Have you ever thought what will happen in 10 or 20 years to all those digital images you take every day? Have you ever thought what photos the younger generation of your family will have access to when they grow up? We all pretty much stopped printing photos and making real photo albums because we just don't need to do it anymore (and because we are lazy). So what can be done to make those photos available and easily accessible to next generations? Here is my solution.
Way way back...
Let me take you back to 1984, the year I was born. It was way before the invention of digital photography, HD videos or the Internet. Back then, my parents used film cameras and kept all the images (good or bad) of me and my family in photo albums, or just in a pile in a box along with the negatives. Many times they even added the date and short description of the event or subjects behind the good images.
As I grew, the images piled up and I could go and see (and enjoy) all those great images of me and my family. Every once in a while I go and open a random box filled with photos, and just go through them to see how I looked like when I was 2 years old, how I used to play with my grandparents or maybe to get nostalgic about that family trip we did when I was 6. I’m 28 now, and I have full access to images documenting my life from the second I was born, through the first day of school to the first day in the military. Thousands of images. And you know what? Not only I have access to images of me, but I have access to images documenting the lives of my brothers, parents, grandparents and so many more important people in my life.
The Way We Store And Share Photos Today
Which leads me to the way we live our lives today, with great advancement in technology. These days people enjoy the fact they can snap a photo and upload it instantaneously to Facebook, Instagram or Picasa. For them the work is done. It’s up there and your friends and family can enjoy the photos (and even like them!). But there is one thing you probably forgot: Your kids (or young family members) are not on those services, and wont be on them for the next few years. Who even knows if those services will exist by then.
When I photograph my nephews and nieces I want to believe they will have access to all those photos in the future the same way I have access to all the images documenting my own life. It’s not fair that because of the advancement in technology and our laziness they will grow up without having any (or just few) images of themselves as kids.
I have hundreds of thousands of photos on my hard drives. Many of them include photos of my family. But I know that most likely most family members won't have access to all these hard drives in 5, 10 or 20 years, if they even work by then.
This leads me to one of my solutions.
Emailing Your Babies Can Make a Difference
I Email the photos to whoever is in the photos. Even If they are a 2 year old baby. Yes, I email babies that can't even read yet. Any time a new baby joins our family, one of the first things we do is create a gmail account for them. I use that address to send all the cool photos I take of them, so when they grow up and take control of their account, they can see all those images I sent them for the past who knows how many years. In each email I usually include the date the shot was taken, what was the event and who else was there.
If you want to make it even easier for them to find all these images, you can create a folder in Gmail called 'Family Photos' that automatically filter emails with a specific title so they can easily find them when they finally take control of their account. You can take the basic idea and improve it to make it work better for your own family.
Emailing kids who won't read your emails for the next few years might sound stupid, but the idea they will be able to enjoy all those photos is worth it. Not only you have the obligation to do it as a dad/mom/brother/sister/grandpa/grandma/uncle/aunt, you also have the obligation to do it as a great photographer who probably takes better pictures than most people around you (sorry, average-and-less-talented people).
So next time you see happen to photograph your young family members, remember your role, and email them some photos. Takes 1 minute and makes a big difference.