Printing in the age of Instagram

Initially I was kind of an anti-iPhone-photographer snob… but I’ve found I’m way more likely to document the moment with my phone than dig out my hulking digital SLR with its inconvenient manual-focus portrait lens, not to mention the time it takes to transfer the resulting photos to my computer (provided I can find the camera cable, which is a challenge in and of itself) and process them in Photoshop, then wait for them to upload to the printing company. In the face of all that hassle, the simplicity and ease of use of the iPhone camera cannot be denied. It may not be fine art, but my family memories aren’t fine art, and truth be told, I love some of the photos I’ve taken with that camera.

All but three months of Gwen’s first year were stored not in an album or keepsake box, but on Flickr and Instagram. I thought about this a few weeks ago — I haven’t printed a single snapshot since Gwen was three months old. And I thought about how strange and uncomfortable that felt. Ellie has a thick baby album full of 4×6′s, Gwen has… an Instagram account.

I love digital photography, but there’s something satisfying about holding a photograph in my hands, the tactile richness of a stack of freshly-printed images, the thrill of receiving a new packet of photos in the mail.┬áSo I decided to do something about it! I went back through my archives, beginning with this photo, taken last Christmas when I first got my iPhone:

Baby Gwen

And the latest photo of my little mischief-maker:

*melt*

 

… and everything in between, which, when I sorted through it all, came out to about 300 photos.

That was almost enough to make me throw up my hands and add a few dollars to Gwen’s therapy jar (I have a few years to come up with an excuse as to why her sister has an album and she doesn’t, anyway) but after some research, I settled on PostalPix, which lets you order prints (and other products) directly from your iPhone. A few weeks later, I have a handful of envelopes full of beautiful prints, and I’ve assuaged my guilt (at least temporarily — I still haven’t worked up the ambition to put them in an album). Plus, new photos never have to touch my computer — I take them on the phone and have prints in my cart with just a few clicks. So easy.

My only complaint is you can only print in batches of 40 (when I started this process it was 60) so having a large backlog of photos meant I had to be methodical about what I’d already printed and what I hadn’t. Now that I’m caught up it’s better, but it would be much easier to purchase unlimited prints in one go. All the more reason to keep my standard printing company (iPrintFromHome — have to plug them because I love them) for large orders, and use PostalPix for snapshots.

Another iPhoneography-related service I tried recently was StickyGram, which turns your Instagram photos into magnets (I’m kind of a magnet addict). Sure, I could just use an ordinary magnet to stick my kid’s photo to the fridge, but what would be the fun in that? Photo magnets up the cute-factor. While I won’t be using StickyGram as often, it has nothing to do with their quality or service — it’s just my bank account might get mad at me, and my fridge can only hold so many magnets.

One thought on “Printing in the age of Instagram

  1. great tip. For me there is nothing like printed fotos, but i usually go with photobooks. I have more fun with them adding texts and scanning pieces of papers (like scrapbooking but without the paranoia/obssession that comes with it). Next year i will try “Project Life” by Betty H. I looks fun too. :)

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