The availability of digital cameras and smart phones has radically changed the way we use and share our photos. Gone are the days of patiently waiting for film to be developed and ordering duplicates of hard copy prints to share with friends and family. Digital images can be viewed and shared instantaneously on a number of devices and through social networks.
But what about long-term photo storage? Safely preserving family photos requires gathering pictures from various devices, storing the digital images in a centralized location, and ensuring that location is backed up, in the event your computer’s hard drive crashes or becomes infected with a virus. Offsite backup is best because it eliminates the risk of a fire, theft, or other damage that could occur in your home.
Printed images offer an alternative method of preserving photos that avoids the potential issues of hard drive failure and changing file formats. JPEG files may not be readable in 10 years, but a printed picture will always be accessible by anyone.
High quality printed images will last 80 to 100 years. During family gatherings they can easily be passed around and shared, or passed on to younger generations. Everyone’s old shoebox of family photos periodically gets taken off the shelf and looked at, whereas a hard drive full of photos lacks that straightforward accessibility.
As we all know, printing images is what we strive for in this industry. But it has been seen that we need to better inform the public of ways to protect and share photographs. In our digital age a physical print has a much better chance of surviving 100 years when compared to pictures stored in digital format. If nothing else, we should make sure all digital images are backed up in at least one location, as it is important to protect and share photographs in the years to come.