I am trying to complete my transition into the digital photo age.
I’m not a photographer or even a photo buff, just a mom trying to preserve family memories with an average digital camera. I’ve gotten used to framing shots in the display screen, and I don’t miss buying film. My problem is what to do with the images once I’ve captured them.
I have a list of prints to order for the photo album _ even though I still haven’t found time to slide the last batch into the plastic pockets. I have photos in folders on the desktop _ and in a box with stickers and borders and sheets of colored paper from a scrapbooking kit I bought five years ago and never finished.
I know I need to move forward. My last photo album is almost full; I don’t want to buy another. I know the sensible thing is to store my photos on CDs.
I know there’s probably no need to print more than a few. Yet, as the world around me goes increasingly paperless, I just can’t shake the urge to maintain a hard-copy record of my daughters’ childhood years.
The digital domain has given us new ways to share and display images of the people, places and moments that are important to us. It has also changed what we keep. Thanks to digital photo technology, we can instantly delete
the worst images we capture and easily fix the flaws in the next-worst. Red eyes? Point, click, fixed. Extraneous person walking across the background? Grab that cropping tool.
Since you’re no longer stuck with all those closed-eye, too-dark, goofy-smile shots, you only have to organize the photos you really want to save. And you don’t have to wait long to get them. I remember waiting weeks for the photos from one film to arrive in the mail. Now, I can print dozens in minutes using a touch screen at a local drugstore.
When I was little, we had family slide shows. My dad would haul out the projector, set up the tripod in the middle of the living room and unfurl the white screen. Popcorn would be popping in the kitchen when I sat down at my father’s side, next to a shoebox full of small, orange boxes. The projector hummed, propped on a stack of books to point at the center of the screen, dust dancing in its beam.
One by one, I’d lift out the slides and hand them to my father, careful only to touch the white cardboard edges. Sometimes, I’d peek at the image inside
the square, but I’d only be able to make out a clue: the silhouette of one face, or two, or three. I would always be surprised when the image popped into focus: my sisters and me, with toothless smiles, blowing out candles, in Halloween costumes and Christmas pageants. The last image was always the same: TIME FOR BED, written in purple marker on a blank slide.
Today, there is no waiting. You can see family vacation photos while you’re still on the vacation. When you get home, you can upload the photos and e-mail a friend a slide show of your trip.
Magnetic photo albums are out, scrapbooking is in, and there are picture frames that allow you to display a limited number of stored photos "" or hundreds of photos when you insert your camera’s memory card. Some of the frames even have the ability to download photos through an Internet connection, so you can give Grandma a framed photo _ and send her a new image every week.
Will it be long before we are framing live-action images: a baby’s first steps, a kid’s home run, a couple’s wedding vows? Will the genealogists of the future not know what it’s like to come across a faded snapshot? And when they find a dusty CD labeled "photos," will they still have the technology to access the images?
Even as I wonder if we’re losing something in the leap forward, I am enjoying the conveniences of the digital age. It’s great to be able to look at photos of my girls playing in the snow while their hats and mittens are still soggy.
And when I really want to see an old-fashioned slide show, I can pop in the
DVD my husband made from my dad’s slides.
Lisa Miller is a freelance writer who lives in Oneonta. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am trying to complete my transition into the digital photo age.
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