The Digital Disaster

As I work on editing photos I am overwhelmed with the potential disaster digital photography imposes. We've already seen one of our laptops crash destroying along with it my college photos and Brylee's baby photos. And in the thousands of images we currently have taken in a short couple years, none are actually printed or available to view beyond what's been uploaded to Facebook or found on our computer files.

I have so many questions on where to start. Do I put my energy into getting family albums printed through sites like Blurb or Shutterfly? Do I return to getting 4x6 prints made and continue filling shoeboxes or stuffing albums? Do I store back-ups on a separate hard drive, on CDs or DVDs or on a site like Box? Are all our photos blog worthy for our Cress Family Album? If I go through this preservation work now (which, let's face it, will take weeks or even months between other things needing attention), when will I need to do it again and how often will it need to be updated?

The Library of Congress put together some tips for Digital Photograph Preservation and Picnam wrote some advice for Preserving Digital Photos. From these, I've gathered a few tips that should help me along the way, mainly "Date, rotate and eliminate." This phrase is meant for food storage but is what came to mind for photo storage. It includes:
  • Eliminating bad images or unnecessary multiples (I am not a professional, so hundreds or thousands of raw images are not necessary when select quality images will be perfect for memory's sake);
  • Labeling and organizing image files (I've started folders by date or special holidays/trips/events but need to label/rename the actual files);
  • Making back-up copies in multiple locations (this is where I need an external hard drive to store the "originals" along with copies on CD or DVD);
  • Distributing copies (I have yet to tap into the true benefit of digital which is sharing; I've limited my sharing to Facebook when there's no reason I couldn't send a CD/DVD of our favorite family photos from the year and send them to close family);
  • and Making hard copies for family display and preservation (this could include 4x6 prints which seem ideal for preservation's sake as they can easily be scanned or shared between people, a scrapbook or coffee table-type book, or larger images for framing).
Eliminating really seems to be key for me not getting overwhelmed. Being critical about which images are kept means less work organizing, editing and backing up. It also means more enjoyment looking at fun, quality (and whatever else is the main criteria) images rather than getting bored before looking through even one holiday. Fifty years from now will I even realize some photos are "missing?" Not hardly. In fact, I'll probably still be eliminating!