Photographic memories

How many photos do you have on your smartphone? Ignore the ones of the electric meter reading and the price tickets of the wardrobes you’ve been eyeing up. Just the ones of the kids, grand kids, friends behaving (moderately) badly and the obligatory shot across the mountain range from the holiday cottage you took in the summer. A couple of dozen? A hundred perhaps?

Research from a Canadian study suggests the average is 630 photos stashed away on a phone’s memory cards. Another study in 2020 by a print cartridge manufacturer found around 11% of people responding had more than 7500 images on their device. Some younger smartphone owners are carrying around more than 10,000 images in their pocket!

Mind. Blown. (Writes the guy with 100,000+ photos in his Google Photos account)

Geeky stat alert:

1.4 trillion photos were expected to be taken in 2021 according: 91% of which were captured with smartphones.

How many make it out of the phone and onto photo prints or albums (remember those?) Around 36 billion according to Keypoint Intelligence. In other words, for every 6×4 inch print produced, 40 images won’t make the cut. Sadly, of those actually printed few hardly ever get looked at again, after the initial viewing.

But it’s always been that way. My wedding album of 20 10x8inch prints in a white leather binding has only been out of its presentation box half a dozen times over the past 40 years of marriage. And it’s not that I can’t bear looking at the younger, thinner me in the shots. It’s just – well – It’s special, innit?

Actually, photo albums are still a great way of holding your most precious memories. Nowadays, you don’t put all your 6×4 inch prints onto sticky paged albums protected by an acetate film: You have the images printed directly onto the pages and even the album cover. That way, you decide how big you want to feature the image; from double page spread to one inch square inset.

You can annotate or caption your photos and, with the aid of elements such as QR codes, it’s possible to link with other media for videos or online maps. Albums are also a terrific way of ensuring you have a copy of your best, most important images backed up in a format you’ll be able to view well into the future.

Compared to four decades ago, there are many other great ways of using your photos. Apart from photo prints of sizes from 5×3.5 inches to whopping poster sized prints, why not have your images produced as a few special rolls of wallpaper? Once you’ve decorated your room, there are large format canvas prints, box frames, aluminium panels with glossy or brushed finishes, as well as acrylic panels available to show off your images on the walls. Then there is the format: from small squares to large panoramics.

If those don’t fire your imagination, you can have your images printed onto mugs, cushions, bed covers, magnets, small wooden blocks, aprons, glass worktop savers and even made into jigsaw puzzles. Although moderately more expensive than standard items – after all these are customised products – modern production techniques such as digital printing means one-offs are still affordable, particularly if it’s a gift for someone special.

Summing up; although we are in a golden age of technology, with cameras at our fingertips and displays in our pocket, the vast majority of our photos are taken, then forgotten and eventually deleted by design, accident or obsolescence. Printed versions of your most special memories mean you have a back-up of the best and displaying them on the wall or even on a set of mugs means you will revisit those memories and feelings more frequently.

Pete Bresser is a professional photographer and can be contacted at

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