The Psychology of Holding a Printed Photo

Our world today is definitely digital. From Instagram to streaming TV and movies and even reading the news, everything we do is online. We even store our documents and photos in the cloud, rather than take the time to purchase prints or create scrapbooks.

Be honest: How many times have you taken photos on your phone and forgotten about them until you were scrolling through your images later? Or have you even had professional photos taken and put on a flash drive or disc, only to never print them?

If either of these things has happened to you, you’re definitely not alone. Digital images are incredibly convenient, but they’re also easy to forget about or lose. Even if you upload photos to social media, you may forget entirely that they’re there until someone likes or comments on them.

Printed images and albums may seem like a thing of the past, but they still have a strong effect on us, even in our online world. A photo can evoke strong emotions and take us back to a specific time and place—even to people who are gone.

Psychologists have found that holding a printed photo actually has the power to improve a person’s mood. By reminding ourselves of positive times with people we love, we can reflect on who we are and how far we’ve come and remember what we value most in life: our relationships.  

While having images stored on our phones and computers gives us easy access to memories, when we don’t print our photos, we deprive ourselves and our children of the opportunity to enjoy memories. Seeing printed images of themselves can actually help boost a child’s self-esteem and reassure them of their place and value in the family unit.

By creating a photo album or hanging prints on the wall, you’re not only giving yourself a chance to look back on days gone by. You’re also providing your children—and one day grandchildren—with a chance to look back at days they don’t remember, to see how their family has grown and changed over the years, and to better understand their identity and place in the world.

The next time you schedule a professional photo session, don’t just opt for digital files only. Think of the future and how valuable and timeless printed photos will be not only to you and your family, but to the generations yet to come.