Avoiding the digital Dark Age

 By Photographer Dominic Urbano


Will you fall victim of the Digital Dark Age?

Odds are the answer is a big fat emphatic yes. While there are more photos being taken now than at any time in the history of photography the number of photos being printed is plummeting. Bottom line… if you don’t have prints… good quality prints… your precious photos are likely to be gone within the next ten years. Gone… as in forever gone. Digital storage is temporary… very temporary.

The digital Dark Age and your wedding photos… Where you thought you were getting a great deal when the photographer offered you all the photos on a disc rather than a traditional print album… gone. (a pet peeve of mine… lazy photographers have glutted the wedding photography market and your Great Grand Children are going to hate that you fell for that sales pitch)

The digital Dark Age and that once in a lifetime trip to Manchu Picchu… hope you have a good memory, because the photos stored on a disc will disappear.

The digital Dark Age and baby photos… graduations… honeymoons… BFF hugs… and yes all of those super sexy duck face self-pics; Poof! Gone!

Welcome to the digital Dark Age.

The problem and the solution are both really quite simple.

The problem has two basic parts. First, digital storage is temporary. Second, the hardware necessary to read it keeps changing. That CD full of photos is good for maybe 5-10 years before it degrades and the data (photos) are lost. Hard drives all have a limited usable life. Flash and SD memory cards and drives… same problem. At best digital storage media can only hold those 1’s and 0’s for so long. Even gold-coated blue ray type disc, which might be able to hang in there for a century, fall prey to the unemotional advancement of technology.

The second part of the digital Dark Age problem. Even if the 1’s and 0’s are all intact on some form of storage device… how long before the hardware/software needed to read it is no longer available? Remember floppy disc? Zip drives? Even if that gold coated blue ray disc can hold onto the data for a hundred years… what are the odds that there will be a disc drive and software available to read it? Yup… your great grand kids may well find that disc in a trunk that is labeled “Our wonderful Wedding photos… 2012” but will never be able to see the photos. Instead they will pull out those old prints of your Great Great Grandparents from 1902 and say “cool… these are priceless!” while they throw the disc of your wedding out with the trash… as worthless.

Think about the one or two photos of your Great Great Grandparents that you might have.  Want to try to place a dollar value on those photographs? Priceless I would bet. Yet today’s age of cheap digital storage and cameras that will rattle off thousands of images of any given vacation will be followed by generations that may well have no priceless images of you. We are trading off lasting quality in favor of temporary volume… The solution is easy… print… print… print.

Without bothering you with the benefits of quality professional printing over your inkjet or box store quickie lab prints, (a topic for another day) prints are the best insurance against falling victim to the digital Dark Age. Period.

Print it… enjoy it… store it… forget it. Future generations will thank you. (Well.. they will confused by the duck face photos… but for everything else, they will thank you)