Sam Hall, curator of the website ChattanoogaHistory.com, says that people who want to create photographic images for the ages should focus on places, not just faces.
After all, in 100 years, nobody is going to want to see your selfies, Hall said during a recent virtual event with the Times Free Press.
For several months, Hall and the Times Free Press have collaborated on a series called "Remember When, Chattanooga?" highlighting historic photos of the local area. The series, which appears in the print and digital versions of the Times Free Press, also has a Facebook group those interested in history can join.
During the interview, Hall gave tips for making your photographs durable and interesting for the long run, not just for instant gratification on social media.
He knows from experience. As a student at Red Bank High School decades ago, Hall said, he started to document everyday scenes around the school instead of just people. Today, people tell him that those scenes spark memories that photos of people sometimes miss, he said.
Hall's website contains hundreds of images of Chattanooga going back to the 19th century. Many are reproductions of photographic negatives, slides and glass plates that contain high levels of detail that allow viewers to "zoom in" on different locations around the city.
Recently, Hall has started to compile a database of faces from old school photos from the Chattanooga area so they can be cross-referenced against photos that have no identifications. As a result, he has been able to discover the names of people in 100-year-old photos with a high degree of accuracy.
Hall provided these suggestions for making and preserving photographs for the long run:
1. Make prints. To ensure that you keep images forever, nothing beats making prints from your digital images and storing them in a safe place, Hall said. It might sound "old school," but it works.
2. Get photos out of your attic. Temperature extremes can ruin old photographs and negatives. High temperatures in attics are especially harmful to old images, Hall said. It's much better to store them at normal room temperature.
3. Don't assume your smartphone photos will last forever. Most people don't regularly back up their digital images, Hall said, so when they change phones they lose images. Storing to the cloud will help, but you have to be diligent.
4. Make digital donations to online photo collections. One way to preserve, and share, your historic images is to allow them to be digitally copied to websites such as ChattanoogaHistory.com. Visit the website for instructions on how to donate.
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