What happens to all my digitized photos when I die?

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truenorth418
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Re: What happens to all my digitized photos when I die?

Post by truenorth418 »

Back them up as jpegs on a variety of media. Unfortunately, popular types of media come and go. You could save them on CD's, but CD drives are becoming less common. Same with USB inputs. So many digital companies gravitating to the "cloud".

One thing you could do is choose the most modern type of portable drive and copy over all the photos you want and send those drives to family members now. Then the family members can decide whether or how they want to keep them or not.

In my experience, things like family photos and videos are very important to certain individuals, while many if not most couldn't care less.
Caduceus
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Re: What happens to all my digitized photos when I die?

Post by Caduceus »

I forgot to mention that you should try printing/developing your best photos in black-and-white silver gelatin because those prints last for a long time even under challenging environmental conditions and don't require software to read them, etc. It's as simple as it gets.

If you take a look at the old photos you have, most likely the really old silver gelatin photos from the 40s or 50s are in much, much better condition than any color photographs you have from, say, the 1970s. Color photos fade very, very quickly. And personally, I really love black-and-whites.

If you have the original negatives of your most important photos, you can do drum scans (costly, but worth it if you're selective about what you are scanning), and then either print them out in an archival manner or develop them to get a silver-gelatin print through a traditional dark room process (some internet outfits do this, but again, it is costly)
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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: Wed Jun 10, 2020 9:28 am
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.
I was a digital scrapbooking product designer. I've made some beautiful books.
Nummerkins
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Re: What happens to all my digitized photos when I die?

Post by Nummerkins »

randomguy wrote: Tue Jun 09, 2020 4:29 pm
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.
Well, with ANY digital files someone wants to keep they always need to be copied on newer storage mediums. Doesn't matter if it's cloud or physical storage.
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randomguy
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Re: What happens to all my digitized photos when I die?

Post by randomguy »

TN_Boy wrote: Wed Jun 10, 2020 10:05 am
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.

The number probably doesn't matter as much as organization. A folder with 300 images will be brutal to deal with. An album with 3000 photos where there are say 50 per year would be much more manageable. And if you can tag photos (i.e. give photos names,dates, and events) it would be even better. Having 300 photos of a wedding isn't a big deal if you can ignore them when you don't care and are able to drill into them when you want more details.

Personally I sort of expect all of this stuff to disappear over the next 100 years. Think of how few physical objects last that long. Stuff happens and things get lost and it doesn't really matter if they are digital or physical.
KATNYC
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Re: What happens to all my digitized photos when I die?

Post by KATNYC »

We just went through this when my brother passed a few weeks ago. Luckily, my sister was able to get control of his Facebook account so I've saved all of those digital photos to an external hard drive with no password. I also shared them with his children via Dropbox. It prompted me to sort through my printed photos (decades of photos) and put them in a storage box.
MathIsMyWayr
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Re: What happens to all my digitized photos when I die?

Post by MathIsMyWayr »

Even if your pictures in the cloud are accessible to your descendent, how would you be sure that a proper software still exists to read them.
Normchad
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Re: What happens to all my digitized photos when I die?

Post by Normchad »

I had a young co-worker. He and his wife died in a motorcycle accident several years ago. His digital life is still out there, and it’s a bit unsettling.

Every year, I get an email from LinkedIn, asking me to help him celebrate “(X+1) years of working together.”

It’s just a sad, surreal reminder. I guess I’ll keep getting theses until I’m dead......
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Re: What happens to all my digitized photos when I die?

Post by abuss368 »

We have them stored in Apple iCloud. I would expect if the kids wanted them they could get from our devices. If not oh well.
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Dottie57
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Re: What happens to all my digitized photos when I die?

Post by Dottie57 »

ballons wrote: Tue Jun 09, 2020 4:33 pm Multiple local backups.
+
Print on very high quality paper + frame the photos you want to pass down.
This!
Broken Man 1999
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Re: What happens to all my digitized photos when I die?

Post by Broken Man 1999 »

LilyFleur wrote: Wed Jun 10, 2020 12:25 pm
milktoast wrote: Wed Jun 10, 2020 9:28 am
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.
I was a digital scrapbooking product designer. I've made some beautiful books.
DW makes books as well. Perhaps she can make a book with whatever photos are available from generations past. I do have a lot of info so far as births/marriages/deaths of previous generations. An aunt did a lot of research that I have now.

And, being the youngest in the family, I have family bibles, a treasure trove of info.

I have the info on the first of our family hitting the US. Interesting reading. I could probably get more info from the old countries now.

Broken Man 1999
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jjface
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Re: What happens to all my digitized photos when I die?

Post by jjface »

Presumably any relative who wants photos of x already has them and is not waiting for you to die to get them.

If you want to specifically leave photos to someone then create a hard drive of them and leave it in your safe.
MarkBarb
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Re: What happens to all my digitized photos when I die?

Post by MarkBarb »

randomguy wrote: Fri Jun 12, 2020 1:53 pm
TN_Boy wrote: Wed Jun 10, 2020 10:05 am
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.

The number probably doesn't matter as much as organization. A folder with 300 images will be brutal to deal with. An album with 3000 photos where there are say 50 per year would be much more manageable. And if you can tag photos (i.e. give photos names,dates, and events) it would be even better. Having 300 photos of a wedding isn't a big deal if you can ignore them when you don't care and are able to drill into them when you want more details.
This. I am in the middle of a project to digitize roughly 1,000 slides that my father took from 1950 to about 1975. I'm doing my best to get good metadata on the pictures. I'm setting the capture date. I'm geotagging them. I'm identifying the people in them. I'm identifying the activities and places. That will make the pictures much more interesting to people in the future because they'll have more context.

It has been fun to compare photos taken 65 years ago with how those locations look today. It is also fun to see what regular people's lives were like back then. I wish that I had more.

From my experience, if you want pictures that will have a meaningful impact on people in the future, you want a few key things:
1) Good metadata - Who are the people? Where was the picture taken? When was it taken? What was going on?
2) Ordinary life - Pictures of normal activities around the house are more interesting than scenic vacation photos.
3) Famous but changeable places - Yosemite Falls is Yosemite Falls. It's pretty, but it doesn't change and people have better pictures. Grandma standing by her car parked on a city street is interesting because it shows what she drove and what that location was like all of those years ago.
4) Add enough descriptive information to tell a story. Pictures say a lot on their own, but explaining that it was grandma's first car and everyone was excited at the time because it was the first car in the family with a radio makes it more interesting.

As for storage, they'll only last as long as their is an unbroken string of people that are interested. If there are, it should be easy. Even today, you can fit a lifetime of pictures on a cheap thumb drive and storage will only get cheaper over time. I would take a multi-pronged approach of hosting images in the cloud, keeping them on your primary computer, and keeping some well labeled backups on durable material like archival DVDs. If someone is interested in preserving them, they'll migrate them to newer technology as necessary, similar to all of the digitizing of slides and negatives that people have done, only it will be easier to preserve digital photos.

Yes, there is less work in saving prints, but there are major drawbacks. First, they are single-threaded. While all of your descendants can have pristine copies of your digital files, your prints cannot be duplicated nearly as easily or without quality loss. Also, you lose the easy access to metadata. You can write notes on the backs of the pictures, which is great for a handful of pictures, but it doesn't scale well. If you want to leave thousands of pictures and someone wants to see all of the pictures of Uncle Joe or all of the pictures from New York City or whatever, they can't easily do a search.

Also remember that we are in the dawn of the digital age. Preservation of digital media should improve over time, so this problem should get easier in a generation or two.
TN_Boy
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Re: What happens to all my digitized photos when I die?

Post by TN_Boy »

randomguy wrote: Fri Jun 12, 2020 1:53 pm
TN_Boy wrote: Wed Jun 10, 2020 10:05 am
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.

The number probably doesn't matter as much as organization. A folder with 300 images will be brutal to deal with. An album with 3000 photos where there are say 50 per year would be much more manageable. And if you can tag photos (i.e. give photos names,dates, and events) it would be even better. Having 300 photos of a wedding isn't a big deal if you can ignore them when you don't care and are able to drill into them when you want more details.

Personally I sort of expect all of this stuff to disappear over the next 100 years. Think of how few physical objects last that long. Stuff happens and things get lost and it doesn't really matter if they are digital or physical.
We must agree to disagree. Sure, you can keep the entire collection and organize it -- as I said. But I maintain that if you really want descendants and friends to look at pictures, pick out a set of "winners" and keep that set from being too big. If a photo bestirs someone to look at one of the events/folders in more detail, awesome.

Grandma and Granddad's 60th wedding anniversary party? Sure, have a picture or two in that set. But don't make people wade through 75 photos of that day to find the good ones. Really, given a set of pictures from an event, most people will not want to sort through the pile to find the good ones. And there will be many poor photos, and many very similar ones. Or think of it this way; anyone looking for "good pics of grandmom and granddad" will rapidly grow tired looking at old family group pictures, random candid shots over the years from holiday celebrations, anniversary parties, etc. (Well, lets look at the 1985 folder now .....).

My recommendation that less is more is based upon my experiences doing trip photo albums, recommendations from pros (who make a point of showing their best work) and sorting through the collection of photos my relative scanned from my parents. There are some shots I like in the parent photo collection (of parents and grandparents, cousins and so forth), but it's truly not very interesting going through the entire pile. I'll also note that I personally find old pictures of myself the least interesting ... don't know if that's common or I'm an outlier.

As far as disappearing, I remain optimistic that jpegs will be readable for a very long time. One will have to ensure the images remain on a media (cloud backup, etc) that doesn't vanish.
TN_Boy
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Re: What happens to all my digitized photos when I die?

Post by TN_Boy »

Dottie57 wrote: Sat Jul 04, 2020 4:36 pm
ballons wrote: Tue Jun 09, 2020 4:33 pm Multiple local backups.
+
Print on very high quality paper + frame the photos you want to pass down.
This!
Depends on what the recipients will want or use. My parents did not do this.

And if they had, those framed photos on high-quality paper would be sitting in a closet somewhere.

We simply don't put framed family photos all over the place; it's not the way we decorate our home. More usable to us would be nice digital photos we could put on a digital photo frame (especially if someone had already found the best ones for us .....). And if I like a digital image, if I have a hi-res jpeg I can print and frame if desired.
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Re: What happens to all my digitized photos when I die?

Post by nisiprius »

Yes, it's a problem, and anyone who says it isn't hasn't tried to deal with it. I will give a single real-world example.

Literally yesterday, I mentioned to some of my late brother's friends that I had some recordings of him playing the piano when he was eleven years old, and one of them said "oh, I'd love to hear them," and I said "sure, after this Zoom meeting I'll email it to you." I was sure it was on my hard drive, but after trying ten different searches on my computer's hard drive I just. could. not. find it.

But after trying one more search and, for the first time, leaving off the requirement that it be an audio file, I found a .jpg file. And it was an image I'd made to use as a printed CD label. And suddenly I remembered. Upstairs in a cardboard box at the back of a closet, was a Case Logic album of CDs in plastic sleeves, and there it was. And I was a little anxious, because a) it adhered lightly to the sleeve as I tried to pull it out, and b) it was a CD-RW, not the Mitsui Gold I thought I had copied them all onto, and c) it indeed had a Neato printed paper label on it--back before I noticed that many of the CD-R's I had put adhesive paper labels onto had become unreadable.

I just never had ripped it onto my hard drive.

In the same box, I also found the 7" reel of audio tape that was the source of the CD-RW recording.
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Re: What happens to all my digitized photos when I die?

Post by Sandtrap »

Consider copying all of the photos and other things you want to hand down to your children on USB Memory and give them to your children for Christmas etc.

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WoodSpinner
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Re: What happens to all my digitized photos when I die?

Post by WoodSpinner »

MarkBarb wrote: Sat Jul 04, 2020 7:14 pm
randomguy wrote: Fri Jun 12, 2020 1:53 pm
TN_Boy wrote: Wed Jun 10, 2020 10:05 am
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.

The number probably doesn't matter as much as organization. A folder with 300 images will be brutal to deal with. An album with 3000 photos where there are say 50 per year would be much more manageable. And if you can tag photos (i.e. give photos names,dates, and events) it would be even better. Having 300 photos of a wedding isn't a big deal if you can ignore them when you don't care and are able to drill into them when you want more details.
This. I am in the middle of a project to digitize roughly 1,000 slides that my father took from 1950 to about 1975. I'm doing my best to get good metadata on the pictures. I'm setting the capture date. I'm geotagging them. I'm identifying the people in them. I'm identifying the activities and places. That will make the pictures much more interesting to people in the future because they'll have more context.

It has been fun to compare photos taken 65 years ago with how those locations look today. It is also fun to see what regular people's lives were like back then. I wish that I had more.

From my experience, if you want pictures that will have a meaningful impact on people in the future, you want a few key things:
1) Good metadata - Who are the people? Where was the picture taken? When was it taken? What was going on?
2) Ordinary life - Pictures of normal activities around the house are more interesting than scenic vacation photos.
3) Famous but changeable places - Yosemite Falls is Yosemite Falls. It's pretty, but it doesn't change and people have better pictures. Grandma standing by her car parked on a city street is interesting because it shows what she drove and what that location was like all of those years ago.
4) Add enough descriptive information to tell a story. Pictures say a lot on their own, but explaining that it was grandma's first car and everyone was excited at the time because it was the first car in the family with a radio makes it more interesting.

As for storage, they'll only last as long as their is an unbroken string of people that are interested. If there are, it should be easy. Even today, you can fit a lifetime of pictures on a cheap thumb drive and storage will only get cheaper over time. I would take a multi-pronged approach of hosting images in the cloud, keeping them on your primary computer, and keeping some well labeled backups on durable material like archival DVDs. If someone is interested in preserving them, they'll migrate them to newer technology as necessary, similar to all of the digitizing of slides and negatives that people have done, only it will be easier to preserve digital photos.

Yes, there is less work in saving prints, but there are major drawbacks. First, they are single-threaded. While all of your descendants can have pristine copies of your digital files, your prints cannot be duplicated nearly as easily or without quality loss. Also, you lose the easy access to metadata. You can write notes on the backs of the pictures, which is great for a handful of pictures, but it doesn't scale well. If you want to leave thousands of pictures and someone wants to see all of the pictures of Uncle Joe or all of the pictures from New York City or whatever, they can't easily do a search.

Also remember that we are in the dawn of the digital age. Preservation of digital media should improve over time, so this problem should get easier in a generation or two.
MarkBarb,

I couldn’t agree more!

Context for the photos is everything. The meta-tags available in digital images make this much simpler and easier. Culling the photos, adding Keywords for searching, GeoTaging, adding titles and captions, all make a huge difference.

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sycamore
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Re: What happens to all my digitized photos when I die?

Post by sycamore »

WoodSpinner wrote: Sun Jul 05, 2020 8:46 am
MarkBarb wrote: Sat Jul 04, 2020 7:14 pm ...
From my experience, if you want pictures that will have a meaningful impact on people in the future, you want a few key things:
1) Good metadata - Who are the people? Where was the picture taken? When was it taken? What was going on?
2) Ordinary life - Pictures of normal activities around the house are more interesting than scenic vacation photos.
3) Famous but changeable places - Yosemite Falls is Yosemite Falls. It's pretty, but it doesn't change and people have better pictures. Grandma standing by her car parked on a city street is interesting because it shows what she drove and what that location was like all of those years ago.
4) Add enough descriptive information to tell a story. Pictures say a lot on their own, but explaining that it was grandma's first car and everyone was excited at the time because it was the first car in the family with a radio makes it more interesting.
...
...
Context for the photos is everything. The meta-tags available in digital images make this much simpler and easier. Culling the photos, adding Keywords for searching, GeoTaging, adding titles and captions, all make a huge difference.
I agree that using tags of some sort could be most helpful. When I started taking photos many years ago, I hesitated to tag my photos because there didn't appear to be a great way to store tags (many questions around portability and which standard/conventions to use -- EXIF vs IPTC vs XMP vs app-specific database). In retrospect I should've picked a good enough solution and just stuck with it.

WoodSpinner and MarkBarb: Without going too far off topic, what software and conventions do you use to store the tags in the photos? Did you adopt one application (like Lightroom) and its way of tagging? And/or create your conventions for conveying information?
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