Photographs bring back memories. It’s fun to hop on the “way-back” machine, but more importantly, photographs let us share those memories with our children and their children.
Say hello to Tracy. I took this photo of her in 1971 about six months before we were married.
This one is me, all bushed out with lots of hair. I think Tracy shot this one. She’s a pretty good photographer. Both photos are from the same 35mm film strip, so I’m reasonably sure they were shot on the same day.
I’ve been organizing all my old negative and slides. These negatives are more than 38 years old, yet they are in perfect condition and they will be in perfect condition 38 years from now.
Black and White negatives, when processed and stored properly, will outlast their creators. All I needed to do today was scan the negatives and run them through my photo editor for a bit of cleanup, curve tweaking and sharpening. Any time I want, I can put my negatives on my light table and look at them with my magnifying loupe, choose which ones I’ll scan, then convert the image into a digital format.
No matter what happens to the digital file, I will always have the negatives. I’m not knocking digital at all, but all things digital share a dirty little secret. They can’t be viewed directly the way you can view a negative, slide or print.
Digital files must be stored and interpreted. Technology changes rapidly. How do you ensure the longevity of your precious memories with digital media? Probably the only good way is to copy the files to each new computer, changing the formats as technology changes. Who knows how media will be stored in 5, 10, 25 years?
Can you imagine your children or grandchildren rummaging through a box of CDs 38 years from now? What are these things? One thing is certain that if the media are still readable after all those years, it’s unlikely your descendants will have the means to read them.
Don’t risk your memories. Sure, I know that most people don’t use film any more and film will probably go away eventually. Why not take the time to create a digital photo album and print it out? At least make good prints of the most important photos and store them safely where they won’t deteriorate.
You can still create family albums that don’t depend on changing technology. When your kids and their kids dust them off in 25 years they’ll be able to enjoy those memories because you made sure they have the keys to your “way-back” machine. I’m glad I still have mine. When I re-discovered the old photos of Tracy the other day, I fell in love all over again.
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