Vint Cinf recognised as one of the fathers of the internet, recently warned of a coming “digital dark age”, which was picked up by the UK Amateur Photographer magazine in a nice article titled “Photographers are sleepwalking into a ‘photographic Armageddon’“ I must admit I fully agree with the issues raised, the media we rely on today to store digital images does have a limited life, probably shorter than we realise.
My first digital images where recorded using a Sony Marvica Camera on 3 ½” diskettes and whilst I have a few of the diskettes still I think I might be struggling to find a diskette reader, and that has only taken 15 years. I did have the foresight to back them up, but my preferred media then was a zip drive, Damn yet another obsolete format! Ok I have taken some photos into my main photo archive and most have already been recycled onto CD (but already computers don’t always come with a CD/DVD drive, phones & tablet certainly don’t)
The essence of Vint Cinf talks was that photographers also need to print there work to ensure its long term survival. However even with the best archival papers or other media the longevity is never guaranteed yet it is certainly a better choice for important family snaps. By Prints, I’m sure this doesn’t necessarily mean the same old 10 by 15cm snapshot (that’s 4”by 6” for the metric-impaired) you can store in an old shoebox. in could be printing to a photobook. If you want to do you own printing, remembering many ink jet printers use dyes rather than pigments and the colour will quickly fade if exposed to daylight. (ie display on the fridge door)
The morale of this story is make sure you include some form of hardcopy print to provide an additional archive security for your most cherished photos (better still print two copies or have one print and include the same photo in a photo book). If you intend to fames and display the print, put it behind glass and/or have a second print stored safely.