Keepsake Box with Photo

With the rise of smartphones, a photograph’s value has changed. While some high-quality photos will always be viewed as art, the everyday photos we take of ourselves, our friends and family, and the world around us are viewed differently. Some are so meaningless, we’ve made them disposable – as with apps like Snapchat. Others we want to remember for longer, so we slow down to crop and filter them before sharing – as with Instagram. But what about the printed photo? Does it still matter?

I’ll be honest with you, I wasn’t sure about timeshel when I first signed up.

This crowdfunded, New York-based company offers iPhone photo prints by mail, which is nothing new. But instead of delivering them in a simple envelope, timeshel’s big differentiating factor is that they arrive in a white plastic box called the “shel.”

The box serves a number of purposes beyond just be the packaging for the prints, which come in both rectangle and square sizes as need be. You can use it like a picture frame, displaying one of your photos by propping it up in the slit in the top.mid_section_photos_right2 And the boxes stack together, like a mini file cabinet of sorts where you can slide out the trays to retrieve your prints at any time.

Something that struck me about the boxes, after they arrived, is how much I liked the simplicity – and the space-saving – provided by this system. The boxes fit nicely on a bookshelf, taking up minimal room compared with a more traditional photo album. And if you happen to give away all the prints in one of your boxes, I could easily see them re-purposed for other uses – like storing pins or paperclips, or turning them into kids’ art projects. You can also recycle them, if you decide to consolidate your stacks.

According to timeshel co-founder Phil Anema, who started the company with Sean Pfitzenmaier, the initial concept for timeshel was born out of Anema’s own experience as a professional photographer.

“Last year, while on the job I witnessed a mother’s friend taking an iPhone portrait of the mother’s child. When finished, they ooh-ed and ahh-ed over the photo while starting at the iPhone screen and it struck me that they will never print that photo, and that’s just kind of sad, ” he says. “I began ruminating how excellent mobile photography is becoming…and came to the conclusion that the point and shoot camera as we used to know it is dead.”

And yet, he continues, both personally and culturally we sense a lot of digital fatigue and a desire “to return to physical, tangible experiences.”

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