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The Death of Traditional Photography

Find a Way to Preserve Your Important Life Story

Guest article submitted to Your Life Is Your Story
by Eve Barnes, © June, 2015

(note: Photographs have long been part of preserving parts of our lives, our memories and our stories. But today's technology both makes taking pictures easier and yet also could lead to the lost art of sharing memories as special times with friends and family through printed photographs kept in photo albums. Eve Barnes explores this timely topic in this guest article - Tom Gilbert, owner and editor of Your Life Is Your Story)

Many people remember rooting around in their parent’s attic, looking through boxes of old newspaper cuttings and photographs and trying to find treasures and trinkets – or maybe their fondest childhood memory is of visiting grandma on a Sunday for lashings of cream and cakes on dainty plates, listening to stories from times gone by and looking at faded black and white pictures.

Sadly, this generation of children are less likely to have experiences like that since the advent of digital photography has meant the death of ‘film’ photography and a decline in the number of people who actually print out their snaps. The era of high quality, instant digital photography means that people no longer have to send off their negatives in the post and wait two weeks to see their pictures, but it also means that many don’t print off their pictures at all and they
simply gather unseen in virtual folders on the computer or they plaster the pages of social media sites.

As technology develops so rapidly and social media pages get deleted, there is no saying if all these pictures will be available in the future and if the computer isn’t backed up, that can spell disaster. Gone too, are many of the dusty photo albums and afternoons looking at pictures over tea and treats. Despite digital technology making photography more
affordable and accessible than it has ever been, it has been a double-edged sword and led to a decline in the number of
printed pictures and in the sales of traditional photo albums as more people rely on their memory-sticks and their smartphones.

At social functions everywhere, from the Christmas play to university graduation, parents everywhere are using mobile phones to take pictures – but how many of these will ever be printed?

The retail store ASDA estimates that trillions of photos are stored solely on computers. A poll of their customers found that 70% had not printed any photos in five years.

The situation is a tragedy for the world’s photographic heritage and for future generations of children, for whom visits to grandma just won’t be the same.

Jeremy Stacy, a photo buyer for ASDA, said:
"Since film cameras entered the dustbin of history most of us haven’t been making physical copies of the pictures that we take. In some situations, this might be OK, but if people aren’t backing up their hard drives, there’s a real risk that precious memories could be lost forever.”

Thankfully, there are still ways in which you can ensure that your precious memories are passed down to your loved ones so that your life and your achievements are known to those who matter to you and even to people not yet born who may find your memories have historical interest.

Whether you’re getting older and the issue has taken on sharper focus, you’ve been diagnosed with an illness or you just appreciate family mementos, telling your life story is the perfect way to create a legacy.

You can do this in a variety of ways:

Write your autobiography – This is a person’s written account of their own life. If you have done things that are worth writing down and you’ve got memories to share, writing your memoirs is a great way to do it. Autobiographies are not just for the rich and famous, they are an increasingly popular way for people from all walks of life to get their experiences out there.

Journal Writing – Another form of autobiography is the humble journal. Keeping a diary of your life may seem insignificant but it can provide a fascinating insight into the past for readers in the future, as well as giving a glimpse of a bygone culture and lifestyle. Famous examples of diarists include Anne Frank, the Rev Francis Kilvert and Samuel Pepys.

Oral History – Traditions were passed down by ancestors telling stories and passing on information. In modern times this happens less but you can still pass down your traditions – so if you want everyone to know your secret recipes or your best home remedies – talking about it is a timeless way to pass on information. You can do this more effectively by recording your voice and making a CD so that your great-grandchildren and more can know you and learn from you.

Make a Video Biography – You can use a camcorder to make a video diary of your life. This is better than relying on social media sites where the information may not be kept or accounts may be closed. If you use a camcorder you can create a DVD library of the significant events in your life.

Make an E-Book – In this age of technology, the humble book is losing favour and electronic reading devices like Kindle are taking over. Writing your autobiography into an E-book software programme can instantly bring your story to a wide audience and you don’t have to worry about losing your writing if you haven’t backed up your computer once it has been published.

Your Life is Your Story can provide advice on telling your story and resources to help you create a lasting gift for your family, friends and community.

Read more articles about lifestory writing.


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