Here it is only August, but for many families whose lives revolve around extracurricular school activities, summer is already over. That means those lazy, hazy, crazy days of vacations and travel are done for another year, even if hot weather promises to persist for another — what? — two months or more.
That also means the memories we made during our summer travels, along with the photos we faithfully took along the way, will go into cold storage along with our Bermuda shorts, flip-flops, and swimming gear.
We’ll easily locate those items when Memorial Day 2019 rolls around, but the photos? They likely will be languishing on our telephones, or still be stored on the memory card in our digital cameras.
Back in the day when film cameras were the only game in town, the dominant film manufacturer liked to call such photos “Kodak Moments.” Later, digital technologies spread and photo film became less popular. Nevertheless, what we used to call “Kodak Moments” are more significant now than ever before. In fact, a website with that name lives on.
“Kodak Moments” were special times indeed, because film cost money and capturing the perfect image was tricky. But with digital devices, you can take as many pictures as you want in rapid fire sequence. Then, you delete your dozens of misfires after identifying the best of the batch.
Visionary photographer Chase Jarvis of Seattle is credited with coining the phrase “the best camera is the one that’s with you,” and people around the world have embraced that concept. With the addition of digital cameras to smartphones — which we almost always have with us — it is estimated that such devices are used for 85 percent of the 1.2 trillion digital photos taken worldwide each year. According to calculations by InfoTrends, that’s about 160 photos for each of the 7.5 billion people inhabiting our planet.
Those images are really stacking up. My phone has hundreds of photos stored, all captured over the past decade, and the salesman usually groans about it while he transfers data whenever I upgrade phones. I was forced into buying cloud storage so I could store more.
Even worse, the disc on the digital camera I usually use is filled with pictures from years past, even though I am more diligent about downloading those images to our home computer. I don’t delete them, however. I like to have them duplicated, just in case.
But lately, I’ve begun to wonder if that’s enough.
Several generations of my in-laws held their annual summer get-together in the Davis Mountains last month, and my wife dug through stacks of old photos — prints made from negatives — to share. Just as there’s something special about holding a printed newspaper, there’s something special about holding a photograph. At least, it is for me. Viewing them on a screen, even a screen as large as one on a desk computer, isn’t the same.
This week, I’m having prints made from digital photos I took at a different family event. When you’re the person with the “real camera,” people sometimes think your pictures are going to be better than anything they can get with their phones. That’s not necessarily the case, but this time it was. I agreed to share.
I’m thinking I need to get prints made for me too. I have a decade’s worth of other photos needing similar attention, but at least this is a start.
Gene Deason is editor emeritus of the Brownwood Bulletin. His column appears on Fridays. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.