Imagine for a moment…
You’re on a date night with your partner, and you’ve just shared a fabulous dinner. You are heading to the car, before heading on to the next event of the evening. On the way out of the restaurant, you snap a selfie of yourself and your love in front of the restaurant sign, with the sun setting in the background, then get to the car and immediately post your photo to Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat or Twitter (or maybe all four!).
Your next stop is a trip around a go-kart track, where you snap a few more photos and post a couple more to your favorite social channels. (“Look at us in these crazy helmets!” #badhairday)
Later that evening, you check in on those social channels to see if your photos received any likes, and if so, how many, who liked them, and what comments were left by friends, family and the occasional random stranger.
You smile to yourself, wrap up your evening, and tuck away your phone, ready for tomorrow.
Sounds about right, right?
But here’s the problem…
Those photos you took have much more value than what they’re worth when posting on social media.
Yet, in this social media-driven world, posting photos to Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat or Twitter is where most people stop loving their photos.
Rarely do we go back to look at and enjoy photos on our phones. For one thing, it’s just not easy or convenient to scroll through thousands of photos. For another, in a world of instant-gratification, yesterday’s photos are so yesterday.
Even the photos that we post to social media get lost in the shuffle after a day or two. Once people stop seeing the photos in their feeds, and therefore stop liking or commenting on them, the importance of those photos seems to die out. And we’ve long since moved on by then, anyway.
Taking photos strictly for the purpose of what those photos can do for you (or your self-esteem) now is the wrong approach.
The true value of photos is their ability to stop time for a moment. And the value of that stopped time becomes increasingly clear the farther you move from the moment you captured.
Those photos you took on date night, when you smashed your perfectly arranged hair under a helmet and sped around a track in a tiny car, after sharing dinner with your love at a nice restaurant, will be insanely valuable to you 30 years from now, when you’re married to that love and taxiing grandchildren in a minivan.
The value of those photos is in the memories trapped within that sliver of time that is captured “on film.” The value of those photos is NOT in how many people liked or commented on the photos on the day you took them.
I can almost guarantee you, the friends who liked those photos in your Instagram feed will not care about those photos a week after they saw them the first time — let alone a year or 20 years from now.
But you will — if you ever see them again.
And that’s the kicker: You need to see them again to enjoy them again!
Photos that are trapped on a social media feed are destined to die in the technology abyss.
When was the last time you scrolled a year or more into your own social media feed? I imagine it’s not something you do often. It’s simply not convenient.
Similarly, photos trapped in a camera roll on your phone — especially if they’ve never even been posted to social media — will die a similar death.
Scrolling through thousands of genuine photos, as well as screen shots, downloads, photos of that makeup you saw on the shelf and thought you might want to buy at a later date, and other clutter is a tedious chore. So we rarely, or never, do it.
The only way, then, to truly get the value out of the photos we take is to get the photos out of technological devices and internet-based depositories and into a version we can hold in our hands, no device necessary.
So, what are you doing with your photos?
If the most you do with your photos today is posting them on social media, I beg you to stop.
Stop the social media trap. Your photos aren’t done once they’re posted online.
Do something with your photos. You don’t have to do something with every photo you take, but do something with the favorites. And start now; every day you ignore your photos means another missed opportunity to relive a memory down the road. Your future self (and maybe even your grandchildren!) will thank you for it.