In an attempt to remember all of the places that I’ve visited, I asked my dad to dig up all of our old photo albums. I originally just intended to scan in the travel-related photos, but the project just kept getting bigger and bigger. I now have scanned in more than 2,000 photographs and am on what I had originally planned to be my final photo album, but my dad has found five boxes of albums, so I suspect I may just be getting started. And it’s not just albums. About three weeks ago, I dug out an old photo box that my now-ex and I bought to put our photos in since we didn’t have the discipline to put them into albums. I just got effectively all of them scanned in. I say “effectively” because my son had a pretty good eye for photography from a very young age. When he was three, we started letting him have those disposable cameras. A stack about two inches high of the photos in that box are likely to be his and I have yet to get them scanned in.<!–more–>
My current album is mostly photos of my mom and her family from the 1940s. Back when my mom was alive a cousin said that he was doing digital photo restoration, but she “heard” (and I am pretty sure I know from whom she “heard” this) that converting to digital is a waste of time. Then she gave me the spiel about how because of technology, we wouldn’t be able to access digital photos forever, but anyone with eyes can see printed photographs forever. I offered to do the scanning so that she could just send the disk to the cousin. And I actually got a start on the project. I got two photograph albums in (those photos are on a different external drive than the one I have attached to my computer right now) when everything sort of fell apart. My mom died and my marriage ended. My now-ex also took the scanner, since it was technically his. As a result, stopped scanning the photos. The album that I am on now was my next one up and I really wish I had done this album first or second, because if my mom had seen the shape of some of these photos, she would have agreed wholeheartedly with scanning them in. A number of these photos are faded almost beyond recognition, and some are actually falling apart. In an ideal universe, perhaps leaving the prints alone would work. But right now, when these photos are 70 years old, I am thrilled to be able to preserve them as they are.
And I know that technology will change, but one of the sources I found says that the life expectancy of an “unmanaged” collection of digital photos (by “unmanaged” they mean that no one is there to port them over to new technology) is 20 years. I fully hope to be here longer than that. If all goes as planned, I have at least 30 to go and am doing my best to make it another 50. I have too much traveling to do to die in the next 20 years. Just in case, however, I have asked my son to donate a hard drive with all of this work on it to a library or archive after my death. If I am not here to manage my photos, then an organization that exists to preserve memories can do it for me.
On that cheerful note, on to explaining the reference to Cincinnati in my post title. Sometime when I was a small child, someone referred to something that had gotten out of hand as it having “eaten Cincinnati.” I am not sure who it was or what the context was, and Google is not helping me. However, it stuck and now I use it the same way. Only in this case, I can say that this project may really have eaten Cincinnati, since I have Cincinnati (circa 1987) right here: