What’s The Future of Photo Archiving?

photo album scanningFor the past 100 years or so, you could expect to find the family’s cherished photos organized and presented in photo albums and slide carousels.  Finding them decades after they’ve been created makes for an easy and emotional way to see and reconnect with our family’s roots. 

What happens in 20 years with the photos and videos we’re taking today and storing online, on hard drives, and in our smart phones?  Will they still be around for future generations?  Of course, they’ll never fade but they could just get erased.  Left in an account somewhere that nobody knows about until the company that holds them just wipes them out.   It’s impossible to expect someone to care about something they don’t even know exists.  There is currently a debate about what happens to someone’s electronic accounts after the person has died.  Do they get passed to heirs?  What if no one knows the passwords?  What a huge hassle for the heirs and the companies that host the files.  Are the companies obligated to provide passwords to an heir? What proof must be provided and how?

Paper has this one advantage.  People will instantly know they have the family photos without having to plug anything in and hunt around through thousands of files. 

So what’s the solution? 

We currently require our customers to take physical media with their photos and videos after we’ve digitized them.  The optical disks are rated to last at least 100 years and they’re in cases labeled clearly as Photos.  We also offer Contact Sheet Books that serve as a printed index, in bound book form, of all of the photos.  It makes it easy to see all of the photos without plugging anything in.

Here are a few other possible options:

  • Share your passwords with a trusted friend or relative
  • Keep a copy of your accounts and their passwords in a lock box or file cabinet that’s clearly labeled as such
  • Copy your photos to CD, DVD, or hard drive and label them clearly as photos
  • Find other family members willing to inherit the family photos and set a plan for succession

Of course, sharing passwords comes with some risk so consider carefully what you give access to.

With a little planning your photos and your family history will survive many more generations.