Written by Marjorie Dawson

Printed Cat Photos Matter in Our Digital Lives

Printed Cat Photos Matter in Our Digital Lives

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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.

You can’t smile at a flash drive hidden in a drawer

seen on Twitter….

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.

Why Your Printed Photographs Matter. A film camera from pre-digital times
35mm camera with film loaded

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
Two cats sat in a doorway
A treasured smartphone photo memory from 2013. Without the print, I would have lost this one.

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.

Why Your Printed Photographs Matter. Dot Kitten in full shout mode a humorous photograph
‘Dot’ framed by Snapfish © DashKitten.com

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.

Why Your Printed Photographs Matter. Harvey an image on photo canvas.
© DashKitten.com ‘Harvey’ on Photo Canvas

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.
Printed cat photos on a wall
Sample of a photo wall. Framed prints.

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.
Colour printer
  • 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 Dawson

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.

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24 thoughts on “Printed Cat Photos Matter in Our Digital Lives”

  1. I’m like many other people in that I have never printed one of my own pictures. That is really sad, because if I’m not taking photos I enjoy going to galleries and look at huge photos on a wall. Looking at all the detail in those can keep me entertained for a very long time!

    Reply
  2. You’re right about the value of printed photographs. I am so thankful I took a lot of photos of sweet Praline. Now I have them to look back on, even though I have digitized many of them. I have printed a few photos of Truffle and Brûlée and have them in picture frames. I need to print a couple of more recent photos.

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  3. Although I love living in the digital age, there is something so wonderful about a tangible print! I need to order some prints of my dogs.

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  4. I wish we had room to hang or display physical photos. For now, I have to be satisfied having my dogs as my desktop background.

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  5. Great suggestions! We too had a digital photo disaster when one of our phones DS cards went bad. We now try to back them up quickly. But there is nothing like pulling out an old photo book and looking through the pictures with family and friends.

    Reply
  6. I had a flood and lost all my kids (human) kids baby pictures, my yearbooks, the life of my 24 years with Chester the red tabby and his friends. I’m so grateful for digital. I store my stuff in the cloud. And post stuff on Facebook and Instagram.

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  7. I’ve been seriously considering sitting down and putting together some photo books with all the pictures that we have – books for each of our pets, books for our various trips and adventures, etc. That being said, I’ve been talking about doing it for months and haven’t actually started anything… I think this is the push I need to get going!

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    • I believe that we need to have the images where we can see them more often A framed portrait or a coffee table or memory book is a great idea.

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  8. Great post! Once a year, always around the new year, I go through all the digital photos I’ve taken the previous year and choose my favorites to print. I’ve had good luck using Snapfish and similar online printing services.

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  9. We have all of our memory cards filed and labeled but still need to print some out. When Bentley was a puppy, he chewed up my cell phone and destroyed all of his baby pictures. We have some but my phone held hundreds. Lesson learned…print out your faves!

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  10. I keep all my memory cards labeled and in a different place than my computer/camera. So in essence I have my own backup. I have all the negatives from my predigital days, and some CD’s, and a ton of old prints from way back in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s of family members. Most of those are scanned and preserved in similar ways. A few are displayed around our house. And of course we have iCloud for backup, but yes, what if the cloud konks out?

    Food for thought, here. Thanks for good advice!

    Reply
  11. It’s funny you wrote about this subject because I was just thinking about it minutes before I saw your post. I have been slowly scanning my photos and getting rid of my photo albums. By getting rid of I mean I have given them to my son. Every time I move I scan some photos in an attempt to downsize and give the scanned album to my son. I then move and no longer am I motivated so the scanning stops until the next time I move.

    To be honest, I’m not even sure my son wants the albums or if he has kept the ones I have given him so far. As I was scanning photos today I suddenly worried what would happen if I lost all these digital photos. I do back them up but that is no gaurentee I won’t lose those too. Or what if there is some kind of apocalypse and we have no electricity?

    Now I am thinking about putting together one photo album with my favorite memories throughout my lifetime.

    Reply
  12. I’ve got prints from trout towne residents dating back to the early 40’s
    { grandparents had a german shepherd who was a war dog during WW2 } and I’m ever grateful for all the prints I’ve collected over the years. might I also suggest the site Shutterfly, they will store
    your digital photos, { free} and they too offer a HUGE selection in what you can turn a photo into { if you want a comparison between the two companies } 🙂 ♥♥

    Reply
  13. Great advice, Marjorie! We have some of my photos printed, matted and framed here at home, including a autumn landscape that we love. I also have some in my office at work (though I don’t see them these days, as we’re still working remotely). Hugs to you, my friend.

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  14. That is very good advice. I have my favourite photos printed and in albums. We do sit down some winter nights and look through them.

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  15. Oh, wow! This is great! I take so many pictures … a thousand a month or more – and I use them for the blog and then forget about them. I’m horrible about getting pictures printed. Part of my problem is that I’m so seldomly satisfied by prints I get – whether from my own printer or a commercial provider. I think in some way, I see the prints as reminders of how lacking my photography skills are. I especially love the idea of a photo book though!

    Reply

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