There have been a few posts like this surfacing recently, and at first I didn’t think much of them. Photos are photos, whether they’re digital or printed, right?

And you always get the important ones printed, don’t you? The weddings, the graduation photos, the anniversary parties?

A few weeks ago, while staying with an old schoolfriend and happily flicking through our yearbooks, accompanied by wine, I realised that perhaps I’d been too quick to dismiss printing photographs. Most of the pictures in there are ones we’d never have kept, and some of them of people we had forgotten all about in the intervening 14 years.

And then, as if the universe was trying to convince me further, I snuck over to see my Gran on a day when I knew no one else would be around (I love my enormous extended family, but sometimes it’s nice to have Gran all to myself).

We got onto the subject of her life in Kenya with my Grandpa, and my mum’s childhood. And as she got down the little tin box of precious photos that she keeps near her, I was struck forcibly by just how precious the snapshots of life are – and just how much more accessible they are when they’re printed.

Here are a few of the ones she showed me that day. Their house in Kenya, and the car my mum and her brothers shared (and her brothers in the photo):

Gran and Grandpa, rescued from old passports. This is how I remember Grandpa – I think this must have been from shortly before he died.

This is my beautiful Mum, with her littlest brother.

I love that different people have written on the back over the years, too. The date is wonderful, and means we know that Gran was 40 in the photo. I don’t know who wrote “Aunty Prim” or “this is Mum”, but I added the “Kenya” in brackets – my own contribution to a tiny piece of family history, for someone looking at it in the future.

Here’s the other side of that photo:

And, after Gran telling me it must have faded as that chair and the curtains were apparently super-bright as only 60s furnishings could be, I have tried to edit it for a more accurate colour:

Seeing a glimpse of my Gran’s life (and my Mum’s, come to that) before I existed, in such a tangible form, has really made me think about my own snapshots. I assume they’ll be safe, because they’re saved on a computer, in the cloud, on Instagram, whatever.

But suddenly, they don’t seem so safe after all… and I think perhaps those snapshots are worth their weight in gold and deserve to be printed, just as the “proper” photos of special occasions do.