virtual vs. tangible images?

Ever been unable to locate a picture on your computer that you were sure you had but could not find?  Maybe you lost an image due to failure of a hard drive, fire, theft, or other electronic or mechanical calamity? Within the workflow and storage systems that we all use, there is always a risk that something bad could happen to our virtual images. My bet is that each of you has experienced the loss of a virtual image at some time. This includes me!

 A well-designed and diligently maintained filing system, with a useable backup, should ensure that we can save and locate specific images without any problems. Of course, this assumes that the images are correctly captioned and/or key-worded and located in the storage system that you use. Are all your images captioned or key-worded? Is your backup system up to date?

The threat of losing a stellar digital image compels me to suggest that some images need to be printed and stored as tangible copies for safe keeping. Tangible images are real, objects that can be held in your hand and admired in a portfolio, or placed on your wall, or in a gallery. Virtual images, on the other hand, are electrons requiring digital equipment to view, can disappear in an instant, and may be more difficult to find among thousands of other electronic files. Obviously, we can’t print, and have no need to print, all our images, but I believe we should consider selecting the most important ones for printing and safe storage.

 Well-made printed images have a way of enduring over time and are more likely to be enjoyed by others in the future than are virtual images. I recently received from a cousin an original photograph of my dad that was made in 1913. It was still in very good shape and I immediately digitized it and printed copies of it as gifts for his four grandchildren. Would future generations be interested in combing through your electronic storage system to locate specific images of your cherished art or photos of relatives? Probably not, but they would likely find and appreciate any prints that you made and carefully stored.

 Converting a virtual image to a tangible image does not necessarily mean that you need to make a fine art print to hang on the wall for every important image. A tangible image could consist of one or more of the following depending on your desires and requirements:

·         Finished prints ready for display (on paper, canvas, metal, etc.).

·         Online publishing and printing of books and/or magazines (the quality of which is quite good).

·         Posters, greeting cards, calendars, folios, etc.

 There is no doubt the world has become hugely digital in all respects, but I believe that there is still reason to have at least some of our best work saved in a tangible, printed form.