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On the Good Old-fashioned Photo Album

On the Good Old-fashioned Photo Album

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Our albums full of 4x6 prints from our adventures appear to be rare beasts these days!

By Jack Howard

August 4, 2009

It never occurred to us how rare it had become to get home from our travels and print out a few 4x6 shots for a photo album. But the more people we talk to, the more amazed everyone is that we have actual photo albums. Sure, a mixed media slideshow playing on an iPhone is supercool, but there's still something great about a tactile photo album.


Snorkeling, Anse La Reye, St. Lucia. April 2006 Honeymoon trip.

Just about eight years ago, I met the woman who would become my wife. Since then, we've embarked on a series of adventures and journeys together to points near and far. And all along the way, we've both been making pictures of our travels.

Back then, we were both stillprimarilyshooting film for personal work. We'd bring the 35mm cartridges to the lab and get back stacks of 4x6 prints and rifle through all of them, and she'd select a few to go into a photo album. The rest of the OK, but not album-worthy shots would wind up in boxes (mine in an old shoebox in my closet, and hers in a dedicated photo box...) and the outs would be tossed in the trash.

As time went on we both switched wholly to digital: me to a series of DSLRs and she to a Canon Powershot S500. and then a Powershot SD990 IS.  But the process remained basically the same. After a event, holiday, or escape, we'd load the photos into my Mac and use a lightbox program such as Photo Mechanic or Adobe Bridge to select the photos that we'd print to 4x6 for album and photo box consideration. For a while, all the shots were home-printed on my Epson Stylus 2200, but these days the shots head off to a lab like Adoramapix for printing. And then, after we've got our small stack of 4x6 prints, she loads them into the slots in the most recent photo album.

We're not scrappers by any means (not that there's anything wrong with that). We just load the photos into the pre-formatted 4x6 pages and showcase the photos. It's all in there: a trip to Florida in 2003, a long weekend to Cape Cod in 2004, Hallowe'en parties and birthdays here and there, Portugal and Big Sky in '05, a honeymoon in St. Lucia in '06, and a long weekend to Cape May just last month.

It didn't really occur to either of us just how rare the photo album full of 4x6 shots had become until about our tenth set of friends expressed amazement at the fact the we regularly update these albums.

Don't get me wrong, I love a good onscreen multimedia slideshow as much as the next new media tech editor, but there is something so tactile about the act of huddling around the physical object of a photo album filled with little photo prints over sunday morning coffee that is so lacking in any powwow around the screen of an iPhone. Hearing that whoosh and crinkle as the pages flip, and being instantly transported back to another time and place is such a great way to spend a few minutes remembering where we've been together on this journey through life.

And I simply cannot believe how few of our contemporaries don't have an active, tactile photo album. Can you?

Do you keep up with a traditional photo album? Let us know!



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