We are Costco members and just received notice that the photo centers inside all of the Costco locations will be closing in February. That’s right, closing, at all of its roughly 800 stores ending a number of services that they have decided to retro vibe. They will offer online print services through their website with off-site printing. They site “the need for printing photos has steeply declined.” Once a staple at grocery stores and pharmacies, photo centers have become increasingly extinct as more people choose to share their photos online rather than print them out. So prints will still be available, and they are at a variety of locations or online, but as it becomes more time consuming and what some would feel is a hassle, has the art of making photographic prints gone forever?  

A photograph used to be a tangible item in a two-dimensional print. They were on our refrigerator doors, in our wallets and purses, printed and proudly displayed in our living rooms, hallways, and entrances. Our photographs served as art décor and everyone had family photos of holidays, proms, graduations, weddings, and many other memorable moments in our lives.

Today, more than ever, with cameras being just about everywhere, in our cell phones, tablet devices or digital point-n-shoot cameras everyone is snapping pictures. Selfies and most commonly photos of our food are on our social media like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter. We can share them instantly to keep family and friends all in the loop as to our life happenings, events, and stories. In the past 5 years, it is estimated that more photos have been taken than all the prior years combined.

The sad news is that only a few of these photographs will survive beyond a year. To many people, the photo is only good for the moment, it’s a quick share, and becomes dated very quickly. Parents want to snap every moment of the new baby and share it. When you get the new thing (puppy, cat, car, furniture, hair style, etc.) you pull out your phone and snap it. And most often in a week or so, none of them have any real meaning and might even be deleted. Why, to make room for more photos that will also have little meaning in a couple of weeks as well. So, what will happen to all of the photos? It is estimated that only 1 out of 100,000 taken today will actually end up as a printed image. Almost all of them will be deleted because we feel that digital images are no longer important enough to most of us to keep them in printed format.