4 sad-but-true reasons to turn your wedding pics into OMG REAL LIFE ACTUAL photo prints

November 19 2014 | Guest post by Dustin Cantrell

You might remember wedding photographer Dustin Cantrell from when we interviewed him about New York wedding photography. Now he's back to remind us all about why we should care about photo prints…

Photo[s] by Dustin Cantrell
Photos by Dustin Cantrell

As a wedding photographer, I hear these two statements all of the time: "We aren't worried about prints right now" or, "We will order prints after the wedding."

The truth is most couples never get around to having their wedding photos printed because life just takes over and you end up putting it off until you completely forget about it. Here's why you should think about going through the pain-in-the-ass process of turning that convenient USB drive into real-life wedding prints…

Social media kills the magic

The majority of couples getting married these days only care about choosing a photography package including only digital files. You end up posting your digital files onto Facebook and they get lost very quickly in the feed. Everyone is hitting the refresh button and ready to move on before you even have time to reminisce. Unless you have a viral hit, you don't feel the love from family and friends on social media for very long.

Technology is evil

Scrolling through your images on a screen is great and convenient, but sometimes lacks the magical feeling you get when going through a pile of photographs. Electronic devices make it so easy to scroll through your images and to always have with you, but have you noticed that, once we have all these photos on a device, we rarely-to-never look at the images. We've all become digital hoarders. I strongly believe this is a cycle that needs to be broken. Having a tangible print makes you slow down and relive what you felt during that exact moment. Personally, I have a terrible memory (especially of my childhood) and the memories I do have are because of the prints I have etched into my mind. I can't say this about any image I've posted onto social media.

Portion control

Photographers will give you lots of edited digital images, and I'm not saying you should get all 500+ images printed. I recommend having your photographer print 50 of your favorite images from a quality printing company and keeping them on display in a cool wooden box. This way you will occasionally sit down and reminisce about your wedding with friends and family.

Technology is evil, part II

The number one reason I recommend having your favorite images printed is because we've all been there: a file goes missing, a hard drive crashes, or DVD stops working. You can prevent these frustrating experiences by backing up your images into multiple locations. The only problems is the majority of us are too lazy or never get around to it before doomsday occurs. Even if you don't want to purchase high quality prints still get your favorite wedding photos printed cheaply and store them in a safe place. I've had numerous clients lose their wedding DVDs and didn't create a backup. Luckily, I still had them archived on my old hard drives.

The truth is not all wedding photographers will keep your wedding photos archived and your wedding photos will be lost forever, but IRL prints don't glitch.

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  1. Yes! We got an album, and it's one of my favourite things! We also got prints of every single one of our engagement photos, and I don't regret it for a second. Digital is great, but there's something so lovely about having a physical copy in your hand.

    2 agree
  2. Another thing I love about print is that you live with it in a different way–I have a photo of our wedding party up in our kitchen where I see it every day. It's such a happy memory, it's nice to make it part of the day-to-day. I occasionally flip through the album or scroll electronic images of our wedding, but the photos i have up around the house are the ones most embedded in my heart.

    6 agree
  3. i made a shutterfly album with ALL our pictures. came out amazing. Took me about two weeks to do but you're right, there is a special feeling you get when you're actually holding those pictures in your hand. I cried going through my album when it arrived

    6 agree
  4. I'm totally the opposite of this. The pictures I have on my computer or on my Facebook, I tend to look at all the time. The printed ones? Unless they're on a wall, I shove them in a box and never remember to take out that box and look at them. We're getting an album from our wedding because it's included in the photographer's package, and I'm sure it will be very special, but it's not gonna be something I think to look at every day. It'll stay on a shelf until one day I pull it out to show some visiting relatives or something.

    It's reached the point where I'm grabbing the SD card from my mother-in-law's camera so I can download all her pictures to my computer. She's got everything printed, but what I really want is to have them digitally.

    Also: Digital picture frames are your friend. We just got one for our wedding, and I can't wait to start loading that baby up!

    11 agree
  5. Another thing to think about is the fact that technology advances. You've got your pics saved on a disc, but what happens when that disc becomes obsolete? If you haven't remembered to update it to the next media, they're gone forever.
    They're starting to call this the most-photographed generation that will be the least remembered (or something like that) because everyone is taking pics constantly and posting them online, but very little is getting printed and thusly those pics aren't in an archival condition ie they won't be available for future generations to look at.

    13 agree
    • Technology advances. THIS.

      When I was studying architecture, they practically beat us over the head telling us to PHOTOGRAPH all of our work (models and drawings) on FILM for portfolios. The reminded us that digital media formats change so fast, but you can still make prints from negatives that are decades old. (Ten years out of school I'm reminded of this as I just threw away a stack of Zip disks.) How many of us if we found a floppy disk right now have access to the hardware to read it? Similarly, we have photos on Facebook right now, but one day — who knows how far away — Facebook won't exist any more and CDs and USBs will have been replaced by something better.

      5 agree
  6. Another great reason to have things printed is that they can physically be handed down. One of my favorite possessions is my grandmother's wedding album. It was created in the 50's and is worn and loved the way only something that's 60 years old can be.

    8 agree
  7. "Prints don't glitch", sure they don't "glitch" but they can be faded, warped, lost, destroyed in fires, ripped, etc. Prints are definitely not perfect. With digital you can very VERY easily backup on dvd, usb drives, separate computers, etc. Any pictures that are super important to me I have backed up in at least 4 different places. If my hard drive crashes no big deal, I have those same pictures elsewhere. If I have a print and someone accidentally spills a soda on it, I'm screwed. Not to mention that digital pictures are a better choice for the environment. Do we really NEED to waste all that paper on something that is just as good, or better, digitally? Nope!

    I'm sorry, but this just really sounded a lot like a photographer trying to convince someone to spend more money than they need to.

    10 agree
    • I don't know, I just clicked into a photo I saved full-size in January this year, and it was somehow….really small? I have no idea how it could have done that, but I've had it happen with some other photos before. It's not a big deal – I just found the photo on Facebook and saved it again onto my computer – but technology definitely does "play up" – I have photos I've transferred from an old computer to my current one that are really small for some reason (file type compatibility problems perhaps?) and since those photos are not on social media and not printed, I don't have access to them other than in that tiny size. They're lost forever, probably. That's not to say storing your photos on technology is BAD – like I said, I accessed Facebook to get a photo that had become corrupt back – but honestly, something can happen to your photos whether printed or digital. Nobody's suggesting NOT having digital prints (at least I don't think that was this writer's intention?) but really, in my opinion, having back-ups in print, digital (i.e usb/stored on computer) AND online (Facebook, dropbox, email) feels like the only way to make sure your photos survive.

      I'd also suggest giving your parents a USB in addition to a photo album, if you want to make them an album. My parents have a fire-proof safe – you can bet when I get married I'm giving them an album and/or a USB specifically to keep in there (as in aside from prints to display or an album for a coffee table etc), just in case. I've actually had TWO boyfriends suffer housefires (as children, BEFORE I KNEW THEM, thanks!!) and in one case the family lost everything and had to cobble together an album based on photos from other people. I really think the print VS digital argument is beside the point. The point – if we're talking about preservation – is covering all your bases. Yes, print is a good idea. Yes, so is digital. Yes, so is online. Yes, so is making sure people outside your physical home have copies.

      5 agree
    • If you really want to make an environmental argument, print photos use energy once when created, but digital photos require energy every single time they're viewed. So there's pros & cons both ways.

      Also, having worked in marketing for a major hard drive manufacturer, I know that only 27% of Americans actually back up their computer data on a regular basis. So crashes & data loss are a common problem.

      3 agree
  8. Not getting prints is a thing? Seriously? I'm not that old, am I? I'm coming up on my 15th anniversary & I love the hell out of my printed photos. We have a gorgeous artsy B/w 8×10 framed wedding photo in our living room & a bunch of little photos framed around the house. I also made an album of photos we had printed.

    I have jillions of different photos on Flickr & Facebook, but the OP is so right, those fade away so fast bec. of the newstream style of posting. I hardly ever really *see* my digital photos, but my print ones are right there in a frame. (For wedding pix, I also see my pix framed at my mom's house & other relatives houses.)

    1 agrees
  9. I think it's worth mentioning at this point that anything you upload to Facebook, FB owns, legally. With the billions of photos they've got it's not likely that they're actually going to do anything with yours, but I do find it rather creepy. I avoid putting photos on there that I care about these days.

    As for the broader idea of digital vs. physical copies- well, obviously both is wisest! I think the photographer was writing the piece in the same way as a photographer ten years ago might have written the reverse; if the trend is currently to save in one method only, it's good to remind people of the other.

    5 agree
    • Ok, while this isn't technically true, I do understand the underlying concern. But ihave to say that actually, YOU own all content that you post, but according to most social media terms of service agreements you grant then permission to use it in advertising or promotional or whatever they see fit materials. Is not a major difference, other than if you see them using your photo and you're name is right there, we'll, sorry, you agreed to that by using the service, but if they're using it and not attributing it to you, that's illegal.

      1 agrees
  10. I could not agree more with what Dustin has to say.
    Until you have seen a beuatifully printed photograph from a pro lab, it's impossible to see the astonishing difference.
    The low res images you have online simply pale in comparison.
    And any prints you get from Costco, Shutterfly, drugstores, etc., are crap, really.
    The color sucks, flesh tones look nasty, a very flat range of tones, poor printing equipmant, technicians that are clueless, improper use of porcessing chemicals, and ALWAYS the worst photo paper availabe-and it will fade in just a few years.

    A pro lab is the extreme opposite. Just the photo paper alone is a huge step up.

    Archival prints are rated to last 100 years when displayed, much longer if stored.

    I would challenge any Bride to simply get a few prints from your lab of choice, and order the same shots from your photographers pro lab and compare them.

    NOTE: The vast majority of Professional Photographers use pro labs with uncompromising standards, however a few do not 🙁
    They are usually low-end and newbie photographers. Ask them if their prints are archival to make certain!

    4 agree
  11. As a part of my thank you to my friends and family that helped me pull off my DIY wedding, I'm printing a picture for each one who was in a formal or in a beautiful candid. If they are in neither … sad, but a couple of friends have exclaimed this fact already 🙁 … I will print a picture of me and Hubby looking cute. We're not holding a sign or anything, we're just looking at the camera … happy.
    I know it's quite a task I'm undertaking, but without their help and support, it wouldn't have been half as amazing as it turned out. And while I'm at it, I figured I might as well print ourselves some beautiful photos to enjoy everyday we walk down the busy hallway from one side of the house to the other.
    **But I do agree with at least one other write above: I have pictures that span 25 years of my life stuffed in boxes in my attic, including the last 15 on my computer. [With a traumatic experience happening earlier in my childhood, I have nothing before… Including grade school photos and all of the birthdays when you had to wait a week (aWEKK!!) for photos to return.] I hardly ever print photos anymore, but certainly take the time to look through my digital albums. I actually enjoy setting up the different folders myself instead of letting iPhoto take charge of them.

    1 agrees
  12. I do understand the photographers point but he is generalizing to much. Not everyone forgets to backup. I have both printed copies of my wedding photos and back ups on my computer, my husbands computer, a usb stick, an external hard drive, Dropbox, facebook, the cloud and my cameras sd card. I think I'm covered. I'm not likely to lose any photos. Not with all my back ups and my hard copies.

  13. This is true. I did print all my wedding pictures but suddenly lost by flood and I don't have any back up. 🙁 All I have now are memories. But I am still happy.

  14. I wouldn't consider not getting prints for a second. Digital copies are fine and lovely, and I will likely end up proudly sharing select shots online. Serves well as back-ups, too. Not being able to pull out a special album in the future in the same way that I ask my parents and grandparents to do regularly just seems really sad, though. Small investment, may not be viewed terribly frequently, would likely regret it hugely in the future.

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