My friend called me today crying asking if I could help her recover 4 years worth of images she had stored on her recently crashed hard drive and a couple of retired cell phones. She snaps pictures often and mostly with her iPhone. Her computer is fried but there might be some way to pull those files back up. Her two iPhone’s are going to be difficult to find. She’s a lovely gal but if you saw the back of her Suburban you’d give up right away. The house is in good shape but she’s got so much stuff. Her newest iPhone, about a month old, is already loaded with selfies so I can’t say there is much to really stress over. You might be offended by that but how many pictures do you really need of yourself in one day. My friend knows I’m writing this and she’s already cried and accepted my criticism. She dishes it right back at me. We are good friends.
The pictures are lost. Most are anyway. She is not alone in this matter. Back in the film days, we took care in taking pictures because we had to pay for film and pay to have them developed or at least pay for developing supplies. Once we had them, the were treasured, mailed to family/friends, passed around at church or meetings. Often these images were carefully placed in photo albums or photo boxes. Ask anyone in my film family what they’d go for first when the house was burning down, they would tell you the pictures. That still applies to me for I have albums throughout my entire life and generations past.
People will often ask me to take their portrait or shoot an event. Events, as they prefer, are to be processed and put on a website. That is a good business actually. Those images are then seen by many. For those whom I shoot portraits, I put all the images in a special private photo gallery online in which the images can be purchased in print from a select photo lab. But often the client will ask me for a CD. I don’t like to see my work in print if they do actually print from CVS or Wally World, etc. The color is not correct and often the print is in glossy finish taking away from that finished professional look.
Not long ago I visited a friend who I shot many years ago and found her images on her dining room wall, nicely framed. My heart sang. It was such a delight to see the pictures I took in print on someone’s wall. She has same digital images in case the house burns down. That is a good idea.
I do too. I have just about every print scanned and backed up for that reason. I don’t print as much as I used to but when I do I pick out the best of the best and order prints to go into an album or collage. When I visit people, older people, there is almost always a large collage frame in the hallway. This is the older style frame that held 10 or 20 3 x 5 pictures of family memories. Rarely I see this type of display anymore and I visit many people in their homes.
When I was growing up, my cousins and I would spend hours paging through the many photo albums at my grandparents house looking back to their years as children on the farm, the new Ford Model T.
Many articles have been written by bloggers on lost memories. According to research, in a nationwide survey conducted by Professional Photographers of America (PPA), 42% of people (ages 30-44) will likely look back and wonder where photos of their childhood, holiday get-togethers, relatives and friends have gone decades from now.
My friend is in a real pickle. Those last four years of pictures are of her grandchildren who are about that age, 4-6. Her daughter has hundreds, no thousands, of digital images but few in print. She’s got DVD’s of images she’s purchased from photographers but have had only a few pictures printed. All those birthday parties, firsts, reunions, school activities, run and fun in the yard are carelessly stored; most on lost iPhones shoved in the back of a desk drawer or under the seat of a cluttered 2010 SUV. When those kids grow up, where will their childhood pictures be?
My best advice, and you won’t care or adhere to this, is to stop taking so many snaps. Instead pay attention to the activity and take a few really good pictures, even digitally, and have them printed. Printed pictures bring people together, bring joy to the heart. Don’t lose yours.