On occasion, I will still buy a disposable camera, despite the convenience of digital photography and ease of viewing. And when I’m going to the photo shop to collect the prints from it, I’m still every bit as excited as I was many years ago. You see one of the problems (and ironies) with digital photography is the lack of spontaneity especially from the ‘selfie’ generation – one where multiple images are often taken one after the other, until the subject looks just right, ‘just so’ in this most immediate moment of perceived spontaneity. Then there is the issue I have with those who insist on looking at a digital photo straight after it’s been taken to ensure it can be deleted if it’s not flattering.
It was only the end of 2015 when I last I bought a couple of disposable cameras. It took me a few months to use up the films, but when I did get eventually the photos developed, the outcome was so much more rewarding. I went straight in to a coffee shop and sat down in a comfy chair, and spent about half an hour smiling at the already forgotten moments, natural smiles and animated conversations in the images in front of me.
Now, as an avid Instagram user, I am also guilty of sharing most of my personal photos through the app, and whilst Instagram does a great job at mimicking film-like effects with its filters, it still cannot take away from the fact that you are viewing the images on a screen. With this in mind, I’ve recently noticed a large rise in web-to-print services being advertised online, especially those with a focus on producing Instagram and Facebook photo books. These products allow you to easily select photos from your social media platform of choice, upload them, order the photo book and have it sent straight to your door.
I recently tried out an app called Cheerz after seeing a promoted post on my Facebook stream and wanted to get a personalised gift for my friend’s birthday. Cheerz offer a variety of printed products including photo boxes that come in a Polaroid style prints, photo albums and framed posters. I decided to go for the magnets, which I thought was a little more unique compared to what I had seen before on similar services. I spent a good hour going through my Instagram and Facebook photos looking for memories between the recipient and myself. Having previously used web-to-print services such as Blurb to create photo books at university using downloadable software, I found the ease of using the Cheerz app on my phone highly convenient and required no technical skill.
Although all these images are available to see online, in a sea of online imagery we often don’t take the time to look back on certain memories how we used to with our old homemade photo albums. While it’s not quite the same magic as seeing a photo for the very first time, having something to hold in your hand again certainly does help recreate some of that initial feeling and magic. Needless to say, my friend was delighted with his gift and his ‘magnetics of magic moments’ are now proudly displayed on his fridge.