WHERE HAVE ALL THE PICTURES GONE?

25th January 2016
Almost everybody takes pictures these days. Mostly on mobile phones I would guess, millions of them all over the world! Others are taken using a multitude of different camera types, anything from simple point and shoot, to professional quality digital single lens reflex, or the more recent 'mirrorless' types which have gained popularity over the last two or three years.

So you've captured your digital image, could be a 'selfie' or a beautifully composed work of art. What happens now? Before we consider that next step, let's go back in time a bit.

Not that many years ago we would take our roll of film from the camera, take it to the local chemist, or photographic shop or put it in a bag and send it off to a mail order company for processing (remember 'Truprint?', still going strong as it happens!). There are still an ever decreasing number of enthusiasts who still use film.

So you'd wait with eager anticipation for a few days, until the print package drops through the letterbox. The excitement builds as you carefully 'open here' along the correct edge. The strips of negatives in a separate envelope inside, then what you've waited for, finally, the 24 or 36, 6x4 or 7x5inch prints. And then!..............the intense disappointment as you thumb through the prints, nothing is the same as you remember when you pressed the shutter, everything was perfect then, nice light, great colours, nice composition, all in focus, no trees growing out of heads or heads cut off, no out of focus fingers or thumbs intruding into the image!

The next step was to keep out the few prints which were acceptable and put the rest, complete with envelope and negatives, into a drawer never to see the light of day again, or until the time came to give the 'odds and sods' drawer a clear out. Over time the prints would usually reduce in number until very few would still exist. The strange thing is, no one seems to recall what happened to the rest. Some may have ended up in an album, been borrowed or passed on to others in the family. It was very rare, and still is, that reprints from negatives which did survive are made.

Of course there are those people who have boxes of negatives and old prints stored in the loft or at the back of a cupboard. Usually, they rediscover them when they have to move them to get at something else they were looking for. Quite often the comment is "We must do something about those old pictures", then move on to the next job in hand. And so we move on.....

The age of digital images has changed all that!.....or has it?

It's a fact that most of the images we make today using cameras and phones will disappear much quicker than those prints and negatives we stashed away in in drawers or cupboards. Most likely, you will upload your images as jpg's to your desktop PC or your tablet. Then you will post some to your preferred social media platform, Facebook, Instagram and the like. Some may get shared amongst you friends and acquaintances - what then?

It is really important to find a way to back up your images, and it's easier than ever to do. Yet, why is it that most of us never bother? It's only when something goes wrong that we even consider it! We've all heard stories of images accidentally deleted from memory cards or laptop hard drives failing. While it's true that it is sometimes possible to recover images using specialist software, it can be a rather expensive exercise.

There are quite a few ways to back up your picture files. Consider buying a stack of blank disks and copying your pictures to them and then storing them somewhere safe. Not forgetting to label them using a permanent marker with dates, subject and anything else to help identify what is on the disk. Another way, is to buy a small portable hard drive which can connect to your laptop or desktop computer, then get into the habit of copying pictures to it on a regular basis. It won't take long and it means that you always have a second copy of those important images. Being portable means that you can leave the hard drive with relative or friend if you spend any amount of time away from home. A bit like an insurance policy really, as it means all your priceless images are not stored in one place. Yet another way, is to save your images to a 'cloud' system. This is where you can transfer and save almost anything through a third party provider. Some are a free while others charge for this service.

Backing up your valuable memories and finding a way to do it is quite a big question with so many ways now available. I would urge anyone who is still with me and reading this blog to start 'backing up' as soon as possible. You don't want to be the one in a few years time asking 'where have all the pictures gone', do you?

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