tonia johnston photography | the digital age and how I disappointed my 7 year old

the digital age and how I disappointed my 7 year old

March 24, 2014

prints versus digital imagescomputer disk

My kids love to look through photo albums - mine, my husband's, theirs. They laugh at the pictures from our childhoods and comment about how much everyone has changed. They sit together in a huddle and somehow, always seem to be able to rope my husband and me in. So, laying on the floor, sitting on the couch we have stories to tell about each image we see and we can spend hours spending that time together.

I love having reminders of our lives. Births, vacations, parties....Sometimes you forget a story but seeing a picture can instantly make you remember.

This past week my 7 year old asked me why everyone has a photo book but him. He wanted to know where his baby pictures were. Can I tell you how hard it is to explain to a 7 year old that by the time he came into the world, I was no longer using a film camera? How instead of printing images in triplicate like when I was using film, I bought into the digital age lock stock and barrel and now his images are forever immortalized on disk? The look on his face told me that he was NOT picking up what I was putting down and that the situation needed to be fixed. Now!

So I promised him that I would go through the disks and find his pictures for him to see.

I, like everyone applaud the digital age! I la, la, love being able to shoot as much as I want, delete what I want and have the digital image to share freely with who I want when I want! I like having the ability to e-mail, post online or text an image. I like not having to drop off film (sometimes months after shooting it) just to turn around to have to go pick it back up then go to the post office to send it to whoever. I love digital images! Let's be clear about that. But....

There are two sides to every coin. There is a negative side to this (no pun intended, but if there was a good one).  First - my son should not have had to ask me to see his baby pictures. I am angry at myself that it even happened. They should be accessible to him just the same as everyone else in this house. Second - As convenient as it is to have hundred's of images on disk, they get forgotten. And that totally defeats the purpose of taking a picture. Pictures are taken for us to see, to pause time, not be hidden away for years. Third - I have A LOT of disks! They are under my bed in a duffle bag, under my desk in cases, in a basket on top of my desk. Thank goodness I started keeping my images on an external hard-drive because even though the disks are labeled, they are a pain to get through and those things were a mental drain on me! You know how it is when you know you need to do something but you just keep ignoring the voice in your head?

And finally - nobody ever said, "Come on kids, let's gather around the laptop and view some family pictures!" It may be considered cozy because everyone is squished together breathing on each other, but it's just not as fun as being able to sprawl out on the floor, everyone with a separate photo album.

Ok, maybe that wasn't my final finally - my laptop decided to begin it's breakdown period a few months ago. The battery was leaking and by the time I fixed it, it would have cost me just as much to buy the desktop I've had been thinking of. My laptop has a disk drive, my desktop does not. Eventually, I am not going to be able to use my laptop anymore and there will go my ability to view my disks. Could I get an external disk-drive? Yep. Am I going to? Nope! Because eventually, CD's like floppy disks are going to eventually fade away. If you notice newer computers are being made without a disk drive. My images now get backed up to an external hard-drive and that's great for keeping my professional shoots but there is still the same problem with my personal pictures. They are still tucked away quietly in a folder.

Looking through those disks yesterday made me realize that I really let my son down and I hurt his feelings by not having his baby pictures ready for him to touch and share with the rest of the family. Why do I have all of these digital images hidden away? It's not like I can't get them printed or better yet, get books made. And that's what I'm going to do. I promise to be a book making fool over then next year! I've already started ordering prints to put around the house because I have not changed out the pictures in our picture frames for quite some time - long enough that my daughter keeps reminding me that it needs to be done. I'm looking forward to being able to walk by our goofy family pictures (that probably should STAY hidden away).

So, how does this effect my professional opinion?  I will never deny a client digital images if asked. People have their reasons for wanting them and I get that. It make sense if getting head shots to get the digitals just the same as it makes sense to get a mixture of digitals, prints or books if doing Senior or Family pictures. Together, we put work into these sessions and I want for my clients what I want for my family - to be able to see and recall the moments before and after the shot, to sprawl out on the floor, stand in front of the pictures frames, laugh and spend a bit of time together in those memories.

with love,