As a picture taker, I am all about visual stories here at Dash Kitten and how these pictures are a huge part of our life and future memories.
Images are our most precious way of sharing our love of our cats and their place in our lives, so how do we do the best job honouring their memory when they leave us?
Might I suggest putting your memories in print?
As many of my readers know, we lost Harvey and Dot close together this year. The wish to value their memory in a visual way prompted me to wonder about the best ways for all of us to create these printed memories.
I want to look back briefly to life ‘Before Digital’ and tell you the reasons why I believe that printed material, as photos, posters and books, matters to cat lovers as much now as it did ten or even twenty years ago. Then I will share some of the ideas I have seen and used online to create treasured images I display.
Before Digital Photography
Life ‘Before Digital’ meant that every photo taken by you, the enthusiastic cat photographer, was taken with a film camera and every one of these cat photos had to be printed, either by a local store or sent away for developing and processing.
You had no idea what had worked and what hadn’t, but every photo on a roll was printed off regardless of its quality. Not only was this discouraging for the photographer who received back 20+ burry cat photos, it was a waste of environmental resources. On the positive side, this meant that you did end up with plenty of cat photos, and this is something we don’t have in 2020.
You could not improve or change any of your pictures unless you were a professional with access to special facilities like a dark room. If you had access to these facilities, you would have the opportunity to create a contact sheet* of sample images to choose your best cat pictures for framing, or printing as celebration cards. [* = resources below]
A digital photo is given a physical existence when printed. When it is displayed at home or in our studio, it becomes part of your daily life.Digital Photography School
Digital Devices and Cameras
What are the best ways to curate and preserve the digital memories that are a huge part of your life, your pets, and your family’s collective history? Family albums should not die out because life has a digital, not a material focus.
Backing up your devices helps and, I believe, printing is even better for some images. The worst thing you can do is leave your photos on a camera or a smartphone for a long period of time. Drop your ‘phone in water or discover that your cat knocked it off the counter or shelf and your shared memories are gone.
Digital Device Disaster
Let me give you some statistics about our favourite digital devices according to the Professional Photographers of America (PPA):
- 4.5 million mobile phones were stolen in America alone in 2014. This is six years ago and smartphones are now even more desirable. All those unsaved precious cat photos – gone.
- Only 33% of people back up devices and their favourite cat photographs.
- 53% of people haven’t printed off a photo in the past 12 months.
- 70% of people do not have photo albums at all.
So, if you believe your digital images are safe, think again. Unless your computer and digital devices are backed up consistently, and often, a very real part of your life and your treasured pet memories is at risk. You need to avert a potential upset and keep your cat memories safe.
Photography is Best Enjoyed in Print
Images are your life’s memories and they aren’t meant to be temporary or viewed on a smartphone. You can keep them around a lot longer and more real by printing them.
Printed cat photos matter more than you think, and you have no excuse for not ordering your favourite photo as a canvas print from online printing services such as Zazzle, Red Bubble or Snapfish. Look for a special offer and see how you like the results.
- Europe and American have a huge range of options and you can have your cat as snuggly pyjamas, gracious pillows or a montage of gorgeous canvas prints too.
Ephemeral digital images flash by in a moment and are forgotten. They disappear and have limited value or resonance to many of the people who view them on Instagram or Snapchat. They have a purpose, sharing and social warmth, but, a printed image can be looked at, loved and be a part of your family for years to come.
But, What About Saving the Planet?
Before you wave your hands in protest, I don’t suggest a return to the ‘print everything’ bad old days. We are all conscious of the need to save more of the world’s resources for the future, but I do want you to pause and think about your favourite images of your cat, not as you the viewer today but as a future you and your family.
Your family needs images, not just access to a digital archive. A small set of 6×4 prints could be part of your family’s heritage and protect at least some of these memories of your cat family.
I have printed pictures of Peanut our first cat. They were taken before printing was as easy as it is in 2020. I was looking at these photos and, while some of them are pretty terrible, they are a real and tangible legacy of my wonderful tabby and white friend who taught me that cats are brilliant, amazing and fill your heart with love.
Tips For The Best Printed Cat Photographs
First, you need to ensure the photo memory you want to print looks its best.
Make friends with your photo processing software or, if you are nervous, get help from someone who can help you adjust your image or images. Start with a digital copy of one of your favourite life memories as a practice piece. Check my photo tips to lighten your cat’s best features or consider using a filter for a more adventurous art-inspired look.
If you are not sure how to display your best and favourite photos, let me suggest a few options:
- Snapfish has sites worldwide and offers online options such as canvas prints, framed photos, prints and collages. Your country will have its own companies offering these services.
- US company Shutterfly not only prints but also stores your photographs according to the tabbies o’ trout towne. Check them out if you are in America.
- Canvas prints collected together can create a feature called a photo wall. This is a great place to show off your favourite pet photos.
- Have a lot of images you love? Collate them into a photo book. This makes the perfect pet memorial to look at and remember happy times.
- Many local shops may offer printing services for you. In New Zealand, I have a Photo Centre who created Harvey’s canvas print. You will be able to visit in person and discuss your options with a real person.
- Get a recommendation from a friend who is happy with their own printed image.
- For an important shot, say a prize-winning image or a photo of a cat winning a ribbon, look into Giclée* printing by a specialist. Here in New Zealand Print Art provides Giclée printing on a variety of specialised papers. As your number of prints will be limited you can invest in one or two really special prints.
- FINALLY. Shop local if you can. Supporting local business in 2020 and its challenging times is a good thing to do.
Print Your Own Cat Photos
If you want to print off a handful of your favourite 6 x 4 photographs for a brag book, or an A4 sized print, your own home photo printer should do the job very well. The print doesn’t need to be framed or given fancy treatment andcyou can pin it to your noticeboard or the fridge where you see it every day.
TIP: make sure the quality of your printer is adjusted to match your paper (matt/glossy/specialist photo etc.,) and your resolution is high enough to produce a quality print. 300 ppi (pixeld per inch) is a good resolution to save your cat at. Your handbook or a suppliers online pdf can help.
- More than a few photographs? I recommend looking at a print service because home printer ink is expensive.
- Always check your printer’s details online for accurate settings to avoid wasting ink and paper.
Finally, something to consider.
Printing A Photo Gives Your Work Integrity and Value
To really own your image especially if it resonates deeply in your life, print it off with the colours you want, the editing you want and the cropping you want (if any). Let people know what the picture says and what the story of the image is.
Why? This quote from Photoworks Pro nails it.
The importance of printing some of your favourite cat memories cannot be underestimated. A printed image will add life to every day you look at it and it is loved by others.
This is why your printed photographs matter. They are part of your life, they are your memories and, once your cat crosses the Bridge they will still be part of your life, and make fill your heart with love.
BONUS: Photo Printing Resources*
- Giclée Prints. The term giclée was coined in 1991 by printmaker Jack Duganne for fine art digital prints made on inkjet printers. The name originally applied to fine art prints created on a modified Iris printer in a process invented in the late 1980s. It has since been used loosely to mean any fine-art, most of the time archival, printed by inkjet. Wikipedia
- The contact sheet (also called contract proof) is a positive print of all the negative images from a roll of 35mm film or medium format film. Contact sheets are typically made to allow the photographer to view a mini-preview of all the film to determine which photographs are best to print. Guide to Film Photography. Wikipedia.
- Northlight Images has an in-depth article on the technical aspects of printing.
- Snapfish gives an idea of the printed options available. Also look for personal recommendations from cat friends. (NZ Snapfish)
Marjorie is a motorbike riding blogger and award winning cat photographer who believes that everyone can shoot and edit wonderful pictures they love regardless of the camera they use.
She is a Professional member of the Cat Writers Association, Kuykendall Image Award winner and published photographer at the Guardian newspaper.