Do you invest in Capturing Memories?

Practically everyone today is an amateur photographer.

The ubiquity of smartphones, affordable point, and shoot cameras, and photo-centric apps like Instagram and Pinterest, have turned photography into a creative outlet available to anyone interested in snapping pictures.!

Picture Statistics

According to the website mylio.com, it’s estimated we will collectively take 1.2 Trillion photos in 2017.

Here’s a cool Infographic showing some stats on pictures from the site.

The site claims that it’s estimated the average person will take about 3,650 pictures per year. Over 85% of which will be on mobile phones.

That prompted me to look into my picture, taking habits for comparison.

Max Picture Statistics

In comparison to the above estimates, I’ve averaged about 2,400 pictures per year over the past ten years. Here’s a table summarizing my results.

max pics stats

I’m surprised that I came in below the average since I feel like I take quite a few pictures, especially on trips. We decided at least one big trip in each of those years.

I think the biggest reason I take about 35% fewer pictures than the average person, is because >85% of my photos were taken with a camera. I take very few pictures with my phone.

I’m still rocking an old iPhone 5, and I feel the picture quality is terrible compared to my Sony or Canon Rebel. But that’s not the real reason I don’t use my iPhone.

Capturing Memories vs. Narcissism 

When I take a picture with a camera, it’s because I want to capture a special memory. It’s not because I’m snapping a selfie to blast across my favorite social media platform. This means I’m more mindful of the quality of what I’m trying to capture, and less interested in frivolous self-indulgence.

I know that sounds a bit harsh, but the reality is most of the pictures we take end up in a digital black hole never to be seen again. Even those that are shared on social media are ephemeral.

I might be a bit old school, but I prefer to hold a picture in my hands, or better yet, flip through a photo album. It just seems to register with my brain on a different wavelength. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got digital albums galore in iPhoto, but I rarely look through them, it’s just not the same feeling.

When my daughter was born, I resolved to capture our family’s precious memories more tangibly. I wanted photo albums, but with the convenience of digital photos, and the bonus of storytelling.

Why we invest in Capturing Memories

For the past ten years or so, Mrs. Max and I have invested time and money in creating yearly family photo albums. We’ve used Shutterfly as our preferred digital printshop for almost all our books. Here are just a few reasons why we think this is important to do.

Forces you to reflect – Every year feels pretty hectic, especially when you have kids. It’s easy to have it all whizz by and not appreciate all the great things we get to do together. The process of building these photo albums is a great way to reflect on the year and be thankful for what you’ve experienced together.

Makes a great diary – I don’t know about you guys, but my memory isn’t as sharp as it used to be. The photo album makes for a great diary to document a special event, location, restaurant, hotel, or anything else that’s worth remembering. The photo album is one of the reasons I was able to recall all the great restaurants we experienced on our trip to Andalucia, Spain.

Additional back-up – I backup my computer monthly, including all my photos. If you use Shutterfly or a similar service as we do, all your albums are also backed up on their servers. Not only is this a secondary back-up plan, but your photo albums can be reprinted seamlessly in case anything happens to them.

Makes a great gift – In addition to yearly family photo albums, we’ll also make a photo book for any special trips we took that year. When those trips include extended family, we’ll usually gift them a photo album during a special occasion. The grandparents love this!

Makes memories more accessible –  My favorite thing to do each year is to grab my daughter, sit her in my lap, and flip through all the albums with her. She is exceptionally engaged when we do this, and I’ve noticed that she retains old memories much better as a result. Doing this on a screen isn’t the same experience.

It’s a family biography – There are things I wish I could remember about my childhood, especially about family and specific events. Our photo books will become an excellent reference for us in the future, especially for my daughter. Should anything ever happen to us, the photo books will serve as a form of memory insurance for her.

How much of an Investment is it

So how much does it cost us to benefit from capturing those memories each year?

Each year for the past seven years, we’ve built a 12×12 Photo Book using Shutterfly, with the maximum number of pages allowed, which is ~110. Also, we usually make another smaller book for any special trips that year. Here’s an example from our Andalucia trip.

shutterfly example

We typically spend about $200 on average every year, with the total closer to about $2,000 so far over the past 7-10 years.

Shutterfly has specials running regularly that give anywhere from 30-50% off those books, and we typically wait until then to purchase. The best specials are usually at the end/beginning of the year, which is perfect for us since that’s when we typically take the time to make the books.

We are speaking of time.

We invest about 8-10 hours total over a week or so when making these books, this includes:

  • Selecting the best photos / Usually 400 out of the 2,400 each year
  • Uploading them
  • Arranging them using the Shutterfly software
  • Resizing and placement
  • Adding notes and comments where applicable

It’s not an insignificant amount of time, and this doesn’t even include the time to take the pictures.

It’s well worth the investment, in my opinion, and as I mentioned earlier, excellent memory insurance!

Closing thoughts

We spend quite a bit of money traveling and plan on spending even more than usual during our slow travel trips in the summers. Some of our happiest memories are tied to those trips, as well as many experiences we had throughout the year as a family.

Many people choose to buy souvenirs to remember those memories. We invest about $200 each year to capture the memories instead. I always joke that if the house burned down, the only thing I would run and grab are those books, until someone reminded me I could save my life and print a new set instead.

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