In 2015, a nationwide study by the Professional Photographers of America (PPA) revealed that 67% of consumers keep their photos strictly online or on their cell phone. So, while the prevalence of cell phones may be allowing us to take more pictures than ever before, those very images are at risk of being lost forever the next time our cell phone breaks or you forget to back up to the cloud. Think for a moment about your parents or grandparents. Much of what you know about them was likely learned through photographs displayed on walls or in albums, right? Now think of our future generations. If the current trend continues, it’s likely that they will know much less about us because they won’t have access to photos of us. Ironically, as the most photographed generation ever, we are unlikely to have physical photos to share with our children and grandchildren!
With technology changing at a breakneck pace, our current methods of storing and cataloging photos are likely to be obsolete sooner rather than later. Memories that you’re capturing today probably will be gone within just a few years. Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram continuously change their business model and aren’t even guaranteed to be around 5 or 10 years down the road (remember MySpace?), so we are foolish to count on them as long-term free storage for our memories. Most of us have old phones that no longer work, unlabeled (and maybe unusable) floppy discs or CD’s, or SD cards sitting in a desk drawer someplace, but have no idea when we’ll have the time or inclination to organize and create physical prints.
At a 2015 conference in San Jose, CA, Google’s Vice President Vint Cerf warned that it is time to start preserving our digital memories if we want them to last. Mr. Cerf stated that our current generation will be much like the Dark Ages, with little known about us, remarking that “if we don’t find a solution, our 21st Century will be an information black hole. Future generations will wonder about us, but they will have very great difficulty knowing about us”. Mr. Cerf further warned that internet users would be wise to print out important photographs and documents to ensure that they’ll be accessible in the future.
To preserve your precious memories, PPA makes the following recommendations:
1 - Make sure to get professional, quality prints of important photos, like weddings, graduations, and other special occasions.
2- Hire a professional photographer and let them print archival quality photos for you to display on walls, desks, and shelves.
3 - Take your digital camera on vacation and to important events and purchase albums and frames to showcase your work.
And, backing up your digital files to separate places, not just on one computer, is also a good thing. They are not archival, and will not last, but at least you have them stored. Most importantly, print the images that mean the most to you so one day, when you children are older and want to see an picture of them when they were a baby, you will be able to show them. And, one day, when you want to look back on a very special time in your life, you will be able to rather than just trying to get the memories out of your mind. A tangible print isn't just a piece of artwork, it recalls to mind the special moments you shared with your loved ones and brings back the beautiful memories you had. That is what you see when you look at your beautiful artwork in your home that just happens to be your family.