Most of the pictures of my childhood were developed as 2¼ x 2¼ slides. It was the newest technology of the day, and the feeling was the “wide screen” offered a higher quality image than standard slides.* Every year or so, we would go down memory lane as a family by setting up the projection screen and the projector and watching one after another, possibly along with a few 8mm family movies.
Today, the film and slide canisters sit in a box somewhere. We have the projector, but I’m afraid to try in case the bulb goes. Replacements might be difficult to find.
My wife and I took a different route, developing pictures the old-fashioned way and placing them in an album. (Well, not totally old-school, later on we would send digital files out for printing.) Reliving our family memories is as easy as opening a book.
For those reading today, this is a cautionary tale.
Too many people have too many memories which are currently parked on various social media accounts or worse, sitting on the devices that captured the image on the day they were taken. You are dependent on the technology of the day which may or may not exist tomorrow.
For example, when the opportunity came, my Dad backed up our family movies to VHS. Our wedding is on VHS, and one of the two copies unspooled one day when we were rewinding the tape. (Be kind: Please rewind.) I’d like to transfer the VHS to a digital file, but I don’t want to have another tape get lost in the plastic shell.
And how do today’s digital files compare to whatever it is we’ll have tomorrow?
I realize the analogy has its weaknesses, there is no print-equivalent to movies, but in terms of our other (still) pictures, it’s been about three years now since we last sent a file out for printing.
We do print off a few on the home computer so that my mom can keep them in the facility where she lives, but even they, though done on proper photo paper, are rendered in ink-jet, not laser, which means they are extremely vulnerable. I fear a computer crash could just wipe out everything.
Furthermore, there’s a great irony in the fact that while the new technology means that camera ownership (via phones) is at a record high, new technology means that so many of those memories stand to be lost when people change or even misplace devices.
Again, this is a cautionary tale. Nobody is paying me to say this. But go through your SD-card computer, or your laptop and pick a few images and create a file that your local photo shop can run for you.
I believe you’ll thank me some day.
*This is an argument that is somewhat meaningless. Beta had superior picture quality to VHS, but lost the market war. Blu-Ray is considered much better than standard DVD, but again, the market favors the latter. In this example, the wider format slides simply never caught on. The projector we owned was capable of showing both types, a concession to this situation.