Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Keeping Personal Digital Photographs: Part 1

My father celebrated his 90th birthday last year and at his party about a dozen old black and white photos were enlarged and on display. Thinking about these few remaining photos from his childhood and early adult life I wondered how many of the thousands of digital photos I had taken would survive and be as easily usable when my child decorates for my 90th birthday party. As a preservation professional it gave me a queasy feeling that I had more confidence in the survival of these black and whites than I did of my large, unorganized digital collection.

Dad and Great-Grandpa

Haunted by the state of my photos I set a New Year’s resolution to organize my digital photographs in the first step to make certain they will be preserved into the future. To do that I’ll follow the guidelines published by the Library of Congress, National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program, Keeping Personal Digital Photographs, and to keep me motivated I will write about the experience. Knowing I have an audience (hi Mom!) should keep me on track.

The first archiving tip:
Identify where you have digital photos
  • Identify all your digital photos on cameras, computers, and removable media such as memory cards.
  • Include your photos on the web. 
Easy! I regularly download photos from the camera’s memory card (SD card) onto my home computer that is backed up with an external hard drive. Only when I’ve downloaded all the photos do I erase them from the card.

But wait! What about the photos on my iPad? And the cell phone? Photos on my iPad are occasionally synced to my work laptop but not to the home computer. Photos taken with my phone live only on my phone. Luckily the only photos I’ve posted to the web are stored on my computer – for now. So how am I going to keep track of these photos? At the risk of giving up before I’ve started I’ve decided to create a policy:

Barb’s Family Photo Archive Policy:
  • The home computer will be the primary archive for all photos.
  • Photos taken with mobile devices AND considered worth keeping long term will be downloaded to the home computer.
  • Consider mobile devices as disposable photo albums.
In the coming weeks I will continue to follow the guidelines to get my personal collection under control and will describe my successes and obstacles to success.

Written by Barb Sagraves.

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