Picture Perfect

I was at a photography shop yesterday, uploading my photos in order to make prints of them.   A woman was sitting at the at the kiosk next to me, being helped by a young man who worked at the store.  She was trying to make 5×7 inch prints of her photos, and it wasn’t going well.  The woman (who looked only slightly older than me) kept apologizing for her ignorance of the system, and for needing the employee to help her.  “Sorry I’m taking up so much of your time!  But this is hard for someone my age,” she said, “it was so much easier when all we had to do was bring in our photo card and insert it into the computer.”

The more I listened to their conversation, the more I was struck by the woman’s attitude.  Why did she keep apologizing?  Because she was right: it was so much easier to print our photos a few years ago.  We didn’t have to worry about uploads and file compatibility, retaining original resolution or any of the other stuff she was struggling to understand.  We just inserted our photo card into the kiosk, the pictures popped up on the screen, and we selected the number and size was wanted of each.  It was quick and easy.  

But in these past few years, printing photos has become a real struggle.  I can’t get my photos to upload properly to the online sites anymore (apparently, they’re not compatible), so I go to the shop and sync my phone with their device and upload them there.  Even that takes a very long time unless I use their Wi-Fi, which my phone informs me isn’t secure, and every once in a while the upload simply stops for reasons no one can explain.  These days, it takes real determination and lots of patience to make a print of a photo.  

I believe that woman had no need to apologize, and yet I understood why she did.  If you’re over fifty and struggling with any type of technology, often the immediate assumption is that you’re not quite smart enough to, say, actually print a photo.  The young man who was helping her was patient and kind, but not once did he agree with her that the new system is harder than the old.  Nor did he contradict her when she kept repeating that the problem was her age.  But the truth is, if a system has become complicated and doesn’t work properly, the problem might not be the age of the person trying to use it.  As radical as it sounds, the problem just could be that the system is flawed.

I know I’m one of the few people who still likes to print my photos, so I soldier on.  I’ve learned the difference between a “jpeg” and a “HEIC” photo file, and how to convert one to the other.  I schlepp to the photo shop to use their kiosk because if I try to use the shop’s website, it takes approximately five minutes for each photo to upload.  And when I’m really stymied, I’ll ask for help from the staff.  But no matter how difficult the process becomes, I have vowed that I will NOT utter the words,  “I’m sorry, but I’m just too old to understand……..”

 

85 thoughts on “Picture Perfect

    • Thanks, Janis! I only apologize for my age limitations when it comes to something that age really does matter, like my eye sight or physical strength. But getting older doesn’t mean getting dumber…..it just means we’re more discerning because we have more experience. And I know when something is getting worse, and the process for printing photos is definitely getting worse!

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Ann, once again you’re absolutely right.
    If a system or process (It or otherwise) is more complicated or less user-friendly than it once was then that’s where the problem is.

    Like you, I will not apologise for having difficulty with something that’s become more complicated that it used to be.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Mike! Change is supposed to be for the better, not worse. And when a system is no longer user friendly, then it really hasn’t changed for the better. Blaming the user for being too old to understand it just doesn’t cut it, I believe.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Ann, thank you! It is so frustrating to face ageism and be meant to feel as if your brains are no longer capable of higher function when you encounter technology that is unfamiliar. I look at tech challenges as a puzzle and when necessary if given a non judgmental arena to patiently figure things out then I usually do. I have a real pet peeve in this area with gadgets and the constant offers to send out (hire) an expert service tech to set all those gadgets up and get them working for me. I haven’t lost the ability to read directions, discern wiring and plug connections and/or enter information if they are wifi enabled devices. At the very worst I would simply call my son!

    Liked by 2 people

    • You’re welcome! I figured I wasn’t the only one who was getting tired of this. Sometimes the problem is that the technology isn’t working right, not that we’re unable to learn it. Believe me, in my quest to print photos, I’ve learned all sorts of things I didn’t know before and figured out ways to “tweak” the system. But I still wish I didn’t have to do that…it really was much easier to print photos a few years ago.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. hah! i go around trying to “swipe” and activate any screen that light ups. my son, if he happens to be with me, will gently pull my hand away and say, “mom, that’s not a touch screen.” … they all look like touch screens to me! *i try* 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  4. I totally relate to what you wrote, Ann. I am self-taught with the computer and it bothers me that my beloved computer is considered old. I am not resisting replacing it because of the expense. It’s because all the programs I’m familiar with will be different – some will no longer be available. And the same ones will require a new learning curve.
    So often newer things are not easier at all! I love what you said about not apologizing and I support you 100%!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am all for change when the change makes things easier to use, but it seems so often that the change actually makes it harder! Case in point, when I wrote this post, I was planning to include a photo because I like my blog to my Facebook page, and photos look nice there. But when I went to the “write” page on my blog, I found it had suddenly expanded across my whole computer screen! It used to be configured the same way the published page was, so I could tell exactly how it would look and where to put the pics. But now I have to keep hitting “preview” just to make sure my paragraphs aren’t too long, and I didn’t have the patience to try to insert a photo. How is that an improvement? Thanks for the comment, Judy!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. It has been a long time since I printed photos, likely since 2012. I went the other way, I converted all my analogue photos to digital. But, you are right, trying to keep pace with tech changes is increasingly difficult. Vinyl to 8 track to cassette to CD to MP3 to Spotify. VHX to mini VHS to digital 8 to DVD to MP4 to streaming. Photos are the simplest of it all. I managed to get a decent photo printer and print my own photos, make photo cards etc. I do try to keep up, but it is getting more difficult. Stay at it, stay persistent and if all else fails, ask the nearest 12 year old for help. I heard an interesting through the other day about aging. Aging wisely is realizing you can no longer do the things you used to do. Take heart Ann, we are all in this together. All the best. Allan

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Allan! I like to print photos because then I don’t have to worry about upgrades meaning I can’t access them anymore…I have two very old photo cards that no longer fit into any of the slots on current devices, so I’m very glad I printed those pics. Plus, my mother has no way to receive digital photos and I like to share pictures of the grandkids with her. (She puts them in photo albums.) I like that definition of aging wisely, and I am just fine with it when it comes to things I truly can’t do anymore, like reading without reading glasses. But I do get annoyed when I can’t do things anymore just because someone else decided to make unnecessary changes. I’m thinking about getting my own printer, but I heard that photos printed that way don’t always last. Do you know if that’s true?

      Liked by 1 person

      • There will always be a place for printed photos. Hope the printers stay around for that reason. I store mine on portable USB had drives and have backups, which I keep in a fire safe or SDB. I do not use the Cloud. I do not trust the Cloud. My kids think I am a dinosaur, but, I still have my photos. Plus, I take all my pix and videos throughout the year and turn them into watchable MP4 slide shows. When we are trapped inside, we will still have these memories to look at. I have been printing photos at home for years (since 2002). As long as you get a good photo printer (Canon, Epson or HP—I use HP. Then use the manufacturer’s recommended paper and inks. As long as you let them dry and do not get them wet, they last in an album for a long time. My 3 in one printer/fax scanner cost about $139. It is the paper and the ink where they get you. Stay well Ann. Allan

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Unfortunately there’s inevitably an element of ageism by those supervising these IT dependent devices. I hate it when they hover and despite the fact I am managing competently am asked if I need assistance (because my hair is grey?). Sometimes I have to bite my tongue but the temptation to tell them I was attending courses in computer programming before they were even born is always there.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, I can see that! I sometimes feel the same way. The same young man that was helping the woman next to me stopped by to help when my upload suddenly stopped. We ended up having to just print the photos that were already uploaded and then start a new order with the rest of them. When he came back to check on me, I was busy adjusting the automatic cropping and he actually said, “Wow, you can do that!” I bit my tongue….it’s a very easy thing to do, anyone could do that! But I guess being old, it was something to cheer about? LOL!

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  7. The system is flawed, period. It might be straightforward to some, but it’s still linear, and so it doesn’t encompass all possibilities.
    The guy didn’t agree or disagree, because he probably never tried the old ways. Give someone from the Gen Z generation a manual something, and they’ll be as confused as most anyone who’s older who’ve been given something that is automatic.
    I agree she didn’t have to apologize. Not because of her age, not even if she was younger. No one is born aware how to navigate things. It takes practice, even if instructions are written in layman terms.

    Liked by 2 people

    • You are so right! No one is born knowing this stuff, it’s all a matter of what we were raised with and how much opportunity we’ve had to learn something new. My mother, who is 92, can’t figure out how to use a smart phone, so she uses a flip phone and she’s happy with that. But I see plenty of other people her age who are happily using smart phones and I-pads, so it isn’t really a matter of age. Mom can’t use a smart phone because she’s not interested in learning how, plain and simple. And personally, I’m not interested in learning all the different types of photo files and how they do, or don’t, interact. I just have to because the new systems force me to learn this stuff. Do I sound bitter? LOL!

      Liked by 1 person

    • That’s what I think, too. I’m not sure what the issue was, but all the poor woman wanted was 5×7 prints of her pictures. She’d brought in her laptop and was using that to upload to the kiosk. But from what I could hear, when the pics were enlarged, they were cutting off some of the people in the photos, and if she enlarged them more in order to prevent that, then the resolution wasn’t good. No wonder she was frustrated!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Amen! I know how it feels to be the person trying to figure out “how the heck does this work!” Being from a professional background in computers I am a bit ashamed when I can’t figure out this new “such and such technology”. Here all the card readers at the supermarkets are different and it is crazy (to me) to have to do something different at every single one. Great blog Ann!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Ann, your resolve sure is a lot stronger them mine. I’ve always been slow to acclimatize to any new tech. It seems to me that since the pandemic hit, there’s been an explosion of all sorts of apps and platforms and I’m expected to use them with ease – which is not happening with me no matter how hard I try. Trouble is, I’m a lot like that other woman in the shop – I can’t seem to stop apologizing for not being able to learn how to handle new tech well. I’m going to try and bite hard on my tongue next time I’m in such a situation.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s hard not to apologize, especially when we’re being helped by someone who thinks what we’re trying to do is simple. If someone is really familiar with a system, of course it is simple. But if someone new to the system is struggling, it seems to me that indicates that the system isn’t simple, not that the person who is trying to learn it is wanting in the intelligence department. And I agree that it’s gotten worse since the pandemic, probably because of the forced isolation and our increasing dependence on new technology in order to communicate!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I tried to print a photo on my home computer the other day. After much swearing about clean the rollers to feed the paper but you can’t clean the rollers cause the paper won’t feed…&$#*=…. I realized that on my Google phone, I have an option that says “order photos”. I clicked the button, picked my size, set it to be picked up at my local CVS, and I was done in less than a minute. Now that I found this it’s sort of brilliant…

    Liked by 2 people

  11. You are so right about this subject. There is no reason why people should have to make an apology over and over. I agree with you that technology should make things easier, not harder, for people of any age. it is a frustrating situation.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It’s very frustrating, and I honestly don’t think being older means we can’t learn how to use new things. I think being older just means we don’t automatically assume that technology is infallible, and that newer is always better. And sadly, that does seem to be the opinion of many younger people, which is why they assume the problem is us, and we (being polite people) apologize! I’m going to work hard at not doing that……. Thanks for the comment, Linda!

      Liked by 2 people

  12. Quite right! Over the past few years the technology has become harder to operate…and I know it is not me as I still have all my marbles. I seem to have to jump through totally useless hoops to get a result that used to be there at my fingertips.
    And as for the online AI help systems….anything but the option you need is on offer….

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s been my experience too! I long for the days when you could just tell a real person what the problem is when you contacted customer service. Now we’re presented with endless, predetermined choices….none of which apply to our particular problem! And I would really like to know who decided that making something more complicated was an improvement. Because in my humble opinion, it’s not. Glad to know it’s not just me!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. No need to apologize!!! The technology changes so fast. Maybe part of the problem is there are so many devices and apps and interfaces that it is a massive job to keep everything interacting correctly, so some just don’t. And then it changes again. The change from film to digital photography was a hard one, but it is nice to be able to see the photos instantly, rather than waiting for the film to be developed only to find out that your eyes were shut in the photo or some other problem.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree, I think the fact that we have SO many devices these days probably contributes to the problem. And actually, I liked the switch from film to digital. I love being able to see right away if a photo is good or not, and it was easy to buy a photo card and to print photos off that card. For me, the problem came when cell phones replaced cameras, so now all our photos must be uploaded in order to be printed. And that seems to create all sorts of compatibility issues. I tried to use MPix, which is a reputable online photo service, and they said I’d have to add Google Chrome to my computer, upload my photos to that, and then move them from Chrome to their site. Really? All that just to print a photo? Sheeshhh……..

      Liked by 1 person

  14. The same with ‘advances’ in technology happens on the home front. With each new version of an operating system come changes that appear to be more complicated and unnecessary. Since my wife changed from Windows 10 to Windows 11, her beloved classic photo viewer has disappeared, and now she has to struggle with a new one. I used to print out photos on my printer that was still connected by cable to my PC. Now I have a wireless printer, which makes it torture to print a picture. All these inconveniences that our modern world created have nothing to do with age. I am in total agreement with you, Ann.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My sister, who works in tech, warned me not to get Windows 11 and now I see why! I’m so sorry Biene has to deal with losing her photo viewer. I was thinking the solution to my issue might be getting my own photo printer, so thanks for the warning that wireless printers are just as frustrating. Why do people insist on believing that making things more complicated is better, or even okay? I honestly think these inconveniences are a large part of the anger we’re seeing in society today…so many people are just plain frustrated, and life doesn’t really have to be this hard! Thanks for your comment, Peter!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Amen!! You’ll never hear the words “too old” come outta my mouth!!! Ha ha. My husband would LOVE that. I’m 4 1/2 years older than him and he’s always teased me about my age. Hahaha. (We’ve been together 27 years, that’s a fair amount of joking!) And, bravo to you for sticking with printing pictures. I can’t even figure out how to download photos off my iPhone 13. My computer will NOT let me. So, I have 2,000 pictures on my phone. Ha!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I can sympathize. I put most of my photos on my computer because I don’t want to take up so much of my phone’s memory with the photos. I’m able to do that, but the problem I face pops up when I try to upload them to online sites. I hope you figure it out soon, Jessica! PS: My daughter in law can relate to the age difference between you and your husband. She’s only six months older than my son, but her family refers to her (jokingly) as a “cougar!”

      Liked by 1 person

  16. HEIC vs JPEG? You know more than me!
    I often feel like end-users end of beta-testing everything. Remember when testing a product & trying to crash it was done BEFORE product release? (grumble grumble)

    Liked by 1 person

    • My sister works in tech, and she says that is absolutely true. Companies aren’t wasting their “valuable” time testing their products…they just put them out there and let us prove to them whether they work or not! No wonder people are so frustrated. (And trust me, I only learned the difference between the files when I had to, in order to get my photos to upload!) Hang in there, Liz!

      Liked by 1 person

  17. YES! “But the truth is, if a system has become complicated and doesn’t work properly, the problem might not be the age of the person trying to use it.” I agree and refuse to apologize for not being able to understand something that makes no sense. Simple is as simple does, you know?

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Good for you, Ann! Never apologize for your age (that’s something none of us can control!). I have to agree: it’s the system that’s flawed. It’s been a few years since I’ve had to print out photos, but a close friend who lives far away wants me to send her some — and now that I’ve read your post, I’m dreading it! I’m steeling myself to ask for help if I must, but never to admit it’s an “old person” thing!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • If you can get the Walgreens site to work, both it and the CVS pharmacy are the easiest. Their colors aren’t quite as vivid, which is why I try to use the photo shop, but I can upload my photos to the CVS site without having to convert the photo files. And if you’re just sending photos to a friend, they will probably be good enough quality! Good luck!

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Technology continuously changes. As we get older it can be difficult to keep up. I still upload my photos to my computer which my files sit in the “cloud” which is fancy way to say my files are on a server somewhere else (laugh). I do print photos but use a really good website to print photos I enjoy, and want to keep. I did not know you can go to a physical location to upload photos. Very cool.
    I enjoyed your post!

    Best,
    Velva

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I have the Cloud storing the photos on my phone too. And like you, I prefer good quality prints, which is why I go to the store to do them. Walgreens and CVS have much more user friendly systems, but their colors tend to be drab, so I think it’s just a matter of choice. What bothers me is that the photo store I use was very easy at one time! I could order the prints online and then pick them up in the store. Now their site doesn’t work, and even their kiosk is iffy. Thanks for the comment!!

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    • It’s annoying when something is working perfectly well and they change it on you. I think it takes away our feeling of control, you know? For instance, if the settings on your washing machine constantly changed, you’d be annoyed. You learned how to work it when you bought it, and once should be enough. But on our gadgets, we have to keep relearning all the time…no one asks us if we want these changes, they are forced upon us. As for the printing of photos, it is definitely harder now, and getting harder by the day! Thanks for your comment, Anabel!

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  20. “I’m sorry, but I’m just too old …” I actually kind of like that excuse. Better to say that than some of the alternatives that denigrate your intelligence… and probably gets the person a lot more help than saying “this system is a piece of crap.”
    I don’t like self serve check outs and automated pay stations. When I fumble around trying to use them (because no two are alike) I can see the line-up of people behind me thinking ‘she is old and that is why she is having trouble’. I’m thinking, this system is a piece of crap, but what I sometimes say to the person who is right behind me: “Here, you show me how to do this – it will be much faster for all of us.” They jump right in and do the work and I smile because I am not a slow minded old lady – I can get someone to be the check out person for me…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha! You’re right, sometimes we can use our age to our benefit! (I once told my mother that she had that “cute little old lady thing” going on in spades, and to use it whenever she could . And I admit I’ve done it myself once or twice. You’re right, it does get more help than stating the truth, “the system is a piece of crap.” I guess the difference, to me, is that we don’t always get to choose when we want to play the “old lady card” and it’s annoying when any problem we have with technology is automatically attributed to our age. I’ve had that work against me because then the helpers don’t take our problems seriously…they just assume we’re old and don’t know what we’re doing. Thanks for that insight!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Like you, Ann, I never apologise for being my age, especially if I’m in a position of needing to ask for help with something I’m not sure about. Overall, I’m relatively familiar with a lot of technology; I think I’ve needed to do just about everything online because of my circumstances, which has helped. I still want prints of photos, too – I like to have paper photos of my family, especially my grandchildren, on my walls. I can do this online, but I haven’t ever tried one of those printing machines in a shop, and I doubt I’d be able to do that without asking for assistance. I’m not shy to ask for help as I’ve always had to do this because of my disability. It doesn’t phase me at all. I count myself as lucky, really. Naturally, technology will continue to be updated constantly, so there will, no doubt, be a point when I’m as lost as the next person. Thanks for making a very good point, Ann, and I totally agree with you x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Ellie! I still like paper photos, and I share them with my mom, who couldn’t have photos any other way. I do believe it’s okay to ask for help and that doing so doesn’t necessarily mean we’re too old to understand…it can often just mean that something is confusing, period. And you’re right, as soon as we learn a technology, along comes an update and we have to figure it out all over again!

      Liked by 1 person

  22. Hi Ann – you’re so right about this process. I’ve stopped going to stores to print photos and just do them on Snapfish. I was skeptical at first but the turnaround was very fast and pretty cheap. On the subject of being older and having a hard time with technology, people should not apologize! I see this all the time at the library where I work and where a lot of older people need help on the computers. And they always apologize for not knowing. They shouldn’t! I say good for them for actually coming out and trying them and I’m always happy to help.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I use Snapfish for photo books and have always been happy with that company. It’s pretty easy to use and the product is a good quality. Maybe I should just use them for printing photos, that’s a very good idea! And I’m glad you let the older people know there is no reason for apologizing about not knowing how to use the computers. If they are new, then there is a certain learning curve involved, and nothing wrong with that!

      Liked by 1 person

  23. Hey, you’re ahead of me. I have no idea how to convert a HEIC to a jpg. (I don’t have an iPhone.) I rarely print pictures, but when I do I use a cheap home printer that’s mostly used to print crossword puzzles.

    And I cut my photo teeth in a B/W black room.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, things have changed, haven’t they? And don’t be too impressed: the way I convert my photos is to upload them from my phone to I-photos in my computer, and then I move them to my desk top. Voila! They go from HEIC to jpg. Don’t ask me why…….

      Liked by 1 person

  24. I love your last sentence and will try to use it myself!! No more apologising for how complicated everything seems to have become technology-wise. I don’t think it’s necessary. I really enjoy your posts, Ann, and resonate with nearly all of them. Have a wonderful weekend! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, Brenda, thank you so much for saying that! As a fellow blogger, you know how much it means when someone takes the time to let us know that a post spoke to them. It’s really a writer’s greatest reward (as long as we’re not writing a best selling novel…LOL!). And please know how much I enjoy your blog, too. I especially love the short stories…you have a gift for that!

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