What happens to all my digitized photos when I die?

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Bammerman
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What happens to all my digitized photos when I die?

Post by Bammerman »

I had a horrible thought a few moments ago: what if I were to die unexpectedly and, as a result, all the thousands of old family photos that I've digitized over the years are lost/become inaccessible to my children and grandchildren?

These are pictures not only of my youth and that of my wife and our children, but of several generations of ancestors, going back to the 1920's. Lots of slides, unfortunately (!) but also many, many old and decaying black and white prints, some 100 or so years old now.

I've been uploading them all to my iCloud Photos collection, and sharing them with interested family members. And in fact my wife and I share the Apple account so, I presume, if one of us dies, the other will at least be able to access/share/etc. all the photos in iCloud. But if we both died suddenly, is that the end, effectively, of all those thousands of old family pictures? Would our children/grandchildren "inherit" access, somehow? And even if so, what if too much time passes and because no one is paying for the cloud storage, the photos all just "evaporate"?

Recently I've also copied many of the old family photos to a Google Photos account and have shared access with family members (I did this because my daughter went over to the Dark Side -- i.e., bought an Android phone, and could no longer see the pictures via Apple's Family Share).

But, don't the same questions generally apply to Google Photos? Even if the account is "free"?

Do these nightmarish concerns have any basis in reality? How are other people dealing with this?
rkhusky
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Re: What happens to all my digitized photos when I die?

Post by rkhusky »

You can specify details in your will.

We recently bought Nolo Quicken Willmaker and they cover this issue. You may also have Facebook, Instagram, Bogleheads, etc accounts that you want to have your heirs do something with. Same goes for online bank and brokerage accounts, although there are laws dealing with the handling of money (but you should still provide a list of account names and numbers).
Last edited by rkhusky on Tue Jun 09, 2020 8:12 am, edited 1 time in total.
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cheese_breath
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Re: What happens to all my digitized photos when I die?

Post by cheese_breath »

Bammerman wrote: Tue Jun 09, 2020 7:38 am ...what if too much time passes and because no one is paying for the cloud storage, the photos all just "evaporate"?...
I would imagine that storage space would be freed up for other uses.
The surest way to know the future is when it becomes the past.
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Kenkat
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Re: What happens to all my digitized photos when I die?

Post by Kenkat »

I download all the ones I definitely want to keep and store them on a USB external drive; that way, if something ever happens to Google photos, I have them and heirs would have easier access to the local drive as well.

I think you can also create albums on Google photos and share them with others which would give them access to the photos for at least some period of time before your Google account became inactive.

My wife still also prints some photos and creates photo albums or wall collages with them. People tend not to look at digital photos.
bob60014
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Re: What happens to all my digitized photos when I die?

Post by bob60014 »

Kenkat wrote: Tue Jun 09, 2020 8:13 am I download all the ones I definitely want to keep and store them on a USB external drive; that way, if something ever happens to Google photos, I have them and heirs would have easier access to the local drive as well.
+1 this. It's always wise to have a master copy/backup of what's ”in the cloud"
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lthenderson
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Re: What happens to all my digitized photos when I die?

Post by lthenderson »

My mom, the picture taker in the family, died about eighteen months ago and I must say, accessing her digital accounts was a nightmare from hell. I found pages of paper with hundreds of accounts written down along with their passwords, sometimes dozens of times as they changed over the years. So figuring out which one was current and account access attempts would sometimes freeze the accounts making it even more difficult to access. It was never as simple as sending out a copy of her death certificate. Also, many accounts my mom had set up two factor authentication (good for her) and I was forced to mind read her to figure out how she might have answered personal questions required to access. Eventually I was able to get a hold of her various electronic media but it took me probably six months and a lot of speaking to representatives and shuffling through pages of passwords/account names.

To answer your question a bit more directly, I have gone the same route as countless ancestors whose photo and albums I inherited over the years and I use my digital pictures to create them. Instead of printing out pictures and sticking them in book sleeves though, I just have the entire digital book printed from one of the many online places. I am not going to count on my wife and kids to be able to access all my digital data no matter how "dummy" proof I think I've made it. I'm also not going to assume that even if they figure out how to access it, that they will make the best choice so that it goes down to future generations to come. Some of my most treasured photos are those taken of my great great great grandparents. I'm just not that confident that digital data can be passed on through six generations like those photos.
sycamore
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Re: What happens to all my digitized photos when I die?

Post by sycamore »

I don't have any particular experience with or insight into these matters, but from a quick internet search I'd say it's worth reviewing the terms & conditions of your iCloud account.

The iCloud T&C's may conflict with your wishes in your will. Relevant discussion from 2018 here: https://discussions.apple.com/thread/8504157

In general I would backup your digital photos to a hard-drive or SSD (more reliable than flash drives) in addition to storing them in a cloud.
mptfan
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Re: What happens to all my digitized photos when I die?

Post by mptfan »

rkhusky wrote: Tue Jun 09, 2020 8:06 am You can specify details in your will.
Yes, but what if your heirs cannot access the photos or they do not know where they are stored or they do not know the username or password?
InMyDreams
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Re: What happens to all my digitized photos when I die?

Post by InMyDreams »

It is a problem - even if you take the time to create a format that they can still use, in a place that can be accessed.

I digitized a bunch of images, then put many of them on CDs and distributed.

Have you looked at WikiTree? or FamilySearch's FamilyTree? Personally, I don't like putting family photos out in public places - it seems like people appropriate them for diverse uses. I had photos of distant relatives that I made available on a public tree on ancestry. Yes, some of the copies to other trees were to the same person. Sometimes clearly they were not - especially the pics of children. Hmm.

But those sites will be glad to accept them and keep track of them. You have all the upload work to do.

And there's no guarantee that the next generation will be interested. Or by the time that they are, that they'll still be able to find the pics.
mptfan
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Re: What happens to all my digitized photos when I die?

Post by mptfan »

lthenderson wrote: Tue Jun 09, 2020 8:37 amI'm just not that confident that digital data can be passed on through six generations like those photos.
I agree, I don't think digital data will be passed down the generations as easily as physical photos. But how many physical photos are really passed down? Isn't it usually just a few treasured physical photos that get passed down, as opposed to the thousands and thousands of digital photos that people amass today using digital platforms? I think the great volume of digital photos becomes an issue to store and keep track of, not to mention the various formats, accounts, devices, backups, things get lost and it's hard to keep track and sort through it all.
runner3081
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Re: What happens to all my digitized photos when I die?

Post by runner3081 »

Bammerman wrote: Tue Jun 09, 2020 7:38 am Do these nightmarish concerns have any basis in reality? How are other people dealing with this?
Never thought of this. And... not sure I really care, which sounds cold-hearted, but they are just pictures.
bikesandbeers
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Re: What happens to all my digitized photos when I die?

Post by bikesandbeers »

I have a Synology Disc Station Networked Attached Storage device, with mirrored hard-drives (RAID). This is where we archieve all of our photos. We do backup some to the cloud in case something happens to the house, but I like have everything on a physical device.

Extend family members have the password to log-in through the disc station app.

Memory sticks are so cheap nowadays it could make sense to save some there and putin a safe or give to other family members
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cheese_breath
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Re: What happens to all my digitized photos when I die?

Post by cheese_breath »

runner3081 wrote: Tue Jun 09, 2020 9:19 am ... not sure I really care ...they are just pictures.
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JoMoney
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Re: What happens to all my digitized photos when I die?

Post by JoMoney »

runner3081 wrote: Tue Jun 09, 2020 9:19 am
Bammerman wrote: Tue Jun 09, 2020 7:38 am Do these nightmarish concerns have any basis in reality? How are other people dealing with this?
Never thought of this. And... not sure I really care, which sounds cold-hearted, but they are just pictures.
Yup...

OP,
Do you have stories associated with these people, stories to share with future generations that may be of interest to them about where they came from and things their ancestors did? You may not like the thought of it, but without anything meaningful to attach to the photo, future generations probably won't care the same way about the photos (and other 'stuff' you might leave behind).
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Nummerkins
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Re: What happens to all my digitized photos when I die?

Post by Nummerkins »

You should have them backed up on a hard drive as plain old image files.

Online services come and go. Some services encrypt your data. Some services don't are if the owner died and will never grant access to anything.

Just bypass all that.
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rkhusky
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Re: What happens to all my digitized photos when I die?

Post by rkhusky »

mptfan wrote: Tue Jun 09, 2020 8:55 am
rkhusky wrote: Tue Jun 09, 2020 8:06 am You can specify details in your will.
Yes, but what if your heirs cannot access the photos or they do not know where they are stored or they do not know the username or password?
You provide the usernames and passwords to all your accounts somewhere that your executor can access.
MadHungarian
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Re: What happens to all my digitized photos when I die?

Post by MadHungarian »

rkhusky wrote: Tue Jun 09, 2020 11:15 am
mptfan wrote: Tue Jun 09, 2020 8:55 am
rkhusky wrote: Tue Jun 09, 2020 8:06 am You can specify details in your will.
Yes, but what if your heirs cannot access the photos or they do not know where they are stored or they do not know the username or password?
You provide the usernames and passwords to all your accounts somewhere that your executor can access.
But beware also, once someone else (your executor) tries to access those accounts from another computer (their own computer), they're likely to get hit with the security questions and/or emails+texts that will be only sent to the deceased person's email account and cell phone! Such joy!
Usernames/passwords aren't enough anymore. Even the security questions/answers might not be enough because of those linkages to specific emails/devices.
MadHungarian
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Re: What happens to all my digitized photos when I die?

Post by MadHungarian »

Wasn't technology supposed to make our lives easier and turn the world into a paradise? Sometimes I think it was all really invented by Catbert to torment us to death...
Dantes
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Re: What happens to all my digitized photos when I die?

Post by Dantes »

Our solution to this is that a small set of the photos we care about most get printed on paper. Its easy and cheap to send a selection for printing to a local shop.

Long term digital storage has always been a tough problem. Whatever we have now is likely to be obsolete in 20 years.
Caduceus
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Re: What happens to all my digitized photos when I die?

Post by Caduceus »

Genealogy is my hobby and it is a bit of an obsession for me, and here's what I would suggest.

You should put together all the family history, especially photos and pictures of important places/artifacts in a book, the way that many wedding couples these days put together all the pictures in a form of a narrative in a wedding album for guests to look at. In other words, take the time to actually write something. You won't be able to include everything, so make hard choices. Aim for something like 200 photos per family line/unique last name. My own approach is that I'm going to put together four family albums - one for each line represented by my four grandparents. Make sure the 200 photos include the most important/oldest, but also span a variety of subjects and people. The best photos can take up an entire page as it is worth it, and the rest can be arranged as smaller rectangles on the album itself.

Definitely put in things like the family tree, the oldest photos you have of your ancestors (together with identification of names, and where and when each photos was taken), and include short narratives of important aspects of your family history. This could be a business, if your ancestors were prominent merchants, or the career of important family members in some industry/field, etc. Think about what you'd want to know most if you were a descendent of your line sitting across from you 300 years from now, and put that in the book.

At the back of this book, include copies of all your photos backed up to M-Discs, which are archival quality discs that are supposed to last hundreds of years. The photos are the most important thing, but they are useless without identification. I've spent countless hours hunting down names of people in photos taken a long time ago.

And then, finally, donate an exact copy (or two) of the same book to libraries/institutions that will have them.
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LilyFleur
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Re: What happens to all my digitized photos when I die?

Post by LilyFleur »

Well, let's remember our generation is more apt to keep physical memory books. Our children/grandchildren are much more digital than we are.

Curation, however, is essential. I cannot imagine my children having the time or inclination to go through thousands of photos. I worked as an editor for a Fortune 500, and supervised hundreds, probably thousands of photo shoots. Even with professional photographers, it took about 20 to 30 shots to get a great photo. So we never even printed the bulk of the photos that we took.

It's my goal to curate a meaningful, accessible collection of family photos for my children. When my mother died, I curated with great focus. Every old photo with people I could not identify was not saved. She took hundreds of travel photos/slides. Those were not saved. Now, my goal is to go through the photos of my children growing up, and then send all of the photos to a scanning service.

I will distribute CDs well in advance of my sunset years.
curmudgeon
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Re: What happens to all my digitized photos when I die?

Post by curmudgeon »

lthenderson wrote: Tue Jun 09, 2020 8:37 am My mom, the picture taker in the family, died about eighteen months ago and I must say, accessing her digital accounts was a nightmare from hell. I found pages of paper with hundreds of accounts written down along with their passwords, sometimes dozens of times as they changed over the years. So figuring out which one was current and account access attempts would sometimes freeze the accounts making it even more difficult to access. It was never as simple as sending out a copy of her death certificate. Also, many accounts my mom had set up two factor authentication (good for her) and I was forced to mind read her to figure out how she might have answered personal questions required to access. Eventually I was able to get a hold of her various electronic media but it took me probably six months and a lot of speaking to representatives and shuffling through pages of passwords/account names.

To answer your question a bit more directly, I have gone the same route as countless ancestors whose photo and albums I inherited over the years and I use my digital pictures to create them. Instead of printing out pictures and sticking them in book sleeves though, I just have the entire digital book printed from one of the many online places. I am not going to count on my wife and kids to be able to access all my digital data no matter how "dummy" proof I think I've made it. I'm also not going to assume that even if they figure out how to access it, that they will make the best choice so that it goes down to future generations to come. Some of my most treasured photos are those taken of my great great great grandparents. I'm just not that confident that digital data can be passed on through six generations like those photos.
^^ This

I assume that what's in digital format will likely be lost. Even aside from access or media issues, the sheer number of images becomes unmanageable unless you are a dedicated archivist. To a certain extent, the sheer mass of color slides and prints from my parent's era is becoming lost as well, because the time required to digitize, sort, and manage is more than any of my three siblings and myself are willing to put in. For my own photos, we curated and saved color prints in albums/flip books, but the ones from 30+ years ago are starting to fade; I digitized a few of them 10 years ago, but I need to do more or they may be lost.

I'm working through what I really want to preserve, and using the online book printing services for them. I'm hoping these will have a reasonable lifespan, though I'm not sure how sharp they will remain after 100 years (I'm really impressed by some of the old black and white prints for detail and durability).
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lthenderson
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Re: What happens to all my digitized photos when I die?

Post by lthenderson »

mptfan wrote: Tue Jun 09, 2020 9:14 am
lthenderson wrote: Tue Jun 09, 2020 8:37 amI'm just not that confident that digital data can be passed on through six generations like those photos.
I agree, I don't think digital data will be passed down the generations as easily as physical photos. But how many physical photos are really passed down? Isn't it usually just a few treasured physical photos that get passed down, as opposed to the thousands and thousands of digital photos that people amass today using digital platforms? I think the great volume of digital photos becomes an issue to store and keep track of, not to mention the various formats, accounts, devices, backups, things get lost and it's hard to keep track and sort through it all.
Absolutely! All the pictures I have beyond my grandparents generation I could fit in a regular sized shoe box with room to spare and every single one of them are of my ancestors. So when I go to figure out which pictures to save in physical form, I almost never include scenery or "I was there" type pictures (which are most of the pictures I take) and instead focus on ones of the family unit. I probably have between twenty or thirty pictures a year that make the cut. The rest just stay in digital format until they are inevitably lost. I find the best part of making a physical album of pictures using online sources is the ability to add small stories about the pictures in the album. Many of my old ancestor pictures leaving me scratching my head about why they took that picture and the story behind it. If my albums survive through history, my descendants won't have that question because they'll know.
adamthesmythe
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Re: What happens to all my digitized photos when I die?

Post by adamthesmythe »

If you have family you can will them a portable hard drive full of photos.

I don't have family, and I am comfortable with letting my photos go.

By the way- NOT USB flash drives. Redundant spinning drives are the way to go.
iamlucky13
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Re: What happens to all my digitized photos when I die?

Post by iamlucky13 »

I'm fairly young and should have time on this, but just in case, it has been my intention to get started soon, and keep up with it going forward.

My plan is:

1.) Be a realistic critic and delete the photos that don't have significant meaning.

Yes, I have some photos of places and things that I'm particularly fond of and will keep. However, in most cases, thousands of people have photos of the same places and things. Even in the cases where I feel a photo of mine is significantly better than average, it might still mean nothing to my family, and will make it a bigger chore to sort out the meaningful photos, which will mostly be those of people (myself and those close to me).

My grandparents left behind several boxes filled with thousands of photos. I spent several hours throwing away almost all of the photos of places and things. I left the photos of people and some important places and things (grandpa's sailboat, places my Dad or aunts and uncles remember visiting, etc) with one of my aunts who spent significantly more time than I did further downsorting, and scanning those that should be kept.

Digital photos make it easy to accrue far more photos than my grandparents had. Even as an engineering history nerd, for example, I don't need all 50+ photos from different angles of the inside of the Hoover Dam powerhouse, and several hundred more outside. A fraction of that will fulfill my reminiscing desires, and my descendents will only care about the few that show that my siblings and I were enjoying the visit together.

2.) Make the photos of people, especially if they involve important milestones, easy to access.

A shared online account might be one method, but it might not be as straightforward as expected. Subscription services need payments continued even if account or card numbers change. Free services often change, like Photobucket and Picassa have. I think I'd want a backup for the online account.

Personally, I will probably save my keepers to both DVD's (for longevity) and USB drives (for ease of access and frequent updating), and put those with some of my important documents so they can be found. The medium can be changed in future updates if either of those become uncommon.

3.) Provide context to make them more meaningful. After my grandparent's died, I realized the letters from family members that they kept (including some they wrote to their own parents that were then given back when they died), and some of my other relative's journals that they passed on are the primary records of my family's history. My grandparents used the same from their parents and grandparents to document some of the longer term family history in albums and even a couple custom printed books.

I have a very tiny handful of similar personal documents. A larger volume of information is in emails, but of lower quality (words are cheap by email, and tend not to merit much polish or concision), mixed in with a huge volume of meaningless emails, plus some that is personal enough I don't want to share them after I'm gone. Also, a lot of communication was lost in the 5-10 years where email was more common than letters, but webmail services did not provide enough storage to keep many emails.

I'm not certain what I will do here, but it will probably either be saving notes in my folders of photos describing where, what, and why it is important, or creating a journal of my own that would be in part retrospective.
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BroIceCream
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Re: What happens to all my digitized photos when I die?

Post by BroIceCream »

I've got the pictures in 3 locations. My trustees/executor will have access to two of them...
  1. On my PC HDD - accessible to all... unless I (and it) die in a house fire.
  2. On USB stick - fortunately, all mine will fit on <128G drive....in the safe deposit box with other papers the trustees/executor will have access to.
  3. In the cloud - my password manager passphrase is in my safe deposit box.
And... we also purge the less meaningful ones before we put them in our archive.
tibbitts
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Re: What happens to all my digitized photos when I die?

Post by tibbitts »

I'm the last person in my family, and I guess I don't have the same interest in personal or family history that other people do, so I'm not concerned about what will happen to my photos when I'm gone. I would say the most important thing to do if you are interested in those things would be to pass on your interest to a younger generation. That's really more important than the technical aspects, because if a younger person is interested they'll make sure the technical part is covered. If you're looking at preserving things in generation-skipping kind of way (or maybe two-generation-skipping), I'm not sure that's a practical objective.
birnhamwood
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Re: What happens to all my digitized photos when I die?

Post by birnhamwood »

"What happens to all my digitized photos when I die?"

REPORTER: What happens to all your money when you die?

JACK KENT COOKE: I have no intention of dying.

REPORTER: But all that money, surely . . .

JACK KENT COOKE: I'll be dead and I won't care, will I ?
randomguy
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Re: What happens to all my digitized photos when I die?

Post by randomguy »

Nummerkins wrote: Tue Jun 09, 2020 9:37 am You should have them backed up on a hard drive as plain old image files.

Online services come and go. Some services encrypt your data. Some services don't are if the owner died and will never grant access to anything.

Just bypass all that.
And what are the chances that in 30 years anyone will be able to access todays hard drives? How would you hook up a SCSI drive to a modern computer? I am sure it is doable. If your heirs want to put the effort in will be a different story. If you aren't willing to put the work in over the years to migrate from one service to the next, I doubt you will do the work to maintain your physical media.
ballons
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Re: What happens to all my digitized photos when I die?

Post by ballons »

Multiple local backups.
+
Print on very high quality paper + frame the photos you want to pass down.
BrooklynInvest
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Re: What happens to all my digitized photos when I die?

Post by BrooklynInvest »

I worry about this.

I'm the family photographer. I've got prints of family photos going back to the late 1800s but if I kicked the bucket unexpectedly there'd only be 4-5 hardcopies of my baby's photos! I think the history is important. My family is from the other side of the world, survived (and didn't) two world wars and Vietnam. He's getting the lesson with exhibits!

Here's my approach -

1. I back up my entire Mac with time machine

2. Just bought another drive to back up my "good photo" folders and lightroom catalog separately

3. I make prints of my best work and of the baby. Each year I'm gonna make small photo books for the grandparents and for the baby to have when he's older, and for his parents to look through now.

I do back up my photos to google drive but with large raw files that takes forever so doesn't happen as often as it should.
GoldenFinch
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Re: What happens to all my digitized photos when I die?

Post by GoldenFinch »

It’s a bit sad when walking through an antique shop there are beautiful portraits of children etc, sitting lonely on the shelves. It may be better just to leave behind a few of the best pictures and frame them because many others possibly won’t get looked at down the line.
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Watty
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Re: What happens to all my digitized photos when I die?

Post by Watty »

Bammerman wrote: Tue Jun 09, 2020 7:38 am But if we both died suddenly, is that the end, effectively, of all those thousands of old family pictures? Would our children/grandchildren "inherit" access, somehow? And even if so, what if too much time passes and because no one is paying for the cloud storage, the photos all just "evaporate"?
You may have seen TV shows about hoarders who live in houses full of unneeded stuff and junk. I saw an article about "digital hoarders" who do the same thing with digital information. You likely have some great pictures in those thousands of family photos but people will never be able to find them.

Be sure to have the best "keepers" in a good separate place that your kids have copies of. It would be rare that people would really be interested in more than about three photos of an individual unless it shows them doing something real interesting.

One thing that would be at least as important as the photos is to write down your family stories, but you do not need a 50 page novella which people might not take the time to read.

One thing you can do is to create public family trees on Ancestry and Family Search and attach the photos there. At my public library you can use Ancestry for free while you are at the library. Even if those web sites are not around a hundred years from now the photos you upload there will likely be downloaded by other people so they will likely be around somewhere. There is lots of inexpensive or free genology software that you can use to build your family tree then upload it to those web sites. I use RootsMagic and they have a free version that is very functional.

One thing I did with mine key family photos was to use Photoshop to add about a quarter of an inch to the bottom of the important photos and I added text to it with the persons name and information like the dates of their birth and death if I knew it. That makes it impossible to accidentally lose the information about who is in the photo.

Digital photos are great but one great thing about paper photographs is that you can write the persons name on the back of it. Even if you name some photo something like John_Smith.JPG when it gets uploaded there is a risk that the name will be changed to A00023456.JPG and the identification will be lost.

The prior post about making a paper photo book was also a good suggestion. There is a good chance that a paper book could be passed down for 100+ years but any digital likely to be lost. Even if your kids get your digital images the odds of them being passed down to the next generation after that are slim.
Lookingforanswers
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Re: What happens to all my digitized photos when I die?

Post by Lookingforanswers »

One tip to add: if you use a digital password manager, you can designate others to have access to your accounts in an emergency. They log onto your account, you get notified they are trying -- and if you don't answer in a set amount of time, they get access. So, if you're dead and don't answer, your heirs can get into your account as long as you have set them up in advance. Useful for lots of things besides making sure your heirs have access to your photo collection.
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Ged
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Re: What happens to all my digitized photos when I die?

Post by Ged »

I am backing up my photos, which include the photos going back a couple of generations my family passed on to me that I've scanned or digitized, to M-disks.

These are optical disks with an inorganic data layer. Testing and claims are the media should be stable for about 1000 years. Supposedly it's the polycarbonate external cover that will fail first. The data layer should be stable much longer.

That should give whoever ends up with them plenty of time to figure out what to do with them.
stan1
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Re: What happens to all my digitized photos when I die?

Post by stan1 »

I think it's important to find the family members who will most cherish these items and share what you have with them now.

If no one has an interest in them that's a different issue.
milktoast
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Re: What happens to all my digitized photos when I die?

Post by milktoast »

If it's digital, it's ephemeral. Poof gone.

My father digitized everything and then shredded originals. Family history down the memory hole. Gone. Goodbye.

Sure, he burned it to DVD in low res (best he had at the time). But the DVDs aged and were unreadable.

So yeah, your digital life is like your memories. They only exist while you remember them.
Broken Man 1999
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Re: What happens to all my digitized photos when I die?

Post by Broken Man 1999 »

Given my DD's interest in their own history (photos, medals, school awards, HS letters, sports trophies, etc.) I'm going to go out on a limb and say I see no reason to keep anything for the most part.

DW gave each DD a plastic container filled with all the odds and ends the DDs had left behind when they moved out.
I thought DW was going to cry seeing all the items she thought near and dear to them ending up in the trash. I had warned her the items meant more to her than the DDs.

Specific to digital photos, DDs have a bazillion photos of their own, including the only grandparents they knew, my siblings, cousins and all.

My DW is a taker of photos. Every setting has 3-4, but the 3-4 are never examined to pick the best shot. She saves them all.

I would ask anyone if they wanted any photos of any sort. Then act accordingly.

Broken Man 1999
“If I cannot drink Bourbon and smoke cigars in Heaven then I shall not go. " -Mark Twain
jef
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Re: What happens to all my digitized photos when I die?

Post by jef »

I have solved this issue by using Google inactive account manager. I have set it up to give access to my account, to my family, after my account has been inactive for two months.

https://www.cnet.com/how-to/how-to-set- ... t-manager/

https://support.google.com/accounts/ans ... 6546?hl=en
InMyDreams
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Re: What happens to all my digitized photos when I die?

Post by InMyDreams »

My g'g'g'grandparents had 16 children (!), the first born in 1799, the last in 1827. I have photos made during their lifetimes of 13 of them. To me, these physical photos themselves have value. I have photos of similar age from other branches of my family.

Modern photos - I'm content with digital copies.

Whether anyone else will want them - I don't know.
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LilyFleur
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Re: What happens to all my digitized photos when I die?

Post by LilyFleur »

milktoast wrote: Tue Jun 09, 2020 5:49 pm If it's digital, it's ephemeral. Poof gone.

My father digitized everything and then shredded originals. Family history down the memory hole. Gone. Goodbye.

Sure, he burned it to DVD in low res (best he had at the time). But the DVDs aged and were unreadable.

So yeah, your digital life is like your memories. They only exist while you remember them.
That was then, this is now.
I have almost 100 gigabytes of antique ephemera, bought at antique paper shows, scanned at high resolution, and backed up to a 1.5 terabyte hard drive, as well as on my computer. So my ephemera is not ephemeral. That was for my work as a digital graphic designer. I still have lots of family photos to curate and scan.
Momus
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Re: What happens to all my digitized photos when I die?

Post by Momus »

I think we put too much value on photos. After 3-4 generations, no one really cares about us.
Invest4lt
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Re: What happens to all my digitized photos when I die?

Post by Invest4lt »

Broken Man 1999 wrote: Tue Jun 09, 2020 6:05 pm I would ask anyone if they wanted any photos of any sort. Then act accordingly.

Broken Man 1999
This. Perhaps someone will express interest and you can share/discuss the pictures while still alive? I think that would be pretty cool.
CarpeDiem22
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Re: What happens to all my digitized photos when I die?

Post by CarpeDiem22 »

I can assure you they will get lost with time. It isn't nightmarish, it is the reality. If you are able to conserve the e-photos somehow, 3 generations down people may find these photos 'blurry' as technology would have improved by then, and may not evoke the feelings that you expect them to.
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Quercus Palustris
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Re: What happens to all my digitized photos when I die?

Post by Quercus Palustris »

It's all well and good that M-disc media lasts 100s of years... Maybe if a future historian unearths your data hoard in the far future? But more and more computers don't come with optical drives. Who knows how much longer external add on drives will be available (and affordable).

I'm sure BD/DVD players will be around a bit longer, but streaming seems to be taking off. Future generations might not have an easy way to get to that data. What if your photos were on Zip drives? QIC-120 tape cartridge? USB drive formatted in FAT32 might be your best bet for now... But who knows, maybe USB-A ports will be obsolete in 10 years, and port converters for them scarce in 20.

I don't know what the best solution is right now - maybe make sure your loved ones have access to the photos that might interest them now (cloud album), and as others say it's up to them to right click + save the ones that interest them.
mptfan
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Re: What happens to all my digitized photos when I die?

Post by mptfan »

Momus wrote: Wed Jun 10, 2020 12:06 am After 3-4 generations, no one really cares about us.
That's true. Think about it...would you really be interested in storing and sorting through thousands of digital photos of your great grandparents? Perhaps some will say yes, but I suspect most would say no.
mptfan
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Re: What happens to all my digitized photos when I die?

Post by mptfan »

jef wrote: Tue Jun 09, 2020 7:47 pm I have solved this issue by using Google inactive account manager. I have set it up to give access to my account, to my family, after my account has been inactive for two months.
I think the shortest amount of time you can select is three months of inactivity before others can have access to your account.
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Ramjet
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Re: What happens to all my digitized photos when I die?

Post by Ramjet »

Your spouse/family locates the external hard drive you backed the photos up on or you use a platform where you can provide "share" access to other users
milktoast
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Re: What happens to all my digitized photos when I die?

Post by milktoast »

LilyFleur wrote: Tue Jun 09, 2020 11:35 pm That was then, this is now.
I have almost 100 gigabytes of antique ephemera, bought at antique paper shows, scanned at high resolution, and backed up to a 1.5 terabyte hard drive, as well as on my computer. So my ephemera is not ephemeral. That was for my work as a digital graphic designer. I still have lots of family photos to curate and scan.
Go grab a FireWire external hard drive from 2002 and plug it into your computer. Or better yet a DAT tape. Let me know how it goes.

If you want your grandchildren to see it when they get old enough to care, print it out in an acid free photo book.

Digital media is for short term storage.
TN_Boy
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Re: What happens to all my digitized photos when I die?

Post by TN_Boy »

Bammerman wrote: Tue Jun 09, 2020 7:38 am I had a horrible thought a few moments ago: what if I were to die unexpectedly and, as a result, all the thousands of old family photos that I've digitized over the years are lost/become inaccessible to my children and grandchildren?

These are pictures not only of my youth and that of my wife and our children, but of several generations of ancestors, going back to the 1920's. Lots of slides, unfortunately (!) but also many, many old and decaying black and white prints, some 100 or so years old now.

I've been uploading them all to my iCloud Photos collection, and sharing them with interested family members. And in fact my wife and I share the Apple account so, I presume, if one of us dies, the other will at least be able to access/share/etc. all the photos in iCloud. But if we both died suddenly, is that the end, effectively, of all those thousands of old family pictures? Would our children/grandchildren "inherit" access, somehow? And even if so, what if too much time passes and because no one is paying for the cloud storage, the photos all just "evaporate"?

Recently I've also copied many of the old family photos to a Google Photos account and have shared access with family members (I did this because my daughter went over to the Dark Side -- i.e., bought an Android phone, and could no longer see the pictures via Apple's Family Share).

But, don't the same questions generally apply to Google Photos? Even if the account is "free"?

Do these nightmarish concerns have any basis in reality? How are other people dealing with this?
I wouldn't call it a nightmare ....

I'll echo some of the thoughts others have expressed.

1) Few people are going to care about most of those old photos in any form. 1000s of family pictures? They will be ignored.
2) It should be straightforward to ensure that heirs have access to digital media. And the prints.
3) I think it most unlikely anybody will want to sort through prints. Digital is the way to go.
4) Some people are concerned about looking at digital images from now in the future, but I think the jpeg format will be viewable for a very long time.

Some other comments and qualifiers. A relative of mine went through a bunch of old pictures of the family and scanned them. He loosely organized them into folders -- cousins, grandparents, parents, etc. This is actually pretty nice and I've accessed those photos (the digital versions) a few times, albeit mostly to put together a digital photo album for a still living senior relative. But there is still a lot of them. Most of them are poor quality. That's okay, but it lessons the interest. I had zero interest in pawing through the shoeboxes of the prints; I'm glad my relative did the work here.

You have to prune the photos, something I'm working with my pictures. One poster here mentioned that even in professional shoots, they throw away a lot of shots. If you look at how-to guides for photographers written by pros, one of the key organizing steps is get rid of the lousy shots quickly. Even pros take a lot of so-so pictures. When we travel, I'll take hundreds of photos on a two week trip, maybe 1,000 (assuming interesting scenery or wildlife). Then I'll put together a digital album. It might have 100 to 150 photos in it. For a long trip. Out of those 150 shots (which is too many for anybody except those on the trip....), only about 10 or 20 are really good pictures (i.e. good technically, interesting in some general way). The rest of the 150 are just the best ones to help preserve memories of the trip. And this is not surprising. I'm taking shots as they come to me for the most part. I'm not getting up at 4 AM and spending three hours getting a great sunrise and post-sunrise landscape. I'm not spending two hours on a corner waiting for that perfect street shot to capture the city's mood.

And all those pictures of little Johnny growing up .. trust me, nobody cares less about those photos than little Johnny himself. Johnny's spouse might find a couple of them amusing, for a few minutes, once. Sure some are worth preserving .... but not a lot.

The point is, most amateur photos are are not good. Really. And that's okay. But most amateurs do little or no pruning. One trip, 300 bad shots, with a few really nice ones randomly mixed in, which will probably be overlooked as one flips through all the bad ones.

If you want to preserve family history, my suggestion is that you digitize a small set of photos that are the most historical or in some other way unique (this is a great picture of grandmom when she was 30; it really captures her personality and style). And provide a way to access that smaller set (The Bammerman family tree). Because the larger set isn't that interesting. Or good.

What's smaller? If you have 300 (picking a number somewhat at random) photos of your entire family history, that's a whole lot of photos unless you had a very very interesting family. I mean, you can keep all of them, perhaps organized, as my relative did in some general way, but pick out a key small subset, then separate out and highlight those pictures for easy reference.

Note I wouldn't care about the physical prints either, even printed out nicely. Hard to share too. Figure out a way to get a digital album of those best shots online. People might actually look at that.
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