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Dennis Hissink : March 17th 2004 - 21:03 CET

Despite flood of photos: Generation without Prints

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FujifilmIt seems to be paradoxical: Never before has photographing been so simple as it is now. At no time more photos have been taken, and never before cameras have been present in such a high number. However, despite of a growing flood of photos marketing strategists and social scientists are talking about the vanishing of photos and invoke a generation without memories. The change from the analogue to the digital world reached photographing on its technical peak. The sophisticated cooperation and the high performance ability of cameras, optical systems, films and laboratories hardly left any consumer´s wishes unfulfilled. However, than the change of technology had an effect, that hardly anybody had expected:
It thoroughly changed the way of handling of photos.

Many of those who had considered photographing as old-fashioned or rejected it as 'uncool' discovered photographing anew. Apart from digital cameras more and more other appliances are pushing into the market, like for example camcorder, PDAs, notebooks and above all mobile phones with integrated digital cameras. Today consumers may immediately take a look at their photos. They know if the photo taken has been successful or not. Within a few minutes they may send it to friends or make it available in internet-photo albums.

Paper Prints: The Life Insurance for Digital Photos. Never before consumers have had more and cheaper options to produce their photos as paper prints or to have them produced. However, they do not do it, and if, only on very rare occasions. On such rare occasions, that experts are warning and are afraid of precious memories being lost forever. 'Those for example who had recorded their memories on narrow-gage film have already made bitter experiences with the loss of their memories. Even if there still are possibilities to transfer old films onto new media, this is only known to a limited number of persons and most of them think it to be too costly', remembers Helmut Rupsch, Head of German Operations at Fujifilm, the transition from narrow-gage film to video tapes. 'And now those taking films are facing the next change of generation from video tape to DVD. Those who take digital photos are threatened by a similar loss, if for example they only store their photos on the hard disc of their computer, thus being jeopardized to lose them on the occasion of the next change of format or technology or during the next computer crash.

Structured Archiving is very rare. There are only very few digital photographers who take the expense to do any structured archiving or to execute a reliable data protection. Furthermore hardly anybody is aware of the fact, which loss of quality multiple saving of a photo in the compressed JPEG-file format may mean for the quality of the photo. With the triumph of the fast photo regarding the present information with sufficient quality for the display on the monitor many people forget those photos, whose value sometimes only turns out after years. Those photos which traditionally document our life and keep memories alive for years. A Photo remains, Files are deleted. Grown-ups of today not only know what they looked like as baby, toddler, pupil or student, they also know that about their parents and grandparents. They own photos of their holidays, family celebrations and other important events. Life within the family was documented on photos step by step, frequently collected in albums. Still quite a lot of people lack the experience in handling of digital photos and only few think that it is necessary to produce backups of photo files on a regular basis. Though more and more people choose the most simple way to keep memories on the long run, i.e. via a laboratory or via a photo kiosk, but their number is still too small. Only very few people consider to permanently safeguard their numerous photo files for themselves and their children as real photo prints. A professionally produced photo print on the long run is by far superior to all other forms of storage or reproduction. It does not only offer the respectively best photo quality but is also cheap and above all has a long shelf life.

'Nowadays the documentation of the family life is done even more precisely than in former times', says Helmut Rupsch. 'However, probably those who are today about 30 years old, will one day miss their memory photos at the age of 50 or 60. Partially we treat our own memories too carelessly. We still do not have enough experience in handling of digital photos, we will contribute in making this handling more simple and more matter of fact. Soon it will be just as simple to order prints from photos taken with digital cameras at your dealer, as you were used to in case of film. Actually today we have a network of 5.400 reception sites for digital photos and the number is quickly increasing. Apart from that a photo print is often cheaper than sending the photo via mms, you will see the actual value, if you consider, that important memories this way can be kept for a long time.

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