I grew up with a photo wall. I remember my mom measuring each inch of space to figure out how the newest pictures would fit in, and shopping for the frame that best complemented the home décor and the other shots on the wall.
iPhone shot of my in-laws’ photo wall (they still have some space available… haha)
This was before digital cameras. Before smart phones. Before Dropbox and online file sharing. And before Facebook reinvented the meaning of the wall.
Now that virtual wall is updated with shots all day long. Of the mundane, like a scenario caught on our daily coffee run. And of some of life’s most memorable moments, like a couple’s first kiss as a husband and wife or a mother’s first glimpse at her newborn baby. Facebook walls track people as they fall in love, friendships as they form, children as they mature, and life as it goes on.
But what has happened to the photo wall in our homes? That concrete, plaster thing, pricked with pinholes and carrying memories? Has it remained a staple of as many homes? I worry that it hasn’t.
I’m guilty of this. I have my own home now and plenty of walls, but in the nearly three months I’ve lived here, I haven’t yet hung a single picture frame in my living room. I say I’m getting around to it, but the fact that all my photo memories can live inside my laptop or iPhone makes it a lot less motivating to print them out on thick, fancy, glossy paper and then frame them.
Oh, umm this is my current ‘photo wall’… not too shabby, eh?
Are physical photographs going to fall off the face of the Earth, like CDs or newspapers will soon enough? They don’t have to. Memories are being captured digitally at an incredible rate. We should stop and grab those snapshots and bring them into our physical world. Print, frame, nail holes in your walls, and hang. Put a picture on your night stand. On your desk. Take it beyond your computer screen.
Think about how you can make that transition, starting this holiday season. Instead of getting someone a sweater on sale or a Starbucks gift card, think of how much more meaningful a picture of you two would be. Pull that photo you love from Facebook and get it printed. Send it to Shutterfly.com. Take your camera’s memory card—you probably have three years of memories on it—out on your next shopping trip at Walmart or CVS and pop it into the print kiosk. Let’s bring back the original meaning of the photo wall. Maybe I’m simply preaching to myself while everyone else already has amazing photo walls, but if not, then you’re like me and you can join me in this awesome venture.
(This is the first of hopefully many more collaborative posts between my wife and I. This is what happens when photography marries writing.)