People Still Prefer Real Photos To Digital Ones

by : Julia Banim on : 17 Nov 2017 11:50

Not too long ago, nothing compared to the anticipation of dropping your disposable camera off at Boots, returning a few hours later, or even the next day, for your wallet of photographs.


Some of them would come back with red eyes, misplaced thumbs and unflattering angles, but there was a certain pleasure in having to wait to see your photographs – blurriness and all – as real, tangible objects.

Pre-Facebook, the thing to do would be to carry your photographs to various houses of friends and relatives and have them flick through the entire pack – making the occasional IRL comment.

The way we look at photographs today – through the prism of social media – is completely different and arguably less special.


It seems I’m not alone with my nostalgia for real, hand-held photographs, the type you can place in an album and enjoy without the validation of a virtual thumbs up.

A new study has discovered Brits prefer printed pictures to on-screen pictures, which allows them to hold onto precious memories for longer.

Photography giant Canon UK commissioned the research, which revealed how six out of ten Brits print a physical copy of pictures they wish to keep, rather than just putting them up online.

Nearly three quarters of the 2,000 people surveyed admitted most of the photos they took nowadays just ended up languishing – forgotten and unappreciated – on their phones – there’s something kind of sad about this…

Paramount Pictures

According to Susie Donaldson from Canon UK & Ireland:

The positive effect printed photography has on us is undoubtable.

It’s the nostalgia that comes with physically holding that memory that invokes emotions.

When describing how their photographs connected with their emotions, 68% of participants said they kept printed pictures because these helped them to recall happy memories.


Photography can clearly have a very personal impact, with 15% of participants admitting to having been reduced to tears through the emotional power of printed photos.

Half of participants agreed how the most special moments can sometimes occur when least expected, leading them to wish they could spontaneously print photos when out-and-about.


The average modern adult now takes around eight photographs a day, with cameras no longer relegated to special occasions – this number is even higher among some people, with 15% of happy snappers capturing between 10 to 19 images on the daily.

Londoners snap more piccys than any other UK region, with 29% of capital dwellers taking over ten photos each week.

Of course, this isn’t particularly surprising – as anyone with a Facebook account surely knows, a seasonal latte or an unusually tall burger can warrant an entire album of its own.

Paramount Television

Mexican photographer Antonio Olmos explained the value of the printed image to The Guardian, which he believes can bring added depth:

For me the print is the ultimate expression of photography,

When I do street photography courses, I get people to print pictures – often for the first time.

The idea is to slow them down, to make them make – not just take – photographs.

20th Century Fox

Are we paperless, internet-age people missing out on the full emotional potential of photography?

Julia Banim

Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.

Topics: Life


The Guardian
  1. The Guardian

    The death of photography: are camera phones destroying an artform?