Inkjet contact sheets of photos.

Archiving Memories – Contact Prints in a Digital World

I’ve spent more money on ink and paper this month than I have in years. Why? Well, I’ve been going through my catalog of photos dating back to 1995 and making contact sheets of selected images from every month. Yes, every month from 1995 to September 2021.

There are three main reasons for this.

One: If anything ever happens to my digital backups I still have physical copies. I fully expect iCloud, Backblaze, and/or Amazon Photos to get hacked sometime in the future and possibly a solar flare to one day knock out the internet, too. Far-fetched? Yes, but possible I guess. Having physical copies is reassuring and places less reliance on tech companies and technology that I don’t truly understand in keeping my memories safe. Furthermore, when your photos are stored in the cloud who do they really belong to? At the whim of a tech giant you could lose access in an instant and there would be nothing you could do. Better to print them and have digital copies stored offline.

Two: Having physical copies to hold and flick through feels good. Just like in the old days when we all had dusty family photo albums hidden away in cupboards and drawers. Photos are memories of life and deserve more respect than they get sat on a smartphone where they can get lost among all the other digital clutter. 

Three: I want a simple archive readily available for my family if something ever happens to me. They have no idea how to navigate my digital catalogs but if all my images, good and bad, are safely stored in simple folders they become instantly accessible to anyone.

Screenshot of Capture One's print dialog box. Preparing to print contact sheets.

How do I print these contact sheets? I use a Capture One printing template with photos stacked in a 4×4 grid with the date/file name printed underneath. I use the cheapest Canon inkjet A4 paper for photos and have all the print settings set to be as economical as possible. 

It’s simple, relatively cheap, and reassuring. 


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Lived in central Japan since 2001 and spend free days exploring.

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