Imagine it’s 2030. So not ridiculously far ahead into the future. Your daughter just called you from college and explained that she needs to have some pictures of her when she was 3 for her new project. So you stand up from the chair, and you go looking for those pictures. Tell me where they are? Do you go for that big old box of photos that you collect since forever? If you are, then congratulations. You are in a 33% of people who were printing images in years 2010 – 2016. Rest of them will start looking for that old CD or a USB drive that may or may not be somewhere in the drawer, and when they find it, they will realize that it does not fit into the virtual/augmented/mini/mobile/i-have-no-idea-what computer standing on the desk.
We are the most photographed generation in history but in 20 years we will have no pictures. Cameras are everywhere. Back in 2013, there was already almost as many mobile phones in the world (6.8 billion) as there are people on this earth (seven billion). In the last five years, there were more pictures taken, than in all prior years combined. Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, we live in a world of pictures. Most of those images will disappear in one year. Some of them will survive three years, very few five, and almost none of them will exist in 15 years. Unless we start to print.
There are so many reasons to print your images, but yet only a small percentage of people do it. We treat them very lightly. We call them snaps. We don’t think those pictures are important. We keep them on our phones and tablets, only occasionally glancing at them when we show them to our friends. Usually just once. “Here some snaps from our trip to Spain, and here a few from Cathy’s birthday.” Then the pictures go to Facebook or Instagram for rest of our friends and family to see. In two weeks, those pictures are slowly losing meaning. People stop liking them, comment on them and remember about them. A few months later you go to another birthday party or a trip to the park. Cathy is hanging upside down from the monkey bars for the first time. But your phone memory is already full. So you quickly delete few of the old images, ( You have them on Facebook anyway. Plus you have sent them by email a couple of times, so they are not really gone, right? You can get them back if you want to. ) to make a place for the new ones. And so on, and so on, until one day you get a new phone. Old one goes into the drawer, and so are the images on it.
You know how many phones with broken screens I have? 4. If I count my wife’s phones, there would be much more. I know each of them has some images of my family on it. But I don’t even remember what they are. And every time I see them ( my kids play with them from time to time) I promise myself that one day I will get those pictures recovered. One day…
Not to mention countless memory cards and CDs that I have in my drawer. None of my computers have CD drive. I don’t even remember the last time I used one. I also have a 15-year-old internal hard drive that I took from my old PC when I was moving out from my family home. I honestly have no idea is it still working.
StorageCraf – global backup and recovery company posted an article about a data storage lifespan –
You can read the whole article here – http://www.storagecraft.com/blog/data-storage-lifespan/
At the same time, your prints will stay in your family for generations.
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.
FAMILY STORIES LIVE WITH PRINTS
I remember when a few years ago I was visiting my family home with my daughter. We don’t go there as often as I would like to, so every visit is very special. Suzie was playing in my old room, looking through some of my old stuff that is still there, hidden deep in the drawers and among my old school notebooks, she found a few pictures of me when I was her age. She got very excited; one thing led to another, and my mom brought the big green box of photographs. So there we are, sitting on the floor of my parent’s living room going through the family pictures, I listen to how my mom tells my daughter a story about each picture, and the smell of paper brings me back to the moments when I was looking at the images myself so many years ago. The texture of the paper takes me back to what I have experience as a child. The bent corners and the old faded colours. It was an amazing moment. Now imagine how would that feel if my mum would bring an IPad instead.
Yes, we have hundreds of images on our computers and tablets and smartphones and yes we glance at the occasionally when showing the photos to our friends and family. But is it really that meaningful, or fun or exciting? There is nothing there. I’m a huge nerd and I was raised with my face glued to a screen but I don’t believe for a second that we could get that excited looking at the image on the screen. Tablets are not for that. Emails and facebook and Fruit Ninja – yes. But there is nothing exhilarating and exciting in a photo on a smartphone.
But you know what is exiting? A beautiful custom framed 30×40 wall portrait hanging above your fireplace that you are going to see every day. A gorgeous handmade heirloom photo artbook that is a reminder of the love you have for your family. A big piece of artwork that grounds you in what is important when things get hard. An album that you can go through when you want to stop for a moment when everything in your life is getting crazy. And remind yourself that all the work is worth it because you are doing it for your family. An album that will stay in your family for generations and that your kids will fight for in 50 years from now.
There is something magical about a framed print hanging on the wall. It allows you to stop and wonder, and appreciate what you have. Plus it has long been acknowledged that family photos displayed in a home help boost a child sense of identity and create a sense of belonging. Each time they walk by a family photograph, which is countless times a day, a message is sent: You, my dear child are important. You matter. You have a special place in this world. You are a part of this thing called family, and we love you.
Think about social media? How long do you think it will last? Remember Friendster? Orkut? How about Myspace? Nobody cares anymore. Even Google will not be here forever, let alone Facebook. But even if they will, even if your images are safe on the countless servers with a backup of a backup forever. Do you really believe that when you are gone, your children and grandchildren will go through your old broken phones, hard drives and CDs that will not be compatible with anything in the next 60 years looking for pictures? That they will know what kind of cloud service you were using to store your images, yet alone your usernames and passwords?
So it’s 2030. You are standing there with scratched CD in you hand that you found in a drawer next to your parents wedding VHS tape, and you think that both of them are completely useless now. You don’t know a single person that have a device that can read this obsolete piece of technology. At the same time, pictures of your childhood are still safe in this old green box that you have kept for so many years.
We are the most photographed generation in history, and if we are not careful, we will have nothing to show for it.
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