Computer and data specialists warn that digital information we are creating right now may not be readable by machines and software programs of the future. As we explained in our story called “Four Steps You Can Take to Avoid the ‘Digital Dark Age,’” digital data that’s so easy to access now—including the digital image files of photographers—is at risk of disappearing forever. Hard drives will hardly last a decade, let alone a lifetime. Flash memory may eek out a few more years but may not endure a generation (if that).
What’s a photographer to do?
The opinions of experts vary, but here are four basic steps you can follow to increase the likelihood that your images survive:
Print them. Properly produced and cared-for, inkjet prints can last for 200 years of more.
Store files as JPEGs. The format is so ubiquitous it’s likely to be machine readable well into the future. The open-source DNG format is also a good choice.
Preserve your metadata. Ensuring a photo has accurate and thorough metadata is critical to digital photo preservation because it enables future programs to find and organize a photographic collection. It also ensures critical copyright data travels with the images as they migrate from old storage solutions (like hard drives) to new ones that haven’t even been conceived of yet. The XMP format, which like DNG is open source, is a good option for writing metadata.
Follow the “3-2-1 Rule.” That’s three copies of a file, stored in two different places with one of those locations off-site.
Clients are so budget-conscious that every dollar you save on expenses counts. And airline fees can add up quickly. In our story “Pro Photographers’ Favorite Travel Hacks,” several photographers shared their strategies for avoiding excess baggage fees. “Use curbside check-in to help with overweight [equipment cases],” Christopher Testani recommends. “If you use curbside check-in and... More ›
We hit the PDN archives to bring you a look at some old-school photo ads. More ›
We hit the PDN archives to bring you a look at some old-school photography ads. Enjoy! More ›