Digital cameras are amazing! They can do so many things and have made it easier for amateurs to improve their hobby, but that comes with some negatives (no pun intended, okay maybe I intended it). Digital has nearly run film companies out of business. Photographs are stored on flash drives and the cloud instead of on the walls and in albums. On the rare occasion that photos are printed, they are even printed digitally. What does that mean?
Way back in the olden days (about ten years ago) photographs were printed in a darkroom with silver halide paper, developing chemicals and carefully controlled special lights. It created stunning prints that could last for 100 years and passed down as family heirlooms. Now, in the age of instant gratification we see a printer bluetooth synched to some electronic device putting ink on a sheet of paper you can buy at any office supply store. These prints will scratch, fade and disintegrate within 2-5 years, the really good ones might last as long as ten years but thats about it. Whoa! Big difference. But digital is forever right!? They’ll be safe on my phone/computer/cloud… Maybe.
The amazing thing about digital and technology in general is it’s constantly changing and improving. The bad thing is that means faster and faster, the newest tech becomes obsolete. Phones get dropped, computers crash, clouds get hacked, files get corrupted…! Look at how far we’ve come! But what do we do now with all our old cassette tapes? Floppy disks? Even CD players are hard to come by these days. Two years ago, CDs were everywhere, but they get scratched, lost, corrupted etc so along came the flash drive, who knows what’s next. So how do we preserve our cherished photos?
First, be vigilant about keeping your photos in multiple places and backing up files on a regular basis. Keep an eye out that whatever device or format you’re storing them in doesn’t become out of date before you move everything to the next piece of technology. Finally, don’t neglect printing them, and do your research to find a quality lab so that you don’t waste money on a picture that will be trash in two years. Sound like a lot of work? It is, but it’s worth it when your precious memories are at stake.
Alternately, find a professional photographer you love and trust who will do all of this for you so that you always know those annual family portraits or special events are well preserved for decades and generations to come. All of my printed photographs and albums are done through a professional lab that uses that old school dark room method. True photographic, silver halide, lifetime guarantee! Yes, this costs more than a Walmart 4×6 print but the difference is tangible and I sought out a specialty lab do this for my clients because I firmly believe it matters. Your memories matter.