Among things that have become harder to manage in the digital age are images. It is easy to take photographs with my Samsung mobile device today. Because it’s so easy, and has been for a while, the quantity of images on file is huge.
Every photograph is not important. Most are geared toward editing and posting on line in one of my social platforms, including WordPress. It is unclear what I should keep longer term. The cheap availability of storage suggests there is no need to sort through and delete some of them. While that may be the default process, I want change as I transfer files to my new CPU.
In August I captured 186 images, which is a typical monthly amount. Most of them are photos of garden produce, cooking, books, artwork, and things that happened or places I went. The best solution to reducing the quantity of files is to delete originals after cropping them for posting. Another is decide on the story a series is to tell. For example, I have 12 images related to donating my 1997 Subaru to Iowa Public Radio. They could be reduced to four. The best time to do this is immediately after I download them from my mobile device.
As I transfer thousands of images I plan to go through them all. To get this done I put an item on my daily outline, “work on file transfer.” I don’t know how long it will take yet I’ll work until it is done, a bit each day.
I don’t know the provenance of many of my photos, especially those with political subjects. In 2006-2008 I was getting used to a digital camera as my main image capturing technology. I felt little restraint about downloading photos by others when my own at a specific event were sub-par. I work harder to give credit today, but some of the older digital images are fond, and I have little idea who made them. I try to avoid using them outside my computer.
A main use of the files is in story telling. Before I deleted my Flickr account it was a great platform for story telling. The problem is how to translate those types of online stories into something more meaningful inside our home. When Yahoo had the problem with personal information security, I killed all the related accounts and downloaded the text from the stories on Flickr. It’s not the same.
Photos are a significant part of my autobiographical research. While ten years later I don’t care what I had for dinner on a given Sunday, those photos play a role in daily life, one that should be explored and developed for the story. A few will go into the final book yet the rest are best stored by editing, printing them out, and placing in an album. That’s as big a project as working through the transfer. The file transfer project will, in part, be designed to set up an album-making project for later.
There is no denying quality varied a lot over the more than 50 years I’ve been taking photographs. Sometimes a blurry image is all one has and it must be used for the album or story to make a point. I hope the formats .bmp, .jpg, .jpeg, .tiff, .png, and .tif persist yet there are no guarantees. The main issue going forward is there are a limited number of commercial outlets to print photos. We are tied to whatever those technologies are. It is too expensive to make our own prints on a home printer, except for on special occasions.
As I approach my seventieth birthday I think more about not leaving a large task of image sorting behind when I die. I may want to keep a couple of photos of tomatoes I grew, yet I don’t need a thousand. Likewise, if I can’t remember the name of a person in a photo, there is little reason to keep it. The recycling bin is already getting full.
I’ll be better off by giving this project some measure of thoughtful approach. Now that I’ve started, I hope to persevere until the work is done. The best part will be in actually completing the transfer so I can devote this time to something new. Wish me luck!
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