The Power of Print: Restoring and Bringing Memories Back to Life

Bruce Williamson is heading up the print competition for the 84th annual Professional Photographers of North Carolina convention in Durham, N.C., which runs this Friday, March 2 through Tuesday, March 6. Williamson is especially tuned into the power of the printed photograph due to an incredibly emotional experience he had recently.

Photographing and printing memories
The Williamson family in 2003, from left to right, Bruce Williamson, Lola Williamson, Ray Williamson, George Williamson and Raymond Williamson.

“We do quite a bit of photo restoration in our business and it seems the Baby Boomer generation gets it, as far as preserving memories from the past in print. For some reason, a printed photograph can speak volumes, and I don’t think you get the same effect from a digital file,” says Williamson.

About ten years ago, Williamson’s mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. As anyone who’s had a loved one suffer through this debilitating disease, one of the most devastating aspects of Alzheimer’s is the loss of memory associated with it.

Restoring old photography into prints
This was a photo Williamson recently restored that depicts a family working North Carolina's cash crop, tobacco. Williamson says it's rare to find a photo of this vintage taken of people in clothes other than their "Sunday best," much less taken in a working environment.

“I was picking up some things to take to my mom and found an 11×14 photo of our family – my mom, dad, myself and my two brothers – that was taken at a birthday party we gave for her in 2003. When I visited her she didn’t have much to say, which is increasingly the case when I visit, but when I showed her the photo she grabbed it and started kissing and hugging it,” recalls Williamson. “It was very emotional, and it goes to show how powerful a printed image can be, especially in a situation like this. I’m not sure that she would have responded the same way had I shown it to her on my smart phone.”

It was a rare breakthrough for Williamson, one he says eases the pain of his mom’s condition, both for him and his mom. “My most cherished possessions are the photos I have taken and printed over the course of my marriage and of my children. I’m a strong advocate of the printed image,” Williamson adds.

If you’d like to share your experience with Williamson, look him up at the convention, which will be at the Sheraton Imperial Hotel in Durham. Williamson says there will be a slate of talented speakers from across the country on hand providing seminars, plus a large trade show and the aforementioned print competition, which will include the LexJet Sunset Award.

“I’m looking forward to presenting the LexJet Sunset Award at our banquet next Monday evening, and I’m tickled to death that LexJet is offering it this year,” says Williamson. “It’s our 84th annual convention, and we’re proud of our heritage.”

Also, be sure to congratulate Williamson on becoming president elect of the association at this year’s banquet. For more information about the convention, go to or contact Loretta Byrd, executive director, at 919-796-4747 or email