreciated. Copies of the slideshows have been sent all around the world along with many videos taken of family weddings and the like, priceless.

1 Like

I know what you mean.

Digital is great for this sort of thing but I hope you kept the physical photos as I believe that these are likely to survive considerably longer than the digital files which are likely to be deleted accidently, not backed up when changing to new phone/computers etc. The printed photos can always be digitised again.


Very true - and it is related to a bit of a problem with digital storage etc.
I read a while ago that people interested in writing/literature are finding that whereas in the old days of typewriters or hand-written writing, authors would produce various revisions of their work, these days it is mostly done on computer, and they do not retain their changes/versions etc., and so it is more difficult to understand how the book developed.
Another problem I realised a while back was when my parents moved from their large house to a small flat. They were clearing out the loft, and I came across a box of my fathers photos - not just prints but also lots of film negatives. I still have those and have scanned them all, many of them posted to Flickr. There were some taken in Malaya (as it was then), and someone on Flickr recognised some of the people in the photos (which were taken in about 1961 or thereabouts). The people in the photo (young kids at the time) were still alive, and absolutely delighted to see the photos.
However, I realised that the problem is that physical photos are visible, and it is obvious what they are. They may get thrown out, of course, but at least there is a good chance that they will be kept and treasured.
Files on a computer will probably never be noticed. The computer will probably be thrown out. History will be lost. I’m not sure how to stop that from happening. Printing them might help, of course.
And another problem is that, with digital photography, people take many more photos than they used to when they had to pay for film and subsequent development and printing. The inevitable result is that a huge number of the photos taken are rubbish - of no particular interest to anyone, and probably not very good anyway. Trawling through thousands of photos looking for the good or significant ones is a chore that many people would be unwilling to perform.


I take my laptop or iPad when I visit my very elderly parents with any recent interesting photos.

However they just don’t somehow interact or respond to a screen as they do to a hard copy. More importantly they can pick them up and look at physical pictures at their leisure. So now I print them.

Sounds obvious I know but in this world where we endlessly ‘share’ images a printed photo still has an important role for many.



I have all my historical family photo’s & correspondence scanned & stored on both PC, its back up & another place.
A problem with keeping old paper prints is the degradation, and with paper that process cannot be stopped. However it can be corrected or at least improved & ‘fixed’ for eternity with something like Photoshop.

1 Like

As far as I am concerned, every word you say is very true.

You can’t save every digital image but I feel you should make an effort when it comes to shots of loved ones, family/relatives & friends.

Photography is a longstanding hobby of mine & I prefer shooting places to people. It is always a bit depressing to have taken a stunning shot of a place/scene that the viewer takes no notice of but gasps at an ordinary, possibly blurred & out of focus people shot & says something like ‘Oh, what a wonderful picture of aunty Maud/uncle Fred’ etc.!

Much as I like my place shots I have to acknowledge, no matter how good they are, the majority of people are far more interested in the people shots. That is why I wrote my original post.


I am carefully, like you, in backing up the things that are important to me. However, my money on what will survive & be available in 70 years time (baring a house fire/flood etc.) goes on the paper copies stored the loft.

Granted the quality will be nothing like the digital file but, as we both said, Photoshop 2090 will be able to do a pretty good restoration job! Better a degraded copy than none at all.

1 Like

If I show someone the photos using the screen on my camera, my computer screen or my TV, they almost always get bored quickly.

If I give them an album with many, usually between 40 & 80 A4 size prints in it, it is noticeable how much longer they take looking at the images & often very gratifying when they finish & say ‘Have you got any more?’ rather that ‘I must get home to put the cream on the cats boil’ or similar!

That for me is one of the powers prints have over screens.


I think the problem is, that family photos do not scale anymore. For example, you may have 20 photos from your great grandparents, then 60 from your grandparents, then 200 from your parents. You may have several thousand, then your children have many more. So what happens by the time it gets to grandchildren when they are our age.

My daughter knows where our Albums are, and can also find them on our computer, but doesn’t seem to have an interest, so they may just get lost in time.

I do really like what you have done though!

Apple and others offer a print to photo-book service that allows you to edit and arrange prints in order. The books are a good quality and make ideal occasional gifts for those that prefer to look at a hardcopy. I’ve used such things for birthdays, christenings and even old photos as above, which can then be given to those not attending or even as a memento of the occasion.


A picture of my all family, last summer



Many of our old family photos are kept in albums that have plastic coverings to hold the photos in place. I was disappointed to learn many of the plastic coverings are now stuck to the original photos making it tough or impossible to remove the photos without damaging them.

I asked my Mum to write on the back of all her family photo’s, from back into the 1920s. Sadly, she died before she could. Get them named while you still can…


My mother inherited a Victorian photograph album plus a box of family photos. In the 1970s I asked her to identify the people she recognised and I pencilled these on the backs. I’ve been working on my family tree and linking names and dates to the pictures I can identify. Some of these have great character. But this thread is a timely reminder to print some digital photos in a book so that there is a physical record from our generation too.

Caroline my great grandmother 1824-1899.


Funnily, that’s exactly how I pictured you FR…


On the rare occasions our family meets (sadly these days it’s usually for funerals) it is quite common at some stage for someone to get out the boxes of photographs. Nothing compares to the feeling of ‘re-discovering’ one’s family ties through old printed images.

Having said that, after my sister-in-law passed away some years ago, I only had digital images of her. For Christmas of that year, I gave her daughter an electronic picture frame loaded with a memory stick with all the images I could find of her mother and other members of her family. It sits on her mantlepiece slowly scrolling through the images anytime she wishes. I don’t think I’ve ever given a present before or since that was so well appreciated.


I accept you can’t save every image &, in fact, I would not want to. I just think you need to use a little common sense in selecting a few suitable images.

The family gathering occasions have more relevance to my mind over single person images as a lot of long gone family/relatives/friends are featured at the same time, perhaps triggering a multitude of memories rather than just one.

As to your daughter not being interested, assuming she is under, say 40ish, I didn’t have any particular interest at that age. I think it is the realisation of just how much time has passed (& how quickly it seems to pass as you get older) that increases the significance & interest in this type of picture.

If my mum hadn’t kept these pictures I wouldn’t have been any the wiser & would, perhaps, not have given many of the people in them a second thought. However she did keep them (& many others) & they have bought much pleasure to me & several other family & friends. Knowing my mum I strongly suspect they gave her great personal pleasure when she was alive & she may have pondered who may see them in the future & what they would make of them.

1 Like

At a family lunch my sister in law produced a big black bin bag full of photos from my aunt’s house, gathered together after she died. I looked quickly through and there were several hundred of photos of my mum and her family in their childhood and teens. I had to leave it with her and a few months later she gave me an A4 envelope of the ones she had decided were important. The rest have gone forever.

She gave me the envelope so I could take a few if I wanted. I said what will happen to the others that I don’t want? Straight in the bin was the answer. So I said I would keep all of them. She was surprised but didn’t argue. I really regret the 20 or 30 times as many that just got thrown away by her.

Of my two grownup daughters, one might well be interested in them, but the other would probably throw them all away. Does that matter or not?

See my final paragraph in the post above yours. In the great scheme of things I’m sure it doesn’t. It’s just nice to think that at some distant time they may give unexpected pleasure & memories to you &, or, others.

1 Like