Why I’m Not Printing Photos Anymore

posted by Andrea | 05/29/2012

For the past year, I’ve been on a mission to take more pictures — mainly because I realized that I only have about 20 pictures of Dave and I from the first 5 years of our marriage!

And as you can probably tell from all the pictures of Nora here on my blog, I’ve been doing a pretty good job!

However, I have to admit that I’m still failing miserably at my goal to actually print off and display my photos. I shared a few creative ways to decorate with photos… and I did implement some of those ideas around our home.

But then I stopped.

I printed about 50 photos right after Nora was born, and then another 50 about a month later… and that’s it. All the rest are stored on my portable hard drive and/or on Flickr.

But you know what… I’m not printing photos any more!

Even though I had all sorts of ideas for the cute pictures I was going to print and display, I decided that I don’t like the hassle of printing pictures, I don’t make the time to switch out my pictures often enough, and I REALLY don’t like storing all the printed photos I was starting to accumulate (Nora is cute, but we don’t need her plastered on every inch of our walls!)

I’m staying digital.

I know everyone says it’s better to print photos and enjoy them… but that system just doesn’t work for me (and believe me, I’ve tried to make it work!)

Plus, I really DO enjoy my digital photos.

Since I take almost ALL my pictures with my iphone, I can instantly share them with friends and family via facebook, email, or text. Plus, they automatically upload to my computer within minutes (thank-you Apple for making such smart machines!)

My computer automatically sorts the photos chronologically by month (which is the way I like to sort them anyway).  From my computer, I can upload them to our Flickr account, save them to my portable hard drive, share them on Facebook, post them on my blog, or email them to a friend.

When I make time to work on my digital photo albums (which I’m WAY behind on!), I can import pictures from Facebook, Flickr, my computer, or my portable hard drive… and then I print the full book once it’s finished.

I keep the finished books on a shelf in our living room so we can look through our pictures any time — and since all the individual pictures are still saved on my portable hard drive and/or Flickr, I always have the option of printing pictures if the need arrose.

So I honestly feel like there is no point for me to waste the time, money, and space to print pictures. I like storing them digitally and I most definitely get enjoyment out of looking through all the pictures on my blog and on Facebook.

As with any organizing project, we all need to use the system that works best for US… and when it comes to pictures, I’m confident that my digital organizing system is the best system for me.

I’m not sure why it took me SO long to realize this — I think I was just trying to do what I thought was “right” and figured that I should be printing and displaying my pictures all over my house. After all, I love looking at pictures on display in other people’s homes… but it just didn’t work for me.

From now on (or at least until I change my mind!) I’ll be storing all my photos digitally. I’ll continue to share them via Facebook, Flickr, and my blog… and some day, I’ll get my digital photo albums up to date!

Do you print your photos or not?

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32 comments

  1. Jen

    05/29/2012

    I totally agree, and I do the same thing. When I feel like I want to replace a photo in a frame, I can get into my computer and pick what I want and have it printed. Simple as that. No need to have it taking up space in a box, waiting for its turn to shine.

    One of my biggest frustrations with photos has been the packages you get from the schools after picture day. We try to order the smallest possible package that meets our needs, but we always end up with some leftover photos. It feels weird to throw them out (I know, I know…), but then I just have packages of them sitting in a box. We’re homeschooling next year so I guess that problem will solve itself, but I need to get around to getting some of those photos into albums and disposing of the rest.

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  2. Jane

    05/29/2012

    No I don’t. The girls will occasionally print them or buy them at Walgreens to put on photo boards or in frames or for friends as girls love to do! I belong to all the major photo processing companies and every once in a while I will get a free 8 x 10 or a free photo book. I take advantage of those. I store my pictures in my computer on folders by year and event. We keep family collections for special events. I often will make scrapbooks for trips only. But mainly we make slide shows – again, mostly for trips because they are fun to look back on.

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  3. jan

    05/29/2012

    I’m with you.

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  4. Monika

    05/29/2012

    Ok, I use an iphone, HOW do you get them to automatically upload to your computer and then sort themselves by month?!

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    Andrea Reply:

    you need to have a Mac and then have a “cloud” membership

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  5. Brittany B.

    05/29/2012

    Where do you print your photo books from?? I love your site by the way! Such a great resource!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Brittany, I use Blurb.com to create my digital albums. Just click on the link in the post where I mention my “digital photo books” it will take you to my post where I talk all about blurb!

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  6. amy martin

    05/29/2012

    I love digital storage! The digital picture frames are great for people that like them displayed !

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  7. roberta lott

    05/29/2012

    I have all my paper photos organized and in albums. I do not like to display photos around the house, just one more thing to dust. I have organized paper photos into detailed categories, husband’s family, my family, pets, etc. That way his folks won’t have to wade through photos of my family and I can grab albums and go if I need to travel with them. Will be working on my digital photos this summer. I only print them when there is a special one I want to share with someone.

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  8. Patty@homemakersdaily.com

    05/29/2012

    This has been a struggle for me. When my first granddaughter was born, I was sorting through all the photos we took and printing off the best ones each month. Then I got behind – mainly because it was a LOT of time and work and decision making. My last picture order was about 4 months ago. I’m not sure I’m willing to make the decision to go digital only. But at the same time, printing pictures is a hassle! It’s not so much the process of having them printed as the choosing a reasonable number to print. It takes more time than I have.

    So all that to say I don’t know yet what I’m doing but I need to come up with something! My current method isn’t working.

    I appreciate you sharing your thoughts. It’s something for me to think about as well. Maybe digital is the way to go.

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  9. Marie

    05/29/2012

    Im so glad you posted this! I’ve been chastising myself for years over not keeping up with printing my pictures and putting them in albums, but like you, I don’t like wasting my time and ink printing and cutting pictures. I don’t have a flicker account but I do have all of our photos saved on the computer and through Facebook. I also like your idea about creating photo books for display purposes if family and friends and future generations want to flip through them.
    What company do you use?

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    Andrea Reply:

    I use Blurb.com for my digital photo books — but there are tons of other great companies.

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  10. Shauna

    05/29/2012

    I do print all of my best photos. I have 100s on the computer that no one else will ever see but I also have just as many printed. I have some in baby books, some in a simple 4×6 album that I just add to as we go. I have some in a 4×6 photo box. I also print off a yearly photo book and put it with the album and babybooks. I know the value of prints, I would hate for my kids to never have pictures of them as babies because my computer and harddrive crashed and we lost everything.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Yes Shauna, that would be horrible… but I save all my pictures on a portable hard drive that is stored in our fire-proof safe. PLUS, I store most of our photos on Flickr and also on my blog. And if that wasn’t enough, the company I use to create my digital photo albums also stores a back-up of all our albums indefinitely… so it would be almost impossible for me to lose any of my photos :)

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    Shauna Reply:

    As long as it works for you your good to go!

    I have mine on 2 externals, one online back-up site (I pay for it), and CDs in 4 locations as well as all my prints.

    Part of my insanity is operating my own photography business. The other part is having lost almost all of my oldest daughter’s baby pictures. I had my computer, both the old hard drives and all my CDs erase all within the same week. Luckily my FIL had copies of most things so I have the highlights but now I’m insane about keeping my photos.

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  11. Kaui @ Thrifty Military Mommy

    05/29/2012

    Nope! I see no point in wasting that kind of money and trees. We already get enough photos from when we get our holiday photos done and after several years of those your walls are full (as are mine, lol).

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  12. Beth

    05/29/2012

    I print photos to put into my scrapbooks, but I am often behind on printing pictures to update all the frames in my house. I usually will get frustrated that they are all old and spend a whole evening selecting and sending pictures to be printed and then change all the frames out at one time!
    Have you thought about getting a digital picture frame? We got one as a gift and its so easy to grab pictures off your computer and save them to a SD card and insert in the frame. You get updated, recent photos without all the hassle of printing them. I keep ours on my desk and its fun to see all my favorites pictures scrolling!

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  13. Pam

    05/29/2012

    I store mine digitally too. Do you have a photo printer or use a special paper when you print them?

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  14. Cathy Darnell

    05/29/2012

    I recommend you not rely on a hard drive and back your photos up on DVDs. Hard drives are notorious for crashing. DVDs are much more reliable.

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  15. Maria

    05/29/2012

    And I’ve decided to simplify my life by rarely take pictures at all. It’s too much bother for me to take them, sort them, print them, and then deal with them.

    Fewer projects, less pressure.

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  16. MaryEllen

    05/29/2012

    I think I want to get a digital frame. I remember loving to look at the photo albums as a kid, and I want my kids to be able to do that too, but I know myself too well. If I do print pictures, I’m probably never going to actually put them into an album. I think a digital frame would be a great way to keep everything digital while still putting photos on display.

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  17. Living So Abundantly

    05/29/2012

    I used to print the photos and scrapbook, but I don’t have the time or patience for that anymore. This year I started using Shutterfly’s Custom Path. You can make your own scrapbook photo books without the mess to clean it up. I like that you can even add embellishments, journal entries, etc. It is very customizable, which I like.

    Here is a link:

    http://www.shutterfly.com/custompath/viewEdit.sfly?fid=041209a24477f043

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  18. keri M.

    05/29/2012

    I use mostly digital photos as well. One downside, I’m realizing, is that because my kids aren’t perusing the photos on the computer, they are forgetting about past family events. Printed photos or photo books would remind them of important events in the past (birth of a sibling, a visiting aunt, etc) that slip so quickly from memory of a child. So I’m motivated to keep up the virtual scrapbooking!

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  19. Denise

    05/29/2012

    I’d recommend having a digital frame in order to enjoy your family photos. I have a Kodak frame on my kitchen counter that I can send the photos to from my computer….Also, I got one for my grandson so that he can see his entire family that is scattered across the country.

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  20. Amanda Jayne

    05/29/2012

    I print some. My method is to take the photos and upload them to Snapfish and Facebook to share with friends and family. Then every month or two, I go through and add my very favorite, best photos to my cart and order them from Snapfish. I like to order a few doubles as well, because I have a number of relatives who are not online and who like to get a letter with actual photos. Once I get those pictures, I have designated spots I put them-either sent out with cards, a few are put into a scrapbook, and I will order the occasional photo to frame. I used to order them all and put them in books and it was ridiculous! This way I can look through our scrapbook and have a nice collection of memories, with only the very best, favorite photos.

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  21. Janie Pollard

    05/29/2012

    Wow I can’t imagine not printing my photos,I do project life so they are all easy to keep in large albums.When my MIL passed away she left us all her family photos and I cherish them.If I run out of space I will get rid of something less important in order to keep printed photos of my family.Of course there is not even one baby pic of me in this world so that might be why I feel it’s so important to print pictures.

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  22. Leanne

    05/30/2012

    I’m with you….I don’t print anything that I’m not going to frame or scrapbook. I love having them organized digitally and its easier to go through them when I want to reminisce (aka…cry because they are getting SO BIG!)!
    plus, its a waste of paper (go green!) and money! (keep the green!)
    thanks for a great post!
    I do back up my photos on sans disks…just in case my computer or phone crash and die beyond repair!

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  23. Kateri

    05/30/2012

    Once a year we makeh a “Family Yearbook” with MyPublisher.com, where you upload your digital pics and you can create and order a beautiful hardcover yearbook with all of your pics taken that year! (it’s exactly like a high school yearbook!) It takes only a few minutes to put together, and even less time if your photos are organized chronologically! It’s the perfect thing to capture our memories, and costs a fraction of what printing and buying/assembling albums would! Our kids LOVE flipping through them!

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  24. Martina

    06/01/2012

    we have exactly 3 pics we change every 6 month, we take one family picture a year, and then the kids get their taken twice a year, everything else is facebooked

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  25. Teresa

    06/09/2012

    I do a Mix :) I print a few special ones and “change out those in a frame” but the rest I post to our family blog. Sometimes I tell a story, sometimes not. At the end of the year I use “Blog2Print” to print my blog–I have done this four years now and it is a fabulous way to remember our year :)

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  26. Maire

    08/27/2012

    Parents always go nuts taking pictures of their first born (I’ve four siblings and most of the baby pictures are of the oldest in our family…. after that our parents weren’t bothered). I heard it summed up in a short poem once….

    ‘It’s a little known fact, but unmistakable,
    The second baby’s not so breakable’.

    I gave up printing years ago. Even though I’ve purged and purged I still have a chest of pictures. I’ll only print one if it’s a really terrific and flattering picture that looks almost professional, other than that, they can float about on facebook and give us a chuckle now and then. Not everything in my life is so precious that I’ve to file it all away… that’s just hoarding.

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  27. Ginny

    01/15/2013

    I used to, and I’ve got 4 years of old fashioned scrapbooks I am determined to get finished. But, since 2009 I have made digital books and I love them. I see you are making them, too. I am super organized, but your blog has made me realize a few things I still need to work on.
    It’s funny, because for years I have considered an organizing blog, but yours is so good I think I’ll just read it instead of venturing on my own :)

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