Protecting your pictures from a digital dark age

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"I only use my phone. I own a couple of cameras but I only use my phone, I don't use anything but my phone," said Diana Henshaw.

Henshaw said she uses her phone to take pictures because of convenience; she can easily take hundreds of hundreds of photos. But according to a local history enthusiast, Sam Hall, this is where a problem comes into focus.

"Unfortunately I think most people won't have their photos from this time period 100 years from now. I think as we get comfortable with how easy it is to take photos, how many we take - we don't give much thought with what happens to them later when we want to view them," said Sam Hall.

Hall said that's because we no longer have to print the pictures to see them, "... we put those on memory cards and keep them on our phone or put them on the cloud. We don't print them out as much as we should."

Think about how technology has advanced from the 1980's and how people used to store photos: "You would be hard pressed to go find a way to read this [floppy discs, 3-and-a-half inch discs, zip drives] now. They are wonderful but no longer very useful or readable," said Hall.

"All that technology is guaranteed to march forward. We'll always have something better, that's why I said cascade. Copy everything on to that next best thing," said Hall.

The executive director of the Chattanooga Library, Connie Hill, said pictures help us glance at the past.

"The further you are able to look back in your history, the better able you are to look forward. It's how we preserve our history," said Connie Hill.

Hill showed us the library archives from at least 100-years-ago -- like what the iconic furnace at Bluff View looked like in 1860 and the homes on Tennessee Avenue in St. Elmo. Both Hall and Hill said the easiest way to preserve our memories is to print.

"Printing them out is probably going to be the least expensive and the most sustainable. You'll forget you put them in a drawer and 20 years from now you'll be so glad you did," said Hall.

"If you need it or you think you're really going need it or want it future-wise, print it," said

Printing photos is now as easy, if not easier than taking them. Several pharmacies [Walgreens and CVS] and companies [Kodak] offer smart phone apps, so you can literally select pictures from your phone albums, Facebook, or Instagram. The hardest part is actually picking them up at the store.

"I would hate to lose any of my photos because they are very precious to me. I think I am going to listen so I am going to go ahead and do what you are saying," said Henshaw.

"30 years later I can go into the drawer and still pull out those photos but what about those that haven't been printed out," said Hall. The library and several companies like Southtree can help digitize your photos to save them to the most advanced form of technology.


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