A Lament for the Photo Album – NYTimes.com

digital photosSome good reflections by Lucinda Rosenfeld on the mixed blessings of digital photography. Having gone through our old family albums, going back a few generations, as well as my slide collection from about 25 years ago, and then trying to put order into our more recent digital photos, can only agree with some of the observations.

Can’t go back but I am trying to be a more ruthless editor of my digital images. Next stage is, as Rosenfeld has done, is to make some of these into ‘traditional’ photo albums. Quote:

Going through the pile, I got to thinking that digital photography’s chief selling points — the abilities to see the finished product instantly and to take countless pictures without incurring any additional charge — have turned out to be mixed blessings. With effort and cost excised from the equation, photos have become too plentiful. And at the same time — as more and more pictures are taken on smartphones, “shared” on social media if at all, then lost to the cacophony of the digital universe — meaningful images have become too scarce. Many of my friends, forever switching among their laptops, tablets and smartphones, can no longer even say where their photo files are located.

Ultimately, the loss is maybe less about numbers than about quality and permanence. Printed images are crisper than pixelated ones. They are also tangible: material objects that can be grasped, pasted, or leaned against a dresser mirror. Digital images have a distant, once-removed quality — kind of like dead fathers, come to think of it. In any case, many of us no longer look to print photos to safekeep our memories. In some respects, maybe it’s for the best. When you gaze at the same snapshots over and over again during the course of a lifetime, the images become part of the recollection itself until the two are interchangeable, and it’s hard to say what you remember at all.

A Lament for the Photo Album – NYTimes.com.

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