Lauren looked like she was having so much fun going through the boxes of old photos, recently. Like most any husband, it makes me happy when I see my wife smile.

She was looking at pictures of her late parents, pictures of herself and her siblings when they were young, other family photos, vacation pictures. There were literally hundreds of pictures she was going through.

Every now and then we get out some of the boxes of pictures that are stored here and there. It's neat to relive those happy memories.

I have a serious concern, though.

In this era of digital photography, we personally get few pictures printed anymore. Ten years from now, will we be able to look at scores of photos without a computer?

In the days of film (remember those) you had to get the pictures printed to see them. Now you store them on a computer or a disc. If you're like me, you vow you're going to go through them and get paper photos made.

Unfortunately, I'm a procrastinator.

When we get company and want to show-off recent photos of our grandchildren, we have to gather around the computer. No sitting around the dining room table and passing around the photos, which is always a lot of fun.

Are most families like this anymore? Are actual photos becoming scarce? Do we forfeit saving photographic memories for convenience?

There was a time I would shoot photos with film and get two or three copies of each to share. Now I usually make two or three discs.

When I was much younger, I used to develop my own photos, which was very time consuming. Now you can merely print them out from a computer. While computers were supposed to be time saving devices, they are so packed with information and options that it seems we have less time than we had before. Or, we get distracted easier.

I spoke with several friends who have the same predicament. They store their photos on their computer and never get prints made.

One friend I had the conversation with said he had hundreds of photos on his computer and the computer either crashed or got a virus. Maybe the virus caused the crash. Either way, all the photos were lost. All those precious images from special memories evaporated into cyberspace.

For occasions like weddings most people get prints made. But for general photos (grandchildren at the zoo, a vacation, a child opening Christmas presents, family gatherings) many people - including myself - just store the photos on CDs. That means in the future, they won't be able to get out boxes of pictures like Lauren did and page through them.

Not only did she enjoy leafing through the pictures and relating the stories to me that the pictures told, she scanned some on our computer and e mailed them to other relatives.

The computer is a great thing. It lets you share photos free of charge. It allows you to work on your photos and improve their quality if they're too dark or light. With the computer you can crop photos to your liking.

But the computer doesn't take the place of actual prints.

Sometimes convenience evolves into laziness. That's what has happened to me with my photos. And that's bad.

As my grandchildren get older, I'm going to want them to see the photos of their playground escapades, their pre-school graduation, their birthday parties, and their family fun.

Certainly I can get the CDs out and put them on the computer, providing they don't get lost, scratched, or otherwise become corrupt (unusable).

With the printed photos, it's so much more fun to dig them out of a box, pass them around, and have a good laugh.

I guess I should make getting prints made more of a priority.

Are you faced with this situation, too?