The Film Flow that Was
In the days of film, taking photos involved two car trips and opening your wallet. When the roll was finished, you took the canister to your local lab and dropped it off for processing. You waited a few days and then returned to collect your envelope of 6×4-inch snapshot prints for a few dollars more. On that single roll of film you spent, say, $15 total for 36 prints, with negatives.
There might have been several pictures from that roll of film that you really loved enough to want to see again. So, you bought a photo album with sticky pages and transparent sheets, or maybe the flip kind. You located the next free page and inserted those half a dozen photos. If you were really good, you also labelled the pictures so that, in a few years’ time, or if your kids inherited the album, they would know who was in the photo and where and when it was taken. When that album filled up, a new one was bought, and the process of building your family story in photographs continued over the years.
Let’s leap forward to the present day. How things have changed! Hidden beneath the benefits of digital photography, you’ll discover some common problems many people face.
While the number of photographs may have increased, the fundamental reasons for taking pictures has not. We still make photos that touch our emotions and remind us of who and what are most important in our lives.
Let’s say that you buy a digital SLR manual camera and a memory card that can hold perhaps a thousand pictures. Now, you can take lots and lots more pictures than the slow and steady practice of 36 shots per roll. You can click and click and click with ease and minimal barrier to volume.
Digital cameras have also become more sophisticated in their automatic functions. More automation means an approximation to a decent enough result for output. In other words, if it looks OK on screen, then it will be good enough for the average consumer to display or print.
There is also now a large array of applications for electronic drives where we can immediately process our instant photos and add artistry with a variety of looks, textures, and borders. We might have ten versions of the same moment captured, all with different looks. And we think to ourselves, I’ll figure out the favourites later…
You can now view your pictures instantly, so no more trips to the local shopping mall. You can view those images on the back of your camera immediately and at no cost. In the midst of a family picnic, you can freely photograph all the people there, the laughs, the birthday cake, the party, the place, the food, etc., and scroll through all the images in the car on the way home. Click, view, maybe share online or email a couple to a family member, and then forget…
In the past, a dSLR camera was an expensive hobby. Nowadays, digital camera kits are available at accessible prices, and you see a commensurate increase in the number of households that now own these cameras.
In the midst of family fun and busy lives, pictures are being taken left, right, and centre, with incredible ease and at a far greater pace than we ever did with film. The volume creeps up…
We imagine that our time has been saved by digital photography because we are no longer making two trips to the shopping mall to develop our photos. The days of making photo albums are also a thing of the past. In the midst of our busy lives, tasks like managing our personal photo library becomes less of a priority. We rarely set aside time to make an album with our favourites because the task is so overwhelming. We’re usually happy just knowing that at least the pictures have been captured – they are sitting on someone’s camera somewhere and, for now, that’s good enough. You promise yourself that at some stage in the future, you’ll sort them out…
As soon as a picture is taken digitally, it’s archived in one place: the camera’s memory device. But, the convenience of leaving your original capture where it is has many risks associated with it. You might be one of those people whose heart skips a beat at the thought of knocking your camera off the kitchen bench on to the stone tiles with the picture of your three-year-old’s birthday party stored on it. Or your stomach might drop at the thought of losing your camera at the local park and all those pictures of your children visiting their ageing great-grandmother at the nursing home. Or having your computer crash, or stolen.
These worries prompt you to go to the next step. You hook your camera device to your computer and download your pictures. Essentially, you’re pulling out a box from the garage – your computer – and throwing in the latest envelope of photos labelled with today’s date.
You never back up those photos on an external hard drive or in the cloud. It’s all just too time consuming. One rainy Sunday afternoon, you promise yourself you’ll back up everything…
The dusty boxes of yesteryear are a thing of the past, because all our photos now live permanently in a digitised state. However, in terms of digital space, the increase in photo files means precious hard drive space is being taken up with folder after folder of unedited photos. It would help save space by deleting blinks and blurs when you download. One day you’ll do this and keep only your favourites…
There are many options for handling photo content, from cataloguing to backing up to presenting. Technology is supposed to make things easier but, in the case of photography, there is a plethora of options available, which can make setting up a central and reliable system quite overwhelming.
For example, there are two major formatting platforms to choose from, PC or Mac, and there are many software options available for keeping track of your photos after they’ve been imported to your computer.
You can go online and use a free space like Instagram or Facebook, where you can upload and share your pictures – if you are comfortable using those online spaces. Due to the feed-sharing format, the galleries can get lost in a sea of galleries over time. Smug Mug and Flickr are great online spaces where you can keep track of your pictures and make wonderful presentation products using third-party providers, but, again, in an online environment, a third-party provider operates the central system. It doesn’t leave you with the feeling that you are in total control of your own picture library.
Then, there’s the concern of safety with digital photography in terms of backing up your pictures. Backup options include the cloud, external devices, DVDs, and memory sticks. Again, with the multitude of options and uncertainty of technology becoming outdated, it all gets too difficult, so pictures tend to just get left on the computer hard drive. Worse yet, in many cases they only saved on the camera they were originally taken on. Uncertainty leads to inaction…
There has to be a better way. Technology is supposed to make our life easier and, yet, with digital photography, we seem to have stepped into the digital Dark Age.
Excerpt from Memories at your fingertips – organise your digital photos like a pro.