I have a copy of my Year 12 formal on Betamax. You have to be of a certain age to know what Betamax is, but basically it was a video format that existed a long time ago, back when videos were still around.
When I got that tape I was pretty chuffed. I thought the fact that the school had produced an actual movie of our dance, along with some very shakily shot footage of our final school year, was the most modern thing ever. It was very high tech. It was also very 1985.
But even back in the late '80s I was aware of how quickly technology was changing so I had the tape converted to VHS to keep it current. Well, that clearly didn't work, because 30 years later VHS is no longer around, so I wont get to see how awkward I looked when I was 17. And I'm oddly okay with that.
But I'm not okay with losing the photos I've taken of my son.
Sixteen years ago, when he was born I took the memory card from my camera for the thousands of photos I had taken of him to be printed at a photo-processing place. I stored every photo of his baby years in photo albums.
By the time he was a young child, technology was starting to change again. Photo processing places were hard to find and digital photo solutions were popping up all over the place. And so, ever dutifully, I started to store my photos on disks.
One thing led to another and soon I had photos on memory sticks, disks, my laptop, and as the years rolled on, thousands on my iPhone. But I am a worrier and sometimes I had restless sleep, waking at intervals to worry about the fact that all my photos weren't stored together. It's not that I am fastidious about order (although maybe I am) but it worried me that there wasn't a central storage place and I didn't have control over all my images. And I hardly ever got to actually look at them.
"Put everything on the cloud and go to sleep," my husband would urge at 3 am. And I'd try let him go back to sleep without reminding him about upload speeds and the fact that if the photos are stored on the cloud hackers would have access to them. The hacker theory may have something to do with me not getting enough sleep.
In the bright light of day, friends suggested I put my photos in digital albums and send away for printed books. I'd tried the photo book option in the past, they are fantastic, and also, time consuming. There's also just something missing from them, something I couldn't put my finger on until recently when my son came home from school requesting some baby pictures for a school project.
Like the old-fashioned mother he thinks I am, I took out his baby photo albums and we started to look through them for the cutest pictures. I almost narrowed it down to 700 but he insisted he only need five. But the process reminded me how much I love actual photos, the ability to look at an image on a piece of glossy paper and be transported, image by image, back to a specific time and place.
Not only did I love looking through the pages of the albums in a way the photo book didn't allow (I loved seeing each individual photo not crowded on a page within in a montage), but I realised this version of photos is technology-proof. They are just there. Like physically there. And when my son wanted an electronic version we didn't have to go sifting through files and folders and clouds -- he merely took a photo of the photo with his phone.
So I took my iPhone to a photo processing booth, culled my hundreds of pictures of various delicious dinners and printed out 1800 photos of my family. Then I spent two days immersed, quite literally, in the past three years of my life and I've got six brand new very old-fashioned albums to show for it. But, unlike my high school dance, every one of those photos made me feel happy and loved.
Now I need to tackle the laptop. And back everything up on the cloud. Just in case.
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