Thursday, September 21

The emotional benefits of printing photos and saving them on paper

For about fifteen years, when its inclusion in mobile phones became popular, almost all of us have a camera in your pocket. The result is that, today, in a matter of months or weeks (or even days) we take the same number of photos that, until not long ago, a person took in their entire life.

That advantage – that of being able to portray a huge number of moments in a very simple and economical way – has, however, a negative aspect: digital files are very volatile. Photos often remain haphazardly on electronic devices, and when they fail or are discarded, they end up being lost.

In other cases, they are selected and somehow “protected” by being saved in the cloud or shared on social networks. This, however, does not represent total security either: technical errors, the disappearance of a company or a simple change in its terms and conditions can be equivalent to a irreparable photo loss.

There is a way to avoid all those risks: print the photos. In this way, the images are safe from these and other problems, such as technological advances that make many storage media obsolete. Almost no computer is sold with a CD reader anymore; to see a printed photo, on the other hand, it is enough with one’s own eyes.

But, apart from this practical matter, printing photos has other positive consequences. Specifically, some emotional benefits, which are not talked about much but can be very valuable.

Printed photos, in conspicuous places

When someone sees photos in which they are with their family or loved ones, they feel united with them, accompanied, joined a group. This increases well-being and strengthens self-esteem, especially in children.

“It is very helpful for children to see themselves as a valuable and important part of the family unit”, as explained by the American psychologist David Krauss, author of the book ‘Phototherapy in Mental Health‘ (Phototherapy in mental health), a reference work on the subject for four decades.

Krauss has been working with family photographs and albums since long before digital photography existed. He advises, in this sense, that the photos be exposed in places of the house where can be seen easilywithout the need to turn on any electronic device or touch a screen or button.

Of course, the feeling of well-being and “emotional comfort” that comes from looking at a photo with loved ones is not exclusive to children: it also reaches adults. Hence the habit of placing those images as wallpaper on the phone or computer.

But from the printed photos – hung on the walls or visible on desks, bookcases and shelves in the house – it can be assured that impose a greater presencesince they are seen when the eyes pass over them, without having to perform any other action, almost unintentionally.

good for mental health

A report by the consulting firm Rise Above Research, published in August 2020 (that is, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic), points out that “during times of crisis and stress, evoking memories of happy moments can be an invaluable resource for mental health”.

The work specifies that in this way reduces the risk of depressionespecially in younger people, and that photos are “a perfect medium” to remember experiences, achievements, trips and other fun moments.

In addition, the report includes a curve of the “perceived value” that we place on the photos. That value is very high at the moment of capturing the snapshot, but then, over time, it decreases. Until a time comes – usually after a few years – when the trend reverses and the image is revalued.

It is a fairly common experience: we give a special value to photos that are several years old, because they acquire the value of a “historical document” and many times they help us remember things that we had forgotten. They allow us to remember happy moments and that is when they are most valuable for mental and emotional well-being.

And all this is much more likely to happen if the photos have been transferred to paper, since the passage of time increases the risk of digital files being erased or lost beyond recovery.

If it can be touched, greater emotional response

The haptic -the science of touch- also has its importance when evaluating printed photographs. And it is that, according to his studies, the objects that we can touch, that they have weight and textureare easier to remember and produce a greater emotional response than those with which this possibility does not exist.

Specifically, physical and tangible material is “more real” for the brain, since it is related to spatial memory networks, generates more emotional processing and, consequently, provokes responses more related to feelings.

Those were the conclusions of a study carried out with magnetic resonance by scientists at Bangor University, in the United Kingdom. This is undoubtedly related to the fact that reading also varies depending on whether it is a printed or electronic book: in general, they remember better what they read on paper.

And not only that. According to Maryanne Wolf, a neuroscientist at Tufts University in the United States, the brain somehow “ask” for there to be a physical part in reading: being able to touch the paper, smell it, see all the pages that have been read and those that remain to be read. And something similar happens with photos.

Of course, it is not about printing all the photos that are taken. Not even many. But it can be very important to take the time and work to make a small selection of images that matter certain moments.

Not only on special dates, such as trips, birthdays, weddings and other celebrations, but also on joyful everyday moments and what you want to remember. It is, on the one hand, the best way to preserve photos and avoid the risk of losing them.

On the other hand, having photos only in digital format, files that are difficult to find among hundreds or thousands of other files stored on your phone or computer, is almost like not having them. Printed photos, displayed at home or in physical albums, on the other hand, are part of life, remember special days and remind us of loved ones, and ultimately generate well-being and happiness.

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