It's over: I have stopped vacillating about saying a nut I am about wedding albums, and I promise it isn't because I want to make you spend a wad of cash on a book. I know you're consumed with planning a wedding, or maybe your wedding is over now, and spending more money on something wedding-related might not sound fantastic. It is so easy to say, “hey! I’ll get an album later”, or “I’ll have the disk. I don’t really want a big, clunky, expensive album.” I thought the same thing before I became a photographer, and then I listened to some people who are a lot smarter than me. Like Grandma.
When my husband and I went through his grandmother’s house as she moved to assisted care, we separated stuff we didn’t want sold at the estate sale or tossed. Hands-down, the family albums are the most important things we grabbed. Silver, whatever. Jewelry, meh. What has irreplaceable meaning and value? Our story. Our history. Our legacy, preserved in these beautiful, painstakingly-compiled books.
If you don’t see yourself gazing adoringly at your album while sitting on the couch and recalling sweet wedding memories with your spouse, I get it. Our generation lives in the time where our technology synchs and is compatible, and where photos look amazing on our iPad screens and Macbook Retina Displays. They even look pretty fantastic on our phones. So why get an archaic paper album?
At 15, I was a voracious writer. I wrote stories, and I had a journal. I wrote the stories on my Mac, and I wrote my journal on paper. In college, I saved my work on those fancy new ZIP disks. I continued to write in my physical journal. Can you guess what I can easily access today without dragging out a complicated conversion device? I can pull those journals off the shelf any day and peruse their utterly embarrassing contents. My old floppy and ZIP disks sit in a box under my couch. The sheer modern inconvenience of accessing that stuff makes it almost more trouble than it’s worth. On those disks are also photos from college, taken on my first digital camera (you loaded a floppy disk IN the camera). They’re probably pretty fantastic. Part of me is terrified that many of those disks are bad.
Can you imagine your heartbreak, or your childrens’ heartbreak, in 10, 20, 50 years if that DVD of your wedding memories is scratched? Incompatible? Broken? Unlabeled and tossed? Will we even know what JPG files are in 2064?
I can hazard a guess: JPGs will sound like a VCR (or worse), but we’ll still know all about photo albums.
This is something unique to our generation in our beautiful high-tech world. With the ease of digital, we photographers often don’t enthusiastically sell albums. We can just give you the disks, after all! Wow, there goes $300-3000 off your wedding budget. Fab! But really, we aren’t doing anyone a service. We are all slighting ourselves, our generation, and our family histories.
We should have both disk and book. I often joke that I don't see many people running into a burning down house to grab a DVD, but that wedding album? Yes. I love digital, just not as our only way of preserving irreplaceable stories. Uniting as a family around an album is a generations-old ritual that is worth continuing.
And really, when your wedding is done and life moves on to houses and/or babies and/or travel and/or adventure, your wedding album is the first heirloom of your new family.
A DVD isn’t an heirloom. Sure, it contains the makings of heirlooms. But it isn’t enough. Consider loving your photos enough to keep them, protect them, and share them for many years to come.
Now go get that book. I promise, you'll be so happy you did.