I started off 2012 with my Art Display Project, showcasing several of my friends and how they displayed photographs in their own homes. I did this because I wanted to emphasize the importance of printing our photos to enjoy instead of having them sit in the vortex of our computers where no one can see them. While digital negatives are, in some ways, more convenient than film, I believe that digital negatives aren’t complete until they’ve been printed. That’s one of the reasons I now include a 5×7 of every digital image that I sell.
This year I’m not tackling another Art Display Project, but I still want to emphasize the importance of printing our photographs, whether they be professional or personal. Finish them by printing them. If we don’t print them as we take them, they may never see the light of day and we may never have them to document our lives for our children and our children’s children. As technology continues to advance and CDs and USB drives are things of the past, we’ll lose those images if they remain as digital negatives. Printing is another source of back up and we can never have too many back ups for the things that are important to us.
A few years back, my husband inherited a bag full of old family photographs dating back to the late 1800s from Austria and Germany. They are a treasure trove of history, many of the photographs having survived through two world wars. There are pictures of his grandfathers and grandmothers as teenagers outside of Vienna, an old passport dating back to 1919. A baby portrait dating back to 1909. A picture from a school field trip to Hochlacken in 1936 before the start of the war. Several wedding portraits and even a boudoir shot before boudoir was popular.
We moved twice since receiving those pictures, and when I went to look for them a few weeks ago, they were no where to be found. My heart sank because I knew there were no negatives and if I couldn’t find them, those photos would be lost forever. I scoured the cupboards, the garage, the boxes, the baskets and all the drawers and finally, I found them inside a nightstand we no longer use. Losing those photos might have meant losing many of those stories and memories forever.
Can you imagine if those photos had never been printed?
Every week I will share one of these photos as a reminder to have your photos printed.
This is one of my favorites from the pile because I love the story behind it. It’s a picture of my mother-in-law and her brother outside of the building that served as their home right after the war. I’m fascinated by history and often wonder what life was like in Austria and Germany right after WWII. Here’s the story told by my mother-in-law, Charlotte:
This picture, taken around 1950, shows me and my brother Peter tending the garden at our parents’ apartment.
In 1948, soon after WWII ended, my parents needed a place to live. What they had was very primitive, and way out in the country, impossible for my father to go to work every day. But living space was scarce, since Vienna and surroundings was bombed out by the Russians, and rebuilding had not begun yet. So, my father heard about the abandoned beautiful spa in a village called Kaltenleutgeben, right outside of Vienna. Nobody had time or money to attend a spa, and the mayor of the town let people, for a small fee, choose a couple of rooms to adapt to living space. And that’s what they did. Their apartment included the big reception hall, fancy with wooden, inlaid ceiling and parket flooring, a smaller room which they made into a kitchen, and, across the hall, a smaller room which ended up serving as the kids’ room. They had to partition the whole thing off the main staircase, install a wood-burning stove in the kitchen, which served as heat source as well
as for cooking, a sink in the kitchen, and a stove in the living room for heating. The toilet was across the hall and shared with the neighbor, and there was no bathroom. Every Friday, the bath tub (stored in a room outside the apartment) was carried into the kitchen, so that every one could take a bath. On the other days, you had to wash at the sink. The laundry room was in the basement, and the clothes had to be washed by hand.
Although there were not many modern amenities, we were better off than most of the other people. My dad was very handy, and we kids did not feel any hardship. For a while, we had chickens, and, of course, we had a garden. We lived there for ten years before my parents bought the house they lived in till they died.
For me, it was a special time for growing up surrounded by nature and without any city stress. For the whole family, it was a very happy time.
Now, go and get those pictures off of your computers and CDs and print them!