Death of the photo album – (86) per cent of people have precious photo albums which never get looked at, according to a new report

Death of the photo album – (86) per cent of people have precious photo albums which never get looked at, according to a new report

  • New research from Epson Europe reveals the impact of digital photos on printing treasured photographs.
  • Report reveals only  (2 per cent)of photos make it off our mobile phones and onto walls, and ( over a third)also admitted to not having any printed pictures of family or friends at home.
  • Linda Henkel Ph.D., a Cognitive Psychologist who researches memory discusses the benefits of printing photographs of our past experiences.
  • Barriers to printing photographs have been removed with Epson’s range of cartridge-free EcoTank printers that come with 3 years’ worth of ink.

New research by Epson has revealed that the popularity of digital photography and instant photo sharing on social networks has meant that our photo albums, and the precious memories they hold, are gathering dust.

The report which investigates people’s changing printing habits, has been carried out to support Epson’s range of EcoTank cartridge-free printers. It found that (8 in 10)people (86 per cent)say they have got out of the habit of building family photo albums, where the average person has not looked at theirs in well over a year and a half (19 months on average).

This is despite the positive feelings of wellbeing that looking at physical photos of our loved ones can bring - as many as (8 in 10)say it makes them feel happy, and over halfproud and nostalgic. While a whopping ( 85 per cent)of parents believe looking at albums together brings children closer to their relatives, and (94 per cent)say they give children a strong sense of identity.

Moreover, when we finally get around to digging out long forgotten albums, (76 per cent)have enjoyed finding the names of people, dates or places scribbled on the back.  A staggering (three quarters)believe that they could be missing out because digital images don’t allow them to do this in the same detail, fearing these stories could be lost to their phones.

This is particularly notable with the younger generations, with (79 per cent)of 18 to 29-year-olds feeling that they could be missing out, compared to just (70 per cent)of over 60s.

But it’s not just photo albums, the research found that many of the photos we take daily never see the light of day. On average we have 1030 pictures confined to our phones but print out just (2 per cent)to display in our homes.

(Over a third)of people also admitted to not having any printed pictures of family or friends on their walls at home, with (22 per cent)preferring to share on social media.

Linda Henkel Ph.D., a Cognitive Psychologist who researches memory at Fairfield University, Connecticut, warns against the threat of ‘photo-less homes’ and says smart phones could be harming people’s ability to remember events from their past: “Despite the widespread changes in technology, the main function of taking photos remains unchanged: people take photos with the intention of using those photos to remember later. However, photos can better do their job as memory aids when we look at them rather than just amass them on our phones. If we take photos merely as trophies to show off on social media, focusing our attention on how many comments and likes we get, we are less likely to remember details about our experiences.”

Dr Henkel continues: “If we want to keep those memories alive, we need to participate in the cognitive processes that benefit memory. We need to engage with the photos, spend time organising them, culling them to find the best shots to display in our homes, printing them out to add to family albums. This can strengthen the accessibility and vividness of our memories, and as a result, means we are far more likely to remember the events later down the line.”

The report from Epson Europe supports Dr Henkel’s findings. It found that for those that do have printed pictures of special moments or loved ones on their walls, over half (55 per cent)feel these help them to replay the memory of when the photo was taken, and (45 percent)agree it helps them to remember the specific moment better.

Worryingly, (29 percent)of parents admitted to forgetting to make copies of their photos. This is despite (6 in 10)people (58 percent)claiming to have lost important photos or documents because they hadn’t got round to downloading them and printing them out.

Dr Henkel believes that making our photos more accessible is key to holding on to memories: “We often have thousands of photos stored on our devices, many of which we rarely look at later or have trouble finding. Having visible and tangible photos whether in albums or on display, can help us access our memories of the events more easily. Furthermore, it’s not just the visual details shown in these photos we remember - they are a portal to our past. We can remember our feelings and emotions in that moment, the broader context such as what happened later that day, or even other memories from that general time. And the benefits go beyond just memory. Research shows that sharing our memories with others by reminiscing about them is associated with many positive outcomes, including improved mood, a stronger sense of connection with others and decreased loneliness.”

[Insert name of local spokesperson]from Epson, comments: “This research shows that the classic family photo album could soon be consigned to history, despite the increased feelings of wellbeing and the many benefits we get when looking through printed photos, including their ability to help us remember better.

“An Epson EcoTank printer removes many of the barriers that still exist with home printing. They come with enough ink to last for up to three years saving you money, time, and hassle. You can print photos straight from your phone as soon as you’ve taken them. In fact, you can print up to 2,300 photos with one set of replacement ink bottles 1and save up to 90 per cent on ink costs 2, meaning you can unlock more memories for less.” 

The research is part of new campaign where Epson has partnered with its brand ambassador Usain Bolt. In a series of videos, Usain is seen scrolling through personal moments from his life and career that currently live on his phone, before realising the value of printing these and in the process, reliving some of his happiest memories that might otherwise have been lost.

“I’m proud to be participating in this campaign”, says Usain, “as it’s reminded me to get copies of some of my most important memories printed out, and in the process to share their stories with my own family, which has been a really positive experience for all of us.”


Source: The research was conducted on behalf of Epson Europe by Prospectus Global. It was study of 11,000 respondents across eleven European countries including the UK (1,100 respondents), conducted in June 2023.


Author profile

Charlie de la Haye

PR and social media manager, Epson UK

About Epson

Epson is a global technology leader dedicated to co-creating sustainability and enriching communities by leveraging its efficient, compact, and precision technologies and digital technologies to connect people, things, and information. The company is focused on solving societal issues through innovations in home and office printing, commercial and industrial printing, manufacturing, visual and lifestyle. Epson will become carbon negative and eliminate use of exhaustible underground resources such as oil and metal by 2050.

Led by the Japan-based Seiko Epson Corporation, the worldwide Epson Group generates annual sales of around JPY 1 trillion.

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