Founder of the X-Prize Peter Diamandis has often discussed the principle of dematerialization: the movement away from stand-alone products into single integrated ones, and the movement away from owned products to shared ones. Examples include the disappearance of camcorders, watches, cameras, and telephones into single portable devices, and the disappearance of CD, DVD, and book collections into streaming services or digital book devices. While this hasn’t necessarily helped us declutter, it has helped us to appreciate things that were once very commonplace as unusual. One of those things? Printed photos.
Funnily enough, there has never been more photography than in this current time period. People walk around with powerful cameras in their pocket that would have been professional photographers’ greatest Christmas dreams a generation ago. Because cameras (and photography) are omnipresent — we take photos just as much to make memories as to capture an idea or task to remember to do later — they are also less valuable. People upload many photos to sites like Instagram, but almost no one goes back to browse old photos, as we once looked at photo albums. It takes a lot just to keep up with what is coming down the neverending stream of photos on social media.
People of a certain age remember that when people came to visit, things like photo albums came off the shelf, and memories and stories were shared from these frozen moments. Very often, in this age before digital perfection, photos would be “flawed,” and a great story would be told just about the taking of that particular photo.
What Was Old is New Again
So, unsurprisingly, as printed photos and photo albums gave way to the digital revolution and the sites built to host those photos, slowly but surely printed photos came back, and this season you can take this unique intentionality one of two ways.
Re-Materialization: going back to instant print cameras. Polaroid famously became the byword for this type of picture. If you love the brand and the trademark look of the camera, they are available on Amazon for a little over $100 USD. Rivals Fuji will load you up with a lot of extra supplies for around the same price and have some excellent reviews.
Mini-printers: still ditching the darkrooms. For a while manufacturers thought people might want purpose-built regular-sized printers for photos. That’s mostly given way now to portable pocket-sized printers, like the well-rated Lifeprint series, which works for both iPhone and Android, and comes in black and white, and in both new and certified refurbished editions (and prices).
Whether you choose an “old school” camera or pick up one of the mini-printers, you’ll have a chance to get a gift for a gent you know who appreciates photos (you always have permission to give a gift to yourself) and give them an opportunity to story-tell with the camera technology of today, which takes photos that are deeply memorable, and even more so if you can find a physical way to hold on to them.
Would you ever consider using a instant-type camera or printer? Why or why not? Share your thoughts below to receive a coupon for 15% off any purchase of a retail item in one of our clubs.