Over the last decade or so, digital photography and the way we access our photographs has changed massively. As a result many couples are now shying away from professional wedding albums in favour of digital access to their images. Speaking as both a photographer and a bride to be, I can’t help but feel that couples are making a huge mistake by not investing in a tangible keepsake of their special day.
There’s no denying the convenience that digital image delivery offers- you can share your photographs quickly and easily and on an unlimited basis. You can access them whenever, wherever. That said, it also throws up the conundrum of what to actually do with the photos. Do you print them? Which ones do you print? Where do you put them all?
In this digital age, most of us have hundreds of photos tucked away on our desktops, uploaded to social media or sat on our mobile phones- we just don’t print anymore. At least not in the same way we did when film photography was around.
I suppose that’s not a problem per se, but it’s definitely changing the relationship that we have with our memories – and personally I don’t think for the better.
I remember sitting on the sofa as a child and spending hours flicking through family photo albums. It was like finding treasure! Time capsules sitting in the palm of my hands. I’d look over photos of relatives I’d never met, weddings I was too young to remember, pictures of my parents as teenagers. Those photos weren’t conveniently uploaded to a gallery in the cloud somewhere and accessible at the touch of a button- but that also meant that we didn’t take those photos for granted.
Looking back, I can only think of all the things I’d have missed out on as a child had those albums not been available to sift through. All the relatives I may never have known about, or who’s faces I’d have never seen. All the anecdotes that were prompted by those photos may have forever gone unheard. If nothing else, without those albums I may never have known what it was like to see my parents young and in love.
Swiping through photos on a tablet or clicking through an online gallery just isn’t the same. There’s nothing quite like holding precious memories in your hands and having something to touch, feel and hold onto. There’s nothing like re-living your memories page by page, seeing your story unfold in the most beautiful way and having it there to hug, share or cry on.
Family albums become a thing of legends. They’re loved, adored and passed around endlessly. They’re pulled out and shown to new faces or members of the family. They become part of rituals and form new traditions (out they come at every anniversary – or after every fight!). And most of all, they’re there. They are there when you’re on cloud nine or when you’re feeling blue. They’re there when someone you love isn’t, or when you’ve had to say goodbye to someone forever. They are there through every new year, every new addition and every house move – even without wifi! But most importantly, they are there when you just want to remember.
Digital delivery is fabulous. You can sit on a train and pull up photos on your phone, or send a gallery link to everyone at work – but what’s left just for you?
As our own wedding approaches, this is something I’ve found myself thinking about more and more. Of course I want all of my digital images – it’s the day and age we live in. But I also want a keepsake. A special little something to unwrap and keep us in a state of anticipation and wonderment time and again. We want something we can whip out when the family are visiting or when we want to spend a romantic night tucked up together on the sofa. Perhaps one day our album will become a family legend – with nieces, nephews and perhaps someday, even grandchildren cooing and awwing over it.
That’s when I realised how important physical wedding albums really are. They’re not just for us, and they’re not just for the here and now. They’re an investment in years of wonderful, happy memories for our family- those we already have and the ones we hope to someday have.
So will we be investing in a real, physical, tactile album after our wedding? I think you’ve guessed the answer to that. We’re getting a ‘premium’ album so that the printing quality is top notch, and so it will last long enough to show the grand-kids (really, why wouldn’t you?). I’ll be ordering it soon after our big day – while the memories are fresh, the excitment hasn’t yet faded, and we have the motivation to prevent it slipping onto some distant to-do list.
Louise is a professional photographer based in Essex, specialising in wedding photography. She works together with her partner Sam, at Sam & Louise Photography. www.samandlouise.co.uk