People usually give me that blank stare on non-recognition when I speak of memory preservation. Not like forgetfulness or dementia (I have some knowledge of both) memory preservation is one of those things that is often overlooked, or looked at when just a little too late. Memory preservation is how to make sure you keep up with your photos, videos and those memories committed to graphic media.
One of the first things to consider in memory preservation is starting with your new digital camera. No matter how new it is, you need to consider the consequences of storing all your digital pictures on one hard drive. Heaven help you it is not your computers primary drive! Hard drives fail. Over the years we have lost many hard drives. They wear our, they get blasted with lightning, they have defect and bad spots that stop holing data. Obviously you are de-fragmenting and running the check disk utilities if you have them. But that is not enough. All digital files of any worth should be backed up on a separated drive or disk. I like the portable hard drives like the MyBook drives. You can get a gigabyte or two rather cheaply, and they are easy to use. Portable hard drives also take up less space than CD or DVD’s. Especially if you are storing them off site in say a bank safe-deposit box. Don’t forget that you final, retouched, ready to print and deliver to customers should be backed up as well. Throw it into the customer project folder along with their contract and other customer info or notes.
Old photos, slides and negatives should be “backed up” as well. Fires, floods and other events can happen that render them useless. We and many other fine specialty camera stores and labs offer the “Shoebox” scans. We still call ours shoebox scans even though we discourage people from storing fine originals in shoe boxes. First shoe boxes are usually a very cheap grade of wood lignin paper that acidifies in a very short period of time and the acid and can burn your photos slides and negatives. Usually this starts at the out sides and works is way into the center. Those prints or negatives that were poorly processed will degrade much faster that those that were better processed and where the lab did not take short cuts to save water or chemicals. It is still a matter of you get what you paid for. Scanning slides, negative s and prints can be a great way of reintroducing those old memories into our electronic lives.
I still like the old school method of making prints or books and albums. Books and albums encourage you to pick them up and flip through a few pages – short burst of “way back when.” Printed photos should be displayed. Those children that grow up seeing their and their families phtoos tend to have better self awareness and are more content with them selves. I just like looking at our family history this way. The computers are in other places in the house and our framed photos give me the boost every morning and night when I look at them as to what i am working for; my family.
Video tapes were never designed to be permanent. Longer live was still measured in years and not decades on video tapes. Magnetic storage like video tape and floppy discs seem to be an accident waiting to happen. Over time and use the glue that bind the magnetic bits to the plastic tape loose the ability to hold and stuff falls off. We used to call this “drop outs” because the magnetic media dropped out of the take and that spot was data and is now static. Even the newer digital tapes are prone to damage. A dirty head that sucks in a tape and causes it to be wrinkled will have static or in digital tapes blocky “pixelate” squares that degrade the image. That data, those portions of the movie are gone, just as if the material “dropped out” ad was lost that way. Once lost it cannot be retrieved. Any magnetic video tapes should be “backed up” to DVD’s for long term storage.
Videotapes are the new movie media, where old, old movie films are the worst for storage. Some of the earliest can degrade into flammable stuff, or if you smell a hard vinegar odor, then the acetate plastic “film” is degrading, acidifying and soon will be gone. The emulsion that holds the image is not permanent and can come off the film. Fungus can eat away at the image and water and scratches will quickly and easily damage the film
Films, negatives, slides and prints should be stored in a cool, dry and dark place for intermediate to long term storage. The attic and the basement are THE WORST places to store these items. Newspaper should be avoided as the wood fibers in the paper will degrade and acidify, damaging anything they touch. Plastics can be better for storage, by they will trap humidity, so make sure the air is purged and all items are dry before storage. PVC plastics were removed from the USA market in the late 70′s and 80′s, but imports may not be safe. Always select a brand like PrintFile for storage pages and known good plastics.