Back in the days of film, you didn't have much say over which of your photos were developed and printed, not unless you did it yourself. You took a roll of film, dropped it in at the chemist or local photographic shop, and waited for the prints to come back to you. We ended up with the duds along with the masterpieces, and shoeboxes of photos. Now, we can be far more selective about what we choose to print, and even if we want to print our photos at all. According to research conducted on behalf of Photoguard, a specialist photographic insurance company, 30% of people only ever look at photos online and about 55% of people who take photos have printed any in the course of the past year. Of those who do choose to print photos, it's people who prefer taking selfies who are most likely to send their images to print, with 82% of them doing so over the past year.
Of course, it's easy to assume the correlation between 'taking photos of themselves' and 'printing photos of themselves' but that's not necessarily so. They're just more likely to print photos that they've taken at all, and this might include coffee, cats, and kids, and beers, bicycles, and bumble bees.
Who's least likely to print their photos? It's the people who take 'art' photos (however that's defined) and photos of food. Apparently, 77% and 75% of people in those respective categories didn't send anything to print over the past year.
And why aren't people printing images? Apart from the 30% who only look at images online and the 20% who don't look at images at all, 37% of the survey's respondents found printing too expensive and 27% cited a lack of access to print facilities.
As someone who takes an enormous amount of pride in her photos and enjoys seeing her work in the flesh, it makes me quite sad that people either aren't quite sure how best to see their photos on paper so that they can hang them on their walls, put them on mantlepieces, or position them on desks, or find the cost of printing prohibitive. As Carly Wong, one of my Twitter friends put it: 'It's the test of a great photo too. If it's great it looks even better in print than it does on a computer screen.'
For the record, here are a few online print companies who'll run off 100 prints sized 6 by 4 for under £12 (and that's the top end), plus postage and packing. Some of them will give you free prints when you sign up, too.
If you want to know who was questioned for this survey, it was 320 professional photographers (UK adults who have been paid for photography work in the last three months) and 680 amateur photographers (UK adults who take photographs on a regular basis). The sample is broadly representative of the UK across age, gender and region. Respondents were interviewed between 13 and 17 January 2014.