Posted on Sat 20 October 2012

Memories

It’s become something of a tradition here that I search through old family photos at the weekend and post one that’s just a little bit weird or unusual.

I’m quite lucky that my father was keen on photography (according to his brother he would “photograph the pavement”) from quite an early age and used colour slide film when it was still very expensive compared to black & white prints. As a result I have quite a collection of old photos, both as slides and prints and scanned, stretching back through his life and into the generation before that.

When I was looking through these old photos this morning with my younger daughter, she asked whether she and her sister would have photographs of themselves available when they grow up. This got me thinking that it’s probably more of challenge than ever before keeping family photos available for decades or even longer. Nearly everyone uses digital cameras and I have the impression that only the geeks backup data regularly. As an example, my brother in law keeps all his pictures of his son on his iPhone because their computer is “rubbish”. From that starting point it’s only a single point of failure to losing all those childhood memories.

I’m somewhat obsessive about backing up date — especially family photos — but even they may not be available forever. Will Adobe DNG files or Canon CR2 files be readable decades from now? Just how much care and effort will actually be needed to be able to pass on those digital memories to the next generation? I reckon most people won’t even bother trying.

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