Displaying our photos today and for future, photos beyond the life of our databases

Started 4 months ago | Discussions
Greg A A
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Displaying our photos today and for future, photos beyond the life of our databases
4 months ago

I've pondered the best ways to make photos available to others now and later on. I'll explain my current thinking on this, but I'm most interested in what others are doing.

My Lightroom database will continue to take effort to migrate to the next computer and OS. This is the chain that binds me to my digital images. The technology is awesome as I can usually find something between the file structure and keywords. This is much more effective and faster than sorting through slides, prints or negatives. Lightroom is nice for me, but what for the future if I'm not here. There are some photos that others would want.

The first question is who cares. People who want to have a visual memory of a fun event are certainly interested in current photo displays. Old family pictures have a special meaning to the family and friends. I have boxes of old pictures, slides and negatives from our families. Just sorting through these has been en enormous job, not to mention scanning the keepers. This is a job that only a dedicated photographer would have the slightest interest in attempting.

Here's what I'm doing. For current photos, slideshows and video I'm using Smugmug.  Facebook is too haphazard and has no security. Online sites have a limited lifetime, essentially for as long as I keep paying for the site. For anything to have long term availability I'm printing, most of which will be in book form. All my old slides and negatives will be more of a burden than anything else for my children and grandchildren. Those old film relics will find their way to the dust bin or garbage can. Unless anyone in the family really has a technical interest my computer and raid drives will in a few years become useless. Perhaps my old cameras could be put to use as decoration in a hobby room.

The bottom line here is that with thousands of photos I've taken, I'm the only one that can sort down and present those photos in a meaningful way. Printed is the only way that they will be viable for decades. More is not better. I've seen a wall full of albums as one method, one not very nice for someone to inherit. In my opinion thousands of photos needs to be cut down to something manageable and valuable.

With so much effort put into the photography it seems a waste not to have a good plan for the photos others would like to have in the future. Everyone takes thousands of pictures, most get displayed once on Facebook, Instagram or something similar and that's it. They will be randomly tossed away with old phones, cameras and computers. The boxes of photos and slides from my that I'm sorting through today don't occur in the digital age. Maybe that's a good thing.

If you are on Dpreview you probably have a passion for photography, for the memories saved and for images that inspire. With the thought, effort, travel, processing and archiving of all this what are you planning for those few valuable images to be preserved, at least for a few decades? Perhaps is this not even a concern of yours?

brianj
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Re: Displaying our photos today and for future, photos beyond the life of our databases
In reply to Greg A A, 4 months ago

I believe that unless you are going to put enormous money and effort into this, then the only way to have any photos passed to future generations is to have the important ones printed on paper and in labelled albums like in the old days and pass them to your children if you have any.

Brian

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Sante Patate
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Paper.
In reply to brianj, 4 months ago

brianj wrote:

I believe that unless you are going to put enormous money and effort into this, then the only way to have any photos passed to future generations is to have the important ones printed on paper

Absolutely!  And make sure the paper is archival quality and keep colour prints in the dark unless you want your grandchildren to think you were green (light fades magenta faster than cyan and yellow).

Remember that if you want even your adult grandchildren to be able to look at their parents' baby photos the pictures have to last 50 years, and by the standards of CDs and flash drives - let alone software and websites - that is a very long time.

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Graham Hill
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Re: Displaying our photos today and for future, photos beyond the life of our databases
In reply to Greg A A, 4 months ago

Greg A A wrote:

I've pondered the best ways to make photos available to others now and later on. I'll explain my current thinking on this, but I'm most interested in what others are doing.

If you are on Dpreview you probably have a passion for photography, for the memories saved and for images that inspire. With the thought, effort, travel, processing and archiving of all this what are you planning for those few valuable images to be preserved, at least for a few decades? Perhaps is this not even a concern of yours?

I've had the same thoughts as you.  How to I insure that the important images that I make for my family, survive into the next generation and beyond.  I have photos from my great, great grandparents.  Not many, but they are priceless.  I have a lot of photos from my father's and mother's childhood. And of course, all from my own youth.

These images are stored on the very best archival method available today: photographic film.

There is no better way to archive images. Period.

Film, properly stored, lasts 50+ years easily.  Images made of my father when he was a baby (the 1930's), can and have been printed today and look fantastic.

I want my children to have archived images from their youth.

Now, the most important moments in my family's life are shot on film.  I don't trust digital.  People with more money and more experience than me don't trust digital.  Hollywood movies are archived on photographic film, not on digital hard drives.

Smugmug could disappear or suffer a horrific failure and then you are SOL.

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chris102
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Re: Displaying our photos today and for future, photos beyond the life of our databases
In reply to Greg A A, 4 months ago

Greg A A wrote:

I've pondered the best ways to make photos available to others now and later on. I'll explain my current thinking on this, but I'm most interested in what others are doing.

My Lightroom database will continue to take effort to migrate to the next computer and OS. This is the chain that binds me to my digital images. The technology is awesome as I can usually find something between the file structure and keywords. This is much more effective and faster than sorting through slides, prints or negatives. Lightroom is nice for me, but what for the future if I'm not here. There are some photos that others would want.

The first question is who cares. People who want to have a visual memory of a fun event are certainly interested in current photo displays. Old family pictures have a special meaning to the family and friends. I have boxes of old pictures, slides and negatives from our families. Just sorting through these has been en enormous job, not to mention scanning the keepers. This is a job that only a dedicated photographer would have the slightest interest in attempting.

Here's what I'm doing. For current photos, slideshows and video I'm using Smugmug. Facebook is too haphazard and has no security. Online sites have a limited lifetime, essentially for as long as I keep paying for the site. For anything to have long term availability I'm printing, most of which will be in book form. All my old slides and negatives will be more of a burden than anything else for my children and grandchildren. Those old film relics will find their way to the dust bin or garbage can. Unless anyone in the family really has a technical interest my computer and raid drives will in a few years become useless. Perhaps my old cameras could be put to use as decoration in a hobby room.

The bottom line here is that with thousands of photos I've taken, I'm the only one that can sort down and present those photos in a meaningful way. Printed is the only way that they will be viable for decades. More is not better. I've seen a wall full of albums as one method, one not very nice for someone to inherit. In my opinion thousands of photos needs to be cut down to something manageable and valuable.

With so much effort put into the photography it seems a waste not to have a good plan for the photos others would like to have in the future. Everyone takes thousands of pictures, most get displayed once on Facebook, Instagram or something similar and that's it. They will be randomly tossed away with old phones, cameras and computers. The boxes of photos and slides from my that I'm sorting through today don't occur in the digital age. Maybe that's a good thing.

If you are on Dpreview you probably have a passion for photography, for the memories saved and for images that inspire. With the thought, effort, travel, processing and archiving of all this what are you planning for those few valuable images to be preserved, at least for a few decades? Perhaps is this not even a concern of yours?

Are you that good that people in the distant future will want to see your pics?

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arbie1
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Re: Displaying our photos today and for future, photos beyond the life of our databases
In reply to Greg A A, 4 months ago

I think brianj, Sante Patate and Graham Hill have it right. A print is your best bet.

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tcg550
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Re: Displaying our photos today and for future, photos beyond the life of our databases
In reply to Greg A A, 4 months ago

I agree, print maybe the best.

My photos are not tied to any database. They are all on a drive in folders by year. In that folder there are folders with names describing the event or subject. In there are jpgs and or raw files.

When I see an image format starting to take over jpg I'll convert.

Those files are backed up in several places and shared on my home network and in internet land. I can access all my photos from any device anywhere as long as I'm on the internet.

Just the other day my daughter was looking for photos from 2005. She took out her tablet went right to the folder found what she needed and posted it online.

When I'm gone it's up to my daughter to maintain things. I'll be gone, I won't really give it a second thought.

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JimB630
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Re: Displaying our photos today and for future, photos beyond the life of our databases
In reply to tcg550, 4 months ago

I take a similar approach to what you mentioned. I keep collections on SmugMug for viewing by family. One of my children has full access for back-up and for future access once I am gone.

I do create books of photo collections using Blurb. I create books for special events, and I create annual family collections that I call "Moments." For the family collections, I create a copy for each of my three children, and I have one of my own.

One of my favorite holiday activities as a kid was going through old family photo albums. So, I am trying to pass this experience on to my grandkids with the family collections.

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Graham Hill
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Re: Displaying our photos today and for future, photos beyond the life of our databases
In reply to arbie1, 4 months ago

arbie1 wrote:

I think brianj, Sante Patate and Graham Hill have it right. A print is your best bet.

A print is nice, but not the best bet.  Inkjet prints can fade.  Cheap ink can fade in a VERY short time.  Archival inks are claimed to last a very long time, but are unproven since they are so new on the market.  Real results wont be available for 50 years or so!  Silver halide prints can fade even, so even they are not the best option.

The very best option is photographic film.  Nothing can take more abuse and last longer with minimal damage than film.  There's simply nothing better.  When it comes to archiving anything professionally, it is done with film.

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scorrpio
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Re: Displaying our photos today and for future, photos beyond the life of our databases
In reply to Greg A A, 4 months ago

Personally, I think that the whole 'worship of the print' comes a simple source.   It is very easy to shoot several hundred digital images at one event, stick them into a folder, and just leave them there.  But we only ever print the images that are worth it - and usually after extensive post-processing.    The 'magic' of the print is not in the medium, but rather in the amount of work that has gone into selecting that single image from hundreds, and getting it just right.

But there is absolutely nothing special about committing those to paper.    You can put those selected and processed images into a 'very best' folder, and keep them digitally.

With current level of technology, passing your best work in digital form is a far better insurance of its survival.   Now, digital is still fairly new, and for most of us who grew up in 60-80s, the idea of 'preservation' was about putting it on the most resilient media, and stashing it someplace safe.   Many apply the same method to digital - which is a gross mistake.   Writing a file to a CD and stashing that CD in a box someplace is probably the absolute WORST way to preserve information.   The moment it is put away, it starts to die - to obscurity, to technology obsolescence, to media degradation.   If someone finds that box of CDs in 50 years, chances are CD readers will be as common as 8-inch floppy drives are today.   The RIGHT way is to keep what you want preserved is in LIVE storage.  Put those images in a folder under 'My Pictures', on a computer you use daily, and make sure it is part of your routine backup.    That way, you can be sure that things you don't want lost are always backed up in the most technologically up-to-date method, and are transferred over when you replace your PC.    You can further hedge your bets by copying your best to your family or friends' PCs.   Once it is part of THEIR routine backup, they won't need to expend any additional effort to maintain your stuff.

Once your best work is in a folder under 'My Pictures' on your kid's PC, you need not worry that it will be forgotten in a box in a basement, or accidentally carted off to landfill when they decide to move to an apartment in a city.    You need not worry about cousin Jenny borrowing a unique print and forgetting she has it.  No worries about someone going through carefully sorted prints and mixing them all up, or about grandkids thumbing through them with salsa-smeared fingers.   Live stored digital is always at fingertips, ready for perusal by anyone who wants to see them.   If cousin Jenny wants a copy, it can be emailed to her. Heck, she can have the whole folder.    If kids want to check out great-grandpa's pictures, they can page through them on their iPads.

Hand over your best work in digital, and if people like it, they will preserve it much better than pieces of paper.   But don't expect anyone to sift through every picture you've ever taken for you.

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Lightpath48
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Re: Displaying our photos today and for future, photos beyond the life of our databases
In reply to Greg A A, 4 months ago

I have tens of thousands of slides and B&W silver negative strips carefully dark stored, and am almost certain no one in our family is going to attempt getting them into any more useful form in the future. But the prints I slid into photo albums throughout our family's life and up to 50 years ago are already being plucked out of albums and circulating, three generations down the line.  They are the "precious memories." I'm going for prints. As to electronic storage, I'm pretty confident in jpeg for now.  As for my raw originals, what assurance have I that they will even be readable by whatever form of consumer imaging technology existing in 50 years?

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Jack Hass
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Re: Displaying our photos today and for future, photos beyond the life of our databases
In reply to Greg A A, 4 months ago

All of my archived photos are stored on a collection of CDs. The CDs are in CD cases, then stored in a velvet box. The box has been wrapped in bubble plastic and tightly packaged in a air tight crate made of  plastic. The crate is locked within a stainless steel safe, with both a key lock and combination lock. The safe has been wrapped with plastic and burried in my yard. One day, I will share these with my great grandkids and smile as I recall all the great memories.

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Osvaldo Cristo
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Re: Displaying our photos today and for future, photos beyond the life of our databases
In reply to Greg A A, 4 months ago

Greg A A wrote:

[...]

The bottom line here is that with thousands of photos I've taken, I'm the only one that can sort down and present those photos in a meaningful way. Printed is the only way that they will be viable for decades. More is not better. I've seen a wall full of albums as one method, one not very nice for someone to inherit. In my opinion thousands of photos needs to be cut down to something manageable and valuable.

As stated previously, just print them. It is the easiest way to grant access for your photography for "outsiders".

Although I have a acceptably good archiving and retrieving for my own photography, including a robust back-up scheme, I really do not care what will happen with all this stuff when I pass away. I make photography primary to myself - I am not a PRO selling them so it is not an asset for me.

I have been an amateur photographer for 20+ years (exclusively digital since 1998) and in those years I accumulated more than 60 (physical) photo albums and nine (big) photo books collecting my "keepers". Some cardboard boxes additionally store a respectable amount of prints (both at 10 cm by 15 cm and 15 cm by 21.5 cm). The access to all this printed material is direct and easy but even for them, I do not care about their future after my death although it is easily accessible if anyone eventually got interest on them.

Regards,

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Morris Sullivan
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Great post
In reply to scorrpio, 4 months ago

scorrpio wrote:

Personally, I think that the whole 'worship of the print' comes a simple source. It is very easy to shoot several hundred digital images at one event, stick them into a folder, and just leave them there. But we only ever print the images that are worth it - and usually after extensive post-processing. The 'magic' of the print is not in the medium, but rather in the amount of work that has gone into selecting that single image from hundreds, and getting it just right.

But there is absolutely nothing special about committing those to paper. You can put those selected and processed images into a 'very best' folder, and keep them digitally.

With current level of technology, passing your best work in digital form is a far better insurance of its survival. Now, digital is still fairly new, and for most of us who grew up in 60-80s, the idea of 'preservation' was about putting it on the most resilient media, and stashing it someplace safe. Many apply the same method to digital - which is a gross mistake. Writing a file to a CD and stashing that CD in a box someplace is probably the absolute WORST way to preserve information. The moment it is put away, it starts to die - to obscurity, to technology obsolescence, to media degradation. If someone finds that box of CDs in 50 years, chances are CD readers will be as common as 8-inch floppy drives are today. The RIGHT way is to keep what you want preserved is in LIVE storage. Put those images in a folder under 'My Pictures', on a computer you use daily, and make sure it is part of your routine backup. That way, you can be sure that things you don't want lost are always backed up in the most technologically up-to-date method, and are transferred over when you replace your PC. You can further hedge your bets by copying your best to your family or friends' PCs. Once it is part of THEIR routine backup, they won't need to expend any additional effort to maintain your stuff.

Once your best work is in a folder under 'My Pictures' on your kid's PC, you need not worry that it will be forgotten in a box in a basement, or accidentally carted off to landfill when they decide to move to an apartment in a city. You need not worry about cousin Jenny borrowing a unique print and forgetting she has it. No worries about someone going through carefully sorted prints and mixing them all up, or about grandkids thumbing through them with salsa-smeared fingers. Live stored digital is always at fingertips, ready for perusal by anyone who wants to see them. If cousin Jenny wants a copy, it can be emailed to her. Heck, she can have the whole folder. If kids want to check out great-grandpa's pictures, they can page through them on their iPads.

Hand over your best work in digital, and if people like it, they will preserve it much better than pieces of paper. But don't expect anyone to sift through every picture you've ever taken for you.

The thing about digital that changes everything is that it's very easy to create any number of copies of equal quality. The best archival print will never beat having multiple digital copies in various locations.

As far as selecting a few "keepers" and archiving them. That is no longer necessary. It's not a storage issue anymore. And who wouldn't love to have every photo their grandparents ever took on a thumb drive that they could flip through at their leisure. It's not like someone has to sit down and view the whole thing in one sitting like you would a photo album.

Even if three generations went by and nobody looked at the photos taken in 2010, they will still be there for generation four, and no effort was expended along the way other than coping great grandpa's "folder" to each new computer. Every family member can have a copy of grandpa's folder, whether they bother to look through it or not. And every once in a while someone might stumble across an old "masterpiece" to print and hang on a wall. It might not even be one of your "keepers".

A terabyte or two of images in the future will be equivalent to a few gigabytes in today's technology.

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arbie1
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Re: Displaying our photos today and for future, photos beyond the life of our databases
In reply to Graham Hill, 4 months ago

Graham Hill wrote:

arbie1 wrote:

I think brianj, Sante Patate and Graham Hill have it right. A print is your best bet.

A print is nice, but not the best bet. Inkjet prints can fade. Cheap ink can fade in a VERY short time. Archival inks are claimed to last a very long time, but are unproven since they are so new on the market. Real results wont be available for 50 years or so! Silver halide prints can fade even, so even they are not the best option.

The very best option is photographic film. Nothing can take more abuse and last longer with minimal damage than film. There's simply nothing better. When it comes to archiving anything professionally, it is done with film.

Good point. I wish there were more negatives in the many boxes and albums of prints I have, unfortunately most are long gone.

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Henry Falkner
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Re: Displaying our photos today and for future, photos beyond the life of our databases
In reply to Greg A A, 4 months ago

My stills going back 10 1997, and my videos since 2004, are stored on TWO external hard disks, accessible to anything that can read NTFC. These get copied across to a newer disk when ONE of the existing ones dies. Shortly after, the second disk gets copied across to a second new hard disk, to retain uniformity between the two working disks.

In addition, there is a Morris dance hard disk and an Amateur radio hard disk which I update once a year. Since these are archive disks and not day-to-day working disks, it is assumed that they will not die during their life time. This sis done for the case that this stuff become unavailable during the inevitable clear-out when I depart.

There is a problem developing - I have seen new note books with SSD memory of a totally inadequate capacity in place of a hard disk. If there is not enough storage in your computer to keep anything, it will not get transferred to your external hard disks either. Until SSD memory comes down in price where it competes for the same capacity that hard disks offer, this bottle neck will remain.

Henry

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Bill Robb
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Re: Displaying our photos today and for future, photos beyond the life of our databases
In reply to Lightpath48, 4 months ago

Lightpath48 wrote:

I have tens of thousands of slides and B&W silver negative strips carefully dark stored, and am almost certain no one in our family is going to attempt getting them into any more useful form in the future. But the prints I slid into photo albums throughout our family's life and up to 50 years ago are already being plucked out of albums and circulating, three generations down the line. They are the "precious memories." I'm going for prints. As to electronic storage, I'm pretty confident in jpeg for now. As for my raw originals, what assurance have I that they will even be readable by whatever form of consumer imaging technology existing in 50 years?

+1. Digital storage as an archiving method is too capricious to be considered viable. Putting a folder on some one elses hard drive is all well and good, until that hard drive fails, or the person migrates to another computer and doesn't bother to copy the folder over. Then it's gone forever.

Wet processed color prints have proven themselves over the past half century to be as reliable an archiving method as any, they don't really require any particularly special storage. The shoe box under the bed seems to work as well as anything else.

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Ron Poelman
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Like your death, it won't be up to you.
In reply to Greg A A, 4 months ago

Given where people's attention spans are headed,
it this the best thing to be doing with your life, plotting your death ?

You can't take it with you, and you can't control the living from the grave.
Unless you're a bona fide artist, living and breathing your art,
you will NEVER be measured by your photos.

If you can't think of why you should be remembered,
maybe it's time to look at your life.
It's the only one you get.

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Osvaldo Cristo
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Perfect!
In reply to Ron Poelman, 4 months ago

Ron Poelman wrote:

Given where people's attention spans are headed,
it this the best thing to be doing with your life, plotting your death ?

You can't take it with you, and you can't control the living from the grave.
Unless you're a bona fide artist, living and breathing your art,
you will NEVER be measured by your photos.

If you can't think of why you should be remembered,
maybe it's time to look at your life.
It's the only one you get.

That is also my point in my previous reply. You just put it in better words!

Regards,

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O.Cristo - An Amateur Photographer
Opinions of men are almost as various as their faces - so many men so many minds. B. Franklin

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Ron Poelman
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Osvaldo, have you already taken THE Photo..
In reply to Osvaldo Cristo, 4 months ago

by which you would like to be remembered ?

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