FORGET bringing back a sparkly plastic gondola or a carnival mask from Venice.
On a recent holiday I discovered that today’s most popular Venetian souvenirs are handmade wooden selfie sticks.
Taking photos is no longer part of the holiday – it IS the holiday. And given that most people never delete anything, right now captive audiences back home are being force-fed squillions of snaps of happy couples shooting themselves in St Mark’s Square.
Going, going gone are the traditional photo albums we all used to keep when visitors needed to be bored. Now our whole lives are captured on our phones and cameras. The problem for many of us is that’s where they stay.
Come your own personal digital apocalypse (pressing the delete button when you shouldn’t, losing your phone, data corruption), and it’s goodbye life.
Friends also lost their entire collection because their pictures were in some free photo album software with a lifespan barely longer than a geriatric fruit-fly’s, a program which is now long-gone to the great Recycle Bin.
So always save your photos in an industry-standard format which might just last as long as we do. The JPEG (or JPG) format is now ubiquitous, and serious photographers opt increasingly for the high-quality but huge RAW format.
(And here’s a tip if you have old photos in an obsolete format: download the all-purpose free image reader IrfanView which might help).
Like anything else digital, photos should be subject to ‘the rule of threes’: the original copy, a backup copy on a different device, and a third copy off-site.
Keeping your photos on an ever-bigger SD card in your camera is as unwise as keeping all your wealth in a big box under the bed (as I recall a former Sultan of Oman did with his country’s assets, until mice discovered a fondness for shredding banknotes).
After every photo-session copy your pics to a computer, and ideally also to an external storage medium you keep somewhere else, like an external hard drive or flash stick.
Cloud storage sites are growing in popularity, with many offering free initial storage as an incentive, but be prepared for some purse pain if you’re really prolific.
Most modern phones will actually back up your photos automatically ‘to the cloud.’ So at least you will still have your digital memories if your phone undergoes an unauthorised change of ownership.
Oh and by the way, did anyone ever tell you that St Mark’s Square might occasionally be a little more beautiful when photographed without your undoubtedly-stunning mug obscuring it?