In a very short period of time we have become accustomed into believing that digital photography files are safe but nothing could be further from the truth. Digital files ARE NOT archival and will not last to keep your legacy alive.
In fact this is such a serious misconception that experts warn:
“Georgia McCabe, CEO of the Photo Marketing Association (an American trade organization), has warned that “the most photographed generation will have no pictures in 10 years.” Vint Cerf, Google vice-president, has given ominous warning of a “digital dark age” in which computer data will be lost to posterity. And according to the Royal Photographic Society, “Photographers must print images they want to preserve, or treasured photos may be unavailable to future generations when digital storage media wears out or becomes obsolete.”
Now I’m just as guilty as the next person of loving digital photography. My entire photographic career has been on digital format. So I completely understand first hand how much we all love the easy and instant gratification of seeing and sharing our photos online with friends and family but then what happens after you share them?…. Nothing.
Exactly… nothing! After the excitement passes of seeing them on your computer monitor or cell phone screen (usually within 24-48 hours), we do nothing with these beautiful images and they are lost in cyber space.
You may not realize, but while you are reading this article, your most treasured photos are being lost! Not all at once, as in a fire or theft, but rather in tiny bits with each passing day. Computers crash, files degrade, drives fail, phones get old or lost and without knowing it, your photos are gone. Rarely do we print our iconic photographs. The conscientious few people that do print their photos usually use non-archival materials, which degrade quickly.
Moreover, even fewer of these images become part of a wall display or an heirloom keepsake that will be passed on to our children, grandchildren and beyond. Ironically, the life stories of the most photographed generation in history will have fewer photos than previous generations. Why? Because we failed to properly print and archive these precious memories.
How can this be prevented? Here are a few steps to keeping your memories safe for generations to come:
PRINT! PRINT! PRINT! It does not have to be every single image. So pick a few favorites or even just one.
Print on archival materials. Not all prints are created equal and often many forms of printing have a shelf life that won’t outlive you. Invest in something archival, which if you store properly, will give you at least 200 years. This is especially true for professionally created images. Photography studios offer archival materials, which are generally not available via consumer retail chains or online labs. Avoid walking away with ONLY a set of digital files. Budget prints into the investment, either a professional album and/or wall art.
Extend the life of digital photography files by transferring them onto new drives, and upgrading storage every few years. This will also be a good reminder to invest in printing, in case they have been sitting there for a while.
Establish a routine for phone and camera back-ups (end of week, monthly, quarterly, etc.) Create a designated folder for images that is date stamped, so that it’s easy to keep track of what is backed up and what is not.
Always keep at least TWO copies of files (a computer with cloud back up & an external drive stored in a fire proof safe.) Even better, practice 3-2-1 rule (three copies, two different locations with 1 offsite). Avoid using cloud storage as sole back up for images taken on your phone.
Automate your back-ups and establish folders for events, years, celebrations, family members etc. This will keep you organized and help you protect images easily.
Enlist the help of a professional. In addition to creating art and documenting your family’s life story, your photographer may also offer consultation services to help you organize, archive and protect your family’s photographic history.
Our staff would love to help you get things started! So call us or drop us a note now. We’d love to help you protect your legacy.