Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Photos, the Future, Daguerreotypes and Costco

Do you ever try to figure out the future?  I'm taking a History of Photography class, and I've learned a great deal already about my old family photos, but the class had made me wonder about preserving my current photos for the future.

I own a few family photos that are pretty old, and I know my family history pretty well, but I don't know who these people are.  Anyone who might know is gone. Any decision on how to save photos needs to include a way of recording the names and context of the people in the photo.

I've learned some amazing things from my class. Most amazing of all, the photos that I thought were completely ruined are daguerreotypes. They're supposed to look like that, you have to tilt them a certain way in order for the picture to show up, otherwise they just look like a mirror. A photo that I thought was completely blank, actually had this seated young couple.

Other photos I'm almost sure are ambrotypes, a less expensive alternative to the daguerreotype. These are in cases similar to the daguerreotypes, but the photos are not reflective in the same way.

I've got some early carte de visites, collector cards of celebrities, that my great-grandfather collected. I'm pretty sure this is Tom Thumb:
Going though old photos, I found a photo of my grandmother that no one remembers seeing before:

Which leads me to my question. I don't know whether to get my current photos printed or not. It SEEMS that digital photo archiving will be around for a long time, but I'm sure it's just as fleeting as everything else.  I guess it's important to print out the best ones, but difficult to decide which ones are the best when I have thousands of images. 

When I do decide to print photos, I get them printed at the 1-hour photo at Costco; I send them through the on-line service. The photos are ready when I arrive to shop.

Changing the subject:  If you have some great photos from this past year, be sure to enter the Costco photo contest. Last day to enter is September 30.  Here's a link to the rules.


  1. Jeanne, Great post! The preservation of our current history is a real concern for historians and archivist. I recommend that you print some of your digital images. One thing to think about it that some images might not seem important today, but have much more relevance in the future. Just today, I've seen several people post pictures of the Twin Towers that were "just part of the NY Skyline" when they took them, but now have much more significance. With the rapid pace that technology changes, who can be sure that you'll be able to access your images stored on a cd, dvd or hard drive of today. Think about how much has changed in the last twenty years. What if your wedding was shot on Beta? Anyone have a beta deck lying around to watch it on?

  2. I think you are right. I'm going to have to figure out a system for what gets printed!