A couple of years ago, I took a very important trip to Guatemala on behalf of a charity where we visited families in desperate need of assistance of many kinds. The kids played on their dirt floors, with the chickens on their property, and most importantly they played with smiles on their faces with each other. I won’t forget their beautiful little faces, especially when I would show them the photos that I took of them on my digital camera. Their eyes would light up and they were just astounded by seeing their reflection in the technology. I see those same looks on my own children and I can remember feeling that way myself about photos of me. For some reason, that just felt like the neatest, coolest thing. I still remember the way those old, round cornered photos looked and smelled.
One of my goals this year is to print as many photos as I can of the kids, into many different forms. It’s one thing for my children to see their faces plastered in canvases on the walls of our living area, it’s another entirely to have pocket-sized photos of their family members at their dispense. I have a difficult time handing over actual photographs knowing how easily they’ll get smudged and bent, so we printed an accordion book for each child through Mpix, a great online platform that produces professional-quality photos.
Every Thursday, Zoe has her show and tell day. She usually brings in one of her gazillion stuffed animals, but once these accordion books showed up, she packed and stored them in her backpack to bring in to share with her class. As a family, they love telling stories about their lives — our lives. Beau constantly tells everyone that he was born in New York City (sounds like “newark seety”), Zoe can’t stop gushing about her baby sister, and Jack is zoned in on his baseball and basketball goals for when he grows up. With these printed photo books, the kids have a talking piece — a memento. These books are a familiar connection to themselves and their friends and family, and they love being able to share something so intimate with those closest to them. My kids’ don’t understand technology all that much, but they know and respect these printed photographs as documented evidence that they existed as babies, and toddlers –a direct connection to their siblings in more than one way. These Mpix accordion albums probably aren’t specifically designed for little hands, but the quality would lead me to believe they are; the bindings are strong, the paper is thick, and the photos are vibrant and clear.
Mpix and I share a common concern, that digital photography will eliminate the innate nostalgia and heirloom quality of the printed photograph. I have distinct memories of going through shoeboxes of photos of me as a baby at my dad’s house, and I loved connecting with my past and feeling closer to my parents as a result. The various different products that Mpix makes –the buttons we had printed for our Naptime with Theo and Beau release (the kids actually wore them to school and I died over it), magnets to hang artwork on the fridge and of course the accordion books that Zoe took in to proudly show her teacher and classmates are meaningful gifts and objects that brings these captured memories to life. There are new stories born with the printed photographs, ones that I will cherish always as a parent and that the kids will have in their keepsake of memories.
For as many photos as I take of the kids and our lives, there is very little physical, tangible evidence of them. The children in Guatemala reminded me of the importance of the photograph, and even more so the printed versions. Mpix is my trusted source for bringing a new life to my own most prized possessions, our printed memories. Now through March 4th, Mpix is offering Momma’s Gone City readers the opportunity to enjoy 25% off sitewide with promo code GONECITY25. Cannot be combined with other offers. Not valid through Mpix Tap To Print mobile app. Promo code is valid for one use per customer. Offer ends March 4th, 2015 at 11:59 p.m. (Central).