A "Lost Generation?" National Survey Reveals That More Than 40% of Consumers No Longer Print Photos

November 12, 2015

Professional Photographers of America recently polled consumers on their photography habits

ATLANTA, GA (November 12, 2015) - According to a nationwide survey conducted by Professional Photographers of America (PPA), 42% of people (ages 30-44) will likely look back and wonder where photos of their childhood, holiday get-togethers, relatives and friends have gone decades from now. Why? They are no longer printing photographs or creating photo albums. In fact, 67% store their photos solely in digital form on a computer or phone.

The recent survey polled more than 1,500 consumers nationwide about their photography habits and revealed eye-opening statistics about the lack of printing tangible photographs and non-digital image storage that could prove devastating to the chronicling of our lives.

"I think time will prove that we have gambled away our family histories – trusting too much in our ability to protect our memories on our phones, tablets and other devices", said David Trust, PPA CEO. "It is a failed notion that we will all pay for. On the other hand, this unfortunate reality is giving PPA an opportunity to make a difference by creating a program that will help the consuming public understand the importance of purchasing printed photographs."

Additional highlights from the survey include:

  • 41.8% of people no longer create photo albums, and an additional 27% say they have the desire but it's too time consuming. Translation: nearly 70% of people no longer have photo albums.
  • 53% of people said they haven't printed a photo in 12 months or longer.
  • 46% of people use their Smart Phone or tablet to take family photos
  • 57% of people store their photos on their phone or computer

People are taking photos more than they ever did, but the end product? It's nearly all digital with very few tangible prints. In fact, according to a 2015 PPA survey that polled photographers belonging to Professional Photographers of America, client requests for printed photographs noticeably decreased between 2010 and 2015:

  • In 2010, 60% of professional photographers said that the majority of their clients asked them to print photos. This year, only 38% of photographers said the same thing.
  • In addition, nearly 50% of photographers said "yes, they still print photos" for clients; however it's "much less than it used to be" or "rarely," and 10% of photographers even said they no longer print photos for their clients.

These statistics are so significant that industry experts such as Google VP & Internet Pioneer Vint Cerf were quoted as saying that "future generations will wonder about us, but will have great difficulty knowing us," implying that unless people start printing their digital photos, they won't have a tangible photo history of their lives or their families' lives.

"Many people will find themselves with only their Facebook and Instagram pages to chronicle their life – or maybe a hard drive," adds Trust. We're trying to re-instill the importance and historical value of printing photographs. And contrary to what technologists say, there is nothing to indicate that we will love our families less in the future. The idea is ridiculous. Society is going to realize this error and continue to cover their walls with images of the people they love. We are in the middle of a cycle, not the end of an era."

Here is what PPA is recommending consumers do to avoid falling into the digital photo void:

  • Capture once-in-a-lifetime moments like a wedding, high school graduation, newborns, birthdays and special occasions through the work of a professional photographer. To find a professional photographer near you, go to FindAPhotographer.com.
  • Allow your photographer to print photos for you in order to get quality, archival products that you will be able to keep for years to come.
  • Devote areas in your home to display your photos – walls, tables, bookcases and more!
  • On a vacation or over a holiday, don't just rely on a phone, take your digital camera – and then take the memory card to a printer on your way home or immediately after the event. Put that task in your calendar!
  • Buy albums and frames when you see them on sale so it reminds you to fill them with photos.
  • When using a professional photographer, work with them to ensure you leave with printed photos not just a disc.

About PPA
Professional Photographers of America (PPA) is the largest international non-profit association created by professional photographers, for professional photographers. Almost as long-lived as photography itself, PPA's roots date back to 1869. More than 28,500 photographers belong to PPA as it helps them be more successful through protection, education and resources. See how PPA backs its members and helps them Be More at PPA.com/BeMore.

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