So far, all the digital archiving solutions we discussed in part 1 have their pro’s and con’s. Mostly con’s. What’s left? How about a good old fashioned print! If you make a good quality print, note I said ‘quality’ print, not a cheapo inkjet that will fade faster than American Idol winners, you can be good to go with just a simple shoe box to hold all your precious memories. OK, so maybe not a real shoe box although I’m willing to bet my New Balance sneaker box full of prints will outlast any of the digital storage solutions currently available. Did you know you can buy, cheaply I might add, photo storage boxes in all variety of sizes? Most are made of archival acid free paper, have dividers and give you (or your decendants) access to actually see them whenever you want with no batteries required. How about an album? There’s nothing like a good photo album to thumb through. That tactile quality can never be replaced.
I was recently at a family reunion being held in a local park. One of the Aunt’s brought a stack of photo albums which consisted mainly of old photos of past family members and deceased pets. People were grabbing them left and right to look through the pages, laugh at their relatives and ask over and over “who this that with so and so”? It really draws a crowd and certainly helped those present feel much more connected to the family. Then I noticed a few digital cameras floating around, people taking snaps, a few videos and a lot of chimping. If you have not heard of chimping, it’s the process of looking at your photos on the camera typically right after shooting them. So called because if you really look at someone doing it they really do look like a chimpanzee all hunched over and staring with wonder at the tiny magic screen. Anyway, back to the family chimps. What I noticed is that the photo albums stopped right around when the digital age hit. There were a few awful ink jet prints made by Auntie so and so but not many. According to them, most of their recent photos were either on their computer somewhere or still in the camera. Hmmm.
Now I am not suggesting you print every shot you take, although from a lab’s perspective that would be pretty cool. Just print the important stuff. The photo’s you want to pass on to future generations, the photo’s you want to be remembered for. I also suggest you don’t hide them in the attic or basement. Leave one or two albums laying around, see what happens when family or friends come over. Bet someone picks one up and starts going through it. Makes for great conversation and reminiscing over those good times you all shared. Sure beats having everyone huddle (think chimp) around a laptop or I-pad, if that would even happen. Whatever you do, just print it, put it in an album, in a box, even in a pile but just print it. The only true way to archive your photographs and for the future all of mankind!
You will still want to keep your digital ‘originals’ somewhere but if you only share them on Facebook, flickr, e-mail’s and what-not, understand that these are all very short term options. The sooner you start thinking about a long term archiving solution the easier it’s gong to be.
Tell us what you think and what you are doing to preserve your memories. Here is a resource for archiving digital files, mostly for professionals but really it applies to anyone who shoots digital photographs and does not want to be part of the lost generation.