Sunday, November 25, 2007

The hidden dangers of digital photography

No, digital photography does not cause cancer or any other horrible illness. The dangers I want to warn you of have more of an effect on your history than your health.

The digital revolution has had a tremendous impact on the way that we view photography. More people than ever are taking more pictures than ever. However, just taking the pictures does not mean that more people are preserving their memories.

Sharon Cooke, of the Scrapbook Clubhouse in Westbrook, wrote in an article for Creative Leisure News:

A woman used to film 36 shots of her child's birthday party and then send or
drop off the film at the photo shop, only to eagerly await its return when she
could relive the party and, if she was a scrapbooker, could begin to preserve
the memories the pictures help her recall.
Today, however, she sees the
photos she's taken immediately on the camera and then once again when she dumps
them to her computer. It's all so easy, all so reliable. She can always look at
those photos, she can always decide which of the 300 shots she made that day are
out of focus or repetitive or too dark or too light, and she can always edit the
photos down to a manageable dozen that she might someday put together as a story
of the day itself. Only she doesn't.
You shoot your first 200 pictures on
your digital camera and download them. Then you shoot hundreds more. They are
building up with automatic ease on your computer. The task of evaluating them
and editing them looms more and more daunting every time you download another
bunch. It's much easier just to take more pictures and put off sorting
But you can't scrapbook them until you sort them (this is true for both
traditional and digital photographers). Until you decide which ones are the
best, until you decide which ones help you tell the story, which ones would make
good focal points, which ones should be enlarged, which ones reduced – you can't
possibly decide how to scrapbook them.
Meanwhile how safe are these photos?
Not safe at all. A computer can lose years of photos (none of which have
negatives) in a nanosecond. A backup drive can fail too. CD-ROMS and DVDs are
only good for a limited amount of time, if at all, as many downloads to disks
will fail when you go to look at them, even though the computer did not warn you
of that at the time. The only way those pictures can be safe is if they are
backed-up immediately to a secondary hard disk, then uploaded to a remote site.
Of course traditional photos are in danger too. They can be destroyed by flood
or fire, for example, but floods and fires are far less likely to occur than
fatal hard drive crashes, which happen to everyone – frequently.

So how can you avoid losing you precious memories?

Get into the habit of uploading your photos to your computer immediately after each event. You can then delete them from your camera and free up the memory card for more photos.

When you upload your photos to your hard drive, give each event its own file folder and name it with specific information. For example, In my documents folder I have a folder labeled “My Photos”. When I open that folder I have sub-folders for each year. Within that year, I have sub-folders – monthly, for generic photos, and specific titles for events like Halloween, Thanksgiving, Justin & Rachel’s wedding, etc. This allows me to quickly find any photo I am looking for whenever I want to print it.

• Edit your photos as soon as possible. Delete the ones that are blurry and unusable. You will never print them, don’t waste space on you hard drive and add to the clutter.
Print your favorites immediately. You are far more likely to show off the great pictures if you have them in your hand rather than on a computer. When you get the urge to scrapbook, they will be there for you.

Back up your entire photo collection regularly. I would suggest at least once a month, but definitely after each major event. There are several ways to back up photos and I suggest using more than one method. Copy the files to CD, upload to a photo site that stores your collection, or copy them to a portable drive. Keep portable drives and cds in a safe deposit box or location other than your home. You never know when disaster can strike.

Your photos are precious to you. They are your connection with the past and to the future. If they were not important to you, you wouldn’t bother taking them. So don’t risk losing them because digital has made it so easy to ignore them. Get them off of your camera and onto your scrapbook pages.


Sarah said...

great tips. and so true. I find I take a TON more photos since I went digital. Although I am pretty good about uploading right away and deleting the bad photos out. cheers!

Sarah said...

Great tips!! thanks! So true- I take a TON more photos since I went digital. But I'm happy to report I upload pretty quickly and delete the no-gos. Cheerio!

Sarah said...

Great tips!! Thanks! So true....

Tina said...

very good article - very good advice!

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