The Most Photographed Generation Will Have No Pictures in 10 Years!

Cameras.

They’re everywhere. In your phone, on your tablet, you have your point-n-shoot, and maybe even a DSLR. A few might even own a film camera. You can’t escape the selfies, Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook. People are deluged with photographs. And today, people are taking more pictures than ever before. It’s been estimated that in the past 5 years, more photos have been taken than all the prior years combined.

The sad part is that few of these photographs will survive beyond a year. To many people, a “picture” is only good for the moment. Moms and Dads want to snap every little movement of that new baby. Grandma wants to see everyone one of those too. When you want to show off the new puppy, you pull out the phone. And in a week, none of them have any real meaning and might even get “deleted” just to make room for more pictures that have little meaning as well inside of a couple of weeks.

So what will become of all the pictures that are being taken today? Here is the reason that 99% of the photographs being taken today are soon going to be totally gone – digital images are no longer important enough to most people to actually keep them in printed form!

Yes, I started in a film only world. We bought a roll of film and took our vacation photographs. We had them developed and printed. They were put in photo albums or photo boxes. We looked at them and cherished those memories with great care. They were a slice of our life and for many, if disaster struck, those photographs were the one thing we would try to find first. Wedding albums and photographs represented our LIFE and we salvaged all we could.

It is estimated and less that 1 out of 100,000 photographs taken today actually ends up being a printed photograph. The digital world means you can look at those on some computer screen and without one, you have nothing. You probably have countless pictures that are just randomly stored and has no organization or way to locate them. Perhaps you have made some effort, but even that can seem overwhelming a task when you decide to tackle the task.

Add to this, over the years, the technology has changed so fast, that many photographs taken 6-7 years ago are stored on a type of media that is no longer supported. I have boxes of floppy discs and not even a computer that works to view them. In 5 years or less, your DVD is going to be obsolete as will your USB drives. File types are going to change as well. And the technology of tomorrow may not support these “older” file types.

Many today have older cell phones with countless pictures on them. Maybe you “shared” some on Facebook or Instagram or uploaded to your photo storage website. But none of these are “permanent” solutions to viewing your photos and sadly, many of your memories you captured today, aren’t going to be around tomorrow. So where is that old cellphone today? In a drawer someplace, your not sure where, but you know it’s around here somewhere!

There are also countless memory cards filled with photographs. Each of those represent a small slice of you or something that was a part of your life. Some are older and you have fewer options to view them as technology simply outpaces their usefulness. Does anyone remember the 256mb SD cards when today, a 4 gb is considered tiny?

Perhaps you go to a Professional Photographer and all you want is someone to “take some pictures and give us the disc”.  After all, it IS a “digital world” and it shouldn’t cost you very much. You can “take them down to the 1 hr place” and get prints really cheap. No film. No prints from the lab needed to “see” them. So where are your discs today? Probably in that same drawer you haven’t found yet where that old cell phone is “lost” in. I doubt you have your DVD’s or old floppies on your wall! And when Mom asks if you have that adorable photo of your now 16 year old son or daughter- you know the one when they were 2- and you have to answer, I do, but I have to find it. “It’s on a disk…someplace…I think….maybe we still do…honey, where did we put that disk again?”.

In my home, you will find photographs. Real, honest to goodness prints. Nothing fancy in most cases and most are just plain snapshots of family at holidays, on vacation, or doing something silly or even important. These are the slices of our lives where we can open the old “self sticking” album and find out it no longer sticks. Where memories of our life unfolds before our eyes. We laugh. We cry. We tease each other. Our life is right there. It’s in that printed image that anyone can see. There is no wondering “if this file type is still supported” or does my “machine still have a DVD drive”. None of that is needed. Even the older, not quite as sharp as they used to be eyes can see them and feel the emotions of that instant in time as if it happened yesterday. These are the things we protect with everything we have should some disaster strike and the ones we start looking for first if it does. All of a sudden that $250 DeLonghi Coffee maker isn’t all that important. Nor is the fishing boat. Or the 72″ big screen TV with all the bells and whistles. It’s always the memories of our lives that become the thing we search for first.

So if you are part of this “digital revolution”, let me ask you- where are YOUR photographs? Stuck on some disc or stored out there is cyberspace someplace, hopefully, perhaps? Why didn’t you actually purchase that $500 canvas to display in your home that your Professional photographer worked so hard to produce for you? That was a “one of a kind” work of ART and an heirloom piece for your family to have and remember that little slice of their life. It is something that will be passed from generation to generation and the only visual way your heirs will see what you looked like and the love and emotions you expressed the instant that image was captured.

2025. You just found that DVD you had in that drawer you couldn’t remember which one it was. Along with 9 old cell phones that no longer will work with today’s new technology. Your 3 inch by 3 inch cube computer no longer has a DVD drive since in 2015 they were totally phased out. Your 3rd grandchild is sitting on your knee and asks to see pictures of their Mom- and all you have to show them is this piece of round plastic that is pretty much worthless. Not to mention dusty and scratched from all those old cellphones moving around every time you opened that drawer.  And since Instagram had been merged with another company, and they started charging, you let that go 8 years ago.

I guess that makes you one of the “most photographed generation that doesn’t have a photograph in 10 years”. I guess it wasn’t that important then. Digital was cheap. Cameras were everywhere. It just didn’t seem that important.

Lost memories are expensive.

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300 thoughts on “The Most Photographed Generation Will Have No Pictures in 10 Years!

  1. I found an album the other day that my parents made for me of my first 18 years on the planet as a birthday gift. It is one of the most beautiful and special things I own. Like vinyl records, printed media retains a special quality that can only be attributed to a physical object- a certain value that digital can never posses. This is why vinyl is still in demand and printed photographs will never stop being printed. They are both art forms and collectable memories. They day we stop having a demand for art and sentiment for the past would be a sad day for humanity.

    1. Your “head” will make the images fuzzy and maybe not retrievable at all, after a time. What you have done is given up your history.

    2. OMG yes memory in your head will die with you ! but photographs capture the moments that you can never repeat in your lives that is why I love them hanging up there on my walls. I told all my kids that I’ll have there photos on my walls when they leave home.

  2. I’m photo tragic. I upload the best of my photos of the family to Snapfish and have them printed and put them into a physical album. (Snapfish also archive them on my account). I have the most memorable of them made into a calendar every year and give one to each family group. As each of my 21 grandchildren turns 5, 13 and 21, they get a photo book of their life to that stage. All pre-digital albums have been scanned and those along with all my digital photos are archived on two disk drives. One is stored by me and one with another family member (in case of fire). Also on the drives are all the scanned photos of ancestors etc complete with their stories. O.K, I admit it, I am a teensy bit obsessive when it comes to photos and memories.

    1. Good for you Marnie. I have a photographic collection going back into the 1890s and I still get some photos printed and put them in albums. I have made albums for my daughter. No grandchildren yet. You are an inspiration.

    2. OMG you are me. I started archiving photos when my mom passed away in 2010 and have not stopped since then. I have made several copies and distributed to all family members. Thank you for your share.

  3. For the first time in human history, people are not born with the tools needed to access their cultural heritage – both images and the written word – but instead must rely of profit-motivated corporations to provide electronic devices that take the place of our eyes, devices that are evolving and changing and becoming obsolete at an alarming rate. Today, we can find a dusty old photo album or an ancient book, open it, and peruse the contents with nothing more than our two eyes, but imagine the challenge for future historians when they try to access the images and documents of our age. This has become a huge problem in just the past 20 years or so. Try to visualize the magnitude of this dilemma in 200 or 300 years! I’m reminded of the team of computer geeks who just barely managed to save for posterity the priceless images taken by Lunar Orbiter, including history’s first photograph of the earth from the moon, by restoring a necessary old piece of equipment that had been rusting in a garage. Digital technology was meant to be a presentation medium, not an archive. The fact that we are storing much of our history within the digital realm leads me to believe that our amazing age of discovery will become a “dark age” for future historians who are struggling to extract invisible information from scratched, degraded and long obsolete storage media.

    1. You have summed up nicely the issue that our progeny will be facing in just a few short years. Technology can be both a curse as well as a blessing. It’s estimated that technology is changing at an exponential rate where “things” are now outdated in less than 9 months. When that happens, and as upgrades are made by people, the loss of things is tremendous as few “transfer” their old to the new. And sadly, photographs are going to be one of the very first to be lost. A computer crashes filled with images and it rarely gets the hard drive sent for recovery. Those are far more than lost photographers. Today’s youth tend to view those captured moments as “just for the moment”, instead of those moments in time to remember forever. Perhaps the images are stored safely, it’s the hardware that is going to be unable to read it as much as the file types being charged to match the capability of the new machines we call computers.

      1. Mike, this is a thought provoking piece. Sadly, I think it’ll only resonate with those of us of a certain age. We have lots of pictures in our house. They tell stories about the fabric of our families, generations past and present.
        Marilyn and I were just flipping through our wedding album, now almost 26 years old. So many stories lines in those faces which are now preserved in our sense memory.
        Your thoughts remind me of the famous Spencer Tracy aka Clarence Darrow monologue in “Inherit The Wind”. Tracy/Darrow, speaking of evolution, talks about the “dangers” of progress…of things gained and lost. So very appropriate in this era of the “selfie”.
        Thanks for sharing.

      2. A few years ago, I had the chance to see the very first wedding album I ever created for a couple. It was a memory of time that easily could have been lost had it not been preserved in the printed image. Yes, perhaps it is one of those “evolution” things, but the simple fact is, we are either going to lose these moments in time in a moment or we preserve them for others to enjoy. Some will. Others won’t. And the sad part is, those who won’t are almost always the ones with the greatest regrets. Life tends to always be a reflection of the “if I had only” times we lost.

  4. Quote: In 5 years or less, your DVD is going to be obsolete as will your USB drives. File types are going to change as well. And the technology of tomorrow may not support these “older” file types.

    I’m not so sure that’s true. We learned a lesson with the death of floppy discs and “zip discs” etc. The lesson: loosing old data is a pain. Back then, many businesses and a few computer geeks suffered… today *every* business and over 90% of households in the 1st world will suffer… With that many people being impacted, there will be a market for preserving old data.

    Yes, eventually the hardware will be obsolete. If you care about your files you need to transfer them as technology advances. Every time you upgrade your computer, transfer the files to the new hard drive of the new computer… and if the new computer doesn’t read your current backup (e.g. DVDs), then create a new backup that your new computer can read. Not too hard to do.

    As for files types, millions of people have years and years worth of .jpg photo files stored away on their computers, and as such there will be a demand for modern and future computers to read those files. If there is a demand, the industry will make it possible.

    1. I totally agree with you. So what if my generation stores photos differently than print outs? I happen to have an abundance of artwork and photos on my wall at home as do I have a plethora of photos saved on an external hard drive. As for my movies they are all digitally purchased and no hard copies. I felt as though this was a condescending article trying to be facetious about my generations technology advancements and love for electronics.
      Well guess what your printed photos can get water damage, light damage and destroyed in fires. Something that is stored on the cloud or some other photo saving place cannot be! And someone above mentioned preferring memories over photos and not ever taking them. That is very unfortunate. One day you might want to look back and can’t. Which, by the way the author said we only value photos on the present which is false I look at old photos all the time.

      1. Firstly I very much expect my grandchildren and great great grandchildren will be on Facebook. Secondly MySpace didn’t just disappear lol.if you had pics on there you had ample time to copy and store them and thirdly Facebook and MySpace are not the only or even the main place that people store images online.once again people with no knowledge of somthing talking negatively about it. Go smoke a pipe n walk your collie.

      2. Mike I agree with you 100%. Not one person I know saved any of their photos from myspace. I just lost photos on my phone because the sd card was corrupted. I go through a app now to print out photos for free and just pay for shipping. I’m so much more happier doing that. I grew up with photos hanging on the wall and when my grandma passed i kept all the photo albums.

  5. I am all for printing out photos 🙂
    There are enough people out there who will need support for JPG file formats and DVD disks. I use 3 disk drives and Flickr to back up my pictures. Hoping one of them will work in 10 years.

  6. Your comments are spot on. Most memories will be forgotten. But I challenge you to think about this. Photography is only about 175 years old. Personal cameras in the hands of most people to the 1950’s. There are a handful of portraits painted of prominent figures dating back into the middle ages and a few sculptures dating into the Greco-Roman era. The vast majority of us have been and will be forgotten, except as names, on a family tree. Perhaps even that will be lost. When your only survivors are 3 or 4 generations removed, how many will keep the printed photos; i suspect very few. The tragedy is that, though we have a way to change it, we won’t. Humans most often think of history in terms of what happened in the course of our own lives – the picture of the minute. The answer isn’t printing. It is caring about preservation.

  7. Perhaps this wasn’t written for my generation (I just turned 26)? But it sounds bizarre to me that anyone would have old memory cards, flash drives, floppy discs, or obsolete cell phones with old photos on them that were never printed; that is laziness. New technologies don’t magically appear overnight, there’s always a phasing process that gives you a little time to transfer your files and convert or print them. File conversions aren’t that hard, you can usually download a converter for free online that does the work for you (at least nowadays, you can). As for social media and the comment about MySpace; MySpace is still a website? You can still log in to your old account if you know the password, and people’s photos are still there. It’s true that social media is ever-changing but there again, it’s up to you to keep track of your photos. As a millennial, I was just a little miffed at the suggestion that we don’t have prints and just have thousands of useless photos everywhere. I imagine some do, but everyone I know my age and younger has printed their most cherished photos. Many teenagers have giant collages and framed photos with friends all over their rooms, just like I did 10 years ago, and just like my mom did in the 80’s. A few times a year I’ll go through the photos on my phone/laptop (I do have a DSLR) and clean out the files, keep the best photos and order prints, most of which I keep in small, organized boxes. I’ll share what I kept with family and friends and see if anyone wants copies of the prints, which can make great holiday gifts when paired with some nice frames. I just don’t think it’s true that a lot of people don’t have prints. Maybe we store them differently now, and maybe we’re more selective with the photos we choose to print, but we do have them.

    As for the part about the $500 canvas: I’m sorry, but I would never pay that. It’s too easy to get an oversized print from Staples or Home Depot, buy your own canvas and manually transfer the image. I understand that things like this, along with more accessible and affordable DSLR’s and image editing softwares, have made things harder for professional photographers (which is why I decided not to become one), but most of us don’t have hundreds or thousands of dollars to spend on photography services, when it’s easy to learn some basics of producing your own decent photos.

  8. I just read your article and found it quite relevant to the times. With the volume of digital photos people take, one wonders how they will end up managing these into something they can preserve for the long term. With the growing number of personal photos taken from multiple digital devices, wouldn’t you think there is a pressing need to get it all first on one single repository so 1. these don’t get lost, 2. it allows for easier sorting and organizing, 3. top picks are shared and printed. I believe there is a middle ground here where you still manage your digital photos in a central storage device while printing out a few that you will always want to look at and treasure.

    I wonder what your views are about video files as people not only take stills but increasingly make videos. Wouldn’t these be better archived digitally again, ideally, in the same central repository for easier access and management.

    Thanks.

    1. Ricky, I’m a retired TV News reporter with 40 plus yrs in the biz.( One of my colleagues was a Richie Pena who is still working). I’ve managed to transfer some of my work from film to VHS to DVD but it’s a daunting process. Digital archives would be wonderful if possible.

      1. Garry, I’m sure I’m not related to your colleague. I agree transferring old video files into the new format is a pain but is an investment worth making so we do not live to regret losing and forgetting memories. For my part, I have painstakingly made digital copies of my family’s pre-digital camera photos with my DSLR camera. For videos on Betamax, VHS, V8 – I had these converted to mpeg in DVDs which I still have to transfer to a central storage device. It certainly would be wonderful if we get to keep all these in one place to make memories a lot easier to manage.

  9. I don’t have room for photos. I am single and live by myself I have thousands of photos in albums stored in various places. I am going through a massive project of taking photos out of the albums, having them scanned and then filing the on a hard drive and in a cloud. These scans have made multiple people very happy. They would have never had these images because they are people from my past life. I share these photos on Facebook, then others can download, print or use the photos in whatever way they want. My family won’t have to deal with thousands of photos of people they don’t know when I am gone. I feel very secure that these photos can be accessed. In fact, I can access those files right now, from the train I am sitting on, from my phone. And then give the actual photos to the people still in my life to do with what they want. Everyone is different. I can now find that photo of the family Christmas in 1971. And not have to look in storage. I just wish I could get them all scanned quicker. Thanks for the article but everyone is different.

    1. AS a side note, scanning images that you didn’t take is a violation of the Copyright of the photographer that took them. Without permission to do so, you could be held legally liable for payment to that photographer. Those photos that your took yourself, you own the copyright too, and you can scan to your hearts content. Other peoples photos they took- not something you should do WITHOUT prior approval to do so. Even scanning for archival purposes MUST meet certain prerequisites in order to do so. Age is one and it must be at least beyond a certain age- usually around 75 years. Any other archival scans MUST have the photographers written permission to do so. Photos after 1976 are copyright protected for the life of the photographer plus 50 years. A good reference article is here- http://vintagephoto.com/reference/copyrightarticle1.htm

      1. No it’s not. Copyright is distribution based. I can make backup copies as long as I don’t distribute. This is considered fair use under rights. Courts have long held this right under other items under copyright as provision to make a backup. This is not the case of scanning to reprint additional sizes or bypass photog. Simply to preserve what one has. Very important distinction.

        I have 600 dpi versions of our wedding photos. Yes we still have album. And photographer had retired. We auto sync multiple copies of our photos. In case of disaster.

      2. You are wrong and right at the same time.

        Ownership of a copyright protected work- including photographs in any format- means you have certain property right, but NOT rights to make copies of that work. For example if you buy a book you own the property, but NOT the right to make a copy. You can resell that book, but not a copy of it.

        Second, distribution rights is owned by the copyright holder, NOT the buyer of the work unless they are give those right in their purchase. This is where courts have upheld the right of distribution to the one holding the copyright, not to someone purchasing a disc of images and making copies for “archiving” without specific rights to do so. PERIOD!!! That right to reproduction trumps ANY “right to distribution” over all other rights held.

        I offer you should get a bit more education on copyrights and here is a good place to start- http://www.bitlaw.com/copyright/scope.html

  10. I have to admit, I never thought about it. I have many albums going back to the 1940s and I too was raised in the film generation. But now, except for the big prints I have on my walls, all my photographs are in electronic files. Which I maintain and have backed up on external drives … but after me? I have no idea what will happen to the pictures. If the Internet persists, a large number will live on, anonymously, on websites … but otherwise … it will be like the 110,000 pictures in my libraries will have never existed. That’s a startling and very upsetting thought.

  11. Reblogged this on SERENDIPITY and commented:
    I never gave any thought about what happens to my pictures after I’m gone. I have physical albums going back to the 1940s and I was raised in the film generation. But now, except for big prints on my walls, all my photographs are in electronic files. Which I maintain and have backed up on external drives … but after me? I have no idea what will happen to the pictures. If the Internet persists, a large number will live on, anonymously, on websites … but otherwise … it will be like the 110,000 pictures in my libraries will have never existed. That’s a startling and upsetting thought. This is a thought-provoking and relevant post we all need to think about.

  12. My mother did not take many pictures of me because they had to be developed. I take a lot of pictures of my son and have big pictures made to hang on the wall that I really like. I made a photo book of pictures that I love and I bought a photo album a few weeks ago to have prints made to put in it.

  13. Reblogged this on My Other Blog and commented:
    I often wonder what will happen to our photos when we are gone. Perhaps some family member will enjoy looking them over before they are consigned to a box forever. It is true though that while everyone takes pictures all the time now not so many people have them on display. A desire to preserve memories was the reason that I and many other people became interested in scrapbooking. Technology comes and goes but a photo album is something you can take out and look at again and again.

  14. I’ve thought about that recently, too. I still have boxes of photos from when the kids were small and only film cameras were available. Today’s photos are all digital. Probably I should print them out, but most likely I won’t. There’s time and expense involved in printing them, and then there’s the issue of where to store them. When my mother died, she had a huge canvas bag of photos going back to her own childhood. We each took a few photos as memories, but I have no idea where that big is now, or if it even exists any more. Maybe certain photos are meant to be enjoyed for only a short time – the really great photos have a way of surviving whether they’re in print form or digital.

  15. Hi Mike,

    I would like to ask for permission to share your article (and use it for reference with proper attributions) as part of our ongoing effort to get people to be more aware of the increasingly “clear and present” danger of their photos ending up lost or in obscurity. While it is so easy to take photos these days, people take for granted what to do with them after, so they end up just easily losing all these in the clutter, leaving them with no memories of moments that matter.

    I hope you can oblige.

    Cheers!

    Ricky Peña
    Manila, Philippines

  16. You are a dinosaur that is absolutely clueless when it comes to technology. No pictures??? All pictures require a format. You have pictures that require PAPER!! Paper is a format!! Kodak is dead because it became a dinosaur just like you. Evolve or die. It’s your choice.

    1. I’m sorry Brenda, but in case you missed it, YOUR generation is using the TECHNOLOGY that MY GENERATION INVENTED.

      Sp please, don’t tell me I am a dinosaur because I probably know more about it that you ever will. I ALSO know it breaks and when it does, it’s usually not pretty. But you can rely on it totally if you want. It’s everyone else’s pictures and their brilliance that still has Kodak in business! BTW, they never went away. It’s that they decided to SELL the technology to someone for millions and millions. Pretty smart business move if you ask anyone that knows about things like that.

      1. It had to be said, Mike. The saddest thing is that the techno-obsolescence is just a symptom of how quickly imaging technology is evolving. Dazzling as some of the new photo technology is, our camera-computers now need regular upgrades, either firmware or hardware (new camera), whereas analog photo technology, i.e., slide and print film, evolved more slowly and did not need to be changed as often. A new lens or maybe a new slr body every five years was enough for most. If things continue, there may not be much film left to use, however, since everything is going the way of ephemeral digital media, which, as you say, will also morph into something “even better”. Although, there are now a few films that have come out from new companies, which is unexpected.

        I have a number of great dslr’s, but rarely print. Your article has prompted me to now print my best images. In the meantime, I just purchased a mint condition, never used, in box Nikon F6 slr (yes, a 35mm film camera). It was apparently left over when a brick and mortar camera shop went out of business. So, instead of $2400 (the F6 is still in production), I got it for $1048. It was hard to resist, since it is considered to be the best 35mm film slr ever made, by many. So, I will be using reversal film (slides) and negative film (print film) again for the first time in 24 years. I read recently that over half of current film users in the world are new, and that they are young people in their 20’s and 30’s, not older folks. Why would this even happen? One reason is that, although brought up in the digital age, with digital cameras, many of them wanted to understand the original photographic media and experience what it used to be like to be a photographer with film as the photographic medium. Of course, some are just curious. What they learn by using film also helps them in their digital photography, which, after all, is based on analog photography. Film is the original RAW data file, so to speak.

        So, I will now enjoy using my new Nikon F6 and experiment with the various film emulsions still in existence. Best wishes to you and all who have responded to your thought provoking article.

    2. This guy has no clue about technology. He didn’t make a single valid point, but I think it’s because he doesn’t understand how things work now a days. He is just trying to sell printed photos I guess.

  17. Just as what you are saying is true, so is the fact that physical photos can also be lost, destroyed and deteriorate so they can no longer be viewed. Personally I prefer my photos to be digitally stored in the cloud, so I can retrieve them whenever and wherever I may be. But that’s my choice. By the way, I’ve been on this planet for the past 6 decades, so I’m not a young whippersnapper… 🙂

  18. 1. Kodak lost millions in future profits when they failed to adapt. I have seen and heard many business gurus use Kodak used as the prime example of a company that missed its opportunity to thrive.
    2. It really irks me when I pay a professional photographer and he/she views the photos as his/hers. It is MY child in the photo and I PAID them for their services/artwork. If the photos don’t come with full copyright release, I will not hire that photographer.
    3. I think it is FABULOUS that EVERYONE is taking LOTS of pictures. Sure many will be lost but many will also survive. We used to only snap at birthdays and graduations and weddings. NOW we take pics of life’s ORDINARY moments. We are capturing tomorrow’s history better now than ever before!

    1. 1. Kodak did what many failed businesses have done- got away from what made it what it was. The fact they survived is pretty amazing and why they are still around today. Some call it an example of what not to do and is held up as such. No success story is around that didn’t include a LOT of failures to go with it.
      2. Then why do you use any software? All of the software is OWNED by the makers and you have no Copyright to it. In case you missed it, photographs are covered under the same copyright laws as software is covered. WE, as photographers, OWN THE COPYRIGHT the instant we push the shutter, just like YOU own the same copyright the moment you push yours. And it’s because of people like you that photographers DON’T give them away. Those that do, are fools. So you like hiring fools because that is what they are since they won’t be around for you to use again in a couple of short years. It’s ALSO the same reason that we photographers are working to have the copyright laws changed so that instead of going to a Federal Court for claims of violation of our copyrights, we can take you to Small Claims court and receive enforcement that way! Now if you want to PAY for that copyright or for USAGE RIGHTS, like you get when you buy software, then that’s what you are paying for. Copyrights? Not from me. Usage rights, a different story. And it doesn’t matter in the USA who the photo is OF, the creator owns the copyright. Period. And for the record, that means WE own the “right to reproduce” that image and can sell it if we want, give it away if we want, or keep it all to ourselves. If it wasn’t for copyright protections, you wouldn’t have ANY Professional Photographer to go TO. If it wasn’t for copyright protection, you would find that ALL creatives in music, art, books, photography, and any other creative works you enjoy today would NOT make their work be available for your consumption. Why create it if anyone can reproduce it.
      3. Don’t lose your phone and pray your computer doesn’t crash! And people took photos of life’s “ordinary moments” with film too. My Mom has boxes full of those PRINTED PHOTOS and we all cherish sitting around looking at them without any need for something “electronic” to view them too. And I bet the CD of all you precious moments and your Family Portrait looks really good hanging on your wall too! And by the way, it will only last about 7 years, so back it up a lot over your lifetime. I’ll be viewing my printed images LONG after it’s gone.

  19. Hate to break it to everyone, but the internet is forever. So until the zombie apocalypse, all the photos you upload will be there forever. You won’t loose them in a fire, you won’t loose them to water damage, you won’t loose to all the ways a printed picture can be ruined. And as for having files of photos, yes formats change but you can still get your pictures off your floppy disk. It’s ridiculous to say that those files are lost. As long as what it is saved on isn’t damaged, you can get them off of it. This is just another nostalgic photographer complaining about how things have changed. There is hardly a valid point here. I love photography, I think we should all appreciate how the world has changed because of technology.

    1. So let’s see here….”I won Best in Photography in EPAA show Colors of Spring”. So did you display a PRINTED IMAGE here? And what about those “on a piece of canvas” oil paintings you do? Isn’t that so “old fashion”??

      Gee you are a contradiction of yourself waiting to happen. What are you? An ARTIST trying to sell those “canvas paintings” that have been around for a 2,000 years or so? And I guess you hope people will keep these old fashion way of doing things around for several hundred years, huh? Be careful how you point fingers at others too. For everyone you point at, there are 3 pointing back at you.

  20. The problem with using digital as an archive, which it was never meant to be, is that not only is the image invisible, but there is also a layer of technology between you and the image – technology that can change and become obsolete. Each person has their own system for saving/storing digital images, much of it password protected, and so you can imagine the difficulty of trying to locate a friend’s or relative’s images after they have passed away. After a generation or two have passed, it would be all but hopeless. I don’t go around explaining to people that I have an external hard drive with images stored in my office, I have media containing digital images in my safety deposit box, etc., etc. Images saved in social media locations like Facebook tend to be lower resolution. While some folks have the time to be super-organized so that their images are less likely to vanish when they are gone, most people’s images won’t be around in a generation or two. I’m guessing that in a few centuries, most of today’s digital images will have vanished, and those that still exist will be the ones that multiple generations of people have made a conscious effort to transfer from media to media as things evolve. And that begs the question, who decides which images are passed on to posterity?

  21. Sounds like propaganda to drum up business for a dying ‘profession’. There will ALWAYS. Be a means to retrieve older files and access older technology. And the reason less than 1% of images exist as hard copy is MONEY. It’s expensive to use real film and it’s expensive to make hard copy. With even minimal planning organizing and maintaining digital files is far cheaper and easier than hard copy. I have been paid to take pictures of people for 40 years. Digital
    IS the future….and it’s here NOW.

    1. Dan, sorry, but there’s no way you’re a professional photographer. If you were, you’d have access to a professional print lab where archival prints are readily affordable for you to print for your clients. Your comment that there will always be a means to retrieve older files is totally laughable – quick, show me a copy of your parents’ wedding video –
      what’s that you say? It’s on betamax? Oh, too bad. Good luck finding somebody to make you a copy that you can watch. And while you’re busy every few years copying your images into the newest format (have fun doing that with tens of thousands of images, by the way) I’ll be sitting on the couch soaking in the memories as my son and I enjoy our family albums.

  22. Many of the comments extolling the virtues of saving images digitally are focused on the here and now, or perhaps the immediate past and future, and from that perspective digital technology is absolutely incredible. However, it’s also important to look at this important issue from the viewpoint of future generations, as I think many of us would like to believe that the amazing images and history from our current era will not die with us, but will be transmitted down through time to our descendants. This is where the insidious nature of digital technology rears its ugly head, namely the exponential increase in the volume of digital information being created couple with the ephemeral nature of that digital information and the media used to store and access it.

    An article in the October 2007 issue of “Curator” magazine, a publication for museum professionals, addresses this problem and notes that in an unmanaged environment, digital media have an average life expectancy of only five years. Compare that to perhaps 500 years or more for acid-free paper and properly processed black & white film and prints. Color images seem to be more problematic, but certainly last longer than five years. Books, paper and photo archives require only a decent environment and a bit of security, while digital media demands constant and costly stewardship to assure that the invisible digital information is kept organized and identified and is transferred over and over to the latest media.

    Digital technology is not all that old, and problems are already occurring. When I wrote an article about this topic a few years ago, a person from the U.S. Geological Survey commented that valuable digital data is already becoming inaccessible and had no hard-copy backup. He said, “Digital formats are not a replacement for hard-copy, though that’s the way they are perceived. They are a presentation method.” Another person lamented the loss of tens of millions of dollars worth of geophysical data collected by airborne instruments that had been stored digitally.

    An article by the Executive Director of the “Planetary Society” discussed a mysterious anomaly relating to the signals being received for many years from the Pioneer 10 and 11 spacecraft. The investigation of the digital Pioneer data archives that ensued encountered “a bewildering array of computer languages, recording media, data storage protocols, and even physical deterioration of the unique data records.” In an earlier comment, I mentioned how the priceless images from Lunar Orbiter, including history’s first picture of the Earth from the moon, were just barely rescued from digital oblivion.

    Obviously, these examples do not all relate to photographs, but they underscore the problems that surround using digital technology as an archive to preserve valuable information. And again, digital technology is relatively new. Imagine the magnitude of this problem two or three centuries from now. Here’s an interesting article I found recently, which also addresses this topic: http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-32315449

  23. I think this post is brilliant. I am apart of the younger generation bought up around new age technology. I myself prefer printed materialistic photos, which i have many of stored in a photo box that i have snapped and printed for myself over the years.
    I would like to one day show my future grandkids materialistic memories, rather than having to tell them my photos are lost somewhere in the cloud.

  24. I have a box of old faded photos that I never look at and thumb drives of stuff I never look at. Not much different to me. The only stuff I look at is stored in a cloud.

  25. hello to the person who made this article. find out how to get your pictures off the floppy disks and older models, i’m sure you ‘re not the only one with this sort of problem…there is a way, yo u just have to search online…and PRINT out your pictures and put them into a photo album. that way you have them for years to come and you won’t have to be stuck in a hard place. i do agree with you that people do not print out their photos anymore. they should! photos taken on the phone are not usually that great. as far as what you are capturing. that’s fine. it’s for temporary photos. BUT the fact that people in america (not so in other countries) have let the cell phone REPLACE the camera is where the problem lies. because who is going to upload pictures and print them out from their camera? and most of the pics taken aren’t timeless you know? problem. but i have a camera and i hire a family photographer to take family pictures and so on.

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