We all get set in our ways, and photography is no exception to the rule. We tend to use what we’re familiar with. If we grew up with film and a binder or bin full of photos we probably still favor physical copies over digital photos despite the prevalence of digital photography in today’s world. So why change what’s worked for years? Has it worked for years? What are the benefits and drawbacks of a physical photo library or a digital archive of my photos?
We’ll take a look at the five main concerns with keeping photos, for both digital and analog libraries.
Pros -- Digital photo libraries can essentially be endless, you’ll never run out of space because they can fit on a flash drive or hard drive the size of a deck of cards. Or, even smaller, you can upload your photos to a cloud storage service and have no flash drive! Not as susceptible to a house fire!
Cons -- Flash drives and hard drives can be compromised. If used without care the drives can break or if not used properly the files can be corrupted. Just like with physical copies, you’ll want to store a back-up copy of your photo library on a second drive or on a cloud service separate from your main library. If any photo in your main set is corrupted or lost, the back-up can be copied over to replace it. ANALOG
Pros -- Photo albums are a well-established storage medium. We all have places we choose to keep our photos and have fond memories going through our boxes to find the photo we’re looking for.
Cons -- Storing physical copies is limited to one or two locations, depending on how many duplicates you decide to have made. They can take up a lot of space, especially if precautions are taken to keep them in good condition. They’re prone to fading and deterioration and even handling photos for those of us with less-practiced methods can lead to loss of quality. Very susceptible to house fire or other disaster.
Pros -- If you have access to a computer, cell phone, or tablet, your pictures will likely be available. If you move, they move with you! You can show them off with a few clicks of a mouse or swipes of your screen, and can find individual photos among thousands of files with simple search terms.
Cons -- Loss of power or internet makes sharing photos much harder. Similar to physical copies, if you don’t have an email address or social media handle for your friends (or they aren’t technologically inclined) sharing photos digitally can prove difficult. At times it’s tricky to get a lot of photos from one device to another without the proper knowledge or tools. ANALOG
Pros -- When stored close by, photos are immediately obtainable. You can bring out the album, shoebox, binder, folder and flip through photos.
Cons -- Limited by location. If you’ve ever made a wedding slideshow with baby pictures you know it can be quite difficult locating the photos and getting them from family members!
Pros -- Photos can be named or relabeled without damaging any part, and can be moved or reorganized simply and quickly. You can add more or remove duplicates quickly, and keep a backup folder with copies without feeling like a hoarder and taking up space in your closet or garage.
Cons -- The nostalgia of flipping through an album or box full of photos is not well captured by a phone’s camera roll. ANALOG
Pros -- You can basically organize them however you want, no matter how structured you want to be. If you want to toss them in a box to shuffle through, you can. If you want them labeled in a scrapbook, that’s possible too.
Cons -- Not as easy as digital. Usually organizing photos, especially a decades’ worth, can be daunting and takes a lot of time and energy. Can also damage photos with pen/ink and tape residue.
Pros -- You can keep digital photos forever with no loss of quality, and can share them with anyone without having to remind them to wash their hands first or “Mind the corners!” No rips or tears to be found.
Cons -- Those of us used to having photos in our wallets or sharing/sending photos to family and friends don’t get the same satisfaction with digital files. THis can be mitigated by making prints when needed. ANALOG Pros -- You can keep digital photos forever with no loss of quality, and can share them with anyone without having to remind them to wash their hands first or “Mind the corners!” No rips or tears to be found.
Cons -- Those of us used to having photos in our wallets or sharing/sending photos to family and friends don’t get the same satisfaction with digital files. THis can be mitigated by making prints when needed.
Pros -- You can share photos with anyone instantly, post them to Facebook or other social media sites for all to see, and not need to duplicate or copy them to do so. No need for new stamps and envelopes and no forgetting anyone. And you can still have them displayed in digital frames at home without needing to change out photos to rotate what you’re choosing to frame!
Cons -- Photo-swapping, signing the back with a sweet memory, etc is essentially over (though this can be done via email or private/text message). Not quite as many ways to be displayed as physical photos, and having the option of so many photos can make it difficult to decide which version or photo to select. ANALOG Pros -- A lot of creative options for displaying photos. They can be put in frames, keeping them in your wallet, cutting them up and/or pasting them into collages or scrapbooks. Also make fun gifts and memories to be sent on birthdays or holidays. It feels more permanent to have a photo in your hand or in a book or frame.
Cons -- Long-term displaying of photos can hurt the quality and case fading and wear. Sharing with others may result in damage or loss of a photo.
Pros -- Digital photos can be duplicated faster than a sneeze! No waiting for a developer to do the work for you. If you have a photo printer or a service you use, you already have the digital copy and you can copy them at will. Someone cuts up a copy of your wedding photo? Print a new one! Only having physical versions when you need them saves paper and ink and is better for the earth!
Cons -- Depending on need a physical copy may come in handy.
Pros -- If you hang onto the negatives you can get new prints from a photo service, or can get your printed photos reproduced at photocopy centers.
Cons -- Copyrights can cause issues with duplicating a physical photo. Lost photos are lost for good when there are no duplicates. Damaged photos require more time to scan, fix and reproduce. More photos means more ink and paper, which isn’t as good for the environment as a flash drive.
If you would like to get your digital photos repaired or retouched, we can help! Your physical photos can be restored as well, but you will have to scan them first. Check out our scanning tips to help get your started!
For professional assistance with any photo restoration, retouching, or recreation, please visit us at www.PhotoRepairPro.com